SCAPE land and design in the Upper Midwest
The Mega-School Reconsidered:
CITY as TEACHER
DESIGNING DISASTER RELIEF HEY, NON-METRO LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS,
Whatâ€™s it like out there?
a publication of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects
On the Cover: Marjorie Pitz, FASLA, weaves extraordinary structures from wild sandbar willow.
Learn how she does it, in topic:art Photo by Marjorie Pitz, FASLA
__SCAPE is published quarterly by the Minnesota Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (MASLA). __SCAPE is FREE. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and type subscribeSCAPE in the subject line. Send general MASLA inquiries to: MASLA
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International Market Square 275 Market Street, Suite 54 Minneapolis, MN 55405 612-339-0797 FAX 612-338-7981 Send general __SCAPE inquiries, leďż˝ers to the editor, and advertising requests to: Adam Regn Arvidson MASLA Director of Communications 300 First Avenue North, Suite 210 Minneapolis, MN 55401 612-312-2126 email@example.com
is looking for writers Have a story idea? Read a good book lately? Know of a good website? Have a favorite magazine? Send your article ideas to Adam Regn Arvidson firstname.lastname@example.org 612-312-2126
:nature Two Days in Sri Lanka
An Urban Education
In the wake of last December’s Asian tsunami, a group of Minnesota designers tackle the tricky problem of relocation -- with a charette.
On the hidden connections between urban structure, regional transit, and learning
by Frank Edgerton Martin
What is it like to practice away from the Twin Cities metro area? Nine landscape architects share their stories.
Fellow’s Top 5
Communities in Crisis
State of the Outstate
The Forest for the Trees
Peavey Plaza Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
by Cassie Neu and Colin Kloecker
Stick by Stick
The joy of weaving willow
by Doris Sullivan, FASLA
In Other Words will return in Winter 06 with an expanded offering
by Marjorie Pitz, FASLA
by Adam Regn Arvidson
MASLA Executive Committee John D. Slack, president Thomas Whitlock, past president Bruce Chamberlain, president-elect Sonia Walters, secretary Renee McGarvey, treasurer Jim Hagstrom, trustee Travis Tegethoﬀ, director of public relations Mike Jischke, director of programs Richard Wiebe, director of academic aﬀairs Craig Nelson, co-director of awards and banquet Anne Okerman, co-director of awards and banquet Adam Regn Arvidson, director of communications issue #1
The Forest for the Trees editor’s note
sial point. Put the federal / local bickering out of your
As I write this, the death toll in the Pakistan earthquake
mind for a moment and remember that a great majority of
continues to rise. It is yet one more in a seemingly endless
the City of New Orleans is below sea level. Good levees
year-and-a-half long string of natural disasters which
or not, about 80% of one of the world’s major maritime
have killed or displaced literally millions of people.
ports is below sea level. And everyone is talking about
And despite being deadly, this ceaseless ba�ery has at
rebuilding: reclaiming the same soaked neighborhoods
times bordered on the unprecedented and bizarre: four
and remaking the ﬂood-ruined houses.
hurricanes hit Florida last year; we have nearly run out of Atlantic storm names; and for the ﬁrst time in recorded
And herein lies the controversy. It is easy to sit high and
history, an Atlantic hurricane made landfall in Spain.
dry in Minnesota and say we should never build below sea level, and that New Orleans should be rebuilt somewhere
Though I hate to open this installment of _SCAPE so
safer. But the bond between a person and their native
morbidly, the issue is front and center and cannot be
(home?) landscape is extraordinarily powerful: powerful
denied. This publication deals with land and design, as in:
enough to make them risk almost everything to remain in
the human ﬁngerprint on the natural world. Right now,
the natural world is kicking our collective human bu�. There is no denying the strain this puts on our resources.
In this issue, we take a look at crises and native landscapes.
How can the disaster response agencies and non-proﬁts
A group of designers get together to help a community
go to Pakistan when, in reality, they are still cleaning up
in tsunami-ravaged Sri Lanka.
Indonesia? How can the world’s governments begin to
who choose to practice out away from the Twin Cities
feed and clothe the earthquake survivors when there are
tell us exactly why. A new school puts students back in
tens of thousands without homes in Louisiana? How can
touch with their home city. An Army Corps of Engineers
we live peacefully on this earth when it takes lives in such
landscape architect shares how we all might help in times
a cavalier manner?
of natural disaster.
