Review ecological principles and concepts of sustainability found in natural systems with a focus on the native plant species and plant associations of Southern California. Learn to calculate and assemble data used to estimate water and energy consumption associated with urban landscapes. Develop a foundation for the design of sustainable urban landscapes that outperform current landscapes.
Aesthetic and ecological concepts for urban planting design: introduction to plant species and communities including nomenclature, visual characteristics, cultural considerations, and design case studies with visits to existing sites.
Course Description: Architecture 537 involves (1) the review of information found in plant physiology, and ecological principles and concepts of sustainability found in natural systems, (2) the study of native and introduced plant species and plant associations of Southern California and (3) calculations and data used to estimate water and energy use associated with urban landscapes. The primary purpose of this course is to develop a foundation for the design of urban landscapes that provide greater benefits and achieve higher levels of sustainability than current landscapes. Learning will be achieved through lectures, discussions, campus planting identification walks and field trips. Lectures will incorporate a series of weekly exercises and readings.
Background: We are increasingly challenged to pursue and achieve higher levels of sustainability and benefit in all areas of our urban environment, including the landscapes. Many conventional landscape practices rely upon the heavy use of energy, water and other resources to build and maintain them. As a result, urban landscapes typically lead to a net depletion of environmental resources as well as add to greenhouse gas production and other forms of urban pollution. Information found in the study of plant physiology and the principles and concepts of plant ecology can provide a framework that can help achieve urban landscapes with increased levels of sustainability and benefit. This framework can be refined through the study of plants and environments found in southern California. Such information and effort is fully consistent with the USC 2010 Imperative Statement supporting ecological literacy among faculty and students: “The design should engage the environment in a way that dramatically reduces or eliminates the need for fossil fuel.”