CAPPA students win national environmental design challenge

UTA student teams take first place, honorable mention in EPA competition

Thursday, Jun 10, 2021 • Herb Booth : Contact

From the winning entry, a proposed design for UTA’s new Health Sciences Quad.
From the winning entry, a proposed design for UTA’s new Health Sciences Quad.

Student teams from The University of Texas at Arlington won first place and honorable mention in the Environmental Protection Agency’s ninth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge. They received the honors in the Master Plan category.

The winning team redesigned the University’s master plan to incorporate green infrastructure practices at key locations, including transportation corridors and local water bodies. Its entry was titled “The Path Forward: Contain, Clean, and Connect.”

Three members of the team were in the Master of Landscape Architecture program: team lead Michael Shuey, Nusrat Jahan Nipu and Reza Mabadi. The fourth team member, Kathleen Stanford, is a Master of Urban Planning student.

Nipu, now an intern at Tonti Properties in Dallas, said the competition presented challenges that helped her grow personally and professionally.

“We were four different people from three different cultures and three different countries,” said Nipu, who graduated in May and is from Bangladesh. (Shuey and Stanford are from the United States and Mabadi is from Iran.) “Working with people from different countries and cultures helped me to develop both language skills and project management skills. It wasn’t always easy to meet in person and discuss the design.

“But we divided up the responsibilities and learned about how to manage rainwater and drainage systems and how we can relate these design ideas with human interactions. We hope to foster sustainable environments and community bonding with the project.”

The team took a holistic design approach that would not only protect public health and water quality, but also promote resilience, create new wildlife habitats and provide recreational amenities for students and educators.

The second project, which received honorable mention recognition, was titled “ONE: One Planet. One People. One Campus” and led by Anjelyque Easley, a Master of Landscape Architecture student who is interning in Washington, D.C., and preparing to defend her thesis in the fall. Other team members were Bonnie Blocker and Nikki Simonini, also in the Master of Landscape Architecture program.

Easley said the most important aspects of the project were learning the importance of in-person collaboration and understanding of different points of view to develop a solid design concept.

“We each had ideas we wanted to see implemented into the campus and worked hard sketching and developing a narrative to follow our vision of a campus for the students,” Easley said.

Taner R. Özdil, associate professor of landscape architecture, was the teams’ adviser. Both projects were completed in fall 2020 as part of Urban Design Studio V in the Landscape Architecture program.

“The competition tasks students to explore visionary ideas on campuses,” Özdil said. “I think these projects influence us to look at the campus in a way that involves the community more in the built environment.”

Jeff Johnson, director of maintenance operations and special projects, and Don Lange, assistant vice president of facilities and campus operations, also worked with the student teams. Dallas’ TBG Partners, one of the largest landscape architecture and planning firms in the Southwest, was a community partner that reviewed the studio projects.

The Campus RainWorks Challenge is a green infrastructure design competition for college students that seeks to engage the next generation of environmental professionals, foster a dialogue about the need for innovative stormwater management techniques, and showcase the environmental, economic and social benefits of green infrastructure practices.