Caroline Lavoie is an Associate Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at Utah State University. She holds two master's degrees from the University of Southern California in both Landscape Architecture and Planning; and a bachelor degree in Landscape Architecture from the Université de Montréal. As a native French Canadian from Québec, Prof. Lavoie brings an international perspective to students. She investigates ideas in the realm of the urban cultural landscape, landscape theory and representation. She is interested in the theoretical frameworks that influence the design of urban spaces, and understanding the limitations of the normative design process.
Professor Lavoie studies the relationships of urban form and the patterns of use and organization by immigrant communities in various North American and European cities (published in Japanese Design 1999). This research has focused on Turkish communities in Berlin and North African communities in Paris. In the light of the 2005 riots of Clichy-Sous-Bois, nine years later, her work has expanded to document changes in the use and cultural appropriation of these public spaces.
During her sabbatical in 2002, she investigated the concept of “meaning” in the design process with a project involving two different and conflicting meanings in a major square of Adelaide in Australia. The contested space, Victoria Square/Tarndanyangga is a place of great cultural significance--yet very different--to both Euro-Australians and the Kaurna people who are indigenous to the Adelaide Plains region.
As a part of cultural landscapes in urban vacant areas, Prof. Lavoie is interested in the redevelopment of derelict large scale sites such as railroads, abandoned industrial sites and degraded canal corridors. She has recently received a Fulbright Senior Specialist Grant (2006) in Santa Fe Argentina, at the Universidad Del Littoral, School of Architecture and Urbanism. Prof. Lavoie developed a dual studio project to develop plans for an abandoned train station “Estacion Terminal del FFCC”--a large, centrally-located industrial site in Santa Fe. Through the design process, she addressed varied socio-political and cultural aspects such as collective memory, cultural identity and social justice. Utah students were awarded a 2007 Utah ASLA merit award for their project.
Professor Lavoie works often in the context of design competitions and public exhibits to explore theoretical design concepts. Since 1997 she has explored water as a cultural artifact. In 1999, she received a competitive two-year fellowship from the Mountain West Center for Regional Studies in Utah to develop her work on the relationship of the canal system and the milling industry. Using Logan, Utah as a setting, she explored the place of water within the local collective memory. The resulting speculative project looked at design possibilities for one of the irrigation canals going through Logan and its relationship with the historical and contemporary milling industry. This work was exhibited in solo and joint events at the Alliance for Varied Arts at the Thatcher Mansion in Logan Utah; at the graduate school of Architecture and Planning at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City; and as part of the Utah exhibition “Wherehouse: Examining Urban and Rural Displacement” in Logan. Her exhibition and design project proposal were awarded an American Planning Association Utah Chapter Merit Award in 2003 and a Utah ASLA Award for Communication in 2005.
Part of her creative endeavor explores representation in both drawing and collage forms. Her drawings have recently been published (May 2005) in Landscape Journal—a special edition on representation—“Sketching the Landscape: Exploring a Sense of Place.” A series of her collages were exhibited for Design Utah 2005 in Salt Lake City and juried by Joseph Rosa, Curator of Architecture and Design at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. These collages were interpretations of moving landscapes; moving becoming the condition under which we appreciate landscapes and our relationship to them. These were also published in KERB-Journal of Landscape Architecture, published by the RMIT Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia. The article is entitled “Collages as re-collections: Experiencing the in-between.”
Another aspect of this creative investigation uses the metaphorical forces of movement as inspiration for the design process. She co-authored a design entry for the International Design Ephemeral Structures Competition for the 2004 Olympic Games of Athens. The concept of the proposal established a close link with a form of movement: a connection between travel and desire. The entry, "Clotho: A temporary Construct for Athens" proposed ephemeral structures exploring the notion of impromptu urban play and manipulation the urban ground surface. This proposal was exhibited and published in a catalogue for the First Design Arts Utah 2003 in Salt Lake City. The work was juried by Buff Kaverman, Director of the Smithsonian National Design Awards at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York.
She investigates other concepts as sources of creative processes. For instance she explored John Cage’s concepts of silence, and chance operation (using chance as a compositional method) to understand the relationships between creator, creation and listener in music, and apply this understanding to the process of design, designed space, and the experience of its users in landscape architecture.
Professor Lavoie is the recipient of numerous awards, among others the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) for Research and Service. She has been invited to present her work at several universities and conference venues such as in New Zealand, Australia, Slovenia, Croatia, Poland, Canada and Argentina.