September 19, 2008

University of Kentucky landscape architecture students recently received a prestigious Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects.

The award recognizes community service by students who demonstrate sound principles and values of landscape architecture. The 13 College of Agriculture students were recognized for their work on The Hills Project based primarily in Kenton County. As part of their task, the students met with community stakeholders to generate ideas about a landscape vision for the county. The project allowed participants to explore new levels of thinking about positioning a community to be at the forefront of the 21st century. Their focus was on improving the quality of life through community design and land use planning. For example, students tested scenarios using principles from the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED for Neighborhood Development - a rating system for measuring a project's sustainability. The team also characterized all of the watersheds in Northern Kentucky based on land features.

Advised by Brian D. Lee, assistant professor of landscape architecture, team members included northern Kentucky residents Marc Bond, Justin Cotton, Jack McGlasson, Brock Mackay and Darren Ramler; Greg Combs and Travis Edelen from Louisville; Joseph Marwil and Jeff Chase of Lexington; Corey Wilson of Frankfort; Casey Counce from the Purchase Area in western Kentucky and Ohioans Jenna Bockey and Heidi White.

"The Hills Project is an excellent example of integrating learning with service and academics with outreach," said M. Scott Smith, dean of the UK College of Agriculture. "Such projects are an important element of our land grant mission. I applaud the project team's dedication and creativity in achieving this success and to making a difference by improving the quality of life for Kentuckians."

A nine-member jury composed of academics, American Society of Landscape Architects Fellows, practitioners and editors of "Architectural Record" and "ArchNewsNow" reviewed the team's entry. In all, the jury reviewed over 290 entries and bestowed awards on 20 projects in six categories with only this project being recognized in the Community Service category.

The 2008 Student Awards jury remarked, "This is a very professional project. The modeling of the building scenario was very clear and accessible. It was a process and not just an event."

For more than 25 years, the UK Department of Landscape Architecture has produced a number of learning-through-service projects to increase the professional readiness of its student body while making life better for Kentuckians.

"We were pleased to have the students join our effort," said Dennis Andrew Gordon, fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners and executive director of the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission. "They brought a tremendous level of enthusiasm to our process and helped the stakeholders focus on the issues that will ultimately be the basis for new public policy."

The award officially will be presented to the team at the 2008 Annual American Society for Landscape Architects meeting and expo in Philadelphia Oct. 6. The American Society for Landscape Architects is the national professional association for landscape architects, representing more than 18,200 members in 48 professional chapters and 68 student chapters.

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