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Posts Tagged ‘National Mall’

BY ZACH MORTICE

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s plan for the Hirshhorn’s Sculpture Garden. Image courtesy Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

At the Hirshhorn, a preservation row tests the bounds of unity between building and landscape.

 

The Hirshhorn Museum’s Sculpture Garden is a cloistered 1.5-acre art landscape just across Jefferson Drive SW from the museum. Stepped into the earth and filled with modern sculpture arranged in intimate outdoor rooms, it’s a definitive change of pace from the broad civic expanse of the National Mall, though no less significant as it’s the only Smithsonian entity with “Sculpture Garden” in its official name, per the law that established the institution.

The sculpture garden was originally designed by the Hirshhorn Museum’s architect, Gordon Bunshaft. His initial sculpture garden was a harsh, wide expanse of hardscape and gravel when it opened in 1974, centered on a 60-foot-wide rectangular reflecting pool. In 1977 the Smithsonian enlisted Lester Collins to soften the landscape and make it more hospitable, especially during Washington, D.C.’s sweltering summers. When the new landscape opened in 1981, it was with additional lawn and shade cover recessed into the ground—a more layered experience of concrete walls that cordoned off and defined outdoor rooms for the quiet contemplation of sculpture. Collins selected trees with an intense sculptural presence (weeping willows, weeping beeches, ginkgoes, dawn redwoods) and was lauded for his progressively accessible design, nearly a decade before the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

But the museum’s new plan for a revised landscape by the artist and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto is drawing the attention of landscape advocates who charge that the changes proposed will alter the relationship between the landscape and Bunshaft’s monumental ring of aggregate concrete, two elements of the museum campus that were conceived as one. With the new landscape, the Hirshhorn (the staff is quick to point out that only 15 percent of museum visitors make a visit to the sculpture garden) hopes to offer art lovers more programmatic flexibility in the garden and the chance to host larger, more performance-driven events. (more…)

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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

BY RANDY GRAGG

FROM THE MARCH 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

A city of hilltops and lakes bracketed by two mountain ranges, Seattle owns a surplus of views. But none quite matches the grandness of the Rainier Vista. John Charles Olmsted captured it in his plan for the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, guiding the era’s standard, plaster-and-wood City Beautiful architecture to frame Mount Rainier in a compressed perspective sliced through the thick forest. As the University of Washington, the site’s owner, grew, it kept the vista as a front yard, building its early collegiate gothic edifices to bracket the burly 14,400-foot volcano. Take that, Ivy League.

But then came the era of the auto and midcentury campus planning.

Olmsted shaped the grand axis as the exposition’s entrance from railroad and ferry stops at its foot. But he sketched nothing beyond the great fair’s grounds. Thus the view’s foreground became a visual ellipsis petering out in the forest and marshes beyond. That lower terminus (known as the Montlake Triangle) and its surroundings sprouted a clutter of buildings and infrastructure: widening roads, giant underground pipes for steam and sewage, and a barely buried parking garage. As UW’s medical research arm grew into one of the country’s most muscular, a second campus of beige, Lego-set buildings rose at the vista’s end. And as the UW Huskies became a Pac-12 football powerhouse, their stadium surged to the east with 70,000 seats and home-game Saturdays that clog the surrounding roads for miles. Meantime, the onetime Burlington Northern Railroad at the vista’s foot in 1978 became one of the country’s first and busiest rail-to-trail paths, the Burke-Gilman Trail. But the university plowed a service road down the vista’s midsection.

“The surroundings became the boring-edge, white-space infrastructure area, a surplus space,” says Shannon Nichol, FASLA, a cofounder of GGN, the firm given the job to resuscitate Rainier Vista. “The view ended like a foggy distance in a painting rather than being really designed as valuable space. There was nothing interesting coming out of the land.” (more…)

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The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

Image courtesy of GGN.

From “Promised Land” by Jennifer Reut in the March 2018 issue, on Gustafson Guthrie Nichol’s serene and subtle procession into the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“Site vision.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 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.

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