Architecture exhibit highlights impact of Dakota Access Pipeline
In June 2017, five graduate students in the School of Architecture’s Landscape Architecture program spent a month travelling along the Dakota Access Pipeline, exploring its impact on local communities and the environment.
In 2016, thousands of activists and Native American groups gathered at a camp near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota to protest the construction of this pipeline.
The Standing Rock Sioux and other native tribes raised concerns that the underground pipeline would pass through sacred burial grounds.
Furthermore, it would travel underneath the Missouri River, the primary drinking water source for the Standing Rock Sioux.
Inspired by the Standing Rock protests and the interplay between land and politics, Abbas, Casstevens, Harris, Turett and Walker received funding from the School of Architecture’s Benjamin C. Howland Traveling Fellowship to travel to, research and document the landscape surrounding the pipeline.
“We just felt like it really needed this other lens that we felt like we had the capacity to give it.” The five students began their trip and spent most of their time in North Dakota and then followed the pipeline through South Dakota and Iowa.
Throughout these different places, the group also looked at physical aspects of the pipeline, including its width, depth and materials used in its construction.
Their drawings in the exhibit show both the broad landscapes of the areas that they travelled to as well as close-up details such as the plants and soil.
In January 2017, NASU and the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition (VSEC), formerly the Climate Action Society, organized a protest in which over 100 students, faculty and community members demonstrated against the Dakota Access Pipeline and several others.
Fourth-year College student and NASU member Evelyn Immonen values the architecture exhibit for its inclusion of multiple perspectives and the importance placed on firsthand experience.