Archive for March, 2012

Visiting and site observation

Orange and I went to De Soto yesterday.
Motivation: site observation and strategy choices…
We were twice warned by Casino personnel not to get close to the water and were questioned by security people on what we were doing there. I guess that Orange’s figure seems very threatening motivating this concern, with the security head even mentioning 9/11, an unfortunate series of events in contemporary history.
Back to the site, the awareness that there are 14 Alligators and several types of snakes did make me more alert! We actually saw a water rattle snake about 5 feet from us. It saw us much before we saw it, so it had time to turn around and flee swimming into the water. It made me wonder how feasible it would be to have small children and moms in such an environment.
Does environment conservation and human recreation go well together, if taken to the urban scale of things? Keeping dangerous animals (not to mention human beings) out of the park or at least fencing them off would be and alternative?
Should we conceive a hovering park?… fluctuating above everything… unaffected by these dangerous intercourses?
Well, I guess that the attached pdf answers part of these questions…



The opportunity is great for this location. So close to communities to the East, before and beyond I-10.
My approach looks at the site in both ecological and practical manners.
I’ll divide the site in three tiers, as far as water intrusion is concerned:
I) Always dry (further away from river)
II) Sometimes wet
III) Almost always wet (next to river)
The north side of the site seems more appropriate do active recreation, since it presents a wider breadth of dry space so that more definitive structures can be established.
I intend to enhance the dry space somewhat, to harbor other more stable structures and uses, such as a strolling path for baby carts and rest areas for moms who are tired of being inside and need some air/interaction with nature.
The wet areas provide a great opportunity for space exploration and creation of interactive structures, such as underwater tunnels, protected boardwalks, undulating walks, going into and out of water as well as an advanced pavilion into the Mississippi River, creating and advantage point for observation of the surrounding environment, including DeSoto Park itself.
Propitiating plenty of shade for establishing picnic areas will allow users to enjoy their lunch in a calm and retired environment, with fixed furniture, protected from rain and sun.
These concepts are illustrated in the images below.
In the next couple of days I’ll gather realistic images of strategic points and illustrate these concepts in these frames.
Connection to the Visitor Center and town will be done by paths and street level crossings, leaving the main path closer to River Road, for higher speed bicycles and restricting their access to the inner paths, where I’ll seek to implement a calmer and more harmonious environment.


Some of our folks in studio were wondering where to get graphical data on the levels the water reaches over several months and years in Baton Rouge.

The Army Corps has a pretty good technical site with all this type of data at

In any case, here is the result of a query I did on their database.

In table format, from 1987 till today you can get at their above site and it’s raw data (no use posting it here).

Nevertheless there’s a good graph, that I copy below, for general use.

Levels of the Mississippi River 2003-2012

As part of the research on Riparian Ecological Succession, I found this list of plants from the Center for Watershed Protection .
We may already know some of these trees (it’s mainly trees), but organized data listing them by tolerance to several environmental conditions is a great resource, for obvious reasons.

Tree Selection Guide

Today’s desk crit with Gary Smith was very productive!
I was overloaded with scientific data and was lost on how to represent it.
He suggested that what I produce could be viewed as an inspiration for designing future work.
So, if you’re in a batture level where there is no flooding, the tendency for the vegetation is to mature into a high canopy, shading the undergrowth and creating 3 to 4 strata layers.
According to vegetative growth it would evolve (succession) slowly to this condition, but as designers we need to realize that there is all this time before this maturity arrives.
With that in mind, the design process can compensate for the immaturity of the successional phase with architectural elements or plant choice in such a way that the experience of place would still be close to a mature situation.
He observed that many designs forget to take this immaturity period into account and we end up with “empty” spaces in the beginning of a garden’s life. So design should take this into consideration.
Same thought process can be repeated for the two other main regions in the batture situation: commonly flooded region and eventually (for short periods of time) flooded regions.
Now all I need to figure out is how to put that in an illustration! Any suggestions?

Observation in Battureland

In this diagram you’ll see, besides the observations, an attempt to represent their collection in a created symbology.

