The recent development on the land surrounding Syme Residence Hall won the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Community Appearance in the Landscape Design category in early October as part of the College of Design’s Design + Build program.
The Raleigh Appearance Commission has been honoring additions to the character, environment or appearance of the City of Raleigh since 1983.
The Design + Build program has partnered with NC State University Housing for almost ten years, providing graduate students with the opportunity to create new structures for residential areas and transfer their technical knowledge into hands-on experience.
The Dean of the College of Design, Mark Hoversten, said he applauds the Design + Build program for its practicality and emphasis on both aspects of the creative process.
“Students can actually build what they design, and that’s what is so wonderful about our Design + Build projects,” said Hoversten.
Carla Delcambre, director of the landscape architecture department’s graduate program, said the Syme project, which started in 2018, focused on green infrastructure. Students diverted downspouts in an attempt to slow down, clean up and collect rainwater before it entered nearby Rocky Branch Creek. In addition, the redirection allows plants in the area to be watered naturally.
Students graduating from the Design + Build course move from creating construction plans to building their designs during the spring semester, ending with a ribbon cut. The Syme project lasted two years in total, according to Delcambre.
Delcambre said that prior to construction, students who live in areas where Design + Build projects will take place have the opportunity to provide feedback through interviews. Graduate students also perform “behavior mapping” to examine the existing conditions in the area and how people are using the space before starting the construction part of the project.
Once most of the construction is complete, planting to promote biodiversity is a key part of the project.
Delcambre said she has been working with graduate students since the project started two years ago. Delcambre said the project consisted of four months of intensive design and construction and how exciting it was for the program to receive the Sir Walter Raleigh Prize.
Hoversten and Delcambre both said Syme Hall had been an area of focus for Design + Build projects in the past. Graduate students set up rain gardens around Syme almost ten years ago. The rainwater redirection of the most recent project is used to water the plants in the rain gardens.
Natalie Jones, a first year psychology student, has been living at Syme Hall since August. She appreciates the renovations made to her home due to the Design + Build project.
“The rain garden is a really cool concept for conserving water,” Jones said.
The Syme project involved partnerships between the College of Design and various university departments, including land management and landscape construction services.