Friday, December 28, 2007

The Un-Central Park

West 8 wins Governors Island

What a great project, and what a great rendering. It looks almost like airbrushed fondant frosting. I am looking forward to more details of the design.

I must say, I go to West 8 to see what top notch graphics are looking like.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Designing the Parks Conference

This looks like a conference I would like to make.
Check it out: Designing the Parks

I'm especially interested in the future of park design. How is technology and the mass media changing how we use parks? How should we as designers be responding to the next generation of park users? More high tech? Or much less high tech, and more nature?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas

A cold blustery day hit us this morning with a couple of inches of snow. We had a Roadrunner move in this fall under the cedar trees just out the back door. He/she is the most interesting creature. He is curious and not real afraid of us. He doesn't mind the cats. I see him most every day I'm home, skirting about from cedar to cedar.

I had to check out some facts on this bird. He looks like one I don't mind hanging out at my back door. As long as he doesn't eat my baby chickens.

Curious Facts

Roadrunners are quick enough to catch and eat rattlesnakes.

Roadrunners prefer walking or running and attain speeds up to 17 mph. hour

The Roadrunner is also called the Chaparral Cock.

The Roadrunner reabsorbs water from its feces before excretion.

The Roadrunner’s nasal gland eliminates excess salt, instead of using the urinary tract like most birds.

The Roadrunner is the state bird of New Mexico.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ice Storm 2007

I'm trying to think of a good reason to plant pear trees in a region with high winds and ice storms?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Undaunted Garden

Ice Storm 2007

If you have watched the news or live in Oklahoma, then you know that we had one of the most devastating ice storms in our history. Power is still off at day 4 for over 200,000 people in Central Oklahoma. Ice storms are frequent to Central Oklahoma and property damage is inevitable. I have driven through north Oklahoma City and Norman and its neighborhoods. There are some lessons to be learned from the storm.

Lauren Springer wrote a book called The Undaunted Garden Planting for Weather-Resilient Beauty. In it she discusses how plants have evolved and adapted to inclement weather common to its place of nativity. Plants have special adaptations that we should take special notice of. When we take plants out of their native systems and use them as ornamentals we are taking them out of context. If we look back at the environment in which they evolved get a much better understanding of what they can do and what their limitations are.

An example is beach plants must be resilient to wind in order to survive. Palm trees can survive hurricanes because of their lack of branches. Banana leaves can shred and still be viable because of their specially adapted vascular systems. Evergreen trees have adapted to snow loads and short summer seasons. We know that succulents can take drought and Cypress trees with their specially adapted breathing knees can grow in a swamp.

Lauren Springer's book talks about the importance of plant origins. She gives the example of the English garden and how the flowers are large and the stalks are soft because of the moderate and tempered climate. There is a reason gardeners do not grow delphiniums in Oklahoma. More importantly she talks about native plants to North America and their special adaptations. The Midwest has special weather--high winds, ice storms, temperature fluctuations, severe hail, humidity and drought. So it would seem that plants native to this climate have special adaptations suited to its unique weather.

This was very evident in our recent ice storm. Yes, Pecans and oaks fell. Most notable damage to native species was on declining trees. Young native trees that had grown to fast due to added fertilizer and care also show severe damage, especially their crowns. A great comparison is the Mexican Sycamore and the native Sycamore. The Mexican Sycamores are completely limbless and crushed. The native sycamore weathered very well loosing only a few limbs. The Lacebark Elm, a non-native were annihilated. Other elms took damage too, especially older elms, but many of the natives faired well and will recover reasonably well. Pear trees--there should be a deposit required for every pear tree that is planted. A deposit that plants good sturdy trees that survive. Many of the Redbuds didn't even sag, and the native Caddo maple faired well.

So when planting in Oklahoma do your homework. Don't plant every new ornamental that comes down the line. Look for ornamentals with roots in the Midwest or be prepared to be devastated the next ice storm or hail storm. Natives aren't immune, but they are resilient.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Still kicking

End of semester...

New Job....

The flu...

Computer crash...and re-crash...

