Outreach Studios

Outreach studios provide an opportunity to involve students with hands-on service-learning projects. These projects involve real world sites, clients and interaction with community members and officials.  This experience provides much enthusiasm and energy amongst students, faculty and the communities they serve.

Examples of Outreach Studio Work

Westerly, Rhode Island Park Designs
December 1st, 2014

Credit: Joshua Bourgery

On December 1st, students from URI’s landscape architecture program presented their designs for a pocket park to the Westerly, Rhode Island town council.

Junior Studio students worked with the Westerly Town Planners office and Marilyn Shellman, a town planner and URI alumna, to examine a 2.5 acre site in downtown Westerly.  The area, which is near the Westerly Amtrak station, has experienced severe flooding from the Pawcatuck River in recent years.  FEMA grant money acquired by the town will be used to restore the site to a community open space.

Students analyzed the physical and ecological characteristics of the site using aerial and onsite photography, flood maps, and climate data.  They also considered future users of the space including local residents, Amtrak commuters, and summer tourists.  This research informed the overall site design.

Student designs were innovative and varied.  Many of the most notable features employed are listed in the table below. As a whole, students successfully integrated green energy sources and considered storm water management systems to create ecologically conscious designs that offer resilience against future flooding events.

The class’s work culminated with design boards presented at the Westerly town council. The designs will be used to showcase the site’s potential as the project moves forward.

Notable Student Design Features

  • Parking lots utilizing permeable paving and vegetated islands of native plantings
  • Storm water management bio swales and rain gardens
  • Riparian borders to prevent erosion of the riverbank
  • Innovative play structures
  • Boulder gardens
  • Boardwalks
  • Splash fountains
  • Food truck parking
  • Solar LED lighting
  • Kayak launches
  • Locally sourced granite and salvaged wood
  • Community vegetable gardens
  • Wind turbines
  • Open recreation space

Redesigning the Landscape for the RI State Offices

November 25th, 2014

Credit: Lucas Tucker

Credit: Lucas Tucker

As a part of their senior planting design studio, University of Rhode Island Landscape Architecture students were tasked with creating innovative, sustainable, and low-maintenance visions for the Rhode Island State Offices, located in the heart of Providence.

Students had the opportunity to speak with clients and frequent site visitors in order to understand the function of the space, its issues, and its opportunities. The main focus of the project was a green roof central plaza area, surrounded by three office buildings and situated on top of a subterranean parking garage. When finished, the project encompassed the entire property, fostering a sense of unity across the complex.

The class suggested drought-tolerant, shallow-rooted plant materials that could tolerate harsh growing conditions, while minimizing or eliminating the need for constant maintenance.

Final Design Presentation Ron Renaud, Executive Director RI Dept of Administration (center), Professor Richard Sheridan (far right), client group (back left) and LAR students. Students met with the client group to present their final designs and to discuss the future of the project.

Final Design Presentation
Ron Renaud, Executive Director RI Dept of Administration (center), Professor Richard Sheridan (far right), client group (back left) and LAR students. Students met with the client group to present their final designs and to discuss the future of the project.

Each student produced a comprehensive master plan for the campus, expressing visions of self-sustaining landscapes that could improve the form and function of the site, while providing for storm water management, biodiversity and minimizing heat stress.

Going forward, these designs will be used to showcase the site’s potential. The students’ projects will be on display later in the year at the Rhode Island Department of Administration building to inspire interest and demonstrate the state’s dedication to green design and sustainable development.


Richmond Recreation Center, Developing a Community Vision


Project Summary:
The report was prepared following a ten week project focused on a challenging 48 acre parcel of land located on a busy state highway in the center of town. The donated land was designed to offer recreation facilities for a range of users extending from the very young to the elderly and to those seeking active and passive activities. The vision was to provide alternative uses that were identified as priorities through a public workshop. Students included a building with parking; ball fields and trails; areas for viewing nature, picnicking and listening to music. As important, this centrally located parcel of ledge and wetlands, fields and forest provides a unique opportunity to create a central district where an existing golf course, elementary school and ball field, farm fields and a town hall and green could be woven into a recognizable recreation district. Plans and images illustrate a variety of activities all of which incorporate sustainable practices and materials.