The observations sometimes came in a fast sequence and these are represented close together.
Sometimes a while passed between observations and I spaced them accordingly.

Also as time passed, light changed from lighter to darker until it got dark. So the shades try to depict this situation counterclockwise. Why counterclockwise?

If you are struggling to find information on Watershed issues, there is a very good source FREE at

You can find info for lay people and some real scientific data. Up to you!


Contemplation c…

Contemplation can be a healing process. Turning off all else and immersing into the observation task.

Notation. To note. To notice. From latin: notare – to write, to mark.

Absorb lives of little beings, not so little beings.

The unavoidable immobility of a tree and its exposure to the elements.

A waiting ground for the weathers to come. Its effects recorded in the landscape.

Man’s notation on its landscape.

Most times deleterious. Sometimes constructive.

Inclement weather marks. Reconstruction by resilience.

Above and under surface. Submerged or emerged. Fast or slow. Pertaining or not.

Art or engineering?… or both?

Engage human into understanding its surrounds… long term endeavour. Cultural. Fast paced society.

Task at hand. Just do it!

Take a look at this guy!!!

Finalization and thougts

Our first assignment as designers of a landscape at LSU was oriented by project 1.001 to 1.002

We visited the site several times and were fed with lots of information from colleagues and our own observations. From the first vector walk the learning process started at the site. Before that we gathered a huge amount of information regarding history, general culture, local data and further pertinent information.

This was a great example of coordination of team work. Albeit superficial due to time constraints and our own personal limitations, it gave us enough tools to proceed with the design process. In my mind such an expression didn’t mean much before coming to school. Previous semester endeavors got us started into the heart and soul of a design. Questioning and researching, looking for clues and real connections between site and design. Representing these into parti diagrams (what are this things?), such a fundamental part of creation and a great reference to look back to.

Observe, observe and observe.

Practical information is abundant if interviewing local folks. From the city planning department architects, to the Master Planning architects (who, by the way, did a great job, mostly implemented on the site). Contact with workers at the site, such as Mike and Gerard, who ended up coming to our final review, was fundamental to help us bring our design down to reality.

In spite of limiting our design freedom, these surveyed constraints, in some ways helped create more daring solutions and “reviewable” designs.

Review is regarded pretty much as a very stressful time. I believe that it should be the opposite. It’s a great opportunity to open our thoughts to very experienced professionals that can give us good feedback, except for some less constructive personalities.

Group work brings flowing dynamics and interactions. The source of the first line up till the last shading for finalization comes from momentaneous inspiration that can appear anywhere, but mostly during the design effort, at the desk, from an abstract reference past or recent that perseveres in our minds.

I was very lucky to participate in groups of hardworking and delivering people. Constructive criticism was very to the point (is there such an expression in English?). These came from everyone, from the Professor to well meaning colleagues who were eager to share their thoughts and ideas for production.

Beautiful work came up in each group that was able to deliver. Our dreams had to be cut down, on the face of reality and time constraints. As inheritance we learn new techniques, promise not to leave printing to the last minute and imagine where else will this wonderful and privileged experience lead us to.

A bit of scientific data

As you may know, my background is on golf course work and research.

I received this article from the United States Golf Association’s  funded research program.

It’s hard data about the capacity of wetlands to “cleanup” nutrient rich runoff from (in this case) golf courses, but it well applies to any land where fertilizers are applied to.

This article is written for non scientific readers, so please disregard the dry language when it bogs down to data and try to get the bigger picture.


Nutrient Fate In Golf Course Environments – USGA

Possibilities on the Roof

We’ve just heard back from the Office of State Buildings. Phone# (225) 219-4800

The architect responsible for those told me that there is no load capacity to do anything on the roof except for normal roof maintenance.

So, that’s that!

A possibility would be to creat an add on structure to harbor the Café and Belvedere. Not a bad initiative, I gather. We are thinking of something in the front, facing River Road around the NorthWest corner of the Visitor Center. Let’s see!

Also the glass tower could be transformed into a Panoramic Elevator. That would be awesome!

Best to all.