Jury's Choice - Honor - Excellence in Landscape Architecture for General Design

Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology EcoCommons
Georgia Institute of Technology - Georgia Institute of Technology EcoCommons
Jury Comments
“. . . transformative project that sets a bar for what a landscape is within a campus . . . connects to nature in urban realm . . . strong focus on environmental issues . . . creative and elegant design language in hardscape and planting . . .”


    • Site – 8 acres
    • The site is a former parking lot.
    • This is the first standalone landscape project in Georgia Tech’s history.
    • The EcoCommons realizes the first piece of Georgia Tech’s vision for an 80-acre interwoven ribbon of green spaces throughout its campus.
    • Sensors throughout the landscape gather environmental data for campus research.
    • Accessible pathways and whimsical slides traverse the new topography.
    • Numerous new art installations dot the landscape.
    • Captures or reuses 50% of rainfall on site.
    • EcoCommons is a certified Audubon bird sanctuary.


The EcoCommons design responded to directives identified in Georgia Tech’s 2004 Campus Landscape Plan, calling for interconnected open landscapes. In addition to creating amenities for the campus community to gather, relax, and study, the institution’s goal was to ensure new landscapes would support sustainability initiatives, including increasing biodiversity and stormwater management, while providing new research opportunities.

The EcoCommons creates a living laboratory in the middle of the urban Georgia Tech campus that promotes learning, engaging, and reflecting. By supporting the research pedagogy of the institute through environmental monitoring, revealing and processing stormwater, and creating a new outdoor learning pavilion, the EcoCommons provides data and space to learn. The Georgia Tech community can engage in active and passive recreation, increased connectivity, and relaxation. The community can reflect on the site’s significant role in Civil Rights history through Unity Plaza.

Formerly a parking lot, the EcoCommons is a thriving woodland landscape of native Georgia Piedmont ecology. The site’s reconfigured topography reflects the historic landforms defined by regional naturally occurring stream paths. Over 660 new or transplanted trees will eventually provide 75 percent canopy coverage. In addition, a wide variety of native plantings create diverse sensory experiences and planting zones, increase the site’s capacity for stormwater absorption, and provide a mosaic of native habitats within an urban ecological context, including woodland, wetland, prairie, meadow, lawn, and grove.

In addition to its ecological function, the EcoCommons creates a new, vibrant landscape for students, faculty, and staff to utilize for recreation, gathering, study, and relaxation. This open campus green space features accessible, multi-use pathways with numerous entry and exit points to improve circulation and campus connectivity. The EcoCommons has quickly become a favorite spot on campus for relaxing in hammocks strung amidst tupelo trees, studying at the bistro tables, reflecting on the site’s history at Unity Plaza, cycling, running, sliding, and strolling.

Project Team

Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects Landscape Architect; Biohabitats Ecological Consultant; Barge Design Solutions Landscape Architect of Record; Long Engineering Civil Engineer; Newcomb & Boyd MEP Engineer; Irrigation Consultant Services Irrigation Consultant; Turner Construction Construction Manager