ASLA Landscape Awards 2008
The community sought to create a certified organic farming practice and serve as a model for low-tech sustainable site development in the New Orleans area, as well as creating an economic and cultural resource for Vietnamese-Americans locally and regionally.
The design strategy was based on developing the project as a series of fully functional subprojects that could be funded incrementally, yet come together to create a comprehensive system to deal with programmatic and environmental issues.
The subprojects establish all of the major program elements in the first phase, initially in less-developed forms, and often on different areas of the site, than they are in the final phase. Subsequent phases will expand the program to other parts of the site as future funding becomes available.
The movement of water poses a significant environmental challenge. The soil drains poorly, and the site is essentially flat, lacks positive drainage, has a high water table, and frequently floods during storm events.
The site has been organized into a series of subwatersheds that can be expanded over time. Water will be distributed to the farm sites for irrigation, and post-irrigation water will return to a central reservoir through a series of bioswales. The main supply power for the pumping of water throughout the site will be a windmill/ water tower system backed up by electric pumps. A secondary system for stormwater runoff during heavy rains will prevent flooding of farm sites.
To streamline and optimize use of labor resources, the design team divided the subprojects into categories for low-impact volunteer, high-impact volunteer, skilled volunteer, and professional labor. Each of these resource groups can find a discrete project to focus their attention on, allowing the community to better harness their energy toward common goals while identifying key project elements for which funding is needed to hire outside professionals, such as construction and grading of canals.
The first round of funding has been applied for and committed to in principal to complete Phase I of the project, which is approximately 15 percent of the entire project. Phase 1 will establish the central reservoir and biofiltration canals, develop pedestrian and service circulation to that part of the site, establish the first small-plot and commercial-plot farms, and create a central organizational boulevard for temporary markets. The design team will continue to provide site-specific design assistance with individual projects as they are funded.
Tanner Fountain at Harvard University received the 2008 Landmark Award, co-sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which recognizes a distinguished landscape architecture project completed 15 and 50 years ago that "retains its original design integrity and contributes significantly to the public realm of the community in which it is located."
Designed by Peter Walker, then with SWA Group, and constructed in 1984, the innovative basinless Tanner Fountain transformed fountain design. It was also the first institutional project in the "Landscape as Art" movement.
The ASLA jury recognized the fountain as "one of the first examples of a landscape architect creating public sculpture. It set a precedent for the profession and has stood the test of time remarkably well, retaining the full power of the original idea."
The fountain-without-a-basin design arose from the commission: to create a fountain that could not be filled with dirt and turned into a planter, a fate that several other fountains on Harvard campus had suffered.
The fountain takes the form of a circle 60 feet (18 meters) in diameter, delineated by 159 granite boulders cleared from regional farms at the turn of the century. The boulders were placed in irregular concentric circles to create an open geometric form.
About two feet by four feet (0.6 by 1.2 meters) in size, the stones were turned with their smooth sides facing up and buried so that each stone protrudes only 16 to 18 inches (41 to 46 centimeters). They are placed to overlap the asphalt path pavement and the existing grass and to surround two existing trees.
Located at one of the busiest pedestrian crossroads of the university, the fountain was designed to be inhabited, and continues to be heavily used. The stones encourage sitting, leaning, and playful interaction, and are spaced to prevent through-passage for skateboarders and rollerbladers.
The water for the fountain is generated from 32 nozzles located in the center of the stone area. In the spring, summer, and fall they emit a mist that visually dematerializes the central stones. The mist creates rainbows by day and glows by electric light at night. In the winter, the stones either are shrouded with steam from the university heating plant or form a textured backdrop to snow.
"The landscape architect designed it to be accessible and recognize the four seasons and to celebrate water without a traditional body of water," commented the awards jury.
"Transformational. It lives in your memory."
Array of Honorees
In addition to the four awards of excellence, the 2008 ASLA Professional Awards included 25 honor awards in communications, general design, residential design, and analysis and planning. The winning projects range from an environmental education center in Michigan and a beach house in Long Island to a planning project in Shanghai, China, and a booklet on Bird-Safe Building Guidelines. In addition to Viet Village Urban Farm, two other New Orleans projects were recognized.
The jury for the 2008 awards was chaired by Warren T. Byrd, Jr., FASLA, of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, and also included Mary Ellen Cowan, ASLA, MESA;
Robert A. Ivy, FAIA, editor-in-chief, Architectural Record; Niall Kirkwood, ASLA, Harvard Graduate School of Design; Steve Martino, FASLA, Steve Martino/ Cactus City Design; Elizabeth D. Miller, ASLA; National Capital Planning Commission; Dennis Pieprz, Affiliate ASLA, Sasaki Associates; W. Gary Smith, ASLA, W. Gary Smith Design; Kongjian Yu, International ASLA, Peking University Graduate School of Landscape Architecture and Turenscape;Bill Marken, Honorary ASLA, editor emeritus, Garden Design (Residential Design category); William H. Tishler, FASLA, University of Wisconsin, Madison (Landmark Award).
Founded in 1899, ASLA is the national professional association for landscape architects, representing more than 18,200 members in 48 professional chapters and 68 student chapters.
A list of all award recipients is available on the ASLA web site. The awards will be presented on October 6 at the ASLA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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