For Kevin Bechard, pursuing a dual degree at SEAS and the U-M Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning allows him to pair his passion for art with design. Bechard got interested in sustainable architecture, landscape design, sculpture, and woodworking during his undergraduate studies at Miami University. He then went on to work in net-zero design and earned a building science certification after graduation. Bechard decided to pursue a Master of Architecture (Taubman College) and Master of Landscape Architecture (SEAS) to further hone these skills and develop more balanced design plans.
While studying architecture as an undergrad, Bechard was known for having out-of-the-box ideas. His final project proposed putting a ferris wheel on top of a brownstone community center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Bechard said that SEAS and Taubman are a good fit for him because they encourage novel ideas. One project that stands out to him is the continuation of a vision to develop an Heirloom Seed Roadside Attraction in Wapakoneta, Ohio. “Being in this discipline allows my creativity to run free, with my professors taking that creativity and modeling it into a helpful project,” he said.
Bechard enjoys the dual-degree program because it fosters integrated design principles. He noted that taking an interdisciplinary approach to architecture is important because “it helps everyone really value and understand everything going on, from the soil level to existing ecosystems and to the uses of building inhabitants.” Having conversations between landscape architects and architects is an important step to producing more sustainable and usable designs.
Curriculum between the two programs supports Bechard’s ability to understand design from the perspective of nature and human relationships. Because humans and nature are a part of the environment, Bechard said we need to approach plans with them in mind. Taking classes in both schools equips him to make these decisions and have conversations about different challenges seen in the professions. He encourages students to form a community between disciplines so they can bring an interdisciplinary lens into their classes and respective careers.