Salovich Zero+ Campus Design Project
Salovich Zero Plus Campus Design Project


Catalyst: Video as an Ecological Design Tool


Instructor:  Jeff Sylvestre: Producer, Director, and Composer, Blue Moon Productions,



Hosts: Mary Guzowski, Professor, and Loren Abraham, Research Fellow and Adjunct Assistant Professor, School of Architecture

Media Collaboration:   Scott Spicer, Media Outreach and Learning Spaces Librarian, Walter Library, University of Minnesota

Critics:  Orlyn Miller, Director and Monique McKenzie, Capital Planner, Capital Planning and Project Management, University of Minnesota; Barry Lehrman, Research Fellow and Lecturer, Department of Landscape Architecture


Course Format:  1-week workshop, 1 credit


Course Description

Off-the-shelf digital video and editing software is used to both observe and assess existing ecological design conditions on campus and to visualize possible ecological design interventions.  The goals of the catalyst are to explore the creative design potential and opportunities of video as a narrative, temporal, and spatial ecological design tool.  Students are asked to investigate ecological design solutions and interventions that can inspire and move the University of Minnesota towards becoming a zero-emissions, zero-energy, zero water, and zero-waste campus.


Course Objectives

The objectives of the course are to:

  • Explore digital video production as an ecological design and communication tool.
  • Use digital video to both define ecological design challenges/opportunities and to frame ecological design interventions across scale, issues, space, and time.
  • Consider the integrative and experiential design opportunities of video.


Course Work

Working with film producer and guest instructor Jeff Sylvestre, the students collaborate in teams of two to produce a 90-second video production (each minute of video is estimated at 20-hours of filming, production, and editing). The 90-second format emphasizes the critical importance of video storyboarding, editing, and honing the message. Video is used to define an ecological design challenge and present possible ecological design interventions on the University of Minnesota campus. Digital video is used to:

  • Assess existing ecological conditions at the University of Minnesota (select sites are determined with the students).
  • Visualize energy, water, and resource flows and integrated ecological relationships on campus.
  • Present design concepts and interventions to reduce ecological impacts through ecologically strategic design interventions (e.g. water and energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, waste generation, stormwater runoff, urban heat island, pollution, and biodiversity).