Featured Students   |   Urban Landscape

Urban Landscape Profile: Shane Sullivan


This semester the sophomores in the Urban Landscape program have been focusing on documenting and mapping specific sites within the Bussey Brook portion of the Arnold Arboretum. Students have been considering, researching, and mapping a series of systems that were of interest to them and were prominent on each of their sites. For Shane Sullivan, he found he was most interested by sound, light, vegetation types, and topography. As he furthered his research and mapping of these elements, Shane realized that they all affected one another both at the large scale of his entire site, as well as at the smaller scale of individual “zones” of the site. Realizing how these systems interacted helped him formulate an idea of a garden or an intervention that could improve the experience of all these systems simultaneously. The real key to developing the design for Shane was through using Rhino software. Being able to actually overlay and manipulate surfaces to make a 3-dimensional visual enabled him to see relevant issues and use the tools to address ways of improving his design. It allowed him to think creatively and to expand his design process. For Shane, the technology allows for a real broadening of the process: “With a combination like Rhino and laser printing, the possibilities are endless in how students will now be able to imagine, design, and actually represent our ideas.”

The students created a complex 3D surface in Rhino of their sites that contained all of the information they needed to show to represent the space in which they planned to work. Shane’s design evolved from the combination of all the many systems mappings and land manipulation ideas he had for his garden. He needed to combine his ideas of platforms and patterns in an aesthetically appealing way that also conceptually had logic to it. Once Shane had a 3d model finalized in Rhino, he used a command that cut sections every four feet in his site model. What resulted was a series of contour lines that needed to be joined and trimmed to fit together properly. Once all of the contours were laid out and essentially finalized, the process for bringing the file into AutoCad began. He had to convert all the lines so they would transfer correctly and then check to ensure that the convert command hadn’t disrupted any of the contours. Then the file was ready to be opened in AutoCad and scaled to fit the boards that would be cut on the laser cutter.  Shane found that the process can seem a little confusing and overwhelming, with patience, he was able to get a perfectly cut model, which made all the hard work worth it.