It is hollow solace to know that, in fact, humans have
This is big, reader, and _SCAPE would like to hear from
thus far lived in a time of geologic quietness. Cataclysmic
you. What do you think about this freakish string of
events have been rare in the history of homo sapiens. If
crises? How important is your native landscape to you?
this is a case of “we were due for something,” it does not
What can you do (or have you done) to be there for those
change the fact that we all still have to deal with it. And
in need? How can design help? Please send your thoughts
Katrina raises perhaps the most important and controver-
Adam Regn Arvidson email@example.com
Valued Places In 2001, the Minnesota Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects published Valued Places: landscape architecture in Minnesota. This glove-box sized guidebook proﬁles 52 sites in the Land of Lakes, each of which has beneﬁtted from design, care, or stewardship by landscape professionals. Here are a few samples...
Peavey Plaza Located on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, Peavey Plaza has been a favorite urban gathering place since 1975. A highly versatile space of over one acre in size, it serves as a cool, quite summer refuge for downtown workers; an ice skating pond in winter; and as a venue for concerts and festivals. The plaza is a highpoint of modernperiod landscape architecture in Minneapolis. The design is simple yet rich in spatial variety. Set against the backdrop of Orchestra Hall, Peavey Plaza is a visually complex space of square cornered seating terraces, raised planter boxes, bubbling fountains, and pipes, beckoning passers-by to the plaza and quieting the sounds of nearby traﬃc. For all its value as an urban space for quiet rest and reﬂection, Peavey Plaza is equally important as home to annual festivals and concerts sponsored by the Minnesota Orchestra and other local arts organizations. During the Viennese Sommerfest, the reﬂecting pool at the center of the plaza is drained and becomes the stage and center of a much-loved local tradition. Food vendors move onto the street level plaza space beneath temporary canopies and peddle Austrian treats. The same pool serves as a skating pond in winter months, surrounded by plantings of colorful evergreens. Peavey Plaza, designed by landscape architect M. Paul pools which step gracefully down from street level. Its southwest exposure allows for many sun-drenched nooks
ADAM REGN ARVIDSON, ALL
and quiet areas, while the canopy of honey locust trees overhead provides opportunities for seating that is shaded
Friedberg, has been a success story since its opening in 1975. An instant classic in urban design, it was cited for a Special Award in 1978 by the Landscape Architecture magazine.
from summer glare. Recalling the musical character of its neighbor, the plaza announces itself with a grouping of tall stainless steel cylinders at street level in its southwest corner. Gushing water, not music, is produced by these issue #3
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum In 1907 the Minnesota State Horticultural Society approached the State Legislature to establish a fruit breeding farm in Excelsior, Minnesota, and to have it be a�ached to the University of Minnesota. Speciﬁcally, the farm would develop fruit, especially apples, that would survive Minnesota’s climate, thus creating a new industry. Since that time over 80 varieties of fruit and landscape plants have been developed and released to the public.
In 1956, the Men’s Garden Club of Minneapolis, a�er years
sible Sensory Garden, and proposed redevelopment of
of discussion, proposed to Dr. Leon Snyder, the Head of
the shrub rose garden.
the Department of Horticultural Science at the University of Minnesota, the establishment of an Arboretum to grow
In 1997 a new master plan was created which encompassed
and evaluate landscape plants for Minnesota and to
the Arboretum proper, the Horticultural Research Center,
create a public display garden. The ﬁrst 160 acres were
and all lands the Arboretum proposed to purchase in the
purchased in 1958.
future to protect its watershed (approximately 1200 acres total). The plan also located places for a new visitor center
The Arboretum’s ﬁrst master plan was completed in 1959.
conservatory, new areas for collections and gardens,
It laid out Three-Mile Drive and the location of collections,
new circulation, additional parking, and a be�er entry
some generic and some functional or cultural. This plan
sequence. This plan is presently being implemented.
and parking areas. In 1978 and again in 1987, this master
Today the Arboretum has a diverse collection of plants
plan was reﬁned and updated. The latest plan upgraded
(about 5,000 taxa), gardens, recreated and native
the entry, created the new parking areas, located an acces-
landscapes, and educational and research programs. The
SCAPE fall 05
JOHN D. SLACK, ALL
also noted natural areas and proposed a site for a building
largest woody collections (research and display) include pine, apple, crabapple, linden, grape, lilac, and azalea. Perennial collections include shrub roses, hybrid tea roses, clematis, ornamental grasses, iris, peony, hosta, daylily, and lily. These collections display the be�er species and cultivars which are hardy in Minnesota.
