Places for People!

April 30th, 2014 marked a major triumph for the School of Landscape Architecture and students of LAN 498: Collaborative Project: Design/Build/Collaborate as they put their design eye and expertise to the test in the public realm.

At 6am on Wednesday morning, six students, a truck full of built modules, plants, and two instructors, Ghigo DiTommaso and Yasmine Farazian,  set out to install a temporary one-day urban open space that was designed to add vibrancy to the intersection of  Ritch  and Lusk Street in the SoMA district of San Francisco.










Students Manuel Bustos, Mariah Hum, Melissa Co, Shang Jing, Wayne Robbins IV, and Xin Huang busy installing their designs!

Early in the semester, the class set forth to define what an “urban intersection” meant, and to seek out spaces within SoMA that exhibit attributes of the definition. After research and analysis, the students defined an “urban Intersection” as a space in which history, living, working, eating, and leisure overlap and creat synergy. With this in mind, students selected their site and found  Ritch Street between Townsend and Brannan Street to be the perfect example of where an industrial past meets a technological present and intersect with residential use, and local businesses that cater to the needs of the public.

The students then identified challenges of the site  that ultimately led to fascinating opportunities. To the east side of the street, a blank wall, and a former loading dock is used as a seating space by the patrons of the local eateries, namely Cento Coffee, Farmer Brown’s Little Skillet, and Victory Hall and Parlor. To the west of the street, a small parking lot in front of Cento Coffee  is currently used for parking, temporary bike racks, and a few small tables.

Over the course of the semester, students of LAN 498 observed the unmet needs of the site, communicated with the business owners and explained their process, adapted to budgetary constraints, designed, redesigned, and built their creations!

The outcome was the full-scale installation of three distinct design solutions (pictured) that worked hand-in-hand to create a dynamic open space in this urban intersection. The project left the local community buzzing, and the AAU student designers  left a great impression with business owners and their patrons.

Urban Mound: (Designed by Manuel Bustos,IDS,  Mariah Hum, IAD, and Melissa Co, IAD) Inspired by hills in public open spaces such as Dolores Park and Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco, Urban Mound used shifting planes and triangular forms to create a multitude of seating, lounging, laying, and gathering experiences. Materials used for this installation included industrial palettes, plywood, landscape fabric, mulch, and turf. Plants saved from the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show helped add another dimension of aesthetic quality to the design.

The concept rendering and final build out photo below speak to the process of concept to reality that was impeccably executed by the students.

The slopes of the Urban Mound proved to be perfect for public lounging!  

The ArmBar: (Designed by Wayne Robbins IV, IDS and Shang Jing, IAD)  A modular system designed to serve as a table and/or chair that can be placed on any ledge  to be used as a surface to eat from, work from, or simply rest one’s arm on. The Arm Bar combines reclaimed materials, and Bluetooth technology to offer a comfortable and entertaining eating experience. Embedded inside the module a Bluetooth speaker system allows the user to connect and listen to their music while enjoying their lunch or coffee break. Alternatively, the ArmBar can be flipped on its side and used a seating surface.


Graphic Timeline and Wayfinding: (Designed by Xin Huang) Rethinking how pedestrians engage with signage and graphic information in the public realm was at the core of this design. In today’s technologically driven world, most people walk with their heads down while interacting with their handheld devices; therefore the design was installed on the ground plane, at the eye level of pedestrians. The graphic spoke to the overlap of the industrial past and technological present of the site as it playfully incorporated forms of factory conveyor belts and microchip designs, while providing information about significant moments in San Francisco’s history.









The Wayfinding Timeline Graphic helped guide passerby’s to the installation while giving them information on key moments in San Francisco’s history!

The School of Landscape Architecture congratulates the students of LAN 498 on their successful installation, and looks forward to more temporary installations designed and implemented by students in coming semesters!

A special thanks to Lyngso Garden Materials, and Delta Bluegrass for their generous donations!


