SPDC Announces Winning Team for the LA Program's 2013 Graphic Workshop & Big Ten Design Charrette

The MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction's Landscape Architecture Program hosted the 9th Biennial Graphic Workshop and Big Ten Design Charrette Oct. 3-5.

Bob Chipman and SPDC students during 2013 Graphic Workshop & Design Charrette. Photo courtesy of Kurt Stepnitz, Michigan State University.

The MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction’s (SPDC) Landscape Architecture (LA) Program hosted the 9th Biennial Graphic Workshop and Big Ten Design Charrette Oct. 3-5 featuring national award-winning landscape architects James P. Richards, FASLA; and Landscape Architecture alumnus and Alumni Advisory Board Member Bob Chipman, ASLA. The three-day event held on the campus of Michigan State University allowed Richards and Chipman to give instruction to SPDC Landscape Architecture and Interior Design (ID) students to come up with their visions to support the design of the East Lansing Park District, including the Abbot Road entrance of the MSU campus.

So what exactly is a charrette? Some call charrettes a combination of a town meeting and a barn raising. The SPDC Graphic Workshop and Design Charrette was a fun and creative design event that allowed SPDC students to work with these acclaimed national designers to draw and write ideas for the future vision of the MSU/East Lansing-based site. It also provided an opportunity for the public to give comments and ideas as the design unfolded and allowed them to learn how community planning works. Attendees participated in a walk-through of the project areas to help them in creating their visions for the site.

“Students were given a project that asked them to analyze the site,” said Paul Nieratko, Senior Specialist in the LA Program and Coordinator of the event. “They then had the opportunity to ask questions of the MSU planning and development team, as well as the City of East Lansing staff, to determine approximately what they were looking for.”

The highlight of the Graphic Workshop and Design Charrette was the design competition in which SPDC students worked together in teams to develop concepts and draw ideas for the site. A jury of professional landscape architects, developers and industry peers chose the winning team on Saturday, October 5, 2013, which included Sophomore Dexin Chen, First Year Alum Jessica Wendlandt, Freshman Hanhao Yuan, Senior Bridget Safferman, Senior Maudie Smith and Sophomore Tierra Nelson (not pictured). After the winning drawing went through final revisions in Nieratko’s 4th year studio, it was sent to the City of East Lansing and MSU Planning for consideration and/or further design by professional staff and private developers.

Nieratko stated that the judges considered giving honorary awards to all the entries, because every teams’ work exhibited potential in some aspect of their designs.

Students in the SPDC LA and ID programs were not only exposed to a real-life opportunity to work with Richards and Chipman, they also had an opportunity to potentially shape the future physical structure of part of MSU’s campus and downtown East Lansing. Past Graphic Workshop and Design Charrettes have occasionally resulted in built works, such as the site of the former Morrill Hall, now called Morrill Plaza, where the building once stood (2011 ). Other design projects from prior years included:

  • 2009: Working Master Plan for the Woldumar Nature Center;
  • 2007: Grand River waterfront at Cooley Gardens and Michigan Women’s Historical Society;
  • 2005: Community Dream, Lansing Catholic Central and Lansing Eastern High School’s joint athletic fields;
  • 2003: Grand River waterfront at the Lansing Board of Water and Light’s Ottawa Street Power Station;
  • 2002: Courtyard for Lansing Eastern High School;
  • 2001: Original City Center II, Albert Avenue, East Lansing;
  • 1999: Commercial District Walkway and pedestrianization of MAC Avenue, East Lansing; and
  • 1997: Village of Dimondale, MI, dam and community park along the Grand River.

It should be noted that the winning designs from prior years were submitted to and reviewed for consideration by the communities, political entities and developers, but not all of them made it to the construction phase.

Questions about this year’s event should be sent to Paul Nieratko at nieratko@msu.edu or call (517) 353-7883. Learn more at Graphic Workshop and Big Ten Design Charrette. More information on the Morrill Hall/Plaza project is coming soon.


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