Arteka is once again Arteka, locally owned and operated. 8810 13th Avenue East, Shakopee, Minnesota 55379 tel: 952.934.2000 �� fax: 952.934.2247
In addition to the collections, there are over thirty model gardens and exhibits at the MLA: the perennial garden, six types of herb gardens, the Home Demonstration Gardens, the dwarf conifer garden, the Fern Walk, the sensory/ accessible gardening exhibit, the MacMillan Garden, the Japanese Garden, the shrub walk, the garden for wildlife, and the Waterfall Garden. Major ongoing Arboretum programs include research on cold hardy apples, grapes, street trees, and landscape shrubs -- especially hardy azaleas -- wetland restoration, and ornamental grasses. Educational programs include adult, children, horticulture as therapy, teacher training in biological sciences, and family programs. Andersen Horticultural Library, with over 11,000
has an historical
����� ��� ����
seed and nursery catalogue tion
published several books
The AHL Source List of Seeds and Plants.
A new visitor center, envisioned in the 1997 master plan, opened this summer. by Peter Olin
to advertise in
__SCAPE contact Adam Arvidson, editor at firstname.lastname@example.org 612-312-2126 ������������������������������������������������������������ ��������������������������������
Fellow’s Top 5 We asked Doris Sullivan, FASLA, what ﬁve things landscape architects can do to help communities in crisis. She is a landscape architect with the Army Corps of Engineers and has been, literally, on the ground in the aftermath of natural distasters. She writes: I am responding to this question shortly a�er Katrina and Rita have swept through the Gulf region. My immediate reaction is to think of “communities in times of crisis” in terms of natural disasters. So, the ﬁrst thing that comes to my mind is the need for quickly built, temporary shelter. Landscape architects were made to participate in emergency recovery eﬀorts especially designing temporary facilities. Think: a charre�e that will become a real place for a short while. Think: eﬃciency, practicality, and community. In 2001, I was a member of a team that worked for
My experience is an example of only some of the contribu-
FEMA to provide temporary housing for ﬂood victims
tions that landscape architects can make to the construc-
in West Virginia. My skills as a landscape architect
locations, structure placement, green space layout, bus stop location, and exterior lighting. For each site (we tackled 6 diﬀerent projects within a 29 day span), we started with the surveyors “xyz” ﬁles and within 5 to 7 days had plans and speciﬁcations ready for the contractor. The team had designed a small “housing development” that we expected to be inhabited within a couple weeks and which would remain in place for about 18 months.
Landscape architects (along with engineers and
work with local oﬃcials to ﬁnd appropriate sites
put detail to the actual facilities by planning
architects) can manage oﬃces and projects, we can
for temporary facilities, and we can
temporary housing sites,
designing circulation, and
And the relief and gratitude on the face of an exhausted
planing infrastructure. We can review proposals and
parent leading her children into their own “home” was an
review construction documents. We can also work with
contractors to assure quality control during construction.
SCAPE fall 05
COURTESY DORIS SULLIVAN
were extremely valuable. I provided road layout, utility
whips In addition, we can facilitate communication.
Landscape architects are excellent liaisons. We under-
stand physical systems, natural systems, people and their needs, communities, the politics of housing, and the basics of utilities and circulation. All the knowledge required for pass the Landscape Architecture Registration Examination (LARE) can be drawn upon in crisis response projects. We can work as collaborators or we can facilitate communication among varying disciplines, agencies, and special-interest groups.
Lastly, once the immediate human needs are taken
care of, landscape architects re-enter one of their major “comfort zones:” analysis. We can examine what went wrong, what went right, what needs to change, and what cannot or should not change. At this point, we can assist by developing ideas, creating master plans, completing studies, and designing for quality and endurance. As new projects develop, all of the “lessons learned” from the times of crises will present opportunities for the kind of creative design landscape architects do best.
, Inc. Architectural Lighting Designs, Inc. 2920 Anthony Lane St. Anthony, MN 55418 Phone: 612-252-4100 Fax: 612-252-4141 E-mail –email@example.com
Doris Preisendorf Sullivan, FASLA, is a landscape architect with the United States Army Corps of Engineers. She started with the St. Paul District in the Planning Section working on master plans, recreation planning, visual analysis, preliminary conceptual design, and planting plans. In 1997, Doris transferred to the General Engineering Section. She has been responsible as Lead Engineer doing civil/site design for a wide range of Corps projects. She has overseen site layout for ﬁve locks in the St. Paul District. In 2001, she was a member of an emergency response team that provided temporary housing to ﬂood victims in West Virginia. Doris also coordinates competition entries for the St. Paul Corps district. Prior to joining the Corps, Doris worked as a landscape architect for ﬁrms in Minneapolis and San Diego. She was named the Corps’ Landscape Architect of the Year in 2000, was awarded an Achievement Medal for Civilian Service in 2001, received the Lob Pine Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 2002, and was made Fellow of ASLA in 2003. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota.
In the wake of last December’s Asian tsunami, a group of Minnesota designers tackle the tricky problem of relocation -with a charette.
