Architect Thomas Oslund of oslund.and.assoc. of Minneapolis has been awarded a national American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) General Design Honor Award in the Professional Awards category for his landscaping design for the UMD Swenson Science Building.
Clad in steel, and surrounded by native plantings – resources unique to northern Minnesota – the courtyards of the UMD Swenson Science Building feature an experimental wetland garden with an emphasis on the cultivation of wild rice. Chosen for its symbolism and importance to the Native American population of northern Minnesota, the garden is an outdoor laboratory for UMD science students and faculty.
The 2007 ASLA Professional Awards Jury applauded Oslund's design by saying, "A big success. The core-ten combines with a beautiful plant palette to create a remarkable project. The simple forms are well conceived and executed. It's very unexpected, yet appropriate."
The outdoor courtyards are designed as a friendly and functional gathering space for UMD students, faculty, and staff. The lower courtyard features a two-tiered experimental garden pool, which also functions as a destination for storm water runoff from the surrounding site and roof of the building.
The upper pool is a water garden with a special emphasis on the cultivation of wild rice. The design includes unique underwater detailing, creating a circulatory system for water flow suitable for wild rice. Storm water runoff is collected and discharged into the lower pool, from which the water is circulated to the upper pool to maintain the water flow necessary for wild rice.
Oslund summarizes the project this way: "The design integrates a working outdoor laboratory into usable, engaging spaces, featuring the two outdoor courtyards."