Back row: Assistant professor Jonathon Anderson, Associate Professor Danny Ortega, students Cory May, Jeffrey Murvin, John Duncombe and Christopher Rucker. Front row: Students Tanner Chee, Mirella Garcia, Arely Lopez, Jamie Mitchell and Gavyn Silva. (Lukas Eggen photo)

Back row: Assistant professor Jonathon Anderson, Associate Professor Danny Ortega, students Cory May, Jeffrey Murvin, John Duncombe and Christopher Rucker. Front row: Students Tanner Chee, Mirella Garcia, Arely Lopez, Jamie Mitchell and Gavyn Silva. (Lukas Eggen photo)

By Lukas Eggen
Ely Times Staff Writer

Last weekend, a group of landscape architecture students from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas visited Baker and Ely as part of its class, led by Assistant Professor Jonathon Anderson and Associate Professor Danny Ortega.

Students met with community members and toured various project sites in White Pine County. The projects included: A trails plan in Baker, a beer garden at Shooters, the White Pine County Golf Course, downtown McGill, Renaissance Village, the library expansion/duck pond, the Nevada Northern Railway and the Ely War Memorial.

“Part of what we try to do at UNLV is have real world applications to go out into the community and do community outreach programs,” Ortega said. “So I called Bill (Calderwood) and asked him if there was anything in Ely that there were any design considerations for or any upcoming projects.”

The project’s goal is to “introduce the student to issues of community design in a rural landscape context and facilitate the applied analysis, research, ideation and synthesis of innovative designs and solutions to reprogram and assign value to these landscapes. Students will build upon a community’s unique context, such as regional geographies, economics and historical landscapes and reimage these conditions for the design of community-based landscapes. This exploration is fundamental to principles of planning and design or rural landscape systems, as this type of spatial design requires students to balance complex and interdependent ecological systems with urban infrastructure, socio-economics and cultural conditions.”

Students were then given several projects to work on, with each student being a lead on some projects and taking on secondary roles in other projects.

“Hopefully everyone gets their hands on at least two or three of the projects,” Ortega said.

The students’ visit is the first step in the class’s project to gather information and learn more about the needs and desires of each project that the students are working on. After that will be a session for the community to provide feedback about their designs.

“This is our preliminary research project,” Anderson said. “On Nov. 22, we’re coming back to present the designs that the students have been working on. The idea is the students will then take the feedback from the community members back to Las Vegas, design and develop a little bit more and submit it as plans, drawings and models to the community members that are stakeholders in the different programs.”

Students researched White Pine County prior to coming up last weekend. And while they learned about the area, meeting the residents involved in each project provided a new viewpoint of what they were working on.

“It’s exciting,” Arely Lopez said. “It’s a little overwhelming with all the information. It’s definitely different from just researching the town, it’s different coming here and talking to people.”

As students spent the weekend visiting the area and gathering more information for their projects, the class is hoping that upon their final submissions that their designs can help positively impact numerous projects in White Pine County.
“It’s really cool,” Tanner Chee said. “We didn’t know much about any of our projects before we came up here, so actually being where we’re going to be designing for and meeting with people is really cool.”

While students said they’re expecting many long nights ahead of them to prepare their designs for a public presentation on Nov. 22, getting to do what they want to do after college in a real world setting is something they are excited about.

“They are real people who have real needs and sometimes we have to think about that,” Jamie Mitchell said.