Neither rain, nor snow, nor Covid-19 stopped the Department of Landscape Architecture from completing a design-build project.

Over the course of one and a half semesters (the half due to the university’s shutdown during the pandemic) Assistant Teaching Professor Colby Gray and his students designed and constructed an Environmental Education Plaza at Wilderness Park in Hartford City, Indiana.

The design includes a gateway feature, a bird blind, and a paved gathering area for small groups. The development spans a stream and connects a recently installed four-acre prairie to an existing 40-acre forest. Though more evident from an aerial view, the structure outlines the anatomy of a butterfly while the design details narrate a butterfly’s metamorphosis. The caterpillar (bench), the cocoon (gateway), and a butterfly wing (the bird blind).

The project was guided by Teresa Henderson of Hartford City Parks Department and Lisa Weeks of Blackford Initiative. They provided guidance and feedback to the design team at various stages of the design process. The final design was ultimately approved by the Hartford City Parks Board.

The grand opening of the project was delayed due to social distancing but was finally celebrated in early August.