Two Days in Sri Lanka
ow do you address issues involving people
of devastation, and the despair of people whose family
who live thousands of miles away? How do
members have died, whose homes have been destroyed,
you make a diﬀerence in someone else’s life
and whose lives have been changed forever. How do you
whom you have never met before? How do you design
deal with actual space and landscape, when the only thing
a building that stays cool in tropical heat and honors
you can understand is emotion.?
cultural spaces and directional entries?
How do you
address a site on a hill where a natural spring surges water
Oﬀ the southern coast of Sri Lanka, in a region called
in a distant country you have never visited? How? When
Hikkaduwa, a group of 50 homes will soon be transformed
the only thing you have seen are photos and video footage
into a new community for residents of several villages
SCAPE fall 05
COURTESY ARCHITECTURE FOR HUMANITY AND CASSIE NEU, ALL
by Cassie Neu and Colin Kloecker
of its devastating 2003 ﬂoods by organizing charre�es to create design solutions quickly.
Institute of Architects’ (AIA’s) Search for Shelter is commi�ed to the same process, having developed designs for numerous organizations engaged in helping those impacted by change or
Community Services, the Midtown Greenway
Community Housing, and others. The South Asian Tsunami devastated more communities, aﬀected more countries, and changed more peoples’ lives than any previously documented natural disaster. The sheer number of rebuilding projects is vast and that were destroyed during the South Asian Tsunami on
the need for help is immediate. Charre�e-based design
December 26th, 2004. What this community needs now
seemed an appropriate way to address the Sri Lanka
is a community center in which people can gather and
Community Center in Hikkaduwa.
begin to move forward with their lives. These were my
thoughts and questions as I listened to the members of the Minnesota Sri Lanka Friendship Foundation (MNSLFF) speak to a group of design professionals about their
onstruction is already underway on the 50 homes designed by an overwhelmed Colombo, Sri Lanka-based government design group, the Sri
country, its current devastation, and what they hoped to
Lankan Urban Development Authority (UDA). In addition
receive from a two-day design charre�e that was about
to house designs, the UDA also provided MNSLFF with
a conceptual plan for the community center. MNSLFF
Charre�e-based design can be beautiful, communitydriven, and extremely helpful in developing a vision for a group of people. It is conceptual, rough, and quick, but thorough enough to jump-start creative
Last July, a group of designers convened a charette to help a tsunami-ravaged community in Sri Lanka, opposite. The frenetic pace of the two days resulted in creative ideas, including a unique site plan, above, rendered mere minutes before the ﬁnal presentation. The group remained collaborative throughout, presenting preliminary ideas to each other, below. (Vicki Hooper of HGA, presenting; Patrick Lynch University of Minnesota, at right.)
thinking. In the a�ermath of disaster, such a quick solution for shelter, food, and water is a necessity. In disasters that overwhelm communities, peoples’ lives depend immensely on the rate of recovery.
have endured their own natural disasters on scales
smaller than the Tsunami but equally demanding in the need for disaster relief. The Minnesota Design Team, a group formed to help small communi-
ties develop visions for their future, helped St. Peter in the a�ermath of its 1998 tornado and Roseau on the hells issue #3
for the community center that will include a Montessori school, medical clinic, and library. The 16 participating needed designers to develop the concept into a ﬂexible,
designers processed as much information as they could
functional, and energy-eﬃcient community center that
about Sri Lankan culture, local building materials and
would also be a beautiful space in which people could
styles, the site and natural environment, natural cooling
socialize, learn, and receive medical care.
and ventilation techniques, and ways in which the architecture of the community center could connect the
The two-day design charre�e was organized by
people of this new village with each other as well as with
Architecture for Humanity Minnesota (AFH MN), and it
Minnesota and the rest of the world.
was open to professional architects and landscape architects, as well as students. AFH MN and MNSLFF met at
The next morning the designers regrouped over donated
the SmithGroup oﬃce in downtown Minneapolis on the
coﬀee and bagels and got to work. A�er discussing what
evening of Friday, July 15 2005, to kick oﬀ the charre�e.
we learned the previous night, we decided to form smaller
Members of MNSLFF gave a brief history of their group
groups to look at four primary issues: heating/cooling/
and then began to explain the programmatic elements
ventilation, space planning, landscape site design, and global/local connections. A�er three intense hours of
small group work, the large group gathered to review
Jeffrey Swainhart - Swainhart Construction Rich Koechlein - URS Cassie Neu - LHB Tu-Anh Bui - LHB Maureen Ness - LHB Jess Roberts - LHB Vicki Hooper - HGA Michael Nolan - SmithGroup Nick Woodard - SmithGroup Pei Ling - SmithGroup Ben Sporer - Landform Stephen Mastey - Landscape Architecture Inc. Richard Venberg - Venberg Design Build Sishir Chang - Pan Asian Tsunami Healing Katheryn Martenson - CALA Patrick Lynch - CALA Colin Kloecker - CALA
became clear that certain elements would become integral
what had been accomplished. As each team presented, it
Water became a key design component, moving from a pool at the top of the community center, through the courtyards, and into an irrigation sieve to water the community gardens, above. The upper and lower building levels, below, of the community center include cultural separation of spaces and the three distinct uses: library, preschool, and medical clinic.