I'm struggling to meet all of my obligations at the present, and my blog is not at the very top of the list. Actually, I'm postponing one of my most dreaded school projects as I write. I can't say to much about it, except that it is painfully boring. I tend to glaze over when I'm not stimulated.

I did run across a great site today. I read the Larch Serve, I have for many years. I'm a lurker only. However, it seems at work I've been needing good solid info, and the Brick Industry site was listed on the Larch Serve. There is great technical notes: Brick in Landscape, Misc apps, Paver Systems, and Garden Walls.

This is a great resource, especially for us new guys on the job or in school.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Bruce Hoagland

We did have a great BrownBag meeting with Bruce Hoagland this last Friday. He did an overview of vegetation in Oklahoma and some of the influences like climate and geology. It was a great presentation, and I did not realize how much influence geology had on vegetation.

What I did take away from the meeting was a desire to visit the incredible diversity of Oklahoma. I am just amazed at how different the state is from north to south and from east to west. The state is the transition zone of the great West and the Eastern forest, the Southern gulf and the northern plains.

Oklahoma as a state does not celebrate this enough. It has not capitalized on all of the diversity that it has to offer. My goal is to take the kids and travel more within the state. There is too much to see right here in Oklahoma.

Silence on the homefront

Lets face it, I've not been in the mood to blog. Blogging does require a certain state of mind. I don't want to get myself in trouble here, but school has been very un-inspirational this semester. Those kinds of semesters tend to drag me down. It is not the work load it is the lack of creative force I thrive on.
  1. Working on paperwork for an internship! YES!
  2. Desktop hardrive crashed. NO!
  3. Laptop in the process of crashing. NO!
  4. Every class is going to wait until the last three weeks to assign their monumental assignment. HOW THOUGHTFUL!
  5. I'm going to be ready for Christmas Break this year!
Posts to come.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Jane Amidon Visits

Friday was a roller coaster of a day. We had the great privilege to have Jane Amidon visit for the day. She gave a lecture on the modern typology of the park open to the College of Architecture. Better yet, the LA department got to spend an hour with her in informal discussion. We peppered her with all sorts of theoretical and practical questions related to landscape architecture and architecture. Later that afternoon she sat in as a juror for the third studio/Parks. It was a long day. It is amazing how exhausting a day of thinking and mental processing can be.

Some thoughts for the day (a little off topic but greatly stimulated by the day) :

I have really been mentally debating my graduate project. I have two (and I’m very open to suggestions).

One is a mixed use project. 80 acres, residential, commercial, city park runs through it, creek runs through it, water front and marina. It is an abandon airport that needs a “new urbanism” master design.

Second is designing green belts and environmental corridors for Oklahoma City, overlaying the city using Michael Hough’s work as a precedent study.

Jane Amidon’s discussion and presentation was very inspiring. There is something that is very thrilling about having intelligent conversation and debate with someone that you esteem highly. (Thank you Jane!)

Jane P. Amidon


1995 Harvard University, Master of Landscape Architecture

1988 Williams College, Bachelor of Art in History/focus in environmental and land use studies


· 2006

Source Books in Landscape Architecture 3: Peter Walker and Partners'Nasher Sculpture Center Garden ,
Amidon, Jane (Ed.). (2006). New York: Princeton Architectural Press.


Source Books in Landscape Architecture 2: Ken Smith Landscape Architect/Three Urban Projects ,
Amidon, Jane (Ed.). (2005). New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Source Books in Landscape Architecture 1: Michael Van Valkenburgh?s Allegheny Riverfront Park ,
Amidon, Jane (Ed.). (2005). New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Moving Horizon: The Landscape Architecture of Kathryn Gustafson and Partners ,
Amidon, Jane. (2005). Basel: Birkhauser Press (English, German and French hardcover editions; Chinese paperback edition 2006)


Ten Landscapes: Stephen Stimson Associates ,
Amidon, Jane. (2002). in J. Trulove (Ed.), Massachusetts: Rockport Press.


Radical Landscapes: Reinventing Outdoor Space ,
Amidon, Jane. (2001). London and New York: Thames and Hudson (2001 hardcover edition); London and New York: Thames and Hudson; Frankfort: DVA; Madrid: Blume, (2003 foreign language hardcover and paperback edition).


