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‘Urban Habitat’ Struck Gold

“Gardens for a Green Earth” was the theme of the 27th San Francisco Flower and Garden Show where Academy of Art University students in the new Landscape Architecture program won first place for their exhibit, dubbed, “Urban Habitat.” For the show, students transplanted a sustainable urban garden design - complete with drought tolerant vegetation and all - within the walls of the San Mateo Event Center. Yasmine Farazin, School of Landscape Architecture instructor, advised students Kelsey Wai, Jieun Han, Jia Zhong, Erin Millard, Kay Nguyen, and Emanuel Gonzales, see it to completion.

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Emanuel not only proposed the exhibit and created the design, but also led the Landscape Architecture Academy of Art University student team. 
School of Landscape Architecture Director Heather Clendenin was impressed with these students’ accomplishment, especially because of the newness of the program. “Given the opportunity, they are able to really test themselves in new situations and define their relative roles in the design process,” said Clendenin. “Having the opportunity to deal with material suppliers, and select rocks, plants and the various other materials, has been an enriching experience for them.”
Kelsey Wai, a team member of the “Urban Habitat”, said, " We thought we had it all figured out on paper, but when we got all of those debris boxes and dumpsters out in the parking lot, we realized how small our site really was! We sure got a lot of strange looks from people as we pushed the dumpsters into position!”

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 Clendenin has further praise for the gold-winning Academy of Art University students, “It has been extraordinary to watch these students work together and develop strong and open lines of communication with one another … even under the duress of spending many hours on this while also going to school full time. The great thing as well is the opportunity this process has given the students to witness and participate in the transition from ¼-in. = 1-ft. scale models and drawings to a full-scale project.”
Functionality along with practicality was highly regarded when choosing the plants for the 650 square foot scene. Most were selected due to their drought tolerance and low maintenance, along with being California native species.

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This exhibit incorporated nearly all the senses. Ceanothas trees were bright and blooming. Rosemary was used for its aromatic qualities. Debris boxes were used as a canvas for graffiti Farazian said, “graphically described diversity, urban architecture and the linkage of these elements to the greater environment.” Grasses were featured to give the ground cover a “soft, yet striking texture,” said Farazian.
Recycled wood, dumpster, glass, metal fences and other reused materials were featured, staying true to the green theme of the show. “This hands-on approach to design is one of the components we emphasize in this program,” said Clendenin.
Uban Habitat struck gold

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