The work to date has largely operated in the realm of relative abstraction, starting with the analytical methods of critical mapping and programming to the recent ideation of conceptual design. With schematic design, the design process begins to transition from an abstract/conceptual idea into a design that is more concretely expressed and realized through proposed forms, spaces and materials.  This transition occurs largely though an increase in the design specificity and precision of proposed systems, moments and program. The role of the diagram now shifts from an instrument of general conceptualization to an instrument of increasing precision so as to examine, postulate and articulate  further design considerations grounded in the reality of site-specificity. 

Schematic design is identifiable by an increased measure of site-scale precision that delineates the initial dimension and extent of proposed site programming and operations. This is also the phase of the project where a variety of investigative, scaled design representations-study models, sections, perspectives, etc- are initiated to examine, test and refine the design proposal. Here again, divergent thinking through iteration and alternatives are desired to further test and refine the design. The result is an initial schematic design proposal that brings form, space and meaning to the intended site program and begins to articulate site-specific spatial and experiential qualities through proposed infrastructure, systems, material and other considerations.

Typically schematic design requires a shift in scale. Like switching the lens aperture on a microscope, the designer must test the overall site design by switching the lens of examination by “zooming in” on portions of the site and also “zooming out” to see how the site design fits within the larger physical and conceptual contexts. Accordingly, as the scale changes and specificity increases, the designer is required to conduct additional critical design studies (and iterations) ACROSS SCALE and REPRESENTATION. Thus scaled site plans, sections, perspectives and models take on new roles.  For example, the conceptual diagram indicating a system of pedestrian routes is now translated into measured paths in planimetric site layout, from which new questions emerge. What specific form shall the path take relative to horizontal layout? What is the desired pavement width given intended experience and site conditions and how does the alignment of the path orchestrate a sequence of experiences and lines of sight? Here the perspective view can be used to test and refine the path layout.   In considering such questions, the designer must also balance the experiential with potential programmatic and functional considerations while not losing, but enhancing, the original conceptual design intent and problem solving?  Should the path be planned to periodically accommodate pop-up vendor tents for a market, provide service or maintenance access? How does the path system relate to earthworks or access to various elevations. Here, the site section/elevation can be used to test the technical and formal parameters or slope, aspect, above/below ground infrastructure and access. And what of other programs and spaces and how they all interconnect? Here, the schematic design site model can be used to test the overall schematic network of paths, landform, planting, infrastructure and space.



Over the course of the schematic design phase you will refine the concept into a scaled site plan that identifies the primary design elements of your proposal.  In contrast to the largely gestural work of conceptual design, your work will now advance with the an additional degree of specificity necessary to establish a clear, concrete design proposal. To achieve this, the scale and methods utilized include additional precision so as to more accurately test and visualize the design proposal. During Phase 04 you will continue to refine and further articulate your overarching project approach and opportunities into a site-specific design proposal. This work will focus on providing schematic design specificity for the entire site.

You can think of the work over the next 3 weeks as having three primary efforts.  One, you will need to transition the conceptual design into a draft schematic design layout plan. Two, the process of making the conceptual design more precise and specific will introduce you to new design questions and problems that will need resolution. Sections, perspectives and models will be used to to study these new questions and problems and to explore variations. Three, the entire schematic design will be revised and refined into a cohesive and clear site-scale schematic design proposal, with plan, model(s), sections and perceptive images.

To begin, you will need to develop a refined conceptual site plan. Based on the comments received for the three conceptual design alternatives, quickly prepare a revised and preferred conceptual design alternative. This preferred concept will be the basis of your schematic design site plan layout. Utilize the class .DWG file/aerial to draft the layout and develop a visual hierarchy for paths, etc. Once the primary elements of the site layout are in place, use the layout for additional design study and refine the site layout as necessary. As your work transitions into site-specific design, this would also be a good moment to refresh your memory of the work of Phase 02, including the course catalog of precedent projects as well as your own Project Approach and Opportunities.

Looking ahead, in Phase 05 you will pick one important and interesting sub-project with system+moment+program to study in more detail (in addition to refining the overall site schematic design).  But more details on that later.



