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MLA Thesis Profiles—Molly Hendry and Gaby Arevalo

Thesis Spotlight MLA

Landscape Thesis 2016 Student Profiles

The aim of Thesis Studio within Auburn’s Graduate Landscape Architecture Program is to facilitate students’ development of a theoretically sophisticated understanding of the discipline of landscape architecture through engagement in research by design. Research by design is an open-ended investigation, with blind alleys, slow stretches, and periods of uncertainty, but if the explorations are nurtured with care and rigor, the ups and downs will be understood as necessary episodes in an exhilarating and rewarding process. Although the thesis instructor provides an overall structure for the studio and a schedule of significant milestones, each thesis project has its own shape and unfolds in its own way. Each students’ individual investigation occurs at multiple scales, locations, and timeframes.

The MLA thesis spotlight of 2016 shines on two recent graduates of the program: Molly Hendry and Gabriela Arevalo. Although this dynamic duo graduated with their Masters of Landscape Architecture in May, they both have accrued impressive recognition for their work. In March, Molly and Gaby each presented their individual thesis work at the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture’s Annual Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.  They were also selected as finalists for the Alabama Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architecture’s Student Award of Honor.  In addition to also receiving the Architectural Research Center Consortium’s King Medal, Molly was recently selected by the Garden Club of America as the 2016-2017 Royal Horticultural Society Interchange Fellow. This partnership between the Garden Club of America and the Royal Horticultural Society allows Molly to spend ten months living in the UK continuing her research within several significant gardens including: RHS Wisley, Sheffield University, the Eden Project, Great Dixter, Royal Botanic Garden at Edinburgh, Chelsea Flower Show, Winfield House (US embassy), Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, and Tresco Abbey.


The Garden Project: Reclaiming the Garden as an Intimate Connection to Place by Molly Hendry

The garden is a relationship. It brings humanity into tension with nature, creating an assemblage of shared moments over time. The Garden Project explores the potential of the garden within the contemporary profession of landscape architecture. The garden is often not a part of the critical discourse in the current profession. Although gardens are being designed, they are not seen as a powerful tool for addressing the environmental challenges facing the future of the landscape.

The Garden Project asserts that the garden is more relevant to this age than ever before. The garden is poised to bring a society that is detached from their surrounding world back into a direct relationship with place. Many of the current issues of modern society are born out of our consumer culture, which demands instant gratification with the least amount of effort. The garden stands in direct opposition to personal disassociation by requiring both time and effort. But through time, the garden yields a relationship that is much more valuable through its ability to not only speak to the genius loci, the spirit of the place, but also the genius animi, the spirit of the soul. The key to activating the genius animi of a place is to infuse the design with a series of qualities that can evoke an emotional engagement from a person in the garden.

The Garden Project explores three qualities: light + shadow, movement + pause, and ephemerality + fixity. Each quality is interrogated to achieve a certain effect within the garden. The findings of the study culminate in a manifesto, calling the profession of landscape architecture to reclaim the garden as a valuable tool for forging a personal connection to places through the humble moments of a garden.

Molly's Full Thesis Book on Scribd

Molly Hendry—The Garden Project 


EcoRevelatory Design: Making Legible the Local Implication of a National Energy Infrastructure by Gaby Arevalo

This year The National Park Service is celebrating its 100-year anniversary. Since the creation of the first National Park, America has shown its interest in preserving and protecting the nation’s cultural and natural resources. Consequently, ideas like Yellow Stone National Park or the Appalachian Trail responded to one radical idea that has evolved into a cohesive national effort to maintain the natural world and its relationship with humans. These decisions were a direct consequence to the notion that people have about “nature” or “wilderness” at that time. Our contemporary culture is constantly seeking new areas to protect. In this rapidly changing world, where environmental concerns and resource management are a matter of the utmost importance, generating a new radical idea about nature-human relationship is needed.

This is the moment to consider other types of landscapes (that are highly manipulated by and for humans) as sublime and beautiful places. Extraction sustains our society; cities rely on energy but we are disconnected from the landscapes that are being exploited in order to yield that energy. As the world population increases, urban areas (or consumption landscapes) expand correspondingly but spatially removed from landscapes of extraction. As a result, a vast area of earth is being exploited, and the network to transport those resources is growing as well. Meanwhile, our relationship to energy landscapes recedes ever further from daily view. The U.S..government is investing in the development of other types of renewable energies regimes like solar and wind on vast stretches of landscapes all across American West. This change is an opportunity for designers to rethink landscapes of energy regimes and offer a shift in the way humans interact with these places. Americans, in particular, are the largest consumers of electricity and thus produce more harmful greenhouse gases that can accelerate global climate change (Revkin). This situation highlights the potential for places of extraction, transmission, and consumption to be re-conceptualized to generate a change in perspective.

In an attempt to reexamine the use of utility corridors, this study explores the possibility of creating a regional hiking armature that reveals and celebrates a novel notion of nature and wilderness, one that explicitly engages energy infrastructure regimes. This thesis employs and advances strategies of revelatory design to make legible the local implications of a national energy infrastructure. The ground for exploration is the Sabal Trail, a 515-mile proposed interstate underground pipeline which crosses different ecosystems and various land uses. This trail is designed as an ecologically rich landscape that, when viewed and experienced holistically, can mediate the disparity between postcard nature, real nature, and manipulated nature.

Gaby’s full thesis book

Gaby Arevalo—ECO | Revelatory Design