NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Rutgers Gardens has been an integral and indispensable resource for Rutgers University — especially for the Cook and Douglass campuses who are closely associated with the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. Efforts have been made to make the Gardens more physically accessible for the staff and students, but perhaps another way of looking at it is figuratively: What if we brought the idea of Rutgers Gardens to campus. We did just that with “The Garden Walk.”
The goal of the design was to bring students back to nature and foster a sustainability culture, strengthening the campuses’ collective identity as natural campuses. Our design team was also tasked with fitting the design into the Rutgers 2030 Master Plan. As many master plans fall victim to budget constraints, we had to look at a feasible option that would not drastically change the design. We took the proposed “Campus Walk” — a primary path running through the campus that connects proposed residential with educational and transportation hubs — and created the Garden Walk.
Interstitial spaces between buildings were taken advantage of to designate potential areas for future living lab gardens. These can be installed by classes for classes to promote not only student ownership, but also stewardship. The Garden Walk modifies the Campus Walk to run along existing significant natural resources as well as existing living labs. This has the potential to promote the current living lab initiative at the University that encourages the use of outdoor classrooms.
These gardens will serve ecological purposes that address problems not only on campus, but in New Brunswick as well. These include stormwater management, carbon sequestration and invasive species management. The research gathered from these labs will not just be for the campus, but also disseminated into the community, reinforcing Rutgers’ historic role as the land grant university of New Jersey.
— Rutgers University