MNSLFF Clients: Ananda (Lal) Liyanapathiranage Mithula Perera Nevanka Goonewardena Becky Guneratne
SCAPE fall 05
components of the design throughout the process: the movement of water through the site, the technology center as the heart of the community center, and a sensitivity to the village’s history and culture. We then broke for lunch before beginning the ﬁnal stretch of the charre�e: reﬁning the work already prepared and producing a ﬁnished design to present to the UDA for approval.
ord of mouth had brought Sishir Chang, the founder of the Pan Asian Tsunami Healing Group (P.A.T.H.), to the Minnesota Chapter
A healing and recovery process must take place while residents are at the same time looking forward to new lives. Connections to the coast and the former villages are important.
t every step of the process it was important for the charre�e participants to respect the reason why so many Sri Lankans are being relocated
of Architecture for Humanity. P.A.T.H. is an umbrella
from the coast to the new village on the Monrovia Estate.
organization that was bringing together over a dozen
These people who have lived on the coast for generations
Twin Cities Asian organizations to help the tsunami
were now being asked to move two miles inland from
survivors and families of victims. MNSLFF is one of the
the water to prevent damage from future tsunamis. In
participating groups. Its members had raised funds for a
understanding that a healing and recovery process must
community center on the Monrovia Estate in Hikkaduwa,
take place while residents are at the same time looking
Sri Lanka, but had no means to design it. That is where
forward to new lives, the group of designers realized
AFH MN stepped in.
that connections to the coast and the former villages are
Founded in February, 2005, by seven individuals with varying design backgrounds and
the Minnesota Chapter of Architecture for Humanity (AFH MN) upholds the same message to which its founders, Cameron Sinclair and Kate Stohr, originally commi�ed themselves: “To promote architectural and design solutions to global, social
crises.” AFH MN has since
The community center is designed to relate to several contexts: the ocean coast, Minnesota, the international community, religious space, and existing land on the site.
grown to 20 members. The organization hopes to be simultaneously
between architects, landscape architects, and planners, as
important, as well as connections to friends in Minnesota
well as between students and practitioners.
like MNSLFF. With this in mind, water - like that found on the coast of Sri Lanka and in the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota
In the wake of natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina
- was chosen as the common element and developed as a
and Rita, there is a greater need for design services that
design feature throughout the site.
address people’s needs in real social and environmental catastrophes.
AFH MN is currently working to help
develop a competition for designing lasting, immediate shelter for victims of Hurricane Katrina. This is reﬂective of AFH’s primary goal: to help people come together locally to address farther reaching issues, whether they lie
Have your own story of design and healing? __SCAPE welcomes letters to the editor. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
on local, regional, or international ground. issue #1 #3
and geography. The prevailing coastal breezes enter the building from the south and are directed through
A spring-fed pool adjacent to the south side of the
the building and out a stack ventilation system. A large
community center will cool the interior as prevailing
veranda on the north side of the building shades the
southern winds pass over the water and through the
interior space while also providing outdoor circulation
building. The pool will also act as a daylight mechanism
when the sun reﬂects oﬀ the water and into the building. The spring water will then run under the building to exit
First ﬂoor circulation is exterior, shaded by a veranda. With
in a social courtyard and will be channeled to ﬁnally end
its series of columns, the veranda lends a monumental feel
in an irrigation sieve to nourish community gardens at the
to the building, which is entered from the north. The ﬁrst
base of the site.
ﬂoor accommodates the Montessori school, the medical
The site plan of the community center went beyond the building itself, considering surrounding courtyards for gathering, community gardens, and the functional and symbolic water connections.
