Written by on November 17, 2014

Elevated Foundation: An exhibit to imagine Cal Poly’s academic commons

Over the summer, Cal Poly Landscape Architecture students were given a huge task in their LA 402 and LA 436 classes: imagine and design the future of an academic commons at Cal Poly (to be located in the area right outside the library). Taught by Professor Omar Faruque, these talented students came up with designs that would support the goals of an academic commons: nurturing intersections between the disciplines and providing gathering spaces that connect faculty and students. Their designs are now on display at Kennedy Library, in an exhibit called Elevated Foundation.

“As landscape architects, we are architects of outdoor spaces. We design spaces to function, be pedestrian friendly and aesthetically pleasing,” said Wayne Nemec, senior landscape architecture student and designer for Elevated Foundation.

Students as designers

Wayne Nemec and Chris Martinez's design for Elevated Foundations.

Wayne Nemec and Chris Martinez’s design for Elevated Foundation.

Wayne and his project partner, Chris Martinez, created a space that would be located across from Kennedy Library, where the children’s center is located. They replaced the Math and Science building with an eco-friendly design. They also added an outdoor arena and a lawn with lots of trees for shade.

“A major part of our design was to keep water on site and make the space comfortable,” Wayne said.

Another student, Salina Akter, also focused on sustainability in her design. She looked at the original design for a new Academic Center (a planned library expansion that is part of the academic commons) and decided to focus on a balance of indoor and outdoor space.

“I didn’t like the original plan. It’s very boxy and there’s not a lot of outdoor space,” Salina said.

Salina said that there were some challenges to designing these projects. The landscape architecture students had to step outside of their comfort zones and do the work of architects and engineers by designing floor plans, structural systems, exterior and interior spaces, and more.

President Armstrong and Professor Omar Faruque at Elevated Foundations.

President Armstrong and Professor Omar Faruque at Elevated Foundation.

However, their professor, Omar Faruque, taught them everything they needed to know with his background in architecture and landscape architecture.

“The class combines design theory and how to communicate your design to people,” Professor Faruque said. The students worked very hard on these projects, spending about 40 to 60 hours a week while taking the two courses, and really went the extra mile, Professor Faruque said.

“It was challenging, but very interesting,” Salina said about the classes and her project.

The future of these projects

While these designs will not be directly implemented, they are a great inspiration for licensed architects/designers if an academic learning commons were to be created.

“Student perspective should be useful for anyone. Student design is vibrant and interesting,” Professor Faruque said.

As for the Elevated Foundation exhibit, it will display these amazing designs until December 1! They are located on the second floor in Julian’s East, where the windows face the ‘P’.

Read more on cal poly landscape architecture, elevated foundations, kennedy library, reimagining kennedy library, salina akter, and wayne nemec.