Ignacio López Busón Receives 2024 CELA Award for Excellence in Design Studio Teaching

The Department of Landscape Architecture in the School of Architecture & Environment has reason to celebrate the 2024 Annual Award Winners announcement from the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA). Assistant Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture, Ignacio López Busón, was one of only thirteen award winners, and one of two from the department to be picked from a competitive list of 56 applicants. Awardees are recognized by peers and the community for their demonstrated excellence in the areas of teaching, research, creativity, and design innovation. López Busón earned the Excellence in Design Studio Teaching - Junior award for his passionate pedagogy and novel studios. López Busón was recognized by school leadership and his peers for his incredible ability to support his students and bring out their best work in his studios. 

Ignacio Lopez Buson portrait photo. Image shows a smiling man in a vest and collared shirt on a dark gray background.

"Regardless of the studio, [Professor López Busón]'s high standards for design thinking and representation are coupled with clear direction and generous support that gives students the tools not just to succeed, but to compete internationally for design awards," wrote Associate Professor and previous Director of Graduate Studies, Mark Eischeid, in his letter of support. "The work that his first-year students produces do not just surpass that of more advanced students, but are more often equivalent to that produced by professional offices. The fact that students in his first-term (not just first-year) MLA studio won a 2021 CELA Student Creative Scholarship Honorable Mention for their work on the sources and impacts of pollutants from Eugene's industrial zones on local watersheds and communities, while competing against much more advanced students from around the world, speaks to how absolutely effective his teaching is."

Department of Landscape Architecture Head, Benjamin Shirtcliff, agrees with Eischeid's observation. 

"[López Busón] has the highest expectations for his students, challenges them further than they might want, and exhibits a fairness in the execution of the design process that makes his pedagogy stand out. Professor López Busón maintains and thoughtfully shares with students a unique design methodology that links local design problems with global issues," wrote Shirtcliff in his recommendation letter. "Without fail, his pedagogical methods and style successfully shape ways his students synthesize scientific knowledge and data into integrative landscape designs that are based upon systems thinking and urban design principles. All that, and the work is visually stunning, cutting edge, and representationally comprehensive."

López Busón's recommendation was further reinforced by student statements and recommendations to the award committee. In each written testimony, the students are effusive with their praise for López Busón and his studios. 

In the studio I took with Professor López Busón during the Fall 2020 term, I was constantly impressed by his ability to balance the needs of a very diverse group of students during a time of remote course instruction. This was the first design experience for most of my cohort and many of them needed a lot of guidance and structure. However, some of us also came in with prior design experience and were looking for more challenges and open-ended prompts to dive into. While slowing down the pace and breaking down assignments into clearer requirements for some members of my cohort, Professor López Busón still maintained a level of rigor in his assignments, critique, and software tutorials that created an abundant period of growth and learning. Further, he supported and enabled my group’s submission to the CELA student research award, leading us to receive an honorable mention.

Beyond this studio, Professor López Busón displays an extremely high level of thoughtfulness and forward thinking about future courses and pedagogy. He applied for and received a faculty research grant to experiment with ways to include film and documentary media as part of his landscape architecture courses. In addition to this, he sought out ways to include students in the co-creation of this future course offering, bringing me into his documentary project as a research assistant. This level of commitment to student growth and learning is also demonstrated in his extraordinary generosity with supporting students in their other studio courses. Professor López Busón is constantly meeting with me and my peers to provide feedback, guidance, and software troubleshooting to help us achieve our goals in courses taught by other members of the faculty.

Jenna Witzleben                   
MLA '23            
Research Assistant, UO InfoGraphics Lab and UO Fuller Initiative for Productive Landscapes

I have had the privilege to learn from Ignacio's wealth of knowledge in many fields, including landscape architecture, urban planning, digital fabrication, and computational analysis. He shows devotion to his students by sharing his expertise and time as a professor. The projects that students produce between design studios and his imaginative classes reflect his investment and his outstanding ability to direct and share knowledge.

With undergraduate degrees unrelated to landscape architecture, I entered the Master's of Landscape Architecture [Program] at the University of Oregon with complete uncertainty about my future career path. Fortunately, my first studio in this program was the Emergent Urban Natures studio with Ignacio, starting fall of 2020. Even amid a global pandemic, his online studio was one of the most engaging and challenging studios I have had during my time in the program. It was apparent from the first day that his expectations were extremely high while maintaining attainable goals for all students, regardless of their previous education. He was creative with his ability to teach and provide pre-recorded lectures and introduced my cohort to various design software and techniques. By the endo of this rewarding studio, I knew landscape architecture was the correct career path for me.

Since this first studio, Ignacio's credibility as a professor has enabled him to teach the entering MLA cohort each fall. As I can imagine, this role requires extreme patience and adaptability. Students with completely different undergraduate degrees must collaborate, some for the first time, to create an urban design project in less than nine weeks. Each year, I have watched Ignacio's ability to critically evaluate his role as an educator as his studio evolves from the successes and difficulties to progress into one of the best studios offered by the MLA program.