Moonstones (Sri Lankan circular stone slab thresholds), made of donated Minnesota granite or limestone, will be
clinic, and an oﬃce. The second ﬂoor can be accessed by
placed throughout the site at major entry spaces, spring
stairs from the ﬁrst ﬂoor or by a gently sloping ramp from
water collection areas, and within community gathering
the east pavilion. Access is again by the veranda, repeated
places. Inscriptions in the stone will tell the story of the
from the ﬁrst ﬂoor. The second level accommodates the
community, where the people came from, where they
library and a technology center, seen throughout the
are today, and who their friends are in Minnesota and
charre�e as the heart of the building: access to computers
with internet capabilities provides a link to connections between friends and family across the world, a link to
The building’s expression of passive heating/cooling
information, and a link to the future.
and natural ventilation incorporates the region’s ecology
SCAPE fall 05
t the end of the day, in return for our hard work and in celebration of the new connection between the two groups, MNSLFF provided an
incredible traditional Sri Lankan meal. The design team members then presented our ﬁnished design to MNSLFF members. AFH MN’s work with MNSLFF’s community center is not ﬁnished. It is currently under review by the Sri Lankan UDA, a�er which AFH MN will respond to any revision suggestions and prepare construction documents for their use. Construction is scheduled to be ﬁnished by the one year anniversary of the devastating tsunami.
Cassie Neu of LHB, left, and Richard Koechlein of URS present the site plan, connections, and details to members of MNSLFF. Nevanka Gooneewardena and Ananda (Lal) Liyanapathiranage are in the foreground.
In disaster relief, a short time frame for design is required. The Sri Lanka design charre�e proved that a good design can come from a quick and eﬃcient process. Perhaps it was the dedication of MNSLFF to their country to pull
We came together because we believed in building a community center for tsunami survivors. It is amazing what can happen if you pull dedicated designers together in a room with d r a f t i n g materials for a short period of time. Editor’s Note: This article was developed in collaboration with t/here: journal of architecture and landscape, an annual printed journal published by the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota. The next issue of t/here, titled “Refuse,” will take a deeper look at the Architecture for Humanity organization: its inception, additional projects it has completed in Minnesota, and its philosophy. _SCAPE will also be reviewing t/here in its Winter 06 issue in January. For questions about t/here or for more information on how to get a hold of a copy of the journal, please e-mail email@example.com.
together an informative presentation so fast, or perhaps it was the eﬃcient organization on behalf of AFH MN that created the right environment for designers to create such a helpful design. Most likely, it was simply the fact that people came together because they believed in building a community center for tsunami survivors, and they wanted to help in some way. It is amazing what can happen if you pull dedicated designers together in a room with dra�ing materials for a short period of time.
Cassie Neu is a landscape designer with LHB in Minneapolis. She holds a Masters of Landscape Architecture from the University of Minnesota. She joined AFH MN in February 2005 because of her passion for design as a means to help people. Her design philosophy is focused on restorative community design. She feels that the innate qualities of a place are best revealed by the people who inhabit it and the native landscapes that embrace it. Guided by a respect for the land and the people who live there, she aspires to restore and create places that inspire, inform, and heal. Cassie enjoys backpacking, running, mountain biking, organic gardening, and travel. She lives in South Minneapolis with her husband and two cats.
design may be a valuable solution for recovery in the a�ermath of the many large natural disasters occurring today worldwide. issue #3
An Urban Education
Center was never
really intended to
C e n t e r,
be a school, yet Saint
the new St. Paul
Paul’s “castle” has
much of the civic
grandeur and sense
found in historic
high schools such
ideals for what a
as the neo-classical
West High School on
city should be. Such
for landscape architects
tors because of the deep
twined histories of American
tion, school design,
On the hidden connections between urban structure, regional transit, and learning
and public policy. Rarely have educa-
by Frank Edgerton Martin
Romanesque-style Central High, whose tower still looms over downtown. The is
from-home for 160
tion policy, architecture, and planning been considered
creatively charged high school students, who stream in
as a connected whole, yet, throughout American history,
and out of the venerable castle everyday, providing it
they have shared common destinies. The striking contrast
with more daily life than it has seen for a while. The city
between the Conservatory and most of Minnesota’s other
itself provides this new charter school’s campus. Theater
new high schools illuminates a small piece of this story in
is at the neighboring Ordway Center, dance at the newly
the Upper Midwest.
renovated studios of Roy Wilkins Auditorium, and library
“The monument was already in place,” says Paul Neuhaus,
Rice Park. In the longer-term, the Conservatory school
AIA, who served as the Conservatory School’s project
will expand to include other downtown partners such as
architect for Perkins+Will. “It seemed that it just needed
Smith McNalley Music College, Minnesota Public Radio,
some new life with new tenants.”
and local theatres. The Science Museum of Minnesota
was designed in 1902 as an architectural expression of
will soon serve as a venue for science classes and labs not
the fortress-like permanence of the federal government.
available at Landmark Center.
