Matt McMillan ~ Portfolio Contents: Ecological Design ~Keys Beach Ecological Reserve ~Nokhu Reserve Urban Design ~Diviarture: Denver Urban Renewal Landscape Design ~ Aquatic Facility Site Design ~Gateway Gardens, Fort Collins ~WetLand Art
About MeI am inspired by nature. Exploring its wonders is a passion which has formed my love for landscape. I grew up in theRocky Mountain West, have lived in the high desert, mountains, plains and on an island in the Caribbean. These placeshave invigorated me through their vibrance, form and beauty. My goals are to conserve, restore, and celebrate theecological and cultural richness of these landscapes.Design PhilosophyDesign informed by the natural world develops from the creative process and inspires a vision of an alternative way tolive. A way forward that is a constant exploration in learning how to live in accordance with the world’s biological commu-nity. We have the increasing need for creative solutions to our world’s mounting issues. Biodiversity is shrinking, waterresources and access to clean water are dissappearing, obesity is an epidemic, access to sustainably grown organicfoods does not meet our needs, urban environments haphazardly spread, and we continue to consume non-renewa-ble energy without regard for the consequences. But, all these issues are at the center of the design of our landscapesand can be turned into a postive pursuit of the ideal. Elevating the ideals of nature and culture are at the core of theprocess and collaboration of ideas play a central role in making creative solutions possible. The design of landcapesis the restoration of the natural human soul, and in design, we seek to challenge and explore the dynamic relationshipsthat develop in our world to learn more about ourselves. I believe we have an ethical responsibility to pursue and inspirecreative efforts toward the restoration and cultivation of our natural world, of which we share an unbreakable connection.Design ProcessTaking into account the context of a place, promotion of creativity is the direction of my design process. It is continuallyinspired by sketching, photography, painting, building models and asking questions with my hands as they connectmy thought processes. Close attention to detail is absolutely necessary in all aspects of the process. Connections arecontinually made, relationships are valued. Collaboration of ideas and the exploration of varying experiences is requiredin order to maintain a high ideal during the process. Continually asking critical questions allows creative solutions to bereached, wherever design is needed. It starts with research of the landscape, grasping the issues by taking inventoryof the site, taking the problems and needs and turning them into a creative program with careful analysis. Functionaldiagrams and schematic design further develop understanding of the sense of place in forms, and cements the themeand concept for the plan. With hand drawing, painting, and computer rendering, final designs are conceptualized onpaper. Developing detailed construction documents then bridges the gap between the conceptual and built environ-ment.
Ecological DesignThat land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics ~ Aldo Leopold
Keys Beach Ecological ReserveA proposal was submitted to the St. Kitts Department of Environment andPlanning for restorative development of 130 acres by Dr. Kimberly Stewartand myself. The proposal is currently awaiting approval by the Office of thePrime Minister. Seacology just awarded a 18,000 USD grant to begin con-struction and native plant regeneration.Keys beach is a one and a half mile stretch of beach on the eastern shoreof St. Kitts. It is the most visited beach by leatherback sea turtles in St. Kitts.As the potential for tourism and education surrounding these critically endan-gered species continually increases, it is important to organize the tourist andeducational experience so that these animals can provide an inspiration forecologically restorative living.To restore vital habitat, improve sea turtle health and create jobs, a holistictourist experience was designed. It is focused on eco-tours that currentlytake place on the beach at night during the nesting season. In order tocreate the best eco-tour experience, an interpretive center is to be built toserve as a seed for stewardship of the landscape. It will house educationalmaterials, provide space for orientations and demonstrations, house injuredand sick sea turtles, and promote a community atmosphere for ecologicallyminded development in Keys and St. Kitts.Creative solutions to light pollution, erosion, and overgrazing are at the fore-front of the landscape restoration. By improving the landscape with nativeplant restoration, the habitat is improved for sea turtle nesting. By improvingthe habitat for sea turtles, tourism involving these animals will have the poten-tial for growth and eco-tourism focused jobs along with it.In secondary phases of development there will be a set of modest cottagesbuilt in addition to the interpretive center.. They will serve as accommodationsfor tourists visiting St. Kitts for wildlife tourism. A restaurant catering to tour-ists as well as citizens and residents will serve a variety of local dishes andseafood. The majority of fruits and vegetables will be grown organically in anon site garden.
