Exploring Landscape Design to Influence Social Behavior

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Utilizing Sustainable Landscape and Urban Design to Create Safe and Engaging Public Space at the Catholic Worker

Michaela Mahon

Our Lady of the Road (OLR) is a facility run by the St. Peter Claver Catholic Worker in downtown South Bend that offers a variety of hospitality services to members of the community in need. The facility contains a breakfast soup kitchen, organic food co-op, laundry services, shower services, clothing donation center, chapel, and soon-to-be opened wood shop. OLR is constantly evolving to better serve the South Bend Community and one of its goals is to improve the outdoor space.

My capstone project explored how the design of the outdoor space can be completed in a way that supports environmental, economic, and social sustainability. My capstone consisted of three major parts: 1) a literature review that examined components of successful and sustainable outdoor spaces, including native and stormwater-reducing landscaping, defensible space, and elements of successful public spaces related to social interaction and sense of community; 2) a site analysis that identified relevant nearby services (or lack thereof), and a precedent study to successful examples of landscape and urban design to create safe spaces, and review of relevant city zoning ordinances; and 3) annotated site and perspective drawings for the design of the property, identifying phases, landscaping elements, and cost estimates.