A�er nearly being demolished for a parking structure in the 1960s, a group of citizens saved it as a center for arts
The new school facility itself is very simple and low-tech.
organizations. Today, the chateau-esque building is home
Set in what is literally a 5th-ﬂoor garret, the classrooms
to cultural groups ranging from COMPAS/United Arts, the
are designed to accommodate morning courses in English,
Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, the Ramsey County
history, math, and foreign languages. The Conservatory
Historical Society, the Schubert Club, and, since just last
plans to develop staggered morning and a�ernoon
September, the new Conservatory school.
sessions to ultimately teach 300 students.
SCAPE fall 05
COURTESY PERKIND + WILL ARCHITECTS, ALL
resources at the elegant St. Paul Public Library across
High schools came to resemble Southdale; and kids stopped going home for lunch because home was too far away. Faced with a dark and divided space, Perkins+Will’s
and, later, public universities, the spaces and times of kids’
ﬁrst challenge was to bring daylight into the classrooms
daily lives were not as highly segmented as they are today.
and halls. The designers opened up each classroom with
Cooperation and teamwork used to be learned through
storefront windows that bring light from the perimeter
working in the family grocery store, harvesting the crops,
into hallways, and painted the perimeter walls in rich
or taking care of the grandparents a�er school. When
terraco�a tones. The eﬀect is that color and light from the
children played useful roles in the family and community,
punched windows stream into the corridors. Such interior
they did not require organized summer programs, soccer
transparency supports the Conservatory’s desire to build
leagues, community service programs, and other institu-
a strong sense of community whereby the activities of the
tions simulating community and responsibility.
school are fully visible. Post-war suburbanization only further dispersed learning, Jennifer Somers, CID LEED AP, who served as project
play, and home. In Moment of Grace: The American City in
manager and interior designer explains that such openness
the 1950s, historian Michael Johns describes the moment
breaks with the assumption that passers-by will distract
“when the American city of factories, downtown
students; that classrooms should be isolated worlds. Part
shopping, and well-deﬁned neighborhoods, vitalized by
of the underlying assumption at the new Conservatory
a culture of urbane song, dress and manners, achieved its
for Performing Artists is trust in the ability of students to
consummate expression….” This was also the era when an
focus and to govern themselves, so that an architecture of
American urban teen culture, supported by the “cultural
separation becomes unnecessary
incubator” of the large city high school, emerged with
distinct youthful tastes in music, clothes, and popular
he ability to discipline one’s a�ention, to learn how
to ﬁnd both concentration and solitude within the crowd, is one of the lessons that kids naturally
In this aﬄuent decade a�er World War II, the immense
learn in dense cities where distractions are everywhere.
building boom taking place in the suburbs responded to
Today’s zoned suburbs and mega-schools are designed
housing shortages with none of the neighborhood tradi-
with a kind of social control and order in mind that makes
tions or streetcar density that had shaped older cities. The
concentration unnecessary because they are so regulated,
model of the comprehensive city high school translated
predictable, and (as students may quickly say) boring.
to the rambler suburbs as a discreet campus surrounded by sports ﬁelds, strangely akin to the new shopping
For over the last century, new schools have proﬀered a
malls si�ing amidst parking lots. High schools came to
rich vein of work for architects; and the evolving styles,
resemble Southdale; and kids stopped going home for
scales, and layouts of school buildings continue to be
lunch because home was too far away.
both a response to and a driver of teaching styles. Before the rise of comprehensive city high schools in the late 19th century (when most Americans began to go beyond the eighth grade), work and family were closer together and the city itself was a campus for growing up. Even with the great American gi� of access to high school,
The Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists is a new charter school, located in the downtown Landmark Center, opposite, that challenges current thinking on the nature of the high school campus. The Conservatory uses the city as its primary learning environment, and makes its classrooms transparent, this page, to reinforce that connection.
oday, state policies establish funding formulas that
render the preservation of in-town schools nearly impossible. In many states (including Minnesota)
in order to qualify for state aid, if rehabilitation if an older school is projected to cost more than 60-70% of a brand new school, new construction must be pursued. Furthermore, the size of a site that must be acquired in order to receive new construction funding is invariably immense—and therefore almost inevitably away from existing neighborhoods and town centers, making new schools reachable only by car or school bus. The body that establishes school site size guidelines is the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI), and this is a classic case of the fox guarding the hen house. CEFPI is comprised mostly of school architects and planners who stand to beneﬁt greatly from new school construction on large sites. While some states such as Maine and Pennsylvania have established maximum
According to the 2003 report by the National Trust for Historic Preservation: State Policies and School Facilities: How States Can Support or Undermine Neighborhood Schools and Community Preservation, Minnesota has the strictest site size requirements in the nation, exceeding even those recommended by CEFPI. State-funded schools in Minnesota must be built to the following criteria: Elementary Schools 10-15 acres—plus one acre for each 100 students
Middle Schools 25-35 acres—plus one acre for each 100 students
High Schools with more than 2000 students 60 acres—plus one acre for each 100 students
By comparison, Duluth Central, the former Minneapolis West (at 28th Street and Hennepin), Saint Paul Central, and the former Bemidji High Schools range in site size from 3 to 4 city blocks, or from 12 to 20 acres. Some of these schools extended their campuses by using facilities in the surrounding community, such as sports ﬁelds.
