Projects might include improving an existing site, exploring alternatives for an unbuilt site, or restoration of a previously used property. 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 sites within an hour’s drive of Northampton that 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 students 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. Small-scale site design projects are completed by an individual student.

Types of Services Offered:

  • Select the best locations 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
  • Correct problems with drainage and erosion
  • 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 preparation of permit documents or installation of design.

Project Costs, Timeline, and Client Responsibilities:

Small-scale design projects are scheduled during the fall of each year, beginning with a client interview in September and ending in December. Applications are accepted year-round; applications received after July 31 are moved to the next year’s potential project list. Small-scale site design projects are completed by the end of the calendar year, and a printed copy delivered in mid-January.

Small-scale design projects are offered on a sliding scale: $650, $1,000, and $1,300. All funds received above the base fee of $650 are used to fund projects in underserved communities. We may also offer a few reduced rate small-scale design projects where there is a special need and their project would be especially instructive in meeting our program goals.

Conway expects the client to:

  • Meet several times with the student designer to outline their needs and wishes
  • Review progress and recommendations
  • Attend a juried presentation in mid-November

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

Small Site Project Application Form

Please complete the form below to let us know you are interested in contracting for small-scale site design services. Applications will be reviewed by faculty over the summer of 2023, beginning in early August. If your project appears to be a good match for our curriculum, a faculty member will contact you directly in early August 2023 to speak further and schedule a site visit. Applications received after July 31 will be considered for the following year. Projects that are selected begin with a client interview in early September.