Contemporary Sustainable Agriculture/Agri-Science Education
Provide building and site facilities where students, faculty, and the public can explore and experiment with emerging best practices in agri-sciences.
Ecological Restoration and Native Landscapes
Maximize restoration of native landscapes wherever possible, protect and restore existing important landscape such as the wetlands and the woodlot, integrate native landscape typologies into the central learning garden as a showcase for the public and as a zone for propagation and cultivation of native plants.
Environmental Education/Public Connectivity and Communication
Integrate environmental education and public access into all aspects of the site and program.
Landscape as Biological Infrastructure
Use functioning landscapes, such as biofilters and constructed wetlands to manage storm water run-off and wastewater on site in a legible manner that can be seen and understood by the public.
An Integrated Approach
Highlight overlaps and synergies between all of the proposed programs and design strategies that create strong relationships between these components, creating a dynamic, experiential landscape of learning for all who visit the site.
Entry and Arrival
The entry and arrival into the site occurs at the existing road entry. From this point a loop drive accesses all proposed structures, provides necessary service access, and allows the dispersal of parking around the proposed central learning gardens. This loop drive and the proposed structures form a perimeter framework of programmatic elements that create a threshold into the different zones of the site while the learning garden allows for the creation of a microcosm of all site landscape programs and typologies to occur in a concentrated and accessible location.
The buildings are arranged around the central garden and circulation loop to optimize passive solar orientation and maximize solar energy harvest. The buildings are also located to minimize grading and allow for phasing over time while existing structures continue to be occupied. These structures will include:
The Central Learning Garden: Situated within and around the entry drive and parking is over one acre of garden space that acts as a public learning courtyard. This space is intended to be structured across the topography with zones that will highlight examples of all landscape types and programs found on the site. This zone can be used for programs ranging from native plant nurseries and prairie demonstration gardens to sustainable turf plots and bioretention gardens. This garden will be used as both an active experimental and productive landscape by students and staff, as well as a tool for public education about what Center does.
The Prairie Drainfield: This zone will accommodate septic requirements as well as storm water management for the primary parking area while creating a powerful component of the visitor entry sequence through the purposeful and functional planting of native prairie species.
South Porch Gardens and Green Houses: These areas provide direct access for visitors and students to a variety of propagation uses including native plants, herbs, vegetables, and tree seedlings. In addition, they will provided integrated access points for on-site composting and material management.
Restoration Wetlands: Regenerative approaches to existing wetlands that improve/expand native habitats.
Native Ecological Restoration Zones: Native woodland expansion, hedgerows, prairies, wetlands; study of native woody succession and reforestation; expansion and study of wildlife corridors and habitat.
Woodland Trail System and Study Area: Utilization of the existing woodlot for education research and low-impact recreation (rustic trails for hiking and cross country skiing); deer management and impacts (deer free areas to study lost understory and ground plane for example); emerald Ash Borer impacts and management; restoration and introduction of sensitive landscape types such as the wooded wetlands.
Sustainable Agriculture Areas: Michigan crops and vegetables; organic orchards, berries and vines; best practices for management and site impacts.
Sustainable Animal Management Areas: Animal waste management; mobile poultry/animal units; forage prairies.