Dan Kiley: America?s Master Landscape Architect ,
Kiley, Dan & Amidon, Jane (1999). Boston: Bulfinch/Little, Brown; London: Thames and Hudson.


2003-present Assistant Professor and Graduate Faculty Member

Knowlton School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture Section

The Ohio State University

Courses: design studios; contemporary history and theory in landscape architecture; graduate seminars; plants in design.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Oklahoma Rising"

Happy Birthday Oklahoma!

What a great day!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Antoine Predock and Place

The morning after Antoine Predock’s presentation at the Goff Lecture series .

I don’t have my notes in front of me, which is why I am writing. I really want to express where Mr. Predock’s lecture has inspired me. If you want more about him, then you can read his book.

A. Predock is a charismatic and inspirational person. It is easy to find little pieces of myself in him. His passion and dedication to architecture is evident in his work. I found that his comments on sustainability could easily be misconstrued to give a young person license to dismiss environmentally sound practice. However, I believe he places the environment high, just not at the expense of poetic license and the expression of art. He sees Architects as artist. Everything else we do, business, sustainability, client meetings are supporting roles. I agree. It is easy to forget that, but it is a very important point he made.

This leads me to reflect on several other essay’s I’ve been reading, Frampton’sCritical Regionalism” and Essays out of the first half of “Recovering Landscape” By James Corner. Mr. Predock helped me formulate some of my thoughts I’ve been having.

Predock really talked about intense and thorough research. It is this huge upfront and in-depth plunge that will give you the power of intuition. He referred to a story about Bruce Goff. He stopped in unannounced as a young man to Bruce Goff’s studio/office, and he asked Mr. Goff the Meaning of one of his famous houses, maybe the Bavinger House. Mr. Goff took a deck of cards and fanned them out and referred to “the gesture”. I took it to mean human gesture and intuition. I am analyzing, dissecting and regurgitating what I heard. But I really took the premise of the lecture to be this plunge and immersion into research. Studying culture, land, geology, strata and extending that land based research right into the spiritual or the sky. “Going from the earth to the sky” he said.

It is this immersion into research, collage, digital representation, drawing and exploration that gives the designer the ability to use gesture and intuition and to have confidence in it. This I believe. Design is then based at a subliminal and an overt level towards the place through intuition. However, we have to develop the support system that informs intuition.

I have been having trouble reconciling place. A part of me wants to hold onto the historical and cultural significance of place. This is where some of my reading this week has helped. Mr. Predock identified with culture and historical significance. However, he really talked about the peculiarities of light, earth, sky, water of a specific place. Specifically he let local materials, light intensity, vegetation, water patterns inform him. He talked about their interaction with our senses. He also talked about how that culture was related to these peculiarities of place. Many times not overtly, but subliminally. He provided numerous examples of how his research guided him to intuitively design. His designs would be informed by his research and his clients would identify with the design in unusual and unexpected ways.

Mr. Predock said that he would sacrifice sustainability for poetic expression, not a direct quote, and I do agree with him. I think that I fall into the trap of the environmental issues dictating the design. They should inform and guide. The understanding of the environment should give me a designer to trust my intuition. However, a design without art and poetic presence is a design without spirit. I will not add to our cultural schema. One of the articles I was reading was about the preservation of farms in Holland. If the farms are preserved, but they are not farmed the same way, the people are no longer using them as life sustaining and they are no longer interacting with the site, then they have become a museum piece.

We must allow change. We must encourage each generation to write on the palimpsest. If not. Preservation becomes a hole in our cultural record. By adding the layer of each generation we enrich culture. I think that I may be skewed in thinking this, because I live in the U.S. and I live in Oklahoma. I live in a place where our history is very short. Where we typically see the land as tabula rasa. Where the Indian foot print, and the early settler’s footprint is very slight. I do want to preserve, but I don’t want to live in a museum. I see the museum option as lifeless.

Mr. Predock talked about his landscape of the art museum in Taiwan. I don’t remember the name, but his landscapes referred to specific regions. They were not a showcase with plaques of names. They were a way to incorporate the identity of other people’s environment into the space. It was about the relationship that the museum was having with the people and the people in return would have with the museum.