Schematic Design submittal work products include the following items. Note that ALL the items below will be revised and updated during Phase 05 for use in the final project presentations on December 15 and 16.  The MMSHS dwg file and PDF file for use in SD and DD is found here.

Additional work products will include each student preparing a portion of the site base model for use by the entire class. This includes confirmation of site topography and building heights, as well as developing a standard"existing condition" model for each building on site. We will discuss how to subdivide this work, deadline for completion, cost, etc during class on Monday, October 31. This work will need to be complete by the end of the first week.

NOTE: The work products describe the final requirements only. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to use the broad range of design techniques that you feel are necessary for your work, such as sketches, diagrams, study models, precedent research, reflective writing, etc.  As always, I welcome updates via email or meetings by office hours or appointment.

  • One, 1:50 site layout plan, in CAD/grayscale with very limited shading/hatching as necessary; not illustrated, primary spot elevations to show critical control elevations at top and bottom of slope; that clearly illustrates a feasible, preferred design proposal for the project site as a whole. Provide labels for significant spaces, walks, etc. For those using the MMSHS as their project, you will use the issued site base plan (.dwg) as the base layer.
  • No less than two, Site Sections/Elevations at 1:20 (or 1:30 if necessary) that bisect the site from one site boundary to the opposite site boundary.  Illustrative and labeled, indicating existing and proposed grades. 42x30 landscape orientation.
  • Two site perspectives, initially based on archive of existing site photos. Each, 24x36 landscape orientation.
  • One 1:50 scale, schematic design model based on the site layout plan, showing landforms, paths, trees (wire or other), walls and other major site improvements. All existing buildings to be shown using class building stock; new buildings or building alterations will require fabrication of individual buildings.
  • Two, 1:50 Site Event and Day Use Diagrams (one for events, one for typical day use), indicating program/use during temporary site events and typical day use. Utilize site layout linework for background and represent events/programming spaces and furnishings with unified color scheme of dots and dashed line polygons, or similar. See examples of diagrams from Phase 02 programming references, found here. In particular, note the program event diagrams of the Denver Union Station (BOG) and the Downtown Commons. 

Due: Thursday, November 17 at 11:11pm as PDF file in the course folder. (link to SD Submittal folder).  Bundle all drawings into one PDF file and name the file according to class requirements provided in the syllabus. At the end of the PDF, include 3 images (PDF) ofthe final site model. 


1028: Phase_04 posted.  

1031: Brief introduction, SD start-up discussion and desk crits.  

1102: Work Session.  Inside the studio-redlining and quality control.   

1104: Work session.  Desk Crits. 

Studio guest/observer Professor Zhu Xun, Harbin Institute of Technology. LA (cancelled per Professor Zun)

Landscape Architecture Department Lecture- Sean Burkholder. Assistant Professor, University of Buffalo School of Architecture. 230-400pm. Rapson 58. 

1107: Lecture+Work session. The Analytical Section. 

1109: Guest lecture on climate-adaptive design research by Alex Heid, TA. Work session. (MT out- UMN School of Architecture studio crits)

1111: Lecture+Work Session.  (postponed; post-election Design in Challenging Times discussion and scenarios) Work Session. 

1114:  Design by Deconstruction. lecture. Brief discussion of presentation strategies for 11/18. Work session. Desk Crits.  

1116 Work session . Desk Crits. 

1118: Schematic Design Presentations. Invited guest critics. 




Landscape  Richard Haag. FASLA.  Rich discusses in detail the  design process for a couple of his most notable projects, including Gas Works Park and Bloedel Reserve.

Happy Design: Current Projects  Claude Cormier, Principal and Founder. Claude Cormier and Associates. Claude highlights several of their most notable public projects in Canada, notably Pink Balls. 

Landscape Lecture Martha Schwartz. FASLA. Principal and Founder. Martha Schwartz and Partners. An overview of some of Martha's recent work and her design process. 

London Olympic Park. George Hargreaves. Senior Principal and Director of Design. Hargreaves Associates.   George focuses on the design process of London Olympic Park, with a notable discussion on project strategy and site-specificity of design.  

Landscape Lecture. Julie Bargmann. Professor of LA, UVA; Founder D.I.R.T. Studio.  Julie discusses her approach to post-industrial sites though use of material and landscape process.