Where did the Community Research & Design Collaborative (CRDC) come from?
The CRDC is a component of the Program of Landscape Architecture @ the University of Connecticut (LA @ UConn). LA @ UConn has been helping Connecticut communities grow sustainably for over four decades with a portfolio of projects that number in the hundreds. LA @ UConn was started by Professor Rudy Favretti and Associate Professor John Alexopoulos in 1966. Under the tutelage of John and newly hired Associate Professor Peter Miniutti, the program received national accreditation in 1998. Subsequently, LA @ UConn has added two additional tenured faculty members; Associate Professors Kristin Schwab and Mark Westa. LA @ UConn marked its fortieth anniversary by launching the “Community Research & Design Collaborative” to better serve the citizens of Connecticut.
Does the Program of Landscape Architecture have other components?
Yes, a teaching component. Our program is the only nationally accredited Program of Landscape Architecture in the state. We have four tenured faculty members, three adjunct instructors and eighty students majoring in landscape architecture.
Does the CRDC operate year round or only during the academic year?
We operate year round. Projects are often incorporated into the junior and senior design studios during the academic year and/or are part of the CRDC’s Summer Academy which is in session from May to August.
What do landscape architects do?
Landscape architecture encompasses the analysis, planning, design, management, and stewardship of the natural and built environments. The education of a Landscape Architect is generalist in approach. Landscape Architects are not architects, yet we must understand fundamental architectural issues. We are not engineers, yet we need to understand solutions to control forces of nature. We are not horticulturists, yet we must create appropriate planting strategies. We are not artists, but we create poetry in the landscape. The profession of Landscape Architecture is a unique and challenging profession that combines ideas from an array of disciplines. Part-art, part-science, we create socially responsible landscapes, which combine function with aesthetics.
Are you the only unit at UConn that offers land planning expertise?
No, there are two other units at UConn which also provide land planning resources; CLEAR and NEMO.
Is there a difference between what you do and other state agencies such as CLEAR and NEMO?
Yes. We provide our clients with specific land use plans. The land use plans culminate a rigorous interactive process which includes the following phases; (1) Program Development, (2) Inventory and (3) Analysis of natural and cultural features, (4) Synthesis (design), and (5) Evaluation. All affected stakeholders are included in this process. CLEAR’s mission is to provide information, education and assistance to land use decision makers. NEMO’s mission is to educate local land use officials about the relationship between land use and natural resource protection. So there is an explicit difference between the services of these three units. We are the only state program that develops specific land use plans as an end product.
Is there a difference between what you do and professional landscape architectural firms?
Yes. We create a bridge between academic research and the ‘real’ world. We promote the profession of landscape architecture by exposing the citizens of Connecticut to state-of-the-art landscape planning and design expertise. We seek out clients who would not typically hire a professional firm due to monetary constraints, complexity of project or just a misunderstanding in the potential role of the landscape architect. We view our role as ambassadors for the profession of landscape architecture.
Do you work with other agencies and groups when you develop plans?
Yes. In part, our mission states, “We promote and encourage collaborative research with an emphasis on “real world” projects as they apply to sustainable development.” Our collaborators include allied disciplines, institutions of higher learning, federal and state departments/agencies and land trusts. Some of our past collaborators include; the National Park Service, the Federal Highway Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, the Consortium of New England Dots, CT’s Department of Environmental Protection, CT’s Department of Transportation, Yale’s Urban Design Center, the Green Valley Institute, Capitol Region Council of Governments, as well as UConn partnerships with the Department of Natural Resources Management and Engineering, Urban Design and Transportation Center, Department of Plant Science, Nemo, …