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MLA and MRED Collaborate on MRED Capstone Project

site plan drawing for Capstone project

This spring the Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program joined forces with the Executive Master of Real Estate Development’s (MRED)  students completing their capstone project.  The real estate students were divided into four teams, and each team was appointed one landscape architecture student to serve as the consultant for land development for each site.  Teams were challenged with the task of proposing a continuing care development within Reynolds Plantation in Georgia using the principles of New Urbanism.  This project required the need for landscape architectural expertise, as does the work of most real estate development, as it touched issues such as environmental conservation, sensitivity to hydrological forces, as well as cultural and social necessities.

The sites chosen by each team differed in location and ranged from fifty to hundred-plus acres.  Each site was faced with unique conditions such as the ecological protection of Lake Oconee whose presence is felt throughout the plantation, as well as the consideration of existing wetlands, a diverse topographical condition and a dense tree cover. 

Members in each group had diverse backgrounds in real-estate development ranging from finance to architecture.  It was interesting to see how each individual’s approach greatly differed from one another, with each person bringing a different value to the project.  Throughout the design process, it became evident how important it was to have each background at the table in order for conscientious decision making to ensue.  One of the greatest lessons learned from the experience was to not only focus on the bottom line and the financial gain of a project, but that conservation and sustainable land development practices are equally as important to bring value to the development.  Ecosystem services can enhance the aesthetic experience of the community as well as the health of the area and overall well-being of the future residents. 

It was an invaluable opportunity for the MLA and MRED programs to combine efforts.  Graduating MLA student Seth Ristow  stated of his experience, “I would highly recommend for the Auburn Master of Landscape Architecture program to include more interdisciplinary experiences such as this. Working on this project made me realize the potential of landscape architecture as a facilitator of development projects.”

Working on this collaborative project gave both groups of students great insight into the development process.  Both the real estate and landscape architecture students are leaving this experience with a better understanding of what it takes to create a sustainable, community-oriented development proposal.