What, then, is the main idea behind programming? It is the search for sufficient information to clarify, to understand, and to state the problem. If design is problem solving, then programming is problem seeking. These are two distinct processes, requiring different attitudes, even different capabilities.
— William Pena

Programming (or programmatic analysis) is the initial identification of project specific considerations for the desired project outcomes and the initiation of an overall project strategy.  A design project cannot proceed without a clearly defined program. Within professional practice, programming is essential to professional services in that it includes the identification of client-stated project goals and requirements and a generalized determination of the feasibility of these goals and requirments relative to the project opportunities and constraints.

The project goals and requirements can be translated into a a strategy for the theoretical, pragmatic and operational conditions of the project, such as the current and desired uses, anticipated operations, regulatory perspectives, required design elements, and aesthetic or other value-based considerations. Landscape architecture programming must also account for a variety of contextual and temporal concerns originating from site-specific, litho-, hydro-, bio-sphere processes, landform, climatic factors, historical and infrastructural artifacts, socio-ecological systems, daily/seasonal/annual change and other systems and processes.  What emerges from the programmatic analysis is a project approach that articulates the project opportunities, key program elements, proposed project strategy, and relevant precedents.

This work allows the design professional to critically interpret the client's program and offer an expanded range of project considerations beyond what may be initially envisioned by the client. This expanded range of considerations is derived from a design professional's disciplinary knowledge, overarching design philosophy and the ability to critically/creatively interpret the contextual conditions and opportunities afforded by the project. The expanded range of program considerations can be based upon the designer's interpretation of the initial project program or known site conditions; focused, preliminary research into the project to identify potential opportunities and challenges; reflection upon previous project experience including expertise with projects of similar scope and scale; and awareness of emerging trends or issues, and/or potential precedent projects.

Expanded project considerations may not always translate into a quantifiable increase in program elements themselves; to the contrary, the expanded considerations may actually serve to reduce or otherwise re-direct the client's initial program requirements. It is common for public realm projects to encounter a wildly diverse, and potentially conflicting, range of desired park uses or park elements. Therefore, within the programming phase, it is the responsibility of the designer to acknowledge the desired range of program but to also curate the program so the project scope, scale, budget, operations or other considerations are feasible. For example, the realization of the award-winning Discovery Green in Houston, TX was largely a function of the design professional’s initial understanding of the client-based program, preliminary conceptual design previously completed by others, and the experience to identify that portions of the initial program were unfeasible (amount of program exceeded the physical size of the site, impractical programming given intended park use).  See here for a LAM article on Discovery Green and project programming. 



The work of Phase 02 is comprised of three, inter-related efforts that lead to a proposed program statement. This work includes site reconnaissance and identification of programmatic opportunities; precedent research and analysis; and, development of your project approach and program proposal.  The final deliverable for this submittal will serve as the basis of design in subsequent design phases throughout the balance of the semester.   

PART 1) Site Reconnaissance. 

The project site reconnaissance provides an opportunity to examine the varying contexts of the project site/area. Over the course of the week we will meet with a variety of individuals, all with varying priorities and interests. These organizations/individuals have been selected to provide a somewhat broad- and perhaps contrasting- spectrum of comments and organizational agendas.  As an academic project, it is anticipated that their input will help identify potential project opportunities and program in lieu of the directed guidance (and reimbursement) of a client. Upon return to the studio, the input and findings from your meetings, combined with critical mapping, precedent analysis and site documentation, will be used to establish a program statement.  Therefore, it is essential that you listen carefully to stakeholders and record what you see and hear.  The site visit and meetings are also an opportunity- sometimes the only opportunity- to ask questions of those with project expertise so do not hesitate to explore and to ask questions!  Through this process, one can start to assemble the input and detect patterns, discrepancies, opportunities and potential obstacles within the project. This ‘fact-finding’ period is critical to the success of the project as it is often here where opportunities emerge to find programmatic synergy across varying stakeholders or to question assumptions and ask questions that no one else is asking.

