Southern Utah University is a rolling campus located directly north of Zion National Park and west of Dixie National Forest in Cedar City, Utah. Following the advent of a new modern art museum and Shakespearean theater, the University needed both a master planning and detailed design strategy to knit together a complex series of outdoor spaces and disparate elements. As part of a collaboration with Brooks+Scarpa and Blalock and Partners, the strategy calls on the integration of building and landscape to solve these issues.
Utah’s challenging topography creates unique opportunities to negotiate stormwater capture and treatment, and opportunities for this strategy to interact with the pedestrian’s experience. Working in tandem with the new structures, the landscape design draws inspiration from the unique architectural forms as well as the artistic activities housed within each of these buildings. Using straightforward materials in simple, thoughtful arrangements, the landscape draws direct connections between multiple eras, programs, and users. This includes a series of spaces and elements, ranging from an outdoor performance green, a seminar grove, custom designed stages and benches, and a variety of allées and garden spaces. As emphasis to this connection, undulating mounds combine existing bronze sculpture with gnarled specimen trees native to the southern Utah climate. A babbling brook winds through the entire site, recalling Shakespeare’s thoughts in As You Like It: “find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks/Sermons in stones and good in everything.”