Projects might include improving an existing site, exploring development alternatives for an unbuilt site, or restoration of a previously used property, whether or not residential. Small community projects such as pocket parks, schoolyards, or reuse of former industrial or commercial properties now in municipal control, are occasionally included. Preference is given to those within 25 miles of Northampton whose sites present challenges suitable to the school’s mission. The scope of a fall project must extend beyond a simple planting plan and should provide opportunities for students to incorporate ecological design solutions into the site. Students do not do any implementation of designs.

The intention of these projects is to:

  • Provide graduates with the basic knowledge and skills necessary to practice design of the land which respects nature as well as humanity;
  • Develop ecological awareness, understanding, respect, and accommodation in its students and project clients; and
  • Produce project designs that fit human use to natural conditions.

Landscape design, as defined by Conway, fits human uses to natural conditions through understanding and accommodating natural systems. The design solutions strive to fit the particular needs of the clients to the specific ecology of the site and uphold the school’s mission. Students are expected to learn and use a basic knowledge of geology, climate, soils, hydrology, botany, wildlife and other natural sciences, as well as skills in surveying, engineering, construction, planning, and conservation. Students follow a coherent, logical process of site analysis and assessment and develop design alternatives and recommendations shaped by that information.

Types of Services Offered:

  • Correct problems with drainage and erosion
  • Select best location for new structures such as houses, garages, decks, patios, and additions
  • Protect, conserve, enhance, and restore habitat of wild flora and fauna
  • Incorporate permaculture and forest garden techniques for growing food
  • Design driveway and parking areas
  • Analyze land parcel for best building and septic location and access
  • Site recreational facilities
  • Offer solutions to provide shade, screen or frame views, and create focal points

Types of Products:

  • Base map of parcel with contours, property lines, utilities, buildings, and significant vegetation
  • Analysis and assessment of physical features, site context, assets and constraints
  • Schematic alternatives and diagrams; students are required to redefine design challenges and explore a multitude of solutions
  • Recommended design plan with phasing when applicable

Students do not provide detailed planting plans, but may offer a list of suggested plants suited to the site conditions. Students are required to explore a multitude of alternatives. Student services do not include installation of design.

Project Costs, Timeline, and Client Responsibilities:

The residential projects are scheduled during the fall of each year, beginning with a client interview in September. Applications are accepted from January 1 through August 31. Applications received by July 31 are given priority.  Projects are under contract, and at a minimal cost.

Conway expects the client to meet several times with the student designer to outline their needs and wishes, and to review progress and recommendations.

  • There is a juried presentation in mid-November, which clients are expected to attend.
  • The project is to be completed by the end of the calendar year, and a printed copy delivered in mid-January.
  • Cost for a residential design, including survey, base plan, prints of analysis and recommended design is $650.
  • We may also offer a few homeowners a reduced rate where there is a special need and their project would be especially instructive in meeting our program goals.

If you think that you might be interested in contracting for residential design services, please complete this brief form and submit it online.

We would be pleased to discuss project services and costs at any time. Contact Kristin Thomas by email.