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06.11.18 – #DanielsGrad18: Catherine Howell

What will you remember most about your Master of Landscape Architecture degree?
We had the opportunity to travel to the Netherlands in my first‐year studio class and visit the sites that we had been studying for the first half of the semester. It was so fascinating to experience these sites first‐hand after pouring over drawings and photographs for weeks. Being new to the world of design, this trip opened my eyes to Dutch design and played a huge inspirational role in my subsequent projects. This trip also brought our MLA class together as a group and laid the foundations for some of the best friendships I will ever have.

What inspired your thesis topic?
My thesis site is the infamous Stelco steel plant in Hamilton, Ontario. Hamilton is my hometown; I grew up hearing about its history of steel and catching glimpses of the factories across the Bay. I have always loved Hamilton and appreciated its grit and eccentricities so, it was surprising for me to learn about its negative perception when I moved away from home. I set out to create a thesis that would not only reinvent this waterfront site into usable, forward‐thinking space for the city, but also to highlight Hamilton's existing conditions, its strong history and spirit, and to give outsiders a full picture of the city; from waterfalls to steel factories.

Tell us more about your thesis!
My thesis explores how a post-industrial waterfront can be recycled into mixed-use development that will maintain an industrial legacy and solve issues associated with sprawling cities. Using a contrasted adjacency zoning strategy, the project aims to combine areas of access with non-access, industry with recreation, commercial with residential, and remediation with preservation. By employing cut and fill between the heavily contaminated Stelco Steel site and the western shoreline, I propose a series of piers that will physically knit the estranged east and west together while providing differentiated civic programming, an ecologically-rich shoreline, and space for Hamilton’s growing population. Steel to City reimagines Hamilton, Ontario’s waterfront as a center for city-building.

What advice would you give to a prospective student?
I have learned more skills in this program than I ever thought possible. I was disillusioned with school after my undergrad; this program reinstated my love of learning and pushed me to create work that I am proud of and can actually see, as opposed to an essay or test. If you are both creative and technically‐minded I would wholeheartedly recommend this program to you, it will change the way you view the world and give you a clear, exciting career path.

What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation I plan to enjoy the summer, biking and hiking as much as possible, as well as applying to Landscape Architecture firms that inspire me and push the field to new heights.

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Convocation for #UofTDaniels students is on June 14. This month we are featuring our graduates, including their work, their memories, and their advice for new students. Follow #DanielsGrad18 for more!