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BY TOM STOELKER

Green-Wood Cemetery embraces change and looks to bring degraded landscapes back to life.

FROM THE JUNE 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

There’s a turn at a road in Green-Wood, the 478-acre cemetery in Brooklyn, where tall blond grass reaches up to meet age-old headstones. The effect could seem like a windswept meadow, but for those whose loved ones are interred at Green-Wood, it may look like overgrown weeds. While there is a growing public awareness of lawns as environmentally problematic, generations of Americans continue to pay good money to rest beneath a bed of green in perpetuity. If you couple the love of grass with the fact that more Americans are choosing cremation over burial, the dilemmas facing the burial industry, and Green-Wood in particular, become apparent.

Green-Wood is an arboretum with more than 8,000 trees of nearly 750 unique species and is one of the largest green spaces in New York City, but it’s also a business that sells real estate in one of the most competitive markets in the world.

Patterned after Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, originally home to the Lenape people, and the site of the Battle of Long Island in 1776, Green-Wood’s initial 200 acres were established on glacial moraines that formed Brooklyn’s highest point. In 1838, Henry Evelyn Pierrepont engaged David Bates Douglass, a West Point engineering professor and retired Army major, to lay out the drives, lakes, and paths of the cemetery. By September 5, 1840, local citizens John and Sarah Hanna were the first to be laid to rest. Today the Hannas are joined by more than 570,000 others, including Boss Tweed, Leonard Bernstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Louis Comfort Tiffany, whose glasswork graces more than a few mausolea. (more…)

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FOREGROUND

Talking Points (Planning)
The WELL Community Standard is touted as the new sustainability checklist, but is it just landscape architecture in new clothes? Reed Hilderbrand tries it out at a Florida megaproject, Water Street Tampa.

Let the Graveyard Grow (Maintenance)
In Brooklyn, New York, Green-Wood Cemetery’s parklike setting and open lawns have become a pandemic destination. Behind the placid view, the horticultural staff races to stay ahead of climate change.

FEATURES

Soldier Stories
Three new veterans memorials break from the visual language of war to make a place for those who served and lived. Butzer Architects and Urbanism, Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, and DAVID RUBIN Land Collective each found an approach that ties the past to the present.

Back to Basics
When Waterfront Toronto announced that the Google offshoot Sidewalk Labs would be designing an urban techtopia on a prime 12-acre site, brows were raised. Now the project is canceled—a casualty of public resistance and pandemic funding—and the city looks to what’s next.

The full table of contents for June can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be posting June articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Soldier Stories,” Sahar Coston-Hardy, Affiliate ASLA; “Back to Basics,” Picture Plane for Heatherwick Studio for Sidewalk Labs; “Talking Points,” Reed Hilderbrand; “Let the Graveyard Grow,” Green-Wood/Art Presson.

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