American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2007 Student Awards
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Introduction: A study of development and preservation opportunities for the Northern Kentucky area.
Media Coverage and Blog: A topic of great interest and debate in and around the Northern Kentucky area.
Media Coverage and Blog.
Stakeholder Participation: Public Meetings, Area of Interest Identification, Public Surveys, Visual Preference Studies.
Stakeholder Participation: A variety of activities and formats.
Precedent Studies: Learning from experience.
Inventory and Analysis: Physical Inventory, Demographics, and History.
Inventory and Analysis.



The Hills Project
Joseph Marwil, Student ASLA, Jack McGlasson, Student ASLA, Darren Ramler, Student ASLA, Casey Counce, Student ASLA, Brock MacKay Student ASLA, Greg Combs, Student ASLA, Heidi White, Student ASLA, Corey Wilson, Student ASLA, Jenna Bockey, Student ASLA, Marc Bond, Student ASLA, Justin Cotton, Student ASLA, Travis Edelen, Student ASLA and Jeff Chase, Student ASLA
University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky
Faculty Advisors: Dr. Brian Lee

"This is a very professional project. The modeling of the building scenario was very clear and accessible. It was a process and not just an event."

— 2008 Student Awards Jury Comments

Project Statement:

The Hills Project was conducted in partnership with the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission. The purpose of the Hills Project was to generate ideas, guidelines, and recommendations for both the development and preservation of Northern Kentucky’s hillsides. The study specifically addressed the dilemma of whether hillsides should be used to maximize development opportunity, be left in a more natural vegetative state to serve ecological functions, or have a balance of both. An essential component was to involve stakeholders throughout the entire planning process.

Project Narrative: 

The Hills Project was completed over the course of four months and included three public meetings at which stakeholder participation and survey activities were used to gather ideas and feedback. Throughout the course of the study, the stakeholders showed passionate interest, concern, and diversity of thought regarding the hillside dilemma.

Essential issues in the debate included health, safety and welfare; private property rights; common pool resources; tax base; water management; wildlife management; viewsheds; economic growth; and the quality of life. Stakeholder input was crucial in the conceptualization of ideas that will influence a range of policy and physical approaches involving incentive/disincentive as well as regulatory and voluntary actions in the community and region.

Information was gathered to inform and educate both the study team and stakeholders about the breadth as well as depth of issues related to hillside development and preservation. While hillsides were the primary focus, the scope of the study also included planning and design recommendations on a comprehensive level. The originally posed focal question was, “Should the hillsides be developed, preserved, or have a balance of both?” The comprehensive questions that evolved through research and public interaction were, “What types of development and preservation are desired, where are they desired, why, and how can they be achieved?”

The goals for the Hills Project included documenting and understanding the stakeholder’s perceptions, particularly their visual preference about landscape issues and values. The planning process utilized an enhanced McHargian approach in the identification of critical and threatened hillside areas as well as local experts and stakeholder inputs for analysis.

A key project component was the series of build-out scenarios on six sites identified by stakeholders across the landscape in urban to rural conditions. Each of the six sites had four site plans generated. Each plan was evaluated using the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Neighborhood Development and a sprawl to smart growth evaluation framework originally published by Hasse (2004) in Landscape Journal. Finally, the stakeholders also evaluated how they liked or disliked the site design ideas across the 24 scenarios. This project component has already impacted how the community will be modifying the existing zoning and subdivision regulations. In addition, several other project components were completed such as the green infrastructure system across multiple counties. This project component utilized least cost path analysis in GIS with stakeholder input during model construction. An outcome of this already has been a discussion on modifying the system for generating public funds to implement a green infrastructure plan in the coming years.

What is depicted in this submission is a series of brochures developed during the project. The brochures are intended to be widely distributed by the community partner to continue the project. In addition, a 100-page report was also authored by the project team, which documents the entire process as well as expands on recommendations. As part of the project submission to the community partner, all of the public participation materials were delivered so that the process materials can be used in the on-going community dialogue.

The project team has strived to build the awareness of the landscape architecture profession in the community by using analysis, planning, design in the stewardship of natural and built environments through this educational process. The Northern Kentucky landscape will change; however, the what, where, and how can be influenced by stakeholders. The Hills Project provides the basis on which stakeholders can build on informed solutions and continue a community wide dialogue into the future.


6 Areas of Interest: Stakeholders identify interest areas.
6 Areas of Interest: Four design theme scenarios for each interest area.
6 Areas of Interest: LEED and Sprawl Evaluations.
6 Areas of Interest: Stakeholder Evaluations.
Green infrastructure in a community allows for ecological, social, and economic improvements.
Green Infrastructure: Greenway Suitability Analysis.
For the Future: Take-home points.
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