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As you all go about your busy days, take a moment to think about the quote above. What will you do as a Landscape Architect that will have a positive impact on this globe we call home?

The Earth is what we all have in common”.  - W. Berry


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The School of Landscape Architecture requires students to hand in an archive of their work for each of their respective classes.

Join instructor Nick Gotthardt for an hour long seminar on Tuesday April 15, 2014 for tips and tools to compile an effective and beautiful archive booklet.

Location: 601 Brannan , Room 101 



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A silver medal was the well-deserved icing on the cake for the School of Landscape Architecture’s ASLA Student Affiliate Chapter installation, “Urban Mixology”, at the2014 San Francisco Flower and Garden Show!

August 2013 marked the beginning of a successful design/build process with a one-day charrette that was followed by many weekends of design development and full-scale building. The final design combined strong ideas from proposals by MFA student Jason Jeon, BFA student Eric Arneson, and design detailing by MFA student Avery Hu. By September 2013, “Urban Mixology” was in full-blast production mode.

The Concept: In urban environments we are surrounded by the vibrancy of experiences that are a direct result of the diversity of its inhabitants, their cultures, and interests. This diversity is reflected through the design of urban spaces.

Digital culture is an essential part of urban inhabitants’ lives. The mixology of RGB colors in digital design allow for the expression of millions of colors in the visible spectrum.

Urban Mixology, celebrates the density and diversity of urban centers and the overlap of digital design through the use of color and texture of meticulously selected plants that have the ability to flourish in urban environments.









The Collaboration: In every stage of the design process, MFA and BFA students of the School of Landscape Architecture worked as a team, with smiles on their faces, and a skip in their step to build a garden that was their pride and joy.  Expertise and skill sets were assessed early on, yet students rotated between various roles based on the needs of the project at different points in time.





The Build: Move-in day at the San Mateo Event Center came faster than any of the students could have anticipated. Truckloads of materials such as wood, plants, rocks, soil, and tools arrived, and students set to work by building, painting, planting, and fine tuning the design to perfection. In 5 short days the concrete floor of the event center was transformed into a glowing garden that was the epitome of the design concept.







The Reward: True to the nature of collaborative design, “Urban Mixology” became the impetus for the birth of long lasting friendships, professional connections, a deep understanding and appreciation for the design process from concept to reality,  and last but not least, a SILVER MEDAL! We couldn’t have asked for more!

A heartfelt thank you to our ASLA Student Affiliate Chapter on beautifully executed design. You have made The School of Landscape Architecture very proud!

Left to right: Ashley Wu, Chloe Pu, Daniel Correia, Sophie Zhang, Avery Hu, Yasmine Farazian (Faculty), Heather Clendenin (Director of the School of Landscape Architecture), Alex Zheng, Nahal Sobhati, Jason Jeon, Hilda Lin, Eric Arneson

Photos Courtesy of: Bob Toy, Eric Arneson, Avery Hu
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The Landscape Modeling Seminar will be held in two parts at 460 Townsend, Room 206:

Part I – April 8, 6:30-8:00 PM
Part II – April 9, 6:30-7:30 PM



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It’s that time! Time to register for Summer & Fall 2014 Classes.

Register Online:

Register in Person:

Undergraduates: 415.618.6508
Graduates: 415.274.8617

Summer Classes Start: June 16th

Fall Classes Start: September 4th

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This landscape-level restoration project began in 2009 and is designed to bring back natural function to the the creek, freshwater wetlands, intermittent tidal lagoon, and dunes.

The LAN Workday will consist of planting native species to help restore the ecosystems of the Redwood Creek and Tidal Lagoon, which are home to several endangered species.

***We’ll be working rain or shine. Please be prepared and dress for various weather conditions.***

Project Site: Muir Beach

Type of Service: Habitat Restoration – Volunteers are needed to restore the tidal lagoon and creek at Muir Beach and to maintain the new native plants along Dias Ridge above. The future of the endangered Coho salmon, steelhead trout, andCalifornia red-legged frog are at stake. Help heal this special watershed and protect endangered species.

