Flipping the Front
Author: Holley Stringham
Institution: Utah State University
Instructor: Caroline Lavoie and Todd Johnson
Studio: Exploring Ideas for a Changing Climate and Growing Population in the Intermountain West; Undergraduate Landscape Architecture, Spring 2021
Collaborator: Skyler Smith, Design Workshop
The Great Salt Lake in Utah is an ecologically unique space that is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and population growth. Hugged by the Wasatch mountains and a growing urban community on the east side, known as the Wasatch Front, the balance between environmental stewardship and urban development are being challenged as drought needs, steep population growth, and wetland wildlife refuges compete for water and land along the Wasatch Front. As the urban population grows toward the Great Salt Lake, there are needs to protect the environmental integrity of the lake’s wetlands, promote equitable development as housing costs rise, and maintain transit-oriented transportation goals. Traditionally urban development has fronted Interstate 15, which has become the spine of the Wasatch Front. However, as development has become land locked by the Wasatch Mountain range to the east, urban sprawl is rapidly growing westward toward the lake, encroaching on critical wetland and migratory bird habitat. The goal of this project to explore an idea to alter the paradigm and design development that fronts the lake rather than backs into it. To ‘flip the front’ means to create a set boundary that will promote more environmentally-driven design to meet the needs of a growing population while conserving important wetland habitat near human communities. By creating a developmental boundary, developers and stakeholders will be prompted to bring more focus on fronting the lake by putting more focus on environmentally-friendly and context-driven development that can inspire locals towards ecological stewardship and sustainable practices.
The Green New Deal is an opportunistic campaign to collect issues and challenges that have been confronting global civilizations since civilization began. The GND Advocates are opportunistically using the realization of global warming to make vivid the human/environmental struggles that have existed through time. Ignoring the impacts of human habitation has compounded the problems (primarily on air and water) with the expanding need for energy (population explosion/comfort/mobility) being at the center of the climate problem. The “value proposition” of these economies and actions are motivated by short-sighted profit with little regard for limits or the compounding environmental impacts. The interrelationship of ecosystems and the stress on these systems introduces dynamic shifts in the value of land and resources. We are witnessing the competitive response of countries, corporations and individuals together with political systems/coalitions who are battling over these resources without understanding root and interrelated causes. The GND bundles issues of the environment, economics, social status, and culture in an attempt to make a broad appeal. The value proposition is that the above spheres of civilization and ecosystems must be reconciled.....or else! The opportunity of this studio and of landscape architecture is to develop methodologies and undertake projects that respond to “new value propositions” respecting the need to address these compounding problems in a far-sighted way.