In Fall 2014 the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership worked with the Rutgers Landscape Architecture Graduate GeoDesign Studio to study current conditions in the Lower Raritan Watershed and evaluate different alternative futures and associated strategies.
The Rutgers GeoDesign Studio began the semester with a challenge: how to understand and describe the Lower Raritan Watershed in content, space and time. Building on a mid-term charrette in which students presented a comprehensive inventory and analysis of the study area, work then expanded towards a larger, more traditional GIS-based regional mapping project to challenge the region’s stakeholders in their thinking about the future of the river and the watershed.
Here’s a glimpse into the process of thinking about design from a regional / watershed perspective. After facilitating the mid-term stakeholder charrette, the Rutgers Landscape Architecture Graduate Studio distilled stakeholder input into what you see on this analysis board. The Studio Group then gathered additional information about stakeholder priorities so as to evaluate how well the landscape is working with respect to these priorities.
To understand this process, it might help to understand the kinds of questions landscape architects ask. The “Steinitz Model” guided the studio in their visioning design process this semester. This Model is framed as six questions:
1) How should the landscape be described in content, space and time?
2) How does the landscape operate? What are the functional and structural relationships among its elements?
3) Is the current landscape working well?
4) How might the landscape be altered / changed? By what policies and actions? Where and when?
5) What differences might the changes cause?
6) How should the landscape be changed?