March 23, 2018 Landscape Architecture Students Win National Design Competition

Three students stand outside of the Art + Architecture Building

Students in the School of Landscape Architecture were named winners of a national design competition for Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

The competition called for students from accredited schools of landscape architecture to design an entry garden for the Center House, a circa 1770 farmhouse on the 15-acre botanical garden site.  The entry garden is a 4,000-square-foot space that when completed in May will become the new gateway for the thousands of visitors to the Berkshire Botanical Garden, one of the oldest botanical gardens in America.

“Our design is not so much an entry garden as a front porch,” said Daniel Rose, a 2020 Master of Architecture/Master of Landscape Architecture candidate.  “It welcomes visitors as they move toward the Center House, giving a ‘peek-a-boo’ effect through the use of landforms and plantings, almost as if they are peering through windows.  By incorporating a large plaza-esque driveway, council ring and intimate pathways, the design also gives visitors an opportunity to interact by extending the interior space of the Center House, much like a welcoming front porch would do.”

Design Overview_Berkshire Botanical Garden

“As we were designing, we believed it was important to respect the history of the botanical garden while integrating modern design aesthetics that complement the existing gardens,” said Fernando Turpin, a 2019 Master of Landscape Architecture candidate.  “Our garden meets functional needs as a practical expansion of the Center House space and provides a new garden aesthetic for visitors.”

The students, Daniel Rose, Fernando Turpin, Sarah Newton, (MLA ’17) and Alexa Macri (MLA ’19), worked with Garry Menendez, Associate Professor in the School of Landscape Architecture and College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, who guided them through site design principles, planting design and other considerations for small-scale design.

The students’ winning design incorporates an entry walkway and driveway using gradient-patterned natural stone materials; natural berms to mitigate sound from the nearby street and lower visitor porosity; areas for sitting and respite; lighting for pedestrians, vehicles and landscape elements; a sunken council ring with surrounding seating for social gatherings; a planting palette that complements the colors of the Center House; and reconfiguration of the garden’s existing entrances, exits and pedestrian crossing.

“The winning design submitted by the student team from the University of Tennessee impressed all of us with its clean and modern look that will work well with the traditional facade of the Center House and the context of the garden areas,” said Michael Beck, Berkshire Botanical Garden executive director.

View of site at Berkshire Botanical Garden

After learning they had won, Rose, as representative for the team, met with the botanical garden’s staff and design consultants in January 2018 to discuss the design intent and make recommendations based on the competition jury’s feedback.

“The visit turned out to be even more beneficial than I had anticipated,” Rose said.  “We discussed how our design could be used to better influence the overall function and experience of the botanical garden, and as a result, the scope of the project has been expanded to include the driveway, parking areas, pedestrian experience and visitor arrival experience and circulation system.  We also anticipate the addition of a water feature.

“Our design, though relatively small in relation to the overall site, has the potential to be a considerable social and horticultural focal point for the garden,” he said.

The entry garden is expected to be completed in May, when the student team plans to visit for the grand opening.

Download the students’ concept and design package.

Student teams who placed second, third and honorable mention were from Harvard University Graduate School of Design and Virginia Tech.  Judges for the competition include professional landscape architects, independent designers and horticulturalists from four states and the United Kingdom.

The UT School of Landscape Architecture is an LAAB-accredited program of the College of Architecture and Design and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.  For more information, visit archdesign.utk.edu/schools/school-of-landscape-architecture/.

Concept_Berkshire Botanical Garden