Landscape Architecture

Interning with EDSA || Time Away from the Interweb by Victoria DeWitt

I have been MIA from my blog and I do not apologize because I have been having an amazing time- BUT I have a lot to share.

Three weeks ago, I had the opportunity to change studios, get a new roomie for a short while and even travel.

My latest roomie was a Yachtie. Yachties are people who work on the many yachts down here. They live and work on the yacht getting to travel and adventure with their crew. It was eye opening to meet Sarah and see her perspective on work and life. It's amazing that she is getting to work on a yacht and adventure with no regret or heavy heart of missing home. I envy her drive to do exactly what she wants for herself and nobody else but her. This brings us back to my little chat on relationships. ITS ALL ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIPS WE MAKE. Sarah and I are most definitely going to stay in touch, and I cannot wait to hear about her adventures.

I am now working in the Larrea studio with Marco Larrea, Gabriela Patochhi, Ivan Donoso, Joanna Ibarra, Juan Hernandez, Michael Meyers, and Robert Jackson. I am so sad to leave the Grey studio but each studio at EDSA islittle different and it is great to be able to experience more than one. In the Larrea studio, I started my first day with assisting Gabi with a hand drawn plan and section. This studio is filled with very talented designers- each of them can draw like crazy. The master plans and sections they whip up are incredible and it takes them the amount of time it takes me to brush my teeth to finish them. Currently, I am working with Robert in the more final stages of a large "residential" project. I use quotes because this project is for a regular client and his upcoming home in the mountains of panama. It is massive. I am working on detail drawings and sections in AutoCad, as well as lighting and dimension plans. From working on this stage of the project I have learned the valuable lesson of working smarter versus harder. Robert is very smart on knowing how to refer certain drawings back to one with greater information to avoid redundant work. You do not need to do something five times. Do it once and remember to refer other drawings back to it. Clarity is also important in detail drawings, but I believe I ranted on this back a few Grey blogs ago. Besides working in a new studio and upping my CAD skill by a thousand, I recently traveled to Key West and had the time of my life.

The ride from Ft. Lauderdale to the southern most point of the US, Key West, is beautiful (we had to travel after work so it was dark but the stars were incredible!!!). The islands are connected with a series of bridges (obviously) but it is all so amazing to see so much ocean and island. Driving and flying are two completely different experiences. I stayed in an AirBnB in the most amazing condo just minutes away from Duval Street. The first day in Key West we explored the island on land as well as on the ocean with a jetski tour. The style of the island is so perfect, bright colors, layered shops and neighborhoods, the island feel is just there. If I want to get landscape architecturey I would have to say I very much appreciate the grid system. Its much different from Iowa, everything is much closer and smaller in scale but it makes it all that much more charming. From the water, the island is a little harder to study but the way things face the water and use the water as a resource is important. Many businesses like the jetski company, heavily rely on the water to keep their business going. The second day was filled with exploring, but a little less intensely due to a reminder of the previous night on Duval Street.

Duval Street is a famous downtown commercial zoned street in Key West, Florida, running north and south from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. From shore to shore, the street is just over 1.25 miles in length. It is named for William Pope Duval, the first territorial governor of Florida. Duval Street was designated a “Great Street” in 2012 by the American Planning Association. The beautiful Bahamian and Spanish influenced Victorian Mansions of Duval Street have been well preserved through local preservation efforts starting in the 1960s. On the Atlantic Ocean end of Duval Street there is a mix of early Key West Victorian mansions and bungalows’ dotting the neighborhood. Art galleries, boutiques, inns and Bodega’s line the wide sidewalks. Although this end of Duval is more residential and less filled with tourists, the sidewalks still bustle with activity. And besides from that, IT WAS A BLAST. Traveling to Key West allowed me to get my toes wet into all of the traveling I hope to do in the near future.

Here is to this mini adventure all in itself and to many more. It's good to finally be taking action in my desires and dreams.

The Arts District by Victoria DeWitt

Being a huge fan of Art, the Art District was my favorite part of the tour. Las Vegas actually as a lot of giant murals and street art throughout. I enjoyed the openness and underdevelopment that framed the large wall murals. The are of town was more unfamiliar for us due to the small hike it took to get there but it was very enjoyable and even a little inspiring.

STEM Conference by Victoria DeWitt

The STEM Conference of 2015 was held in Las Vegas. The conference brings together leading experts and researchers from around the United States to focus on topics that impact K–12 STEM education. STEM is an an acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Discussion of STEM-related programs has become a presidential priority because too few college students are pursuing degrees in these fields. At the conference we were spoiled with information involving green technologies, 3D printing, nutrition, renewable energy, and urban agriculture.

Stephen Ritz, the founder of the Green Bronx Machine gave a presentation showing how he used urban agriculture to change the students and community of the Bronx lives. The Green Bronx Machine believes that healthy students help drive healthy schools, and that healthy schools are at the heart of healthy communities. Their vision is to improve and grow healthy communities where those who are "apart from ""will become "part of"" the new solutions that Stephen believes, benefits 100% of society. We were fortunate enough to share our ideas of introducing a Food Hub in the metropolitan area of Las Vegas, over some nice warm pizza. The conversation was so spectacular that we had left over pizza. Our entire class got to speak with really intelligent professionals including, Daniel Huard of Greenview Global and Javid the Hydroponics Guru.

