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.