Library in Bloom

New landscaping provides another reason to look forward to spring
Girl sits in grass next to a tree and reads a book with the UMKC Miller Nichols Library in the background

Most people have their favorite places to hang out on campus whether they’re studying or spending time catching up with friends. For a lot of people, the patio of the University Playhouse by the Miller Nichols Library is just that spot. It’s about to get even better. 

Recently, the Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation donated over $160,000 to support new landscaping around the Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center site. The foundation worked with campus management to coordinate the plan. 

In addition to plantings around the base of the library building, nine white-bud trees will be planted north of the playhouse area near the entrances of the library and learning center, and two planters will be added for planting spring and fall annuals at the Playhouse patio in 2019 as part of the second phase of the project. In addition, the sloping area northwest of the Learning Center will be landscaped with plant and hardscape materials.

“Well-designed exterior spaces on a campus … are just as important as classrooms in that they provide places for students to decompress and recharge.”
- John Eck, associate teaching professor

While improvements to labs and classrooms are important to student success, environmental design is important too. John Eck, associate teaching professor in the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design, and his team reinforce the importance of their students considering outdoor spaces while developing their designs, whether they are residential or commercial projects.

“Environments — inside or outside— provide functional and inspirational spaces for work, life and play,” says Eck. “A college campus is probably the best and highest example of this. Well-designed exterior spaces on a campus—quads, courtyards, plazas, paths—are just as important as classrooms in that they provide places for students to decompress and recharge. I think we all know what fresh air, sunlight and vegetation do for mental health. The design and maintenance of our campus greenspaces is critical to that sense of well-being.”

While landscaping may not be something of which students or visitors are consciously aware, there’s no question that these plans and plantings enhance the university as a whole. 

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Published: Mar 1, 2019