Studio: Option Design Studio, LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture, 2015
Instructors: Forbes Lipschitz and Kevin Risk
As one of the sites most representative of the challenges faced by rural America, the Mississippi Delta is an ideal testing ground for regenerative regional design. The birthplace of the blues and home to some of the richest agricultural land in the United States, the region is floundering as farm jobs are lost to technological advancements and overseas competition. Just as rural delta communities struggle to stay afloat, urbanized Delta cities have achieved economic relevance by investing in advanced logistics and technology industries. Home to FedEx, Memphis has emerged as a global logistics hub. Further south, New Orleans has invested in innovation and entrepreneurship, earning the title of the country’s biggest “brain magnet” and the Coolest Start-Up City in Forbes Magazine. This course attempted to reconcile the sluggishness of delta economies with the forces of urbanization and innovation, with an emphasis on regional, ecological and infrastructural systems. The course developed a regional design directive through a series of contemporary mapping methods, field measures, case studies, readings and design investigations.