College of Art and Architecture
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2461
Moscow, ID 83844-2461

phone: (208) 885-4409
fax: (208) 885-9428
email: caa@uidaho.edu


Urban Design Center
322 E Front Street, Suite 120
Boise, ID 83702

phone: (208) 334-2999
email: arch@uidaho.edu
website: uidaho.edu/caa/facilities/udc

Integrated Design Lab
306 S 6th St.
Boise, ID 83702

phone: (208) 429-0220
email: kevinv@uidaho.edu
website: www.idlboise.com

Katie Bissett concept

A Landscape for the Future

Written by Becca Johnson

The small town of Cascade, Idaho, experienced financial hardship when its main industry, a timber mill, closed in 2001. When the mill shut down, the only things left in the town to keep the economy running were a few small businesses and tourist activity in the winter as people drove through to get to McCall, Idaho.

Another nearby employer, the Tamarack ski resort development near Donnelly, also experienced financial troubles and the developers were forced to halt construction and shut down the resort. When both the mill and Tamarack failed, residents worried about future employment and whether they would be able to remain in their town.

The town needed to get back on its feet and asked the University of Idaho's College of Art and Architecture for help.

For many students, like Idaho senior Katie Bissett, the town’s troubles posed an educational challenge and design opportunity.

Bissett is no stranger to hard work. She has completed a four-year degree in only two and a half years, and spent her time in college giving her best in class and to the community. Bissett, who will receive a degree in Landscape Architecture this December, spent last year focusing on Cascade as a service-learning project.

“This request for help evolved into a college-wide project,” says Bissett. “I participated in a collaborative effort involving the third-year students of the Department of Landscape Architecture and the fourth year students of the Department of Architecture.”

The students were led by people involved in the university’s Extension Horizons Program, a community leadership effort aimed at reducing poverty. The group met with the local leaders and townspeople, and studied and documented the way in which the town functioned.

From their research, the students developed creative plans to promote the economy and to develop sustainability. The group drew sketches of what the town would look like if it implemented their designs, and developed a master plan for the town’s downtown area.

“The group I was in focused on how to revitalize the downtown area,” says Bissett. “I felt very energized when I found myself collaborating with students from Architecture as well as my colleagues in Landscape Architecture to create visions for the future.”

After eight challenging weeks and a few all-nighters, the group returned to Cascade to present their designs to members of the community.

“Not only were we given a warm reception by the people, but they also made plans to set aside money to implement our designs,” says Bissett. “Currently, I am helping to assemble a master book of all the work done for the town, and I am hopeful that it will soon be published.”

Bissett and her group continue to interact with Cascade residents. They are pleased to see that, despite the recession, some changes have taken place, and are optimistic that other helpful changes will soon follow.

To further expand her landscape architecture skills, Bissett also spent time involved in projects at other locations. Most recently, Bissett joined instructors and students from Washington State University to visit Lewiston and the lower Snake River. The class studied the impact of the Lower Granite Dam on the Lewiston community.

“Lewiston is facing danger as water levels rise because of sediment build-up behind the dams," says Bissett. "Their levees are nearing the point of being breached. Mindful of the future, we are looking at Lewiston's options to remedy the problem.”

Bissett and her colleagues also have traveled to Seattle, Wash., to study urban design projects and to visit firms, and to Boise for the biannual meeting of the Idaho-Montana Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Bissett also spent two memorable summers in the Landscape Architecture department’s Summer Study Abroad trip to Cremolino, Italy.

“Because I was given so many incredible opportunities to directly experience the natural and cultural environment, I have been inspired by a creative vision that I am certain will continue to influence me in my future career in landscape architecture,” says Bissett.

After graduation, Bissett will relocate to Texas to work on a Master of Arts degree in Digital Media Studies to further enhance her design skills.