Dec. 9: Students to show designs for Coeur d’Alene Tribe site

As featured in WSU News, December 6, 2016

PLUMMER, Idaho – Landscape architecture designs highlighting the heritage and future of the Coeur d’Alene Indian Tribe will be presented to the public 2-4:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, at the tribe’s Wellness Center, Conference Room B, by students from Washington State University.

Eighteen School of Design and Construction students worked this semester on improvements to the tribe’s tribute site, a sculpture park at the confluence of the Spokane River and Lake Coeur d’Alene – a historic tribal gathering place. Six student teams will show their designs to representatives from the tribe, North Idaho College, the city of Coeur d’Alene and interested citizens.

Stories of land and people

A new statue of tribal leader Chief Morris Antelope stands at the site. Students were challenged to find the best ways to honor and represent the tribe beyond that single statue.

chief-statue-at-park-web

“This recognition is long overdue,” said Steve Austin, WSU clinical assistant professor and class leader. “The tribe told our students, ‘Think big!’”

For sophomore Zochil Castro, that meant considering land and water, art and communication and, especially, people. The tribe’s views were most important. “They want to be represented in the here-and-now, not just as part of the past, the history books,” said Castro. “We talked about storytelling, being environmentally conscious and how this could be a site for people to gather and appreciate the beauty of the land.”

Putting theory into practice for clients

Student teams performed detailed research while considering safety, access and even the direction of prevailing winds. Designs include boardwalks that draw visitors to interpretive signs and bioswales that use native vegetation to filter pollutants from stormwater.

“After this project is finished, it’s up to the tribe to finalize their vision for the site,” Castro said. The project offered a rare chance for intro-level students to put theory into practice while working with actual clients and communities. “I’ve got a stronger understanding of what a landscape architect does,” said Castro. “It’s real now.”

“This shows that we don’t need to take small steps,” said Austin. “We can push our students to be the best they can be, right away.”

News media contact: Steve Austin, WSU School of Design and Construction, 859-473-3880, steve.austin@wsu.edu