Landscape architecture students presented designs for a healing garden at French Hospital Wednesday.

The LA 252, fundamentals of site planning and design, class worked on the project individually, with each student providing their own perspective on the design.

The healing garden will be constructed in honor of local firefighter Greg Otto, who served San Luis Obispo for 20 years. Otto lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in March 2005.

“It’s a great honor to get to do this for someone who touched so many people,” said Ryan Crockett, a landscape architecture sophomore.

Each student was encouraged to be creative and incorporate elements of traditional healing gardens as a memorial to Otto.

“It is interesting as a class to see how much creativity came from the group,” said Jennifer Webster, a landscape architecture sophomore. “You almost have everyone’s brain on the (display) board.”

The project began last October when the hospital began a fundraising campaign for the garden.

Christy O’Hara, a Cal Poly landscape architecture professor, learned of the project from the CEO of French Hospital. O’Hara and fellow professor Astrid Reeves were able to incorporate the project into their sophomore-level class.

“It’s a wonderful teaching tool for us,” O’Hara said. “It’s a real project that gives back to the community.”

“The project is really amazing to get to do as a second-year student,” said Jon Fraschetti, a landscape architecture sophomore. “The skills that we will use we will get to use for the rest of our lives.”

Students presented the design in front of French Hospital officials and the family of Otto. His widow, Katharine Otto, offered her thanks to the group of students.

“There are a few times in your life when your breath is taken away,” Otto said. “The first time for me was when I met Greg. The second time was when we were told the cancer was terminal. You students are providing a place for me to learn to breathe again.”

French Hospital expects the completed construction to cost approximately $50,000. Fund-raising events will continue until funds are met.

Ground breaking on the garden could begin in March 2006, near the one-year anniversary of Otto’s death.

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