The Fremont Street Experience by Victoria DeWitt

The liveliness of Fremont Street was contagious, street performers, small shops, art work, weirdos, dancing and packs of people filled the entire street. It was a pedestrian destination lined by shops, restaurants, hotels and casinos in a younger more 'affordable' scene compared to the almighty, Las Vegas Strip. The Fremont Experience was covered by a large screen that played with light and video along with music. Every once in a while there would be a zip-liner flying above. During the later hours, it was not necessarily a family venue compared to during the day but it has potential to improve due to the multiple types of entertainment. We spent most of our free time on Fremont exploring the street performances. The main element of Fremont were the multiple ways to access it. There were endless amounts of doorways through shops and hotels always leading to the street, or off it. It is very accessible as well as profitable with more people coming in and out. The streets are more alive with all the foot traffic and different destinations. This was good to note for our project and compare to the Container Park resulting in a slightly different atmosphere. Closed and contained (lol) meant for a safe more family friendly space, but in scale the Container Park is a much smaller area where as open and accessible meant for heavy foot traffic and a much bigger variety of people and events. Two concepts, two different feels.



First Impressions by Victoria DeWitt

After being very concerned for peoples health within the El Cortez, Ken took us out to see what Fremont and the surrounding areas were really about. We started with the Container Park located two blocks away, to get some dinner. The Container Park was so cool! The Downtown Container Park is a family friendly destination for shopping, dinning, and entertainment. It is made out of large shipping containers stacked on one another giving a really unique feel. I have never seen anything like it. It was a complete change from my initial response- I guess you could say it was a breath of fresh air.

Inside of the park, the containers and front security guy boxed in the activity creating a safe environment. In the center of the park was a small fenced in playground for children, their parents could keep an eye on them with little effort due to the location and fenced area. So there it was, boom, an area for children and families, young adults, adults, and of course the elderly. It was a fun environment to be in, especially with the large sculptured praying mantis that randomly SHOOTS FIRE OUT OF ITS HEAD. Ken gave us a heads up on that one as we gathered in front of it to talk about the container park, but we all still screamed and took cover once it went off.

Now that there was space for actual human activity, everyone got excited. We continued our tour to Fremont street, passing crazy Las Vegas signage that lit the street. It finally hit that we were in Las Vegas on a field trip (crazy), and we had already learned so much just by the first few hours walking around. It was awesome to physically be in our site location. As we headed to Fremont, Large palms sparadically lined the streets, different climate: way different plant pallet.

The sidewalks were large, leaving plenty of room for foot traffic but sometimes led straight to a row of trees, causing us to shift out of the way. Bikers had a decent amount of street space, but some of them chose to ride on the sidewalk saying otherwise. It was late but the streets were as bright as day.


LAs Take Las Vegas by Victoria DeWitt

After extensive research of food, food hubs, nutrition and Las Vegas itself- it was finally time to make the big trip. I had never been to Las Vegas before so I had no idea what to expect.. We could say that the Hangover movies may of had me a little concerned.. (KIDDING THIS WAS A SCHOOL TRIP). We arrived in the afternoon to the lovely state of Nevada and headed over to the El Cortez, located right on the infamous Fremont Street. Outside of the airport I could see the Las Vegas strip and mountains, it was beautiful. We had a charter take us to the hotel, traveling through large amounts of traffic we noticed all of the huge billboards advertising concerts, clubs, casinos, and hotels. We also got to see a few neighborhoods, which were quite scary. They were scary due to the lack of vegetation and care for the homes. There was a lot of concrete.

Once we arrived to the El Cortez, it was obvious that we were NOT in Iowa anymore. Inside of the Hotel and of course Casino, the air filled with smoke and far too much cologne. It was challenging to get a fresh breath of air within the casino after just a few minutes. It was then I started to look around and see what the guests of the hotel and casino looked to do for fun. Inside there was a bar, endless slot machines, game tables and a variety of people. There were the barely 21 year old adults like us, there were the real adults and then the elderly- who had seemed to have mastered the slot machines. There were absolutely no children, clearly the law permitted them but honestly, I started to really appreciate our clean air act. I noticed the lack of windows within the casino, manipulating the understanding of time. There were nights we would go to bed and wake up to the same exact people gambling. I'm not lucky enough to spend 12 hours gambling.

The Start to Year Four by Victoria DeWitt

The COD is no longer our home. We now convene in the new and improved communications building. The commute is a little longer but who am I kidding, the overall space is definitely doable.

This semester in studio our class has been split into two sections. One group is focusing on City Beautiful in Pennsylvania and the others, myself included, are studying Food Hubs to rebuild Las Vegas. Our studio is being lead through extensive research and urban determinism of a healthy environment. As a class we created a list of topics we most definitely needed to get more information on. The list included Las Vegas itself, food programs, needs of people, energy, food hubs (obviously), successful food hub precedents, health in food, and indoor agriculture.

I chose to look at the needs of the people. I started with the question of: What do people need to be happy? A few million dollars was not the answer, neither was a pack of puppies. I found the key to a happy life is a healthy environment. The USDA, EPA and CDC all have their own requirements of a healthy environment but all share the common theme of bettering peoples health and rights to know information while caring for, and bettering the environment. While researching I found two other faces of a healthy environment: Richard Jackson and Dan Buettner. Richard Jackson specifies his research on actually designing a healthy environment. Dan Buettner looks at Blue Zones, places on the earth where people live longer and healthier lives, researching how they live. I found Buettner's research of blue zones to be the most interesting due to the simplicity of life he found after discovering the Power 9.

New studio. New outlook on my environment. Pretty good start.