The site reconnaissance is also the time to experience the project site and its visceral and spatial qualities. You will need to record the contributing qualities of a place; to identify potential spatial or visceral opportunities or challenges; to verify technical or infrastructure limitations; and conduct field verification of site conditions. It is advisable that the site be observed at various times of the day/week or season (if feasible) so as to develop a broad understanding of the site qualities. The critical mapping themes of Phase 01 also provide a way of examining the site and city.  

When photo-documenting an area, it is important to develop a large quantity of site images, particularly images from different viewpoints and important viewpoints or viewsheds. The images can then be used as backgrounds for project visualizations or they can be used as references later on in the project to understand existing site conditions in more detail and that may otherwise be hard to ascertain (i.e. indicating where a river edge is concrete versus steel, etc.). In addition to recording a site through photos and sketches, it is important to have a running list of potential questions or items that require follow-up and more information.


PART 2) Precedent Research.  

This step is a quick, focused research effort to establish a working knowledge of the potential range of urban park programmatic considerations that support and expand the potential of the project site/area. A portion of the precedent research will be performed while in New York City. 

For this submittal, your precedent research will involve two projects, one urban park in New York City (pre-selected from the list below) that you will visit in person and one urban park project you will select and research outside of NYC (see other list below). The collective precedent work of the studio will become a catalog of precedents and programmatic considerations that – along with the site reconnaissance findings- enable the development of potential conceptual design (Phase 03).   Note that the precedent research for the urban park in New York City will be combined with the requirements for LA8773, which includes research and field documentation of assemblies. The NYC precedent project will also serve as the site for your work in LA8773, 

//  Review each of the project lists below and identify and rank four possible precedent projects that you would like to investigate and analyze in more depth. Email the ranked list of four projects to me no later than Friday at 11pm. After receipt, I will provide the final list that indicates which projects you will research.  You will work with one precedent project in NYC. If you do not send me your preferences, I will select and assign your projects.  

// For each precedent project, research the urban park, its designer, client, key dates, processes, site development through time and its primary park typology (per lecture/Cranz). Your research should also include an analysis of the program (client, primary uses, operations, etc) and important programmatic relationships.  Based on your research, try to interpret the overall project meaning and the efficacy (or not) of the current program. Identify what strategies and site-related improvements reinforce the project's program and meaning. Ask questions about the project and develop a position.  For example, what is the relationship between former use and current use? What artifacts of site/buildings/infrastructure remain? Of those, which are intact and preserved or which have modified?  How does the presence of former site/building/ infrastructure artifacts convey meaning? How are new site /building/infrastructure used within the project? What materials are used and how are they used?  What experiences or spatial /formal devices are used? Why key decisions were made by the designer relative to the new program? What political/economic/social/environmental circumstances gave rise to the current program? Is it successful? What could have been done differently and why?

// For the precedent project in NYC, visit the urban park on your own/outside of scheduled group meetings and observe the intended (and actual) programs, the combination of spaces, materials and other project elements that support the various park programs and park experiences. Document the park through a combination of notated plan sketches, perspective and section sketches, photographs, imprints, video and other means. It will be beneficial to visit the park at various times, for example a weekday lunch hour versus a weekend afternoon or evening. This site visit and documentation should also incorporate portions of the work required for LA8773.

// Compile the precedent materials into a powerpoint presentation, per Work Products below. Presentation to peers on Friday, October 6. 


NYC Precedent Projects (pick 4 and rank your preference 1-4).  

