This interdisciplinary design studio proposes to use the redevelopment of the historic pin-oak allee at Washington University in St. Louis as catalyst for a project-based investigation of our landscape and resource legacy. With the imminent transformation this cultural landscape, this course will be structured around an historical and ecological analysis and evaluation of an 85 year old oak allee in an effort to offer a window into the greater meaning of trees in our urban ecosystem and cultures. Working with arborists, ecologists, landscape architects, sculptors, dendrochronologists, craftspeople, and poets, students will interrogate the many meanings of one tree — from root to crown, from microbial sub-soil cultures to species habitats in its highest branches, from the monoculture of the 50 trees in the allee to the diverse community in Forest Park and beyond. The class will be organized around the ritual lifting of a single tree in advance of the campus transformation, with subsequent cutting, dimensioning, and drying of the wood forming the material basis for design research.
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