Plans tackling urban issues earn LAND students national awards

Yuxian Li

Yangdi Wang

Galen Newman

Two projects developed by Texas A&M graduate landscape architecture students that address issues in urban areas created by depopulation and environmental hazards were recognized with national awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects.

The awards, which the ASLA presents to honor the top work of landscape architecture students in the U.S. and around the world, will be presented Oct. 24, 2016 to Yuxian Li and Yangdi Wang, two of the 22 student winners recognized at the society’s annual convention in New Orleans.

In “Sifting the Landscape: Transforming Vacant Lands through Smart Decline,” Li, who earned a Master of Landscape Architecture degree in 2016, developed a geographic information system-based model to predict pockets of future development and decline in Dayton, Ohio, one of numerous Rust Belt cities dealing with numerous abandoned, vacant parcels associated with decades of population loss.

Li then narrowed his research focus to Carillon, a section of Dayton, using the model to identify which Carillon parcels are suitable for revitalization through public or private investment or suitable for stabilization through rehabilitation efforts and housing assistance. The model also identifies which parcels should be cleared and repurposed, possibly as temporary community gardens.

The project, said the contest jury, provides municipal policymakers with a set of tools to plan the future of the city, whose population is expected to continue declining.

“Modest and implemental, this project was smart and sensitive to the situation,” said the jury.

In “Neighborhood Detox: Enhancing Resilience in a Hazard Vulnerable Area,” Yangdi Wang created a master plan aimed at reducing flooding and improving economic conditions in Manchester, an impoverished community in East Houston.

Developed with input from meetings with Manchester residents participating in Texas A&M Resilience and Climate Change Cooperative Project, Wang’s plan includes a market, community event center, library and bookstore to create jobs and enhance interactions between community residents, and streetscape improvements and stormwater mitigation facilities to reduce flooding. 

The plan, said the awards jury, empowers citizens to develop solutions for their community.

“Wang’s methodology was clearly extensive, and she performed a thoughtful site inventory and analysis,” said the jury in a statement.

Li and Wang, who graduated with Master of Landscape Architecture degrees in spring 2016, were advised by Galen Newman, assistant professor of urban planning, as they created their projects. 

posted September 20, 2016