Three Virginia Tech landscape architecture students win national competition

NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION, Oct. 18, 2004 – A student team from Virginia Tech's landscape architecture program at the Alexandria campus has won a $4,100 second place team award in the National Low Impact Development (LID) Student Design Competition, jointly sponsored by the University of Maryland, Prince George's County and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Virginia Tech graduate student Meredith Upchurch of Alexandria, Va.; Laurie Schween, a fifth-year visiting student from Louisiana State University; and Kate Belski of Haddonfield, N.J., a senior majoring in landscape architecture, designed the winning entry which was on display recently during the National Low Impact Development Conference in College Park, Md. The landscape architecture program is part of Virginia Tech's College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

Entrants were asked to identify a design and planning problem on their campus and offer an innovative and creative solution using Low Impact Development (LID) techniques. LID is an integrated site design approach for addressing hydrologic and environmental impacts that are often associated with conventional land development.

The Virginia Tech team identified its problem: how to clean storm water with minimum impact on the ecosystem. Utilizing plants, soil and stone, the team designed a plan consisting of greenroofs, a biofiltration system and an infiltration trench and cistern that would solve the storm water problem. Among their remarks, competition judges said the Virginia Tech entry was a "creative solution for a difficult urban site."

"Meredith, Laurie and Kate developed their recommendations as an innovative ecological concept addressing a difficult urban site at city, site and detail scales," said Ron Kagawa, associate professor of landscape architecture and the student's advisor. "Their collaboration and application of knowledge across disciplines is an excellent example of how our landscape architecture program investigates complex urban design issues in the National Capital Region."

Virginia Tech has fostered a growing partnership with the greater metropolitan Washington D.C. community since 1969. Today, the university's presence in the National Capital Region includes graduate programs and research centers in Alexandria, Falls Church, Leesburg, Manassas, and Middleburg. In addition to supporting the university's teaching and research mission, Virginia Tech's National Capital Region has established collaborations with local and federal agencies, businesses, and other institutions of higher education.

The College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech is comprised of two schools, the School of Architecture + Design and the School of Public and International Affairs, and includes programs in architecture, art and art history, building construction, public administration and policy, interior design, industrial design, landscape architecture, government and international affairs, and urban affairs and planning. All programs strive to promote an understanding of the complexity of our environment and ways to improve that environment through thoughtful teaching and research in the design, planning, and construction fields. The college enrolls more than 2,200 students, offering 22 degrees programs taught by 130 faculty members.