As usual these thoughts are off the cuff, they provide a record of thoughts and a jumping off place to accrue more understanding.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Global Climate Change

I don't like to preach about global climate change. However, those that dismiss it out of hand are irresponsible. I cannot believe that any reasonable and rational person believes that our population boom, altered environment and fossil fuel based energy use since the 1800s has had no global affect. Can you say flat out that millions of cars and trucks and buses and airplanes and trains and cargo and cruise ships, industries and businesses has had no global effects? Can you really look at your constituency, your children, your students and say none?

So if there has been a change, can we predict what the consequences of that change are? I don't think so. But I think it is safe to predict there will be a change.

I personally don't think I'm going to live long enough to see such a drastic change. I'm not completely convinced in the global "warming" predictions. I don't think we have all the answers and I'm not sure we can rule out a self correcting ice age, similar to the "little ice age" of the which could be equally devastating to the world if more severe. I'm not sure we can predict the outcome of our changing climate.

However, are my children and grandchildren going to look back on my generation as being so selfish that we would not sacrifice a little profit and economy that we would leave them a greatly altered world , without regard to their, extreme expense in mitigation, adaption and suffering?

It is such a politically charged issue. Oklahoma's political climate doesn't really acknowledge the problem, especially our infamous senator Inhofe. I was listening to the radio tonight when I heard a program from "Its your World" with John Holdren as speaker. It seems that the evidence continues to pile up pointing towards global climate change. I think it is hard to predict all of the little specifics of the coming changes and hard to quantify all of the current changes. However, this has really been the first presentation that I have listened to that I has got all of the arrows pointed towards global climate change. There seems to me to be a clear trend and it is irresponsible for us as citizens and our leaders of our generation to pooh-pooh it.

So to the believers I say: "Stick to the facts, be rational and not inflammatory." To the non-believers I say: "Stick to the facts, be rational and not inflammatory."

Lets have a serious discussion about this, and lets start today making changes in our lives that will create a better quality of life for us and generations to come.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

1939 Warner Oklahoma

America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA-OWI, 1935-1945

American Environmental Photographs, 1891-1936

American Environmental Photographs, 1891-1936

Item Title

[An] ungrazed and overgrazed Andropogon furcatus prairie [in] July [with] Ptilimnium nuttallii, Muskogee County, Oklahoma

1904 Arbor Day Proclamation

I love this Oklahoma document I found at the Library of Congress. It is hard for me to imagine in 1900 being so concerned about the loss of the forests. Of course, Oklahoma was very late on the scene, the Eastern forest had been devastated 100s of years previously. The Ouchita's in Oklahoma and Arkansas were hit hard in the mid to late 1800s. The Forest service has a great history on that.

Most interestingly in the document is the Indian's role in the Oklahoma Prairies. This really underscores my new understanding of the Oklahoma Prairie system. It was not a system due to natural processes, but a system dominated by a thriving Indian Culture.

  • Desoto travels through the Ouchita's in 1542 and finds large fields of maize (corn) and flourishing Indian communities.
  • The French arrive in the 1670s.
  • No Indian populations left? Disease?
  • The practice of burning forest and prairie to encourage large grazers to come and eat the new green spring growth was practiced by the Indians. Sometimes the prairie and forest would burn over 100 miles.
  • So, my question: If the there was flourishing Indian communities that were devastated and culturally crippled. Did the large grazers increase in numbers due to lack of hunting?
  • It seems to me that the herds of Buffalo that Lewis and Clark experienced in 1802 or 1804 had to be a result of Indian cultivation.
The Ouchita's today. They are managed (meticulously) by the Forest Service. They are logged, views are maintained, cleared and staged.

My point: The prairies are a man made landscape.

Yes there always were large grasslands, but probably not like the pictures of Oklahoma City and Norman in 1900. It took fire to kill all of those trees. So now we find ourselves in a landscape in central Oklahoma dominated by trees. Oklahoma does not have the deep agricultural roots of Europe. It is a young state and has been more dominated by cattle and failed farms. The layers of land use in Oklahoma are very few.

The Indian cultures manipulated the landscape and when the great prairies are mentioned, it is their landscape that is referred to.

