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Field Trip

Posted on Mar 01, 2014 in University Students , Spring Break , March-April 2014

Students from the University of Maryland gather at Seaside founder Robert Davis’ home for a roof-top view of Seaside. Left to Right: Architect and urbanist Dhiru Thadani, Marques King, Jeff Gipson, Gina Fernandes, Michelle Bennett, Kristen Fox, Valerie Sherry and professor and former dean Steve Hurtt, with Seaside founder Robert Davis (middle). Photo by Wendy O. Dixon

Visiting university students take a working spring break in Seaside By Diane Dorney

Winter and spring break for some college students this year meant a trip to Seaside to study architecture and urban planning. Staying in the Seaside Institute’s new Academic Village, these students, accompanied by faculty, learned how the principles and forms of traditional urbanism have been used to plan a town. Many incorporated sketching into their studies and most incorporated tours of nearby Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach and Watercolor, as well as Seaside in their schedule.

University of Maryland

Led by architect and urban planner, Dhiru Thadani, six graduate students from the University of Maryland spent two weeks in January to survey and then draw all of the existing buildings. This effort was initiated in order to create a Nolli-type map. A Nolli plan is a two-dimensional, black and white map that denotes all interior and exterior spaces accessible to public in white and all spaces inaccessible to the public in a hatched tone. Thadani said that it was a great experience. “The students were excited to be in Seaside experiencing the birthplace of new urbanism,” he said. The final map will consist of 12 panels, 24” wide by 16” high, that total an overall size of 8’x 4’. The finished map files will be donated to the Seaside Institute and made available at a nominal cost.

University of Notre Dame

An educational trip to Seaside from the University of Notre Dame architecture students has become an annual event. This year, 10 students and two faculty members visited during the Seaside Prize weekend to study Seaside using new technology that involves printing 3D models of buildings. “Basically, we are using documentation from the [Seaside] research portal to print out downtown Seaside building by building on a 3D printer,” said Jennifer Parker, head of the architecture library at the university. The goal is to create a replicated Central Square and Seaside footprint that will aid planners in redevelopment efforts. This year’s specific goal was to study the two vacant lots on either side of Central Square for mixed-use development. “The students will create a model that will be inserted virtually into the 360-degree pano(ramic)-tour of Central Square,” said Parker. “Then the models of each proposal will be printed and placed into a 3D model.”

Georgia Institute of Technology

Ellen Dunham-Jones, professor of architecture and urban design at Georgia Tech, planned a trip to Seaside with 10 students to study urban design. Her goals for the students included showing the evolution and variation between Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach, and Watercolor. “[Seaside] is a great laboratory for understanding the impacts of what might seem to be subtle differences in planning techniques,” said Dunham-Jones. The second goal was for the students to measure and sketch great public spaces and streets. “We’ll have a rolling measuring wheel to help them understand the actual sizes of various spaces, lots, and streets as they experience them,” she said. “This will help them develop an internal sense of human scale and size.” The third goal was to build camaraderie within the group. Dunham-Jones explained, “Urban design is never done by an individual and it’s important to learn how to be a good team player. I’ll encourage them to debate all the praise and critiques that get thrown at new urbanism and hope to open minds and hearts.”

Hampton University

The students who traveled the greatest distance came from Norfolk, Va., for a five-day stay in the Academic Village. This group of 12, led by Ray Gindroz, an architect, planner and adjunct professor at Hampton University, is enrolled in a credited course called, “History of Urbanism.” This year, the course was a component of the university’s Spring Break Travel Program. After two months of course work in the classroom, the students flew to Seaside where they toured, sketched and examined some of the un-built plans using Dhiru Thadani’s book, “Visions of Seaside,” as basic text. On the final day, students worked in teams to create a plan of Seaside based on one of the historical periods studied in the classroom.

The Seaside Institute is working with the visiting faculty to create an exhibition displaying each school’s work to be exhibited at a later date in the new Assembly Hall.

Diane Dorney is the executive director of the Seaside Institute, a nonprofit organization established in 1982 by Seaside town founder Robert Davis that serves to bring culture and education to the local community, including educating practitioners in the fields of planning, architecture and development.

Visit The Seaside Institute online.