Incorporating Problem-Solving into Landscape Design

CAFNR student wins Award of Merit

Tucked away in the CAFNR Courtyard between the Ag Building and Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building is a garden that’s celebrating its 40th anniversary this April.

Students in the advanced landscape design course were challenged to revitalize the MU Woodland and Floral Garden in honor of the celebration.

Zachary Ignotz is a senior studying plant sciences from Troy, Missouri. As a student in the advanced landscape design course last year, Ignotz created a design that would land him a spot at this year’s University of Missouri Visual Art and Design Showcase.

Ignotz received the Award of Merit for his design, which included a $500 prize to be used for professional development. He is the first landscape design student selected to receive an award at the Visual Art and Design Showcase.

Each year, the showcase encourages MU undergraduate students to enter expressive art and applied design projects for the showcase. Pieces from around 50 students are displayed, featuring works of photojournalism, graphic design, architectural drawing, theatre set design, painting, sculpting, textile and apparel design, and digital storytelling.

This year’s showcase took place from Feb. 3-13 in Jesse Hall. Ignotz was selected to display his design idea for the MU Woodland and Floral Garden, becoming the third landscape design student selected to display their work.

Ignotz’s design incorporated native plants. Growing up, Ignotz said he spent his summers playing in a creek near his home.

“I have this connection to sort of a natural and reserved look,” Ignotz said. “And despite the fact that campus is a botanical garden, there’s no real space dedicated to native plants.”

A visit from Andrea Hunter, the director and tribal historic preservation officer for the Osage Nation, also influenced his decision to include native plants. Since Columbia is located on what is traditionally Osage Nation land, Ignotz wanted to incorporate native plants relevant to Osage people into his design.

There were other factors Ignotz needed to consider while creating his design for the space, too. The space is an educational area that’s used to teach students about certain plants, which was another reason Ignotz incorporated native plants in his design.

Another challenge to the design was the location of the garden. When the garden was originally planned, the Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building didn’t exist. This created another challenge because the garden originally had more sunlight.

“Plant options start to become very limited by the little amount of light,” Ignotz said.

Ignotz also considered the foundation of the buildings bordering the garden. He said runoff water from the garden could ruin the foundation of the surrounding buildings.

Students in the advanced landscape design course presented their garden designs to a board.

Tim Moloney, plant sciences professor, encouraged Ignotz to submit his design for the Visual Arts and Design Showcase and served as his faculty mentor for the showcase.

Once selected for the showcase, students meet with a panel of jurors who select winners from the work presented by MU artists and designers from across disciplines. The work is split into two categories when judged, artistic expression and applied design.

“The preparation was really less the design and the display itself, and more of preparing myself, and trying to articulate my design to people who are not landscape designers,” Ignotz said.

The panel of judges described his design: “The strong personal vision of Zachary came through in his presentation. There was evidence of problem-solving for the space, including issues related to sunlight and purposeful tree and plant selection. It was a professional and compelling presentation of how this space can transform into a multi-use garden area.”

Ignotz took a non-traditional path on his way to the Award of Merit. Ignotz served in the Marine Corps from 2012-16 and enrolled at Mizzou shortly after his service ended.

While his path looks different from many students, Ignotz said the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources did the best thing the college could do for him.

“They treat me just like a regular student,” Ignotz said. “There can sometimes be this misconception because I’m an older student and because I am a veteran that I have everything figured out. In some ways, I am more mature than the 18-year-old taking the freshman course, but in some ways, I’m very similar that I also have no idea how to do college.”

Ignotz is the fourth generation of his family to attend MU. Though he didn’t come from an agricultural background, he selected plant sciences as his major because of his family tie to the field. Ignotz’s great grandfather, Herbert Harold Dickson, also served in the Marine Corps and was the first person in his family to study at MU.

Dickson studied journalism and then spent his entire career in the military. After retiring from the military, Dickson worked at a rare plant nursery in Washington.

To view the other Visual Art and Design award winners, or to learn more about future participation, visit their website.