For the competitors in the 28th annual San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, this year’s event began five days before the first visitor ever entered the San Mateo Event Center on March 20, 2013. For most competitors construction of their designs started on March 15, but for the team from The Design School at Arizona State University the work began two days earlier as construction materials, equipment and plants were loaded onto a truck in Phoenix, and made ready to drive the 11 hours to San Mateo.
The process of planning and designing the installation began in 2012 under the guidance of George Hull, faculty associate in the landscape architecture program. This year's theme for the Garden Show, “Gardens Make the World Go Round,” tasked each team with choosing a country from which they would draw their design influences. Being in the Sonoran desert and having a deep familiarity with a xeric plant palette, The Design School team chose Mexico as their country of inspiration.
Titled “Dentro Por Fuera,” meaning “inside out,” the students looked to the works of Mexican architects Luis Barragan and Ricardo Legorreta. Drawing inspiration from their research, sculptural use of water, dramatic lighting and a restrained yet vivid color palette became the defining characteristics of the final product. The team utilized materials that can be found at any home improvement store and requiring minimal construction experience to demonstrate that anyone can build a beautiful garden.
After five grueling days of construction, planting design, painting and shoveling, the hard work finally paid off for the ASU landscape architecture students. They were awarded a Gold Medal, the American Society of Landscape Architecture Award, the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society Award, the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers Award, the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers Award, the Alumni Garden Creator’s Award, the People's Choice Award which was determined by popular vote of the garden show attendees, and, the Golden Gate Cup for overall best in show which marks the first time a student team has ever won this award in the 28-year history of the show.