Anthony Acock, Cal Poly Pomona

In Winter Quarter of 2016, a collaborative effort between Cal Poly Pomona’s Landscape Architecture, and Graphic Design programs coalesced to redesign the landscape at the Chancellor’s Residence at the University of California, Riverside campus. Spearheaded by Chair Andrew Wilcox, in conjunction with Lecturer Ray Senes, and Assistant Professor Anthony Acock, this collaboration represented 50 undergraduate students, 25 graduate students, 4 design studios, and two separate university systems. The goal for the project was to use a multifaceted approach of design to inspire environmental sustainability and aesthetic leadership within this unique region while focusing on the idea of that Design is Design, regardless of discipline.

The combined classes developed four unique design strategies to explore how the Chancellor’s Residence could be redesigned.

  • Atypically Suburban: focused on ways in which the typical California suburban environment can be reimagined to be on the vanguard of environmental stewardship.
  • Beautiful Resilience: focused on the marriage between the aesthetic value and tradition of landscape design and climate appropriate materials.
  • Food for Thought: focused on how the suburban lawn can be transformed to maximize food production.
  • Habitat is Everywhere: focused on how the unique marriage between urban Riverside and the surrounding desert community can coexist in a way that not only allows the natural fauna and animal life to exist but to flourish.

The culmination of the effort resulted in the presentation of scholarly research into each of the unique approaches. The final deliverables involved motion infographics, professional presentations, professionally produced journals detailing the research and process into each approach, and digitally rendered designs of the reimagined landscape at the Chancellor’s Residence.

Through this process the designers were required to learn their role in the collaboration, and see past disciplinary walls. The ripple effect from this collaboration has opened up the possibility of further and greater collaboration across all design disciplines within the College of Environmental Design. From Architecture, to Urban and Regional Planning, the collaborative efforts in conjunction with respecting Design as it’s own tool set independent of degree trajectory has endless possibilities.

The scholarly merit of the collaboration between departments succeeded in bringing two departments within the college together in a way that had never been done before. This exposed Landscape Architecture students to the world of Graphic Design, and Graphic Design students to the world of Landscape Architecture. By doing so, a greater empathy and awareness was grown by the students.

In this presentation, I will discuss the processes involved in navigating multiple university systems, the collaborations between disciplines, and class levels, and the final design deliverables presented to the Chancellor. This case study will show that design is design regardless of discipline, and that design education can flourish in a multi disciplinary studio environment.


Anthony Acock was born in Norman, Oklahoma to sociologist Alan Colby Acock, and artist Delores Antonia Acock. Inspired by his parents, Anthony, named after his mother, felt that becoming a graphic designer was a sort of square in the middle of both of those two professions. Anthony received his BFA in graphic design from Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. Not only did he work with an amazing faculty but they transformed his love of letterforms in graffiti to a love of letterforms in typography. Oregon State taught him process, theory, and concept, above all else. After an 8 year stretch working professionally in New Haven, Hartford, and New York City, Anthony returned to school at Pratt Institute in Manhattan where he received his MFA in Communication Design. His thesis titled “Empathy, Identity, and the Environment” focused on ways to use graphic design as a way to advocate for groups of people on the fringes of society; an area of interest that persists in his professional work today.