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Posts Tagged ‘social distancing’

BY ZACH MORTICE

The Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Image courtesy NCMA.

Art parks and public gardens decide whether they can give people safe respite when people need to isolate.

 

With the COVID-19 crisis, millions of Americans have been jolted from their daily routines, their social lives, and their public spaces. Social distancing is pushing people into virtual realms and individual experiences. Landscapes have become a final refuge.

Museums are closed, so across the country, sculpture parks and public gardens are figuring out how they can safely meet the needs of social distancing. When they can, they’re offering one of the few bits of unfettered culture still available. The ones that place nature first have some advantages others don’t.

The Clark Art Institute’s grounds in Williamstown, Massachusetts, are open; more than 100 acres of nature trails are dotted with a handful of sculptures by Giuseppe Penone, William Crovello, and Jenny Holzer, set in a recently expanded campus designed by Reed Hilderbrand. “We have a 140-acre campus and several miles of walking trails that go through the woods on campus,” says Vicki Saltzman, the Clark’s director of communications. “It has always been our policy that the campus is open to the public to use 24 hours a day, and there’s certainly plenty of room in the 140 acres for lots of social distancing. It’s always been a very central part of the Clark’s ethos to think about art in nature, and we make that connection on a daily basis no matter what’s happening in the world around us.” (more…)

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BY TIM WATERMAN

Piccadilly Circus on a Friday night. Photo by Tim Waterman.

The most noticeable thing before the lockdown was that a sense of threat had crept into every public encounter, and suspicion of contagion was pervasive. Three days in a row, out for a walk, I saw someone fall. First, an old man in a pork pie hat who fell against a bollard on Gerrard Street in Chinatown, still festooned with red lanterns for the Year of the Rat. Then outside the hoardings for the as-yet-unopened new entrance to Tottenham Court Road Underground station on Oxford Street, a young man was collapsed and unresponsive, being attended to by paramedics. In Covent Garden an older woman fell, carrying a bag of medical supplies—a knee brace, possibly—and when my partner and I instinctively went to help, she held up both hands to keep us at bay. Now the government has shut down, for almost a week and indefinitely, pubs, restaurants, and shops, and has ordered people to stay at home except to shop for groceries or to exercise. People are still wary, but are much better at keeping to the rule of maintaining a two-meter distance from all others at all times. This is relatively easy to observe outdoors, but indoors it turns shopping into an odd, halting dance. But in London, where it is unheard of for people to speak to strangers in public, or even to make eye contact, both of these things are seen to happen daily. (more…)

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BY JARED BREY

Robert Hewitt, FASLA, at Clemson University leads students and colleagues through a studio project where they designed a satellite city outside Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus outbreak began. Image courtesy Robert Hewitt, FASLA.

Even before the latest round of social distancing efforts and shelter-in-place orders began to shut down American communities, colleges and universities were making plans to finish their semesters online. And for some courses, the transition is trickier than for others. Students and teachers in landscape architecture design studios are facing the same day-to-day meeting and communication questions as everyone else. But they’re also facing challenges to the long-standing culture of the studio, where casual interactions are encouraged and friendships are formed, professors give in-person feedback to students in real time, juries convene to evaluate student projects that take months to complete, and students experiment with materials and fabrication techniques. At the same time, educators at nearly a dozen schools of landscape architecture in the United States say the technology needed to carry out the most critical functions of design studios is largely available, and most schools are well-positioned to switch to online learning, at least temporarily. 

“The conversation around the shift to remote instruction has always found this uncomfortable relationship with how you do that for a design studio,” says Roberto Rovira, ASLA, an associate professor and the chair of landscape architecture at Florida International University. “In some ways, I see this as an opportunity to really test that, and see how we can bring about a paradigm shift that is no longer really a choice but rather a need. That is something we all saw coming, but now we have to respond to it.” (more…)

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