Click here to download the project report (PDF, 48.8MB)

Livable solutions for dale carlia corners

Project Summary:
Dale Carlia Corners is a high traffic commercial center in the heart of Wakefield, RI. It is both a destination and throughway to Narragansett and points to the north and south. For this project URI students conducted a site analysis, ran a public design charrette, and developed three thematic master plans illustrating concepts for a safer and more sustainable village center. Buildings were reused and relocated, gathering areas were designed, and circulation improvements with new plantings and green infrastructure were proposed with the goal of improving the visual, functional and ecological qualities of the busy area.

Click here to view the project report online (Adobe Flashplayer required)
Click here to download the project report (PDF, 56.4MB)

Re-Visualizing The Rebels: A University of Rhode Island Landscape Architecture and South Kingstown High School Collaboration

Project Summary:
South Kingstown High School is a 15 acre campus with buildings and parking areas covering a large portion of the property. The concept of clean-up days led to this collaboration aimed at creating a vision for a greener, less impacting high school environment. Students from the high school, teachers, officials and members of the community met with the landscape architecture students, to share their views about what was important and needed for the densely developed property. The design class developed 5 master plans that illustrate a range of ideas for creating a greener, more connected South Kingstown High School.

Click here to view the project report online (Adobe Flashplayer required)
Click here to download the project report (PDF, 46.3MB)

A Vision for a Sustainable Narragansett Bay Campus, URI:

Project Summary:
This senior landscape architecture design studio focused on providing two master plans for the University of Rhode Island’s Bay Campus. A stakeholder group that included faculty, researchers, staff and administrators from the GSO and other Bay Campus facilities participated in a work shop, an open charrette and public meetings in order to develop a coherent low impact campus. The students focused on introducing green infrastructure, improving circulation, maintaining views and developing a sequence of spaces and connections highlighting the site’s history, its missions and unique location.

Click here to view the project report online (Adobe Flashplayer required)
Click here to download the project report (PDF, 40.7MB)

The Greene School:  A Comprehensive Design Manual, W. Greenwich, RI

Project Summary:
The Greene School, located in West Greenwich, RI is a proposal for a charter school which develops the culture of personal, community, and global stewardship using a curriculum centered on direct experiences with environmental science, and the technology that affects the natural world.

Click here to see the final report: The Greene School

Fishermen’s Memorial, Narragansett, RI

Project Summary:
This studio project focused on ecologically responsible design approaches incorporating low impact development methods through the utilization of best management practices for an RV campground located in the coastal community of Narragansett, Rhode Island.

Click here to see the final report: Fishermen’s Memorial

Gingerella Sports Complex, Westerly, RI

Park Design:  Jesse DeFalco ’10

RIDOT Courtyard, Providence, RI

Courtyard Design: Alice Donovan ’11

Student Profiles

Catherine Druken ‘13
Hometown:  Newport, RI

Design and nature, all wrapped up in a single package. That was the appeal of landscape architecture as a career for art- and outdoor-lover Catherine. And at URI, landscape architecture hasn’t been the only thing that’s gotten her outside. From camping and rock climbing with the Outing Club, to local city projects with the URI student chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects to community outreach projects, Catherine’s had a lot of inspiration and opportunity to be creative and learn more about what design means to her. Though she’s always been an avid gardener, her experiences at URI have inspired her to take her passion one big step forward. She’s pursuing a career designing urban park-farms and teaching communities about the value of sustainable local agriculture in response to rising food prices.

Braden Drypolcher ’12
Bow, New Hampshire

During the course of travelling the world and filling his passport, Braden began to notice that others around the globe seemed not to notice the natural beauty that he saw all around him. He became passionate about not only visiting such places, but also creating and preserving them. That passion led him to turn to landscape architecture – the perfect blend of his love of stewardship, science and art. And he says the landscape architecture program at URI offers “a tremendous technical education while inspiring a sense of design that has far surpassed my expectation.”  Now, he wants to build a career creating spaces that simultaneously educates while instilling in others a sense of place and stewardship for beauty. He’s beginning that journey during his paid internship designing and developing a new quad at URI’s Narragansett Bay Campus.