University of Oregon

Department of Landscape Architecture

Overlook Field School


Overlook Field SchoolStudents earn 8 – 10 University of Oregon credits, while living and learning for four weeks at Overlook, a 400-acre property in northeastern Pennsylvania designed by the Frederick Law Olmsted firm in the early twentieth century and currently being reimagined by the fourth-generation owners and Nelson Byrd Woltz landscape architects.The summer field school at Overlook offers students a unique opportunity to live, study and make on an evolving cultural landscape. With faculty and a visiting artist in residence, students examine the enduring connections between landscape, culture, and production.

The program includes multi-day site visits to New York and Philadelphia. Weekly activities include design charettes, fieldwork, seminars, expert speakers, and site visits to regional cultural and productive sites.


2016 Program Overview: Animals as Landscape Agents of Change 

Overlook Field School Trees

In 2016, the program focuses on the topic of how animals interact with, and shape, the landscape. This topic will be explored through three thematic courses:

  • 2 credit field seminar
  • 4 credit design charette
  • (6 credit studio option available)
  • 2 credit regional study course


Field Seminar: Animals as Agents of Change

Animals constantly shape the landscape, browsing undergrowth, rooting for seeds, building dams. They speed up some ecological processes, slow down or halt others, disperse seeds or suppress plant growth. Often the actions of these landscape agents
of change go unnoticed, although the effects can be dramatic. The sheep-grazed hills of Scotland or New Zealand; the empty seed banks along pig drover routes; the wetlands of beaver-dammed streams – all are landscapes actively shaped by animals. This seminar will study the spatial reach of key species, their physical and temporal interaction with the local landscape, and their interactions and conflicts with human use of the land. Through field visits, research and guest lectures, students will develop a landscape architectural typology of human-animal interventions that will inform designs in the charette course.

Media / Studio: Design Charette

The design charette uses Overlook as a case study to develop ideas from the field seminar. Students will design and build on-site installations that reflect on or reveal the presence of animals in the landscape. Research and prototypes will lead to a group or individual final installations on site and in the land, presented at a final show open to the public.

Regional Study Course

Students will study the designers, theories, and monuments of regional landscapes and landscape architecture through field trips and site visits. In New York and Philadelphia, we visit design firms to discuss contemporary practice, and visit urban parks, infrastructure, and institutions. At Overlook, we explore the geology, ecosystems, and vernacular landscapes of Northeast Pennsylvania, through the lens of animals in the landscape.

Sites visited include gardens and museums in the New York and Philadelphia regions, including Storm King Art Center, DIA Beacon, Winterthur, and Longwood Gardens.


Roxi Thoren directs the program, co-teaches the courses with scholars and artists in residence. 
In 2016, artist Phoebe Lickwar will lead the media course

Key Program Dates

Saturday, June 25 Arrive at Overlook
Sunday, June 26 Orientation
Monday, June 27 Classes start
Tuesday, June 28 Kayak tour
July 5 – 8 New York field excursion
July 13 – 16 Philadelphia field excursion
Saturday, July 23 Final show
Sunday, July 24 Depart Overlook

Fees and Budget

StudentsAirfare, local travel, housing and meals are paid for by the Fuller Center. Local travel includes the field excursions, including travel, hotels, admission to required sites, and a meal stipend.



Students pay tuition for summer credit hours, according to the Registrar's fee schedule. For Summer 2015, tuition and fees for 10 credits of instruction were:

In-state, Graduate $5729
Out of state, Graduate $8545
In-state, Undergraduate $2392
Out of state, Undergraduate $7052



Students make their own travel arrangements to and from Overlook. A travel subsidy will be deposited to students' UO accounts. The amount of the subsidy is based on round-trip airfare from Eugene to Scranton, PA, one checked bag fee each way, and round-trip shuttle costs from Scranton to Overlook.


Summer Financial Aid

Students are eligible for summer financial aid to assist with tuition. Students should follow the usual application process.

Graduate students with GTF appointments may be eligible for a "summer sandwich" tuition waiver. See for information on the waiver.

Graduate students may be eligible for a graduate research subsidy through the Fuller Center; applications and process will be sent to all interested students in winter term.


Application Process and Schedule

Admission is through the Landscape Architecture department, and considers academic standing and GPA, as well as relevance of the program to the student’s area of study.

Submit the application form and supplemental materials (name of one faculty reference, a brief statement of interest, and 2-4 images of sample work) in hard copy or electronically to Roxi Thoren.