  1. Bryant Park, Manhattan
  2. Brooklyn Bridge Park, Fulton Landing+Pier 1, Brooklyn
  3. East River Waterfront Esplanade and Piers, Manhattan
  4. Hudson River Park- Chelsea Cove, Manhattan
  5. Hunter's Point South Waterfront Park, Queens
  6. Paley Plaza, Manhattan
  7. Governors Island, Brooklyn
  8. High Line, Phase 1, Manhattan
  9. High Line, Phase 2, Manhattan
  10. High Line, Phase 3, Manhattan
  11. Bush Terminal Piers Park, Brooklyn (Sunset Park)
  12. Swindler Cove, North Harlem
  13. La Plaza Cultural Community Garden, Manhattan (weekends only?)
  14. Sixth Street & Avenue B Community Garden
  15. Red Hook Community Farms, Brooklyn (Red Hook)
  16. Glass Bottle Beach/Dead Horse Bay (Jamaica Bay/Roxbury) 
  17. West Harlem Waterfront Park, Harlem
  18. Teardrop Park, Manhattan
  19. Edge Park, Brooklyn (Williamsburg)
  20. other proposed by you, with approval


Precedent Projects (pick 4 and rank 1-4).

  1. Ballast Point Park, Sydney, Australia
  2. Brightwater Wastewater Treatment Plant, Seattle, WA, USA
  3. Buffalo Bayou Promenade, Houston, TX USA
  4. Canal Park, Washington DC
  5. Chicago Riverwalk (expansion), Chicago, IL
  6. Cheonggyecheon, Seoul, Korea
  7. Connecticut Water Treatment Facility, New Haven, CT USA
  8. Copenhagen Harbour Bath, Copenhage, Denmark
  9. Evergreen Brick Works, Toronto, Canada
  10. Gas Works Park, Seattle, WA
  11. Liupanshui Minghu Wetland Park, Liupanshui, Guizhou Province, China
  12. Ningbo Eco- Corridor, Ningobo, China
  13. Railyard Park, Birmingham, AL
  14. Renaturation of the River Aire, Geneva, Switzerland
  15. Qian'an Sanlihe Greenway, Qian'an City, Hebei Province, China
  16. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, UK
  17. Qunli Stormwater Park, Haerbin City, Heilongjiang Province, China
  18. Sugar Beach, Toronto, Canada
  19. Tanghe River Park (Red Ribbon Park), Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province, China
  20. The Lawn on D, Boston, MA
  21. The Steel Yard, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
  22. The Goods Line, Sydney, Australia
  23. Underpass Park, Toronto, Canada
  24. Yongning River Park, Taizhou City, Zhejiang Province, China
  25. other proposed by you, with approval


PART 3) Project Approach and Program Statement

This phase of the project is where the long-term strategic direction of the project is identified. Part 3 is the reflection and synthesis of the findings of Phase 01 and the first two parts of Phase 02. The synthesis consists of your interpretation of the overall Gowanus project opportunities, potential goals and how you generally envision addressing the goals/opportunities, key strategies related to the proposed program, and a list of potential program elements.  The Project Approach and Program Statement should include both qualitative knowledge- aspirational and/or organizational goals and strategies (conceptual); and quantitative knowledge- facts and spatial/functional/operational needs, anticipated uses, etc.  See folder for examples. 

    Phase 02_Work Products

    1) Site Reconnaissance-

    Work products from the Site Reconnaissance should includes meeting notes, sketches, photos, audio and video recordings, field measurement and other relevant data and observations gleaned during your travel.  Photo, video and audio recordings taken during the site visit will be shared with the studio in the course folder and will serve as a collective resource for the studio. 


    2) Precedent Research- 

    a) PDF document** utilizing the provided template  (utilize same page dimension, fonts, cover-page title block, aerial photo and location indicators). Based on your field sketches and other available information, prepare a figure/ground site plan that is to scale and illustrates the primary plantings, paving, structures,and 1 block context etc.  Do this for each precedent project.  Provide a combination of illustrations, historic and current photographs, diagrams, plans, and text.  No more than 24 pages, with approximately 12 pages for each precedent project. **A Google Slides template is provided here so the combined precedent studies have a similar visual appearance. Please avoid grainy, low resolution images. 

    b) A narrative description (500 word max) that includes a brief summary of the overall project theme and discussion of the "3 Big Ideas".  Use provided template and include as last page of the powerpoint described above. 1 page. 