The Sooners and Boomers had a much different vision. One of a more Jeffersonian attitude. They bound it with the grid iron of the survey. They divided it up in a "Democratic" method. (Depending on what side of the ethnic fence you were on.) It was then spoiled and plundered in the exploitative manner that founded the country. Trees were cut; sod was tilled; cattle introduced. The resources of land were used to sustain and garner. The excess of resource were considered as equity and treated as such.

As has happened repeatedly through our history disaster struck. Time and chance, drought and depression. Oklahoma literally blows away. With it the Sooners and Boomers are evicted by the very thing they came for--the land.

Conservation--the years of planting and damming.

Now we find ourselves in an era where the Oklahoma land is not appreciated. It is not understood. We don't have a general maintenance policy. The prairies of the Indian cultures has dissappeared, with only small remenants remaining. The farmer still struggles with most of the land too unproductive to sustain single families. We are not at risk of our soil blowing away.

Where is the landscape of Oklahoma going? I don't want to return to the treeless prairie of 1900, but what about open space? Are farms important? Should we struggle (because it will be a struggle) to honor them, maintain them and celebrate them. What about our forest? What about our forests that make up our rural areas. There are remnants of virgin forest scattered all up the east side of the Sante Fe Rail line that runs up through Purcell, Norman, Oklahoma City and Edmond. Are they worth saving? Should we place a higher value on them? Should we consider them as part of our past culture? Do they reflect times past? What about our forest that took over the fields of the Grapes of Wrath period? The elm and hackberry and mulberry?

So if landscape is a palimpsest. What does the graphical representation of OKC look like on actual paper? How would I do that? Instead of going backwards, what is the next layer going to look like on the land? What needs erased and what needs saved?


Friday, October 5, 2007

Bored Web Surfing

It is a desert out there in web world when it comes to Landscape Architecture. Rarely do I come across these little nuggets of very interesting information. Frequently, I meet my bedtime with little to show for my surfing. Google-ing (what a strange word) "Carl Steinitz" off of another lead I came across "Framework for Landscape Planning". So if your bored, stumbled across my site, and you are looking for another lead before bedtime. Check it out.

You never know, you might learn something.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Old Maps

I love old maps. I learned that I had access to the Sanborn maps today through the University library. Very interesting and I hope to spend a little time going through them. I need to get up to the Oklahoma Historical Society again and dig through their stuff. I have been up there several times and it is always great fun. I especially like digging through their vast collection of newspapers. As a fan (maybe junkie) of maps I wanted to pass along Hipkiss' link I run across on my blogline. I haven't dug through the link page yet, but I'm headed there.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Next Generation Design Competition


Next Generation Design Competition

I am hoping that my colleagues in Landscape Architecture are putting their name in that hat in this competition. This is our field! We need to be coming up with the new and provocative answers to our global water crisis.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Urban Design Theory

Thursday is theory day. I have a research methods class that meets once a week after lunch for about 3 hours and then an Urban Theory Class that meets once a week around dinner time. It is a mentally exhausting day.

Right now we are discussing Modern Architecture and Post Modern Architecture and how it has shaped our current urban fabric. I am really surprised at the amount of people that seem to support Modern Architecture. I guess in my personal quest for "place" I have realized the absolute destruction that Modern Architecture has done to "place". International Style or Modern Architecture has washed white cultural imprint, regional identity and most anything human. It is not even to human scale.

I was watching a piece on Post Modern Architecture by Prince Charles. I was struck by his mention of the church as the living, beating heart of a medieval city in Italy still to this day. It seems the current trend here in Oklahoma is to use steel constructed churches with metal cladding. The closest we get to the beating heart of a city is at its edges with strip malls and big box stores that morph into churches when their retail life is over.

It is hard for me not to be passionate about this subject. I really believe that Modern Architecture and the whole stylistic philosophy that followed help destroy our downtowns and main streets. I'm not saying that it is solely responsible, but it is responsible for many of the repugnant spaces in our cities. I am not an advocate for another revival of Classical or Gothic architecture, but I am an advocate of architecture that responds to people.

