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NDSU students design Red River Zoo’s new outdoor learning space

Published July 23, 2015

NDSU students Ellie Nyquist and Matt Ellingson tested their design capabilities and communication skills with a real client this spring.

Nyquist and Ellingson, who are majoring in landscape architecture, collaborated with the Red River Zoo for a service-learning project in their Writing in the Design Professions course. Their assignment was to design or redesign a space for the nonprofit and use the types of communication commonly used in their field.

Their work stood up to the client test—the zoo is using their plan to build its new outdoor interactive learning space where zookeepers will give public presentations and show small animals.

“The design was so compelling,” said Lisa Tate, executive director of the Red River Zoo. “It was exactly what we wanted.”

The space will include a stage with an overhead pergola to block weather elements, such as wind and intense summer sun. Cubbies will give zookeepers a way to keep animals safe and contained when they aren’t on stage during a presentation.

NDSU students Ellie Nyquist and Matt Ellingson used their landscape architecture expertise to help the Red River Zoo. They designed an outdoor learning space that zoo visitors will enjoy for decades.

The seating for the audience will be split-log benches similar to seating used in other parts of the zoo. The benches can be easily moved in case of an emergency.

Nyquist and Ellingson addressed the need to cover behind-the-scenes parts of the property with fences and plants. They also focused on choosing plants that were non-toxic to animals, native to the area and aesthetically pleasing.

They also paid close attention to the zoo’s budget, something Tate appreciated. “It is feasible and beautiful,” she said.

The Writing in the Design Professions course is for upper-level architecture, landscape architecture, interior design and art majors who will soon join the workforce. English senior lecturer Julie Sandland designed the course to give students experience working with and advocating for real clients.

The students went through the entire process of working with a client, from researching the nonprofit and its needs, to designing a solution and communicating with the client throughout the process. Class instruction focused on written, oral, visual and digital communication within the client interaction.

Nyquist and Ellingson look forward to seeing zoo visitors enjoying the space they designed. The project is scheduled to be completed by Fall 2015.

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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North Dakota State University
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Last Updated: Friday, October 23, 2015 4:06:54 PM
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