Work Overview: (click here to download) - General Volunteer Work Description

What to Bring:

  • Bring completed agreement forms
  • Bring a reusable water bottle. We’ll have water stations for refills
  • All necessary tools, supplies, gloves and training will be provided. If you have a pair of favorite gloves, feel free to bring those

What to Wear:

  • Wear comfortable work clothes, long pants, and sturdy shoes or boots (NO shorts or sandals/high heels)
  • Dress in layers for changing weather, bring hat, and wear sunscreen
  • Be prepared to get dirty

Register via e-mail to no later than February 26.







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Join the Academy of Art University’s School of Landscape Architecture Cinematic Landscape movie night!

Which Movie? SAMSARA

When?  Monday February 24th @6:30 pm

Where? 601 Brannan Street, First Floor Presentation Space

Watch the Trailer HERE

SAMSARA is a Sanskrit word that means “the ever turning wheel of life” and is the point of departure for the filmmakers as they search for the elusive current of interconnection that runs through our lives.  Filmed over a period of almost five years and in twenty-five countries, SAMSARA transports us to sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial sites, and natural wonders.  By dispensing with dialogue and descriptive text, SAMSARA subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary, instead encouraging our own inner interpretations inspired by images and music that infuses the ancient with the modern.

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Together we Thrive!

AAU Ladscape Architecture Students summoning some much needed H20 with their rain dance! (IT WORKED!!!)

By Sara Giarratana

As cities and regions grow, the landscape is often altered to accommodate the needs of the people that live there. Oftentimes these changes are made without consideration for the other animals and plants existing in their natural habitats. It is easy to forget that human life is but one element in a larger system that must co-exist in order to maintain balance. Many ecosystems have been impacted by the abundant development of the San Francisco Bay Area, and as species are becoming threatened and endangered, we are called to intervene and re-establish a self-sustaining ecosystem for the region.

Just across the Golden Gate Bridge, at the mouth of the Redwood Creek Watershed at Muir Beach, a 46-acre project is underway to restore natural function to the creek, freshwater wetlands, tidal lagoons, and sand dunes. Since 2009, The National Park Service and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy have been working with volunteers to improve the habitat of Coho Salmon, Steelhead Trout and California Red-legged Frogs. Students from the School of Landscape Architecture, Interior Architecture & Design and Game Design recently joined together to plant native Coyote Bush seedlings along the Dias Ridge at the project site.

We were welcomed by a cheerful group of interns from the GG National Parks Conservancy, who spoke to us about the Redwood Creek region and why it is important for this creek to flourish. For example, the range of the Coho Salmon stretches from Northern Alaska to the Redwood Creek, and their lifecycle depends upon the diversity of these waterways. The fish hatch in a freshwater creek, migrate to the ocean to mature, and return to the creek where they hatched in order to reproduce. The Coho can smell the soil in their home territory, and trust they will have a safe return! Sadly, due to drastic changes in the surrounding environment, including rerouting the creek to better serve grazing land for cattle, the Coho no longer have a place to lay their nest and are now listed as an endangered species. By restoring the creek and surrounding area to its natural state, there is hope that the Coho will thrive again!

This Landscape Workday is the first of many volunteer events planned for the semester. We consider ourselves lucky to live in such a beautiful and nourishing region; it is important to give back, especially to the flora and fauna that need it most!

After a long day’s work, we headed down to Muir beach for a lunch break, where we were greeted to beautiful sunshine along the California coastline! Rewarding!!!!

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On Saturday, 2/08, join your fellow academy of art students taking part in the ART U Share Your Shot Competition.

1st place: $100 Utrecht Gift Card

2nd place: $50 Utrecht Gift Card

3rd place: $25 Utrecht Gift Card


Sign up for Fan Buses HERE


Questions??? Contact Kevin at

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