Phase 1 research identified the preliminary contextual understanding of the MIssissippi River, with a specific focus on the complex hydrosocial cycles and territories that govern the flow of water through the landscape, river history and people’s lives. In cities like New Orleans or in rural landscapes like the Birds Point Floodway, these cycles and territories are visible within river control infrastructures. In other areas, the hydrosocial cycle and territories are more abstract and found layered behind river narratives, policies or deep histories. In addition, many of the river narratives and symbols carry stories and meaning that seem disconnected from contemporary understandings of the river and human hydrologic agency, social perceptions and cultural histories. How might these observations yield new potential directions for form and flow of the Mississippi River and the communities that lie along its banks?

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


A design project cannot proceed without a clearly defined program as it provides a sense of the general project outcomes. 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 requirements relative to the project opportunities and constraints.

The project goals and requirements can be translated into 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.



The work of Phase 2 builds upon the critical analysis of Phase 1 by identifying project specific opportunities that lead to the initiation of an overall project strategy. Phase 02 is comprised of three, concurrent and inter-related efforts that lead to a proposed program statement. This work includes the identification of overall project opportunities; precedent research and analysis; and, development of a 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.   

Project Opportunities.

Identify a MINIMUM of three different project opportunities. The opportunities should be based on the conclusions of your research from the first 4 weeks of the semester (Phase 1). An opportunity can be thought of as a paradox, set of challenges or issues, or an unrealized condition. Each project opportunity should originate from your Phase 1 research along other relevant independent research you have conducted to date. In addition, each project opportunity should relate to the concepts of hydrosociality, hydrosocial cycle and/or hydrosocial territories.

Precedent Research.  

Precedent projects provide an opportunity to develop your body of knowledge related to the social, ecological or aesthetic dimensions of landscape architectural projects. They become a catalog of project approaches, outcomes, forms, etc that may be reinterpreted and applied to your own work.

Identify and research a minimum of two precedent projects. The precedent project should relate, at least in part, to your project opportunities and the overall Project Approach and Program Statement (see below). For each precedent project, you will need to independently research the “project”, its designer or primary organizers/leaders, community, client, key dates, processes, and its primary programmatic emphasis and important programmatic outcomes.   For example, what is the relationship between former use and current use? How does the program and actions convey meaning and relate to rivers and water? Are new site /building/infrastructure used within the project, if so-how and why?  What experiences, interpretive systems or spatial /formal devices are used? Why key decisions were made by the designer/organizer 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? Compile your observations and any precedent project images, reports, etc for your submittal and presentation (see below).

Precedent projects need not be landscape architecture specific and may include a wide variety of social, ecological, cultural or other programmatic focuses. For example, the following could be considered precedent projects (you must identify your own):

Los Angeles Urban Rangers (Los Angeles, CA) a private, non-profit program that seeks to build awareness of everyday, postnatural ecology and hydrology of the Los Angeles region.

IBA Emscher Park (Germany) a program envisioned by the German government to revitalize the post-industrial heritage and economy of the Ruhr/Emscher Valley region (including the development of Landschaft Park Duisburg Nord, Zollverein World Heritage Area, etc)

Renaturation of the River Aire (Geneva, Switzerland). A small river “restoration” project that seeks to maintain the prior channelized river as a public space while creating a new dynamic river system.

Kissimmee River Restoration Project . A decades long effort by the State Of Florida to reverse the US Army Corps of Engineers channelization of the Kissimmee River so as to rehabilitate the ecology and hydrology of the river for the protection of the Florida Everglades.

San Gabriel River Corridor Master Plan. A “traditional” landscape architecture master plan that analyzes the past and current conditions of a river corridor and proposes a future direction for new open space and other programs.

Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor . A unique U.S. National Park in the Blackstone River valley of New England, this National Park is a collection of small cultural/industrial heritage sites throughout the length of the river among active commercial, residential and recreational land uses.


Project Approach and Program Statement

The Project Approach and Program Statement is the primary deliverable of Phase 02. This document will provide the overarching direction of your re-envisioning of the Mississippi River (or portions thereof). In combination with the opportunities and precedents, identify a project approach and program statement that establishes the long-term strategic direction of your project. This should be a synthesis of your interpretation of the overall Mississippi River opportunities, potential goals, and specific locations along the river/river valley. The Approach and Statement should also indicate how you generally envision addressing the goals/opportunities, key strategies related to a proposed program, and a list of potential program goals.  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 from 2016 and 2017. 

Phase 02_Work Products

You will prepare a program analysis document that includes your Project Opportunities, Precedent Projects and proposed Project Approach and Program Statement. All three of these documents will be compiled into one PDF document that will be presented in class on Monday, October 15th.  

Project Approach and Program Statement

Prepare a design proposal 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 three project opportunities (150 words max for each) .  The three opportunities should be gleaned from your research to date, including Phase 01 critical mapping, precedent research, independent research and field research. 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 opportunity. 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). Describe what you envision being changed, potential uses or activities, etc. These need not be traditional program elements- i.e. “new riverfront parking lot” but may be more general. 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:


Potential Project Locations and Context

Project Approach

Project Opportunities

Potential Program Elements. 

The format should be PDF, 16:9 screen ratio with landscape orientation, color and not exceed 24 pages, including the cover.  You will present your proposal to the class on Monday, October 15 from 2:30 to 5:30. You will have 5 minutes to present to your peers and peers will provide feedback. 

Deadline: The PDF proposal should be uploaded to the course folder no later than 12p noon on Monday, October 15. 



1008: Phase_02 posted.   

1010: Project Programming and Strategy lecture. Work Session

1012: Work Session

1015: Presentation to peers.  (Deadline: upload by 12p noon. 10/15)



See here. 

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