UTK’s Phi Mu Sorority House gets a fresh start from Landscape Designer Brandon Orrick.

With recent campus projects and campaigns comes the newest additions of student housing. All of the sorority houses in the university are completing their finishing touches on their housing as the year begins. Graduate landscape architecture student and Landscape Designer Brandon Orrick, had the opportunity to work with three of the sororities to design their new grounds surrounding their houses. Here’s what he had to say about his experience and his ideas behind one of the designs.

 In 2012 I was given the opportunity to do a planting design for the Phi Mu sorority at the University of Tennessee new sorority village. This was one of my first jobs after graduating the Landscape Design program at UT, yet I had been practicing for years prior to this, I wanted to make a strong statement about the quality of education I had received at UT, and give back to the University that had given so much to me.

As most landscape designers know, or will soon find out there is always a small budget, when it comes to the landscaping in an institutional project funded by donations and fund raising. What most people don’t know is that 10-20% of your buildings value should be invested into the landscape. It’s the first thing visitors see when entering the building and the last thing they see when leaving. The project parameters were to create a simple, low maintenance, usable landscape.

The client wanted the sorority’s colors (pink and white) to be represented in the plant choices, and the ability to take cut flowers during selected times of the year. I presented the idea to play off the buildings architecture and keep the landscaping formal with straight lines and height on the corners to frame the front facade. The pallet is the classic formal garden plants, Boxwood, Pink Drift Roses, and seasonal rotation. Along with the southern touches of Little Gem Magnolias, Cherokee Princess Dogwoods, pink encore azaleas, and Annabelle Hydrangeas.

The front walks are lined with boxwoods, which encompass massing of roses, fronted by rotations of seasonal color. On the corners of the house little gem magnolias act, as the frame for the house to set within. The sides of the house receive a bit more shade, which influenced the idea of a different pallet of hydrangeas as a backdrop for encore azaleas flanked by autumn ferns, all shaded by dogwoods. To ensure a low maintenance landscape the plants were placed based on four years of growth and irrigated with drip irrigation to ensure no waste of water. In the end the client was happy and ended up referring me for other projects.

-Brandon Orrick- 

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