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Landscape architect scholars win RIASLA awards

January 5, 2012

KINGSTON — The University of Rhode Island is home to many scholars and researchers who have been recognized within their respective disciplines, and the department of Landscape Architecture is no different. Professor Richard Sheridan and students Jared Sell, Brayden Drypolcher and Brianna O’Connor were all awarded by the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (RIASLA) for their research contributions to the profession.

Sheridan was selected for RIASLA’s ‘Merit Award,’ because of his contributions to the 2010 publication, ‘Rhode Island Department of Transportation Salt Tolerant Tree and Shrub Guide.’

As a co-author, Sheridan researched the function and upkeep of roadside vegetation along Rhode Island’s highways. The book is especially important for state workers in understanding the impacts of human activity, such as salting roadways in the winter, upon local plant species.

Jared Sell, an undergraduate in the Landscape Architecture program and President of the student chapter of RIASLA at URI, received the Special Recognition Award for organizing a new newsletter for landscape architect students at the university.

“Communication and advocacy of the profession are critical at the university level,” said Sell.  “As students, we are not always exposed to the current events of the profession and the latest technologies that are being released.  This newsletter takes that information and transforms it into an easy to read and convenient form for the students.”

Sell also participated in a summer internship at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and was afforded the opportunity to assist and learn from maintenance crews as they made sure the entire park was kept up and presentable.

“I have done a lot of research into the entertainment industry, especially amusement parks, and the role landscape architects have played in creating these spaces,” said Sell. “What became a challenge was translating what I have learned and researched into my work on various student projects.”

“The designers [at Disney World] stress the fact that the parks are fully immersive experiences, where guests are transported to an alternative reality and no detail is left out,” he added. “Incorporating these themes helps to create successful designs, as well as interactive spaces that are for all ages.”

Sell hopes that his education, coupled with the advances in Landscape Architecture at parks such as Disney World, will provide him the chance to make his career a long and enjoyable one.

“The future of amusement parks is exciting,” said Sell. “With technology becoming more powerful and much smaller, the possibilities are endless.  The challenge will be how to incorporate this technology with regular public spaces and environments to create a more enjoyable experience for all.”

Another URI student, Brayden Dypolcher, received the Special Recognition Award for his research on the Biscuit City project in South Kingstown. Drypolcher has looked at the various ecological circumstances which affect landscaping in the area, as well as the human impacts caused by landscape architecture.

“As a student I am continually interested in water systems and how our developments have impeded their natural functioning,” said Drypolcher. “I believe the most challenging issue when presenting ideas and potential solutions to a community is what’s called the quagmire of tradition. The inability to appreciate that a change needs to happen in the way we look at problem solving.”

“That is not to say that implementation of good design and developments are not happening in the world today,” he added. “It is just that those ideas are still barred by antiquated paradigms that are not easily lifted.”

Sheridan and the URI students were presented with their awards on December 9 at Chelo’s on the Waterfront in Warwick. The American Society of Landcape Architects has been in existence since 1899, representing over 16,000 professionals throughout the country and promoting the advancement of successful practice and implementation of new technologies in Landscape Architecture.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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