Hannah Chapin                   
MLA '23

Ignacio is an exceptional educator who has the rare ability to make the most complex concepts understandable and engaging through his multilayered teaching approach. Ignacio is the only instructor I’ve ever been taught by who gives his lectures while simultaneously recording them. Afterwards, he will upload these video lectures, software tutorials, and additional tutorial videos he’ll create on his own time outside of class, to a platform all students have access to throughout the term. This practice has been a godsent for every one of his students as they begin to build their knowledge and skills in the principles and design methods crucial for studio success. Furthermore, Ignacio keeps those videos accessible for all students to revisit who have since graduated from his studio courses, essentially prolonging his commitment to educating his students.

Ignacio consistently demonstrates a strong understanding of computational generative design and is able to effectively communicate that knowledge to students. He is patient and compassionate, and always willing to go the extra mile to help students who are struggling. He is dedicated to fostering a positive and inclusive classroom environment where all students feel valued and supported, and he has helped me to grow both academically and personally. One trait I cannot praise Ignacio enough for is his ability to push students beyond what they think they’re capable of. Time and again, I’ve witnessed my classmates and myself, create products we literally thought were unobtainable. Products other faculty noted we wouldn’t be capable of until later in our academic careers. Yet through Ignacio’s unyielding support and acute responsiveness, students have continuously produced studio work on the level of entry landscape designers

Jake Brotsis         
MLA '24         

CELA will honor its awardees at an Awards Dinner and Reception at the annual CELA Conference on March 22 at 7 pm.       

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Below are a few examples of the outstanding student projects submitted to CELA in support of López Busón's nomination. Each project reflects countless hours of hard work, outstanding design, and incredible research that was a result of López Busón's direction and studios.

Toxic Landscapes  

In Eugene, Oregon, the Amazon Creek watershed faces high rates of polluted stormwater runoff, biodiversity loss, and greenhouse gas emissions. Our research pointed us to pesticide use as a node at the center of these issues, and revealed that the industrial zone in West Eugene is responsible for 99% of the city’s toxic air emissions and is the predominant source of urban pesticide runoff. Pesticides used on industrial products and landscapes are infiltrating nearby waterways, disrupting fragile ecosystems, contaminating drinking water, and exposing workers and their families to hazardous chemical residue. In a community that is disproportionately impacted by environmental health hazards, industrial pesticide use in West Eugene is not just an ecological concern, but a social justice issue as well. Green infrastructure and its variety of scales and systemic implementation can set the foundations to restore the social and environmental balance in such a sensitive area. This studio focuses on the study of symbiotic relationships between environmental and cultural processes to develop green infrastructure systems that could respond to toxic processes in contemporary cities.


Amazon Creek Littershed - Final Posters, 2022 Jenny Ginn, Trevor Hattabaugh, Simon Allen, Lainey Everly
Amazon Creek Littershed - Final Posters, 2022, Jenny Ginn, Trevor Hattabaugh, Simon Allen, Lainey Everly 

Transpecies Urbanism  
Fall 2021

Despite the historic function of cities to isolate and protect humankind from the natural surroundings, nature has always managed to permeate and adapt to urban conditions, sometimes violently but often quietly. However, in an increasingly urbanized world, nature and biodiversity are declining at dramatic rates. Since biodiversity supports many of the ecosystem services needed by humans (food, biological control, photosynthesis, pollination, bio-recycling, etc), turning cities into habitats where nature and non-human species can thrive (and not just survive) is critical for our future. This studio will focus on the study of symbiotic relationships between environmental and cultural phenomena to develop green infrastructure systems that could encourage deep interactions between humans and non-human species. We aim to explore the intersection of design, ecology, and digital technologies by analyzing animal behavior and mapping environmental conditions for the ideal location of non-human habitats in the urban realm.

Barcelona Urban Design Studio   
Summer 2022

Design of cities is changing. Air quality, sound pollution, water, energy and metabolic processes along with important social inclusion, gentrification and urban poverty are growing problems. New data-driven urban design methods are critical tools to measure, confirm and provide continued feedback for public and private agencies and the public they serve. The knowledge and expertise to use social media and sensor data has become and will be essential to future urban design professionals. Barcelona is a world renown city dedicated to both urban design and the progressive application of computing to affect the everyday lives of people. This ten-week summer urban design program in the Catalan city of Barcelona (Spain) offers students insight into ways to measure and design healthy cities for the broad inclusion of people. In-situ work allows the integration of both existing and newly acquired datasets using architectural-scaled software, such as Rhino, Grasshopper, and associated plugins. Sensors platforms and data-driven GIS methods are core tools to build a robust multi-scalar database to inform design decisions. These new design methods are supported by with a transversal interdisciplinary approach across planning, urban ecology, architecture, robotic engineering, transit, and landscape architecture.

Composite of multiple studio pieces from the Barcelona urban design studio.
L-R First Row: Ciudad Cuidadora - GIS Analysis, 2022, Nicole Konicke, Sofia Chavez, Zhongyang Huang
L-R Secong Row: Ciudad Cuidadora - Data Collection, 2022, Nicole Konicke, Sofia Chavez, Zhongyang Huang
L-R Third Row: Ciudad Cuidadora - Design Proposal, 2022, Nicole Konicke, Sofia Chavez, Zhongyang Huang