This is a subject that I am continually drawn too. I confess I love Louis Sullivan's work. Look a the Guaranty building and the Wainwright building. Look at Sullivan's attention to craftsmen ship and detail which are important for the character and interest of the building. Notice how he addresses the sidewalk . These buildings build a human scale relationship with the street. They are bringing a ten story plus building down to the scale that we can understand and relate too.

I'm not sure that this is where we should be going in architectural design, but I do believe that there is great value in these buildings and other Sullivan work that we should be studying more. I'm not sure that Sullivan really addresses "place" in this, but he does reach out with spirituality and nature. Organic forms and more human forms are woven into a very square, efficient money making box.

Well, I need to go to bed. I just couldn't sleep without getting this off my chest. The world needs to know and be passionate about bad design. I encourage all to speak out against it. It is not a time to be polite and hesitant. Ask the pertinent questions. "Is it meaningful?" "Is it beautiful?" "Does it fit in my neighborhood?" "Does it speak of my community?" "Does it provide a better life for the user?"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Cultural Landscape Foundation

A reader ( I assume) brought this website to my attention. I had visited TCLF before, but it is worth commenting on. I try to focus on issues of Oklahoma, but it seems that many of the famous park designers bypassed the state on the way to either of the two coasts. OKC metro area does not have a great tradition of public parks. I think, and I'm still thinking, reading and studying about this, that part of the problem is the scale of the city. Priority has something to do with it also. There has been some great parks in our past, but they are gone along with many of the historic buildings of OKC. OKC is so horizontal that there is never enough density to justify large expenditure in a small localized place. So the park money's get spent over a much larger area than say a much denser city. I've not done a lot of homework on this, so it is just an assumption.

I had not read about the changes that could happen to the Washington Arboretum until I found it at the The Cultural Landscape Foundation site. The Washington Park Arboretum is one of my favorite places to visit. I took my children this summer and we spent an afternoon of it waiting on my wifes plane to arrive. It is a very active and used space. It is a treasure and I can't imagine a city allowing what is proposed to actually take place. It was 101 degrees in Seattle while I was there and people were sunbathing, walking, running, canoing and even swimming while I was at the park. It is a very successful social place that deserves our attention.

Landscapes speak of the people and the culture of the times. By understanding a landscape we understand a people. I really believe this. I really believe that looking back through Cleveland, Mann, Biddle, Olmstead, Church, Eckbo, Kiley and Halprin's work that we get a sense, a snapshot of the zietgeist. I am really excited about some of the parks that have recently gained a higher degree of appreciation and are being restored or preserved because of their history and their designers. I have not found any parks designed by famous LA's in the Metro, I'm not saying that they are not here. However, their are some great CCC projects that deserve attention, and speak to a time, a place, a people and culture. Check out Charles' essay on historical landscapes and be inspired.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Library of American Landscape History

I got my View, Summer 2007 edition in the mail this week. It is from the Library of American Landscape History. It is a great read and I recommend it.

Some of the books in my collection available through LALH are:

Midwestern Landscape Architecture
Edited by William H. Tishler

An easy read that you will want to go through several times.

The Muses of Gwinn: Art and Nature in a Garden Designed by Warren H. Manning, Charles A. Platt, and Ellen Biddle Shipman
Robin Karson

I've not had a chance to read this one yet. I just received it.

Pioneers of American Landscape Design
Charles A. Birnbaum and Robin Karson, Editors

A must for anyone interested in LA History. I can't believe it is out of print.

The Prairie Spirit in Landscape Gardening
Wilhelm Miller

I have read this book and referred back to it on numerous occasions. It is really the theory of prairie landscapes as done by Jensen and Caldwell. I find some of it directed at a more agrarian society of the past. However, there are many clear and simple truths that I find easy to read and understand that Jensen and other Prairie writers didn't write as clear.

Jord's Trophy Wall:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ruby Grant Park

Tonight was a great night. I won a Merit Award from the Oklahoma Chapter of ASLA for my Ruby Grant project. Here was my presentation:

Cross Park is a nature park for the soul and an activities park for the body.
The project encourages active play and regional awareness through a matrix of integrated syste
Cross Park provides the activity space for the community while embracing the vital environmental corridors of the site. It layers the needs of the community, the arts and the environment by celebrating the history and identity unique to its place.

