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Students’ ideas will beautify UL quad

Lynda Edwards, Daily Advertiser, Nov. 2, 2013

The new quad design is based on ideas culled from UL students. Here is the site plan, which includes red brick paths, shade trees and a large central fountain.
The new quad design is based on ideas culled from UL students. Here is the site plan, which includes red brick paths, shade trees and a large central fountain. / submitted by Prof. Tom Sammons

On a hot, steamy day, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s newly revamped quad may look very much like a restful oasis.

A huge fountain will flow in the middle of the quad.

About a dozen newly transplanted live oaks and magnolias will offer shade in addition to the crepe myrtles that have grown on the quad for years. And no one needs to stay on the red brick and white stone pathways. The grassy lawn welcomes anyone who wants to sit or nap on it.

The new design is based on input from students who participated in charettes and surveys since the makeover was first proposed by the Student Government Association in 2010.

It is part of UL’s comprehensive Master Plan, a project funded with self-assessed student fees.

The site plan is being implemented by School of Architecture and Design director Tom Sammons and students in his unique Community Design Workshop.

The sculpture at the center of that fountain in the quad hasn’t been decided upon. The workshop was considering an enormous 3-D fleur de lis as the centerpiece, but no final choice has been made.

Phase one of construction should be done by spring 2014. Then phase two, which is installing the fountain, will begin. Phase three entails laying the walkways down.

But community design students are involved in much more than the quad renovation.

“At any point during the school year, the workshop will be tackling three or four different projects,” Sammons said. “This year, the students are making an inventory of every tree on campus, working on Apollo Road land use in Scott and making over the quad. We’re working on the first phase of the quad makeover now, figuring out the drainage, where the water pipes need to be for the fountain and so on.”

One of the workshop’s former students, Todd St. Julien, worked on that phase before graduating this August. He now works at a commercial and residential architectural firm in River Ranch.

He considers his workshop experience crucial to his entry into the professional world.

“The team experience was challenging but so important; we got the maps and plans that showed where the water and gas lines were and needed to adapt our site plan to dodge the buried utilities,” St. Julien said. “You learn to be adaptable while maintaining the beauty of the design.”

Justin Aubert is in the workshop while earning his master’s degree. He has been working on the Apollo Road project in Scott. According to Scott’s May 2 city council minutes, Mayor Purvis Morrison said the city paid of $23,973 to the workshop to create at least two alternate plans for how to use the land along Apollo.

“We examined who owned which parcels along Apollo and came up with some plans that included new urbanism elements like a mix of residential and commercial, pedestrian-friendly layouts and green space, a park, as a buffer,” Aubert said. “It was a great experience because we showed our plans to the land owners and merchants in the area to get their feedback. In a class, you do a project and get away with whatever you want. But this was the equivalent of having a client relationship. I learned a lot about how to listen to what the client wants and is trying to say.”

UL Professor Tom Sammons looks over the quad he and his Community Design Workshop students are giving a makeover. A sculptural fountain is the centerpiece of the new site plan, which also includes new magnolia and live oaks.

UL Professor Tom Sammons looks over the quad he and his Community Design Workshop students are giving a makeover. A sculptural fountain is the centerpiece of the new site plan, which also includes new magnolia and live oaks. / Lynda Edwards, The Advertiser