Seeing Student Designs Come to Life

Posted on Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Written by Maggie McCormick, OAC Communications Intern

It’s not everyday that class projects come to life, however for 55 Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) students this is indeed the case.

In 2015, the Town of Penetanguishene’s will celebrate the historic landing of Samuel de Champlain on their community’s shores 400 years ago on August 1, 1615. To commemorate this, and the fact that the town is one of the oldest in Canada west of Quebec City, the town formed a Champlain Penetanguishene committee which will oversee the celebrations.  For inspiration, the committee invited the class of BLA students to re-imagine the town’s waterfront and downtown space as a class project.

Throughout the Winter 2013 semester, students worked in groups to create master plan concepts for the revitalization of Penetanguishene's waterfront park. Under the guidance of Professor Stefan Bolliger and two other instructors, Nadia Amoroso and Shirley Hall from the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development (SEDRD) the BLA students pitched 10 proposal concepts to the community in early April.

“This type of learning is rewarding for the students, the community and the professors. It builds confidence in the young professionals and is a great way to promote the department and the University,” says Bolliger on the collaboration. SEDRD professors and students are known for these types of collaborations with communities, using academic course content to both teach students and benefit the public.

Community committee members meet with students on campus

In this real life academic exercise the student proposals’ incorporated elements such a boardwalk featuring historical timeline design features, a community centre with an indoor pool built offshore on piers, shaping the shoreline into the image of a bird with a lake lookout, and a French village downtown. A resort modelled after a historic hotel successful during the railroad era was also suggested.

The mayor, local MPP and several council members were all present and walked away very impressed by the student’s creativity as well as their mindfulness of the local environment, history and community use. As Penetanguishene’s mayor Gerry Marshall said in his online weekly update, “They went far beyond my expectations. There were many, many, great ideas. All of the students displayed a solid depth of design knowledge, detailed analysis and the ability to future vision.”

Community listens to student presentations

The designs are now available for public viewing at the Town Hall in the council chambers, and citizens will have the opportunity to give feedback on the designs. Once the feedback process has wrapped-up, the town council will choose a final design, likely incorporating elements from several of the students’ plans. View other photos from the course of the class project.

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