Research, Inventory & AnalysisOne and a half miles of beach, approximately 130 acres of seashore landscape,Keys beach embraces the Atlantic Ocean to the northeast and is connected tothe town of Keys to the southeast.The Keys beach landscape is made up of a dune environment with dune grassesand drought and salt tolerant plants, backdunes where livestock graze,and de-graded mangrove wetland zones which connect to the higher altitude streamcorridors. With the town of Keys in close proximity it is a diverse and dynamiclandscape begging for further connections between the town and ecosystem.The fragile and everchanging nature of the dune ecosystem provides limited ar-eas for intensive development but a perfect canvas for native plant regeneration.Design is focused on restoring the natural and cultural resources.
Master Plans Eco-tour building Northern Outpost Anatomy of the Sea Turtle Garden Eco–tour building Soccer ﬁeld Southern Outpost Dune restora:on 1316 feet Keys Cottage Eco-tour building Cottages Train station
Dune FencingDune fencing was implemented in a section of beachas a pilot project using recycled shipping pallets. Thepurpose of the fencing is to promote sand depositionfor the further growth of dune grasses and other nativeplants. This specific area was heavily used for illegalsand mining and there are three more sites along thebeach that need this type of restoration. Some re-planting has begun with varying success. There isa large population of sheep and cows that keep thegrowth of plants to a minimum. The next step is toinstall fencing to mitigate the overgrazing of the fragiledune ecosystem.
Nokhu Reserve Northern Colorado: Never Summer Range: Niiciibiicei’i Arapaho meaning: never summertime Roughly 30 square miles, Larimer, Grand and Jackson Counties meet, State Forest State Park and Rocky Mountain National Park also lay stakes within the boundary. The goals of this design process were to promote the culture and history of the region while exemplifying low-impact and eco-revelatory design. Conser- vation easments were a large focus of the design in order to set standards of long term conservation. These mountains were named for the harsh winters here. Deep snowdrifts accumulate that melt only briefly during the summer. There is an Arapaho myth that may also explain the name. When they were in camp White-Owl (the winter bird) and Thunder-Bird (the summer bird) challenged each other for an exhibition of their powers. So Thunder-Bird started up clouds, black as coal, making a tremendous noise and great wind. White-Owl started its white looking clouds, which moved fast and thick, the clouds flying very low and blowing with a piercing wind. The black clouds and the white clouds met, but the white clouds of the white bird scattered snow, which drifted, so that there was a blizzard and nothing could be seen, and everything was frozen up. So the white bird gained the day and was considered the most powerful. To this day summer comes late to these mountains and leaves early, and snow is here for most of the year. To the left is a contour model made from chip- board that fiour class- mates and I built to better understand the landscape Vertical exag- of the northern Never geration of 2. Summer Range where the iconic Nokhu Crags make their home.
InventoryAccording to Arapaho myths, the corner wing feathers-the shortest feath-ers on the wing, closest to the bird’s body were used by the original creatorof the Earth. The Eagle donated these feathers and the creator pointedwith them to form the mountain ranges to the west, and the rivers runningdown from the mountains, and the earth was then covered in green grass.
Concepts & Design Development The conceptual symbols on the left were inspired by the Arapaho tribes that have historically lived in the region. They have informed the design of the Nokhu Reserve which looks back in history to the cultural and ecological wonders of the region. It combines the technology of today to embrace and celebrate a restorative prescence in the Never Summer Range. The designs look first at how wildlife habitat can be improved, then how we come to further respect the wildness of this spectacular landscape in a genuine search for a marriage be- tween culture and nature. A small village consisting of a lodge, small amphitheater, and a handful of yurts serves as the cultural center and launching point for exploration of the Never Summer Range. All access to the site is powered by humans or animals and energy consumption is all renewable. The remoteness of the site is maintained and further improvements to wildlife corridors will come in the form of animal bridges over highway 14, which bisects the site. It is important that we design in accordance with what the land provides while maintaining responsible avenues for the exploration of our environment. All too often, recreational areas such as resorts con- sume exorbitant amounts of resources simply for our pleasure. Nokhu Reserve seeks to reverse that trend by making recreation a restoritive activity in this spectacular landscape by following the idea that you conserve what you love, you love what you understand, and you understand what you are taught.