    Please avoid grainy, low resolution images.

    3) Project Approach and Program Statement

    Prepare a design proposal that includes a Project Approach and Program Statement that will serve as the proposed basis of design for your project throughout the remainder of the semester.  The statement should include three primary parts:

    a) Project Approach. Provide a brief narrative statement (max 300 word abstract) that summarizes your proposed project approach.  See the Programming as Strategy: Programming as Basis of Design white paper and professional examples. 

    b) Project Opportunities. A brief written description of a minimum of 4 project opportunities (150 words max for each) .  The four opportunities should be gleaned from your research to date, including Phase 01 critical mapping, precedent research and most importantly- notes and other observations gleaned during the site reconnaissance and site meetings. It may be helpful to think of the opportunities as project goals. The description of EACH project opportunity should also include some form of rationale that justifies why you believe it is a project opportunities. Each project opportunity should be supported with relevant research data, site photographs, quotes, and/or precedents so as to provide a more in-depth understanding of the opportunity.

    c) Potential Program Elements. For each project opportunity, prepare a bullet list or table of programmatic considerations (max one page each), including anticipated uses and activities, supporting elements and infrastructure. Compile into one program catalog (PDF) that together identifies the range of POTENTIAL project uses, operations, key design elements along with relevant considerations for each project opportunity.  

    Assemble a), b) and c) above into a project proposal that describes, in visual and narrative format, the following:


    Project Location and Context

    Project Approach

    Project Opportunities

    Potential Program Elements. 

    The format should be PDF, 8.5x11 landscape orientation, color and not exceed 24 pages, including the the cover.  You will present your proposal to the class on Friday, October 13 from 2:30 to 5:30. You will have 5 minutes to present to invited guest critics. 

    Deadline: The PDF proposal should be uploaded to the course folder no later than 12p noon on Friday, October 13. 




    0922: Phase_02 posted. Review/email potential precedent projects before 11pm Friday.  

    0925: Site Reconnaissance 

    0926: Site Reconnaissance 

    0927: Site Reconnaissance

    0928: Site Reconnaissance

    0929: Open

    1002: Trip debrief and Lecture 05- Project Programming and Strategy 

    1003: Individual meeting with MT (30 minutes, each)

    1004: Individual meeting with MT (30 minutes, each)

    1005: Individual meeting with MT (30 minutes, each)

    1006: Precedent Research findings- presentation to peers. 

    1009: Peer discussion - Programming and Strategy

    1011: Work Session

    1013: Part_3 presentations to guest critics.  Deadline: 12p noon. 


    PHASE 02_SUGGESTED READINGS and references

    See here. 


    PHASE 02_PHASE 02_Site Reconnaissance ITINERARY

    Your course fees are used to cover the cost of lodging. We have group reservations at the Red Lion Inn and Suites, 279 Butler St, Brooklyn, NY 11217  Phone: (718) 855-9600 Check-in is on your own whenever you arrive on Monday, September 25. Departure is on Friday, September 29th.  You will need to use a personal credit card when checking in, which will cover any incidental rooms charges beyond room rate. The hotel advised they have free storage space if you would like to drop off your luggage on Monday morning, or leave it after check-out on Friday.

    You are responsible for the cost and furnishing of all meals. 


    You are responsible for the cost and furnishing of all meals. 

    The schedule is posted here (to be posted). Please be on time for all meetings. If you miss a meeting, kindly meet us at the next meeting. If you are ill, visited by Monroe the ghost, have fallen victim to the plague or other serious maladies and are unable to join us, please contact us by email or text.

    Matthew Tucker: 781.879.7233
    Michael Keenan: 763.670.7937



    If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.

    — Albert Einstein