You are on page 1of 4
+ gardens and urban plazis—in- by modern master Lawrence Hal: ie now being viewed as nothing more than obstacle t0 re i project by the Halprin fi this year: he Water Garden on the c ‘Washington. This small carly 1970s can be seen as a study for Hal prin’s fueuce urban wacer park master- pieces chat followed in Portland, Seattle, and elsewhe During the highly creative period of mid to late-twentieth century, Lawrence ig Paul Ereid Dan Kiley, defined a new voeabu- lary for landscape architecture in an urban environment. Halprin and his contempo- raties transformed che concept of urbar lazas by looking to che angular vi sy for inspira ‘The Stare Capitol Commitee hired Hal- prin in 1967 to develop a landscape plan for the east capitol campus. Halprin fele that pool or fountain would serve co soft ‘en the dramatically expansive plaza. Asde- scribed in the 1969 planning report, “the furure ornamental pool is conceive carefully designed series of pouted-in-place sculpeural concrete forms over which water . One small yet for demolition Dlympia, ‘would flow in a variery of ways, terminating in pools an i of varying depths....The pool would presenta series of sculpeural shapes varying in height from below to above eye level with the sounc ng the dominant feature 972. The founeains and land- scape gi respite forth of the Olympia capitol til, in che cred that over 70, were being lose during each cycle The source of the water loss cout not be lecated, and there were con- sing roots of the plazas tres would compromise the integrity of the waterproofing mem: brane over the underground parking ratage, so the fountains were perma- rently shutoff and drained. Now the entite garden will be removed as part of the campus improvement project schectuled to stare this yea What is (Continued on Page 138, Once a vibrant fountain and plaza, left, the dry pools and basins are now filled with leaf litter and. voluntoor plants, top. Critic at large (Continued from Page 140) unique about this garden’s design today, when compared to a great many of Halprin’s other urban plazas and fountains, including Heritage Plaza in Fore Worth, Texas (see “Second Man Missing,” Landicape Architecture, April), is the density of plants. Halprin’s original planting design called for a dense mix of mostly evergreen species, including chododendron, shore pine, teaberry, Pacific dogwood, and win- tergreen. These plantings have thrived in the lush climate of the Pacific Northwest, creating a woven texture of greens and soothing colors. The planting beds show evidence of volunteer plants, including natives and some invasive species. Plantings of various textures and densities overlay thin concrete pools and walls, none over eight feet in height, and present a simple, solitary garden gesture. Using the dense forests and abundant water of the region as inspiration, Halprin captured the serene beauty and strength of the native land- scapes of the Pacific Northwest in his design. The linear forms created over 30 years ago have finally begun to seem at ease among the dense vinca and thododendrons and the majestic ash and red oaks. Unforeseen mini-ecosystems have es- tablished themselves in this small, urban- nature pocket of neglect. Many surprises are Resilient plantings and deterio- rating fountain walls, below, pro- vide subtle beauty in this small urban-nature pocket of neglect. found within: the acidic smell of moldeting soils, tree roots coming up through the grass and pavement, ground covers overlapping one another. The spiderwebs between che walls would never have developed if the fountains had been running. ‘Weeds and volunteer plants have sprouted through the worn aggregate pathway and grow abruptly from crags and corners. ‘The once-turbulent water runnels and basins, now filled with fallen pine needles and decaying plant debris, create a remark- able texcure atcuned to the wood-formed concrete walls and ragged aggregate paving of the garden's pathway. Tn areas, itis hard to see through the garden's dense tree canopy and shrub masses, The contextual concrete walls are now worn, vigorous vines having hidden some of them. And there is an unexpected, soothing quietness about this urban na- cure that Halprin’s other fountains do not have. Stuart Tucker of the Capitol Public Works Department notes that, since the fountains’ shutoff, Public Works hasn't done much maintenance because the Water Garden is not a highly visived place. A weekly “blowing” is che only regular ‘maintenance that occurs. Tucker has scheduled a yearly cleanup for the garden, which entails cleaning out the basins and prun- ing the dead limbs on the trees —"‘not for ap- pearance, but for safety.” The impending demolition has called for even less upkeep. ‘The paradox is that the plantings in the Water Garden, as intended, have grown in and Landscape Architecture | 138 | June 2003 supplied the requisite shade and soft- ness, Yet this urban garden seems so out of place in the setting of the im- mense capitol plaza. ‘The Water Garden's demolition is tragic. Justas itis reaching ecologic maturity and diversicy, fulfilling Ha prin's notion of urban nacure, the gar- den will now be demolished. Am the reasons for its removal: inopera- ble fountains, changing aesthetic preferences, and new pedestrian cir~ culation requirements. The garden has majestically evolved through its own deterioration. As we look ahead to future design opportunities in our urban environments, what can we learn from the example of the Water Garden? ‘Though built landscapes serve as time-specific cultural markings, they also illustrate, again and again, the irrevocable power of change. Nature will dictate our design however much we may wish to control ie; ¢ beauty of the landscape is ies unpre- dictability and flux. Landscapes left june 2003 | 139 | ‘The Water Garden's overgrown planting beds, left, and simple weathered forms, above, offer a testament to evolving landscapes. co their own means will find a way to survive and thrive and offer unfore- seen pleasure even in their worn state. Although the deterioration of this example of Halprin’s landscape architecture (and other modernise landscapes facing similar removal) is deplorable, the Water Garden at the end of is life span is a wond ful example of how the evolving landscape offers surprising beauty. For more information, visit the Washington State Department of General Administration’s web site at win ga. ta goo/vititor Water Gander Garden.bim. LA Rick LeBrasseur, ASLA (environmental, eas a design consul- tant with EDAW, landscape architects for the eas capital campus improement proj, sehedled for completion in 2006.

You might also like