Urban DesignDivine nature gave the fields, human art built the cities ~ Marcus Terentius Varro, De Re Rustica
Diviarture ~Divine Art through Nature and CultureDesign Intent: Capturing the beauty of nature, promoting cultural community, and sculpting the site through artistic enrich-ment. This collaborative effort was an urban renewal project undertaken in my senior year for a neighborhood adjascent tothe Evans lightrail station in south Denver, Colorado. The goals were to create spaces that inspire natural and cultural con-nections and easy access to alternative transportation.We envisioned a community offering an alternative to consumptive living that is transit-focused, leaving the automobile be-hind. My fellow collaboraters were Monica Schwartz and Steve Cronin.The site is nine blocks long and ranges from approximately one to four blocks wide. South Santa Fe Drive and the light railspan the length of the west side of the site. The southwest corner of the site borders the Elati Light Rail Maintainance Facility.
Schematic DesignThese series of drawings show the process of design from programmaticexploration to refined use plans. With each drawing we further developedour ideas and solved problems. We were able to understand the needsfor space, nodes, anchors, and connectivity throughout the neighbor-hood while instituting aspects of our program. The process allows forfurther learning while challenging ourselves to create more inspiring solu-tions.
Plan DevelopmentThe schematic above explores building placement and viewcorridors for the purpose of maintaining visibility of the obeliskacross the central green and creating public space that allowsmultiple uses. The sinuous pedestrian and bicycle path travel-ing to and from the light rail, shown in orange, determines theplacement of surrounding buildings.The image (above right) finalizes this idea and also shows thereflection pools that echo the above overpass.The image to the right portrays the perspective view of thespace.
Landscape Design A tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others onlya green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule anddeformity... and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself. ~William Blake
Aquatic Facility Site DesignAs part of growth on the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM) St. Kitts campus, I contributedto the site design of the future aquatic facility to be built for the rehabilitation and education surrounding sea turtlesand other marine species. The building, was sited based on its proximity to the shoreline, where it is necessaryto pump sea water daily for rehabilitating sea turtles that will be housed in the tanks within the building. We alsohad to take into account storm surge for hurricanes striking the Caribbean shoreline which can reach 19 feet. Idesigned the layout of the building which is to house two 10’ diameter tanks, a surgery suite, treatment room,storage, and potential for expansion in secondary phases for other aquatic research. The pump system wasdesigned by Aquatic Ecosystems to allow for daily replenishing of sea water and filtration when returning the waterto the sea.
Gateway Gardens, Fort CollinsWhat would Fort Collins be without the river? What would it be without the railroad? If we didn’t listen to the history, culture,nature, and character of our town how would Fort Collins look today?The conceptual design for this park combines, in a richness that embodies Fort Collins, the vibrant sounds of history, culture,nature, and character of the area while providing a much needed connection to the Cache la Poudre River. With its proximityto Old Town, the gardens are the gateway to Fort Collins. Incorporation of alternative energy systems as a central part of thedesign represents the deep connection that Fort Collins has to the environment and using our resources responsibly.With its striking landforms that express the uniqueness and sounds of our culture, the strong linearity of the railroad, the form ofthe sinuous Poudre River, and the power of the natural elements, the garden symbolizes the character of Fort Collins.My process for design consisted of model building by first exploring landform, then vegetation, then cultural form. Next wasoverlaying each aspect of design together to blend the themes into logical spaces. Landform was inspired by sound and itsvisual representation, vegetation was inspired by the sinousness of rivers, and in contrast the cultural form was inpired by thelinearity of the railroad, all of which embody the ecological and cultural values of Fort Collins.
WetLand ArtProcess is a central part of design just as it is thedriving force of ecosystems. Because water issuch a precious resource, it is becoming moreimportant that we understand the processes thatmake up our water world. In this installation I por-trayed the creative process alongside the naturalprocess of freeze and thaw and the power thatwetland processes have in acting as filters. Hun-dreds of found logs were placed across a frozenwetland in a sinuous representation of water flow.The process that the environment employed uponthe design was documented over the course ofa month. In the end, the logs disappeared fromview to again become an integral part of the wet-land ecosystem.
Matt McMillanwww.email@example.com 720-454-3339