Cross Park/ Ruby Grant Park is located on the Northern edge of Norman.

Cross Park is a nature park for the soul and an activities park for the body.

The project encourages active play and regional awareness through a matrix of integrated systems.

Cross Park provides the activity space for the community while embracing the vital environmental corridors of the site. It layers the needs of the community, the arts and the environment by celebrating the history and identity unique to its place.

In designing Cross Park I used the dynamics of the environment to engage, direct and mold the geometries of the two major systems

These two major systems are the guiding matrix of the project.

The natural dynamics identified here as


Bottomland forest

Upland prairie

Riparian corridor

Old farm fields

dictate the geometries and layout of the design. They are the guiding framework and structure.

The activity circuits guide the flows of the design

James Corner wrote, “…the meaning of landscaft comprises a deep and intimate mode of relationship not only among buildings and fields but also among patterns of occupation, activity, and space, each often bound into calendrical time.” Activity and human occupation ebb and flow with the time, the day and the season, and the natural dynamics of the site are the foundation of the human experience. Cross Park is not covered in a seductive veil of contrived beauty. It is an expression of spiritual beauty of the raw and regional dynamics of the native cross timber, prairie/forest edge systems. Cross Park is not an idealized picture of the past. It is an engagement in the present. The occupation and activity of Cross Park is the life of the park. The natural dynamics of the park are the spirit.

Environmental impacts and education are at the core of the design. The design establishes a sustainable and healthy framework for present and future water flows. The design preserves healthy plant communities, and uses these communities as the structure of the habitat and educational zones. By protecting and improving the environmental corridors the negative impacts of intense use are reduced.

The design encourages the reintroduction of managed fire to enhance the quality of prairie habitat adapted to fire. The habitat communities including the “farm forest” of the agriculture zones provide specific habitat to local wildlife and environmental education. The environmental solutions proposed in Cross Park teach and raise awareness through demonstration. This awareness is improved by identifying historical agriculture land, and maximizing human use with active play zones of park lawn and trees.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bradner Gardens, Seattle

I am still wading through Washington pictures.

Today studio class drove up to Perkins, Oklahoma to take photos for a photo essay. It is going to be an in house photo essay that we will use while working on a comprehensive plan. I am working with the planning department this semester in studio as part of OU's Landscape Architecture curriculum. I was asked what do you want to do with your landscape architecture degree when you graduate?

Bradner Gardens is a space of cooperation. Architect students, volunteers, the City of Seattle and Landscape Architects came together to design a space that makes many in the neighborhood happy. It is easy to spot a garden that is loved. They don't lie! It was blazing hot the day I visited and there were still children playing in the shade of the gazebo. They said their parents were close by working in the gardens, I believed them because they were so young. It is not the lack of weeds in a garden that speaks of love. It is the attention to detail, and the layering of detail. Especially in a volunteer garden.

After a lengthy explanation that rambled on about the environment, people and outdoor public space we moved on. It was when I was describing what I felt was a successful design that I realized a better way to describe what I want to do. I do not care to design glitzy projects. It is not important for me to be in the forefront of landscape architecture theory. I find satisfaction in a design that has many limiting parameters and numerous program requirements. Then add my own person responsibilities to the environment and address the social issues of the site. In the end, if the design is aesthetically pleasing, environmentally responsible and exceeds the needs of many, I have a successful project.

Bradner Gardens has layers issues that benefit the community. The simple design of the structures is pleasant and personal. It does not have a crafty-low-budget feel. It is tastefully designed with the budget in mind. There are components of the gardens that I would expect from such a team of designers and volunteers, like the water catchment device and storage, wetland preservation and water runoff control. It is the basketball court that I find genius. What better way to bring in another social dimension to the garden?

I really think Bradner Gardens is a successful little garden and park. It is aesthetically pleasing. It doesn't just nod to the environment, it actually has teaching components. It reaches out to multiple and diverse groups of people. Sometimes a budget can be the most limiting factor in a design. I think that if it was in this design, which I suspect it was, the design teams did outstanding.