January 31, 2016 Application deadline for the summer 2015 program. Applications are accepted by the faculty director, and applications will be considered as they are completed.
February 12, 2016 All students will be notified of their acceptance status.
February 26, 2016 Student confirmation of offer. All students who are accepted to the program must confirm their participation.

If there is a waiting list, students will be accepted from the waiting list following the February 26 confirmation deadline, and those students will then have two weeks to confirm their participation.



2016 Calendar

Download the 2016 Calendar


Faculty and Past Programs

Roxi Thoren
Director: Roxi Thoren

Roxi Thoren is an associate professor at the University of Oregon. She is the Director of the UO’s Fuller Center for Productive Landscapes, which investigates the integration of productivity in landscape architecture design, including a series of projects around agriculture, forestry, and power. Thoren is the author of Landscapes of Change, (Timber Press, 2014), in which she examines innovative landscape architectural strategies that respond to new social and physical contexts, and she has been published in the Journal of Landscape Architecture and the Journal of Architectural Education.

Thoren is a Fulbright Fellow (Iceland), a Landscape Architecture Foundation research fellow, and a recipient of multiple research and design awards, including awards from the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards.


2015: Watershed Moments

Artist in Residence: Dee Briggs

Dee Briggs was born in Western Pennsylvania and raised in the northern panhandle of West Virginia. At the age of 18, Briggs moved to New York City. She studied architecture at the City College of New York and earned a Master of Architecture degree from Yale University in 2002. Briggs currently splits her time between Pittsburgh and New York. She has taught in the schools of art and architecture at Carnegie Mellon University and exhibits nationally.

Workshop Instructor: Emily Steinberg

“Emily Steinberg works in an Expressionist-Realist style, combining an innate awkwardness with superior painting and drawing technique. She approaches her subjects…with equanimity and imbues them with the unique, wobbly energy that emanates from her hand. If you funneled the strange vitality of Charles Burchfield through the clear structure of Edward Hopper, you would get Emily Steinberg’s emotional portraits of everyday subjects.” -Elizabeth Johnson

Workshop instructor: Paul Rider

The compelling issue that has driven photographer Paul Rider’s work is the interface and struggle between nature and manmade urban culture. All his photographic projects share an elegant, visually compelling narrative and strong, thoughtful , almost sculptural composition.

Program coordinator: Veronica Malinay


2014: Landscapes of Power

Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope founded Design 99 in 2007 to investigate new models of contemporary art and architectural practice. Initially occupying a retail storefront space, the design studio situated itself in the public realm offering over-the-counter design consultations and marketed $99 house call specials. Now embedded in their residential corner of Detroit, Design 99 seeks out opportunities to experiment with art and design within their community.

Since 2008, the team has been developing the Power House as a test site for ideas and methods, lo and hi-tech building systems, and a point of conversation for the entire neighborhood.

In 2009, Reichert & Cope founded Power House Productions, a nonprofit organization focussed on neighborhood stabilization through art and culture.



Artist in Residence:
Michael McGillis

Michael McGillis returns to the Overlook Field School for a second year. McGillis is an artist based in Detroit. His in situ installations distill the empirical experience of inhabitation, emerging from physically engaging the land, informed by personal interests and unforeseen tangents. His art sifts through the meanings and memories we ascribe to our surroundings, and processes disparate notions of what defines Nature. They highlight the act of being present, fully enveloped in an environment that serves as both work and exhibition space, facilitating a heightened spatial awareness.

Program coordinator: Fraser Stuart


2013: Out of the Woods

Artist in Residence: Michael McGillis

Program coordinator: Shelby Fraga


2012: Sustenance

Scholar in Residence: Matthew Potteiger

Matthew Potteiger is a professor of landscape architecture at SUNY-ESF. He is the co-author, with Jamie Purinton, of Landscape Narratives: Design Practices for Telling Stories which uses art, literary theory and cultural geography to reveal the ways that landscapes become repositories for cultural narratives and offers ways of engaging narrative practices in design. He studies the link between food and landscape systems and has presented and published extensively on this topic including in Landscape Journal and in the book, Five Borough Farm II: Growing the Benefits of Urban Agriculture in New York City. He leads an interdisciplinary "food studio" focused on the design of community food systems, including projects for regional foodsheds, public markets, urban agriculture, foraging, and productive ecologies.

Program coordinator: Lauren Schwartz