Overlook Field School


Applications for the 2020 Field School are available online. The deadline for the summer program is January 31, 2020 for priority consideration.

Students earn 6 University of Oregon credits while living and learning for four weeks at Overlook, a 400-acre property in northeastern Pennsylvania designed by the Olmsted Brothers firm in the early twentieth century, and currently being re-imagined 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 create on an evolving cultural landscape. With faculty and a visiting artist in residence, students examine the enduring connections between landscape, culture, and production.

The fully funded 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.


2020 Program: Experiment

Scientists have created many experimental landscapes as they move from the controlled environment of the laboratory to the complexity of the world.  We have experimental forests and ranges, farms and nurseries, even experimental waterways. Landscape architects frequently draw from this research, but it often must be translated to match our particular design applications.  How does the practice of experimentation relate to the design process? What is a design experiment – and what is experimental design?

For the 2020 Overlook Field School we will collaborate with artist David Buckley Borden to interrogate these questions as they apply to landscape, which has no clearly defined laboratory boundary, and the discipline of landscape architecture, which typically relies on experience, simulation, and abductive reasoning to develop design proposition.

This topic will be explored through a design studio with a substantial field seminar component.



The studio uses Overlook as a laboratory to develop designs integrating landscape maintenance. Students draw, design, and build on-site installations that explore how growth, decay, technology, tools, and labor all influence a design’s life in time. Field research and experimentation lead to an exhibit of drawings and speculative maintenance tools, presented at a final show open to the public.

Field Seminar

Through local and regional visits, students will study the designers, theories, and monuments of regional landscapes and landscape architecture. In New York and Philadelphia, we visit design firms to discuss contemporary practice, and visit urban parks, infrastructure, and institutions.

We also visit gardens and museums in the New York and Philadelphia regions, including Storm King Art Center, DIA Beacon, Chanticleer, and Longwood Gardens.


Michael Geffel teaches the preparatory spring seminar, and manages the Overlook Field School and co-teaches the summer courses with scholars and artists in residence.

2020 Key Program Dates

Friday, June 26 Arrive at Overlook
Sunday, June 28 Opening Dinner
Monday, June 29 Classes start
July 7-10 New York field excursion
July 16-18 Philadelphia field excursion
Saturday, July 25 Final show
Monday, July 27 Depart Overlook

Fees and Budget

Airfare, 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.


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 GE appointments may be eligible for a “summer sandwich” tuition waiver. See http://gradschool.uoregon.edu/gtf/summer-sandwich 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 your application and supplemental materials (2-4 images of sample work) online.

January 31 Application deadline for the summer program. Applications are accepted by the faculty director, and applications will be considered as they are completed.
February 15 All students will be notified of their acceptance status.
February 28 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 28 confirmation deadline. Those students will then have two weeks to confirm their participation.