Landscape Architecture Students Design Expansion for NOMADgardens


Article by: Celeste Sunderland

Photos by: Yasmine Farazian

A rainbow hued chain of origami cranes hung from a fence beside a garden design by Academy of Art University sophomore Jerry Doan. She and five other students from the School of Landscape Architecture presented proposals for an expansion of NOMADgardens on April 18, when the Mission Bay community garden celebrated their one-year anniversary with cocktails and cake.

The cranes, Doan explained, illustrate her idea for an origami workshop in the garden for children battling cancer at the nearby UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. “In Asia, we believe that if you make 100 cranes you can make a wish,” she said. “When I was five years old, I did it, and I think the wish came true.”

Inspired by the new hospital and a family housing facility under construction, several of the students from Yasmine Farazian’s second year studio class LAN 250, showcased creative ideas for children in their designs. Erick Munoz’s design featured a fire pit for marshmallow toasting, while Mia Liu’s design included garden containers just for kids.

A festive atmosphere filled the sunny space as the students showed their designs to passing neighbors, community gardeners, NOMAD volunteers and members of the Mission Bay Development Group. “They look fantastic,” said Director of Design and Planning at Mission Bay Development Group Luke Stewart. “We love seeing the ideas, they’ve done really good work. What’s really exciting about NOMAD is that they’ve been able to transform this empty lot into something that has a lot of community activity and engagement. One of the challenges is figuring out how to better activate and program this space, and I think that’s one of the things these proposals start to look at, how best to program this space so it’s active all week long.”


To address that challenge, and also as a way to generate revenue, the students incorporated things like market stands, private rental spaces, and stages for live performances and movie screenings. “It was exciting to see the students really engage with the idea of doing something for the community that’s going to have a positive benefit,” Farazian said. “They considered all the variables, including how the garden can be a node or identity marker for Mission Bay by introducing programing that really benefits the demographics of the people that live in this area.”

NOMADgardens founder Stephanie Goodson and School of Landscape Architecture Director Heather Clendenin started talking last summer about how the Academy could be involved with the project. The curriculum for LAN 250, the first undergraduate landscape studio, proved itself to be an excellent fit. Students visited the site and started working on their site analysis in February, giving them just about a month to develop their designs.

“It was a whole different experience actually having a client and trying to fulfill her needs and the community’s,” said Munoz. “And it was also really fun being able to enhance the design of something that already exists and add on to it. It was a completely fun experience throughout the whole process.”

The NOMADgardens project joins a growing number of “real world” assignments tackled by students in the School of Landscape Architecture, including designs for Ridge Lane, Bethany Center, and the Connecticut Friendship Garden. Goodson was pleased with the students’ work, and is looking forward to securing some funding to facilitate the next steps in the garden’s expansion. “It was really neat to see people getting so excited and saying ‘Wow, there’s a lot of possibility here,’” she said.