site size standards for state reimbursement, many states including Arkansas, Delaware, Iowa, New Jersey, North
or ﬁnding pick-up games of so�ball where they invent
Carolina, South Carolina, and Utah comply with CEFPI’s
their own rules, they are driven to organized sports at
recommendations. Minnesota exceeds them (sidebar).
recreational parks socially-engineered for function and volume. Such zoning of play spaces echoes the well-
More “space station” than public space, the massive
calibrated learning and arts programs inside the nearby
schools that result are surrounded by acres of parking lots
school where every activity has its place and time.
and retention ponds. Inside, they simulate the downtowns
and neighborhoods le� behind with “main streets,” “houses” (a school within a school), health clubs, and food courts. In Minnesota, examples of such new “sprawl
here is a diﬀerence between the learning “enrichment” oﬀered by today’s mega-schools and the richness of social life that kids learn from growing
schools” can be seen in Bemidji, Red Wing, Stillwater,
up in cities. Like our native language, such an experience
Wayzata, Glenwood, and scores of other communities.
is not taught but absorbed from listening and responding; it is learned from conversation with others who o�en
Many quantiﬁable arguments support the case for such
know things that we do not. When children’s spaces
large isolated schools: per pupil cost eﬃciencies, shared
and time are scheduled like a zoning plan, there is li�le
support functions such as libraries and labs, and the ability
chance for spontaneity and immersion, for “mixed uses”
to oﬀer a wide array of courses and activities. Yet, having a
in moments when learning, play, and creativity happen
universe of options from cheerleading to Chinese is really
simultaneously in a single place.
no substitute for learning how to take the bus, how to feel safe in a crowd, how to address the unfamiliar. Kids are
Expanding our sense of “campus” beyond school walls
losing the ability to make up their own games, in their
does not mean that kids need to live in cities, but they
own ad hoc spaces, at their own pace. They are losing the
need to be able to go there, they need to have the transporta-
chance to create their own performances. Instead of being
tion access, safety, and a sense of purpose to draw them
able to build tree forts mimicking grown-up buildings
in. They need to feel involved and useful, just like the
What do you think? Are mega-schools really helping kids learn how to live? Would you send your child to an urban campus like the Conservatory? __SCAPE welcomes letters to the editor. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
delivery boy or the kid working in the family shop ﬁ�y years ago. Indeed, many of the Conservatory School’s founding students come from towns throughout the region, and even other states. SCAPE fall 05
Transit choices, school choices, and school design can work together to create a greater educational whole. In today’s economy where the corner store is now a
in cities with real transit connections, will be. That’s why
discount store and the family business is much rarer, the
it’s so important that we uncover the hidden historical
linkages of youth and civic life must be redeﬁned. The
connections between urban structure, regional transit
St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists oﬀers one
and learning itself. For the Twin Cities, the proposed
kind of option: a school where the city’s downtown arts
Central Corridor LRT line linking downtown St. Paul and
organizations, libraries, businesses, and parks create not
Minneapolis can become a boon for educational options
so much a campus as a community for growing up. In this
for kids throughout the region.
multi-institutional fabric, students will confront many
role models, organizational cultures, and artistic traditions. They will not ﬁnd simple answers from a single source. They will not ﬁnd a school planned by a single mind or a single set of curriculum guidelines.
ne week a�er opening, the Conservatory bustles with life. September sunlight streams through the central atrium into the Commons area. As
students (who actually look like they want to be there) ﬂow out of their classrooms for lunch break, another group
In the long-term, charter schools like the Conservatory
reconvenes for an orientation session led by teachers and
will most likely thrive in tandem with the transit-oriented
administrators. Watching through the glass front, one sees
renewal of cities and suburbs where a streetcar ride to
them listen intently. There is laughter. There is a sense of
distant places is once again a bike ride away. In the next
comfort that these kids and their elders convey in being
50 years, the American urban regions that will be the
together. Perhaps it is related to their shared adventure
healthiest for learning will oﬀer such choices of schools,
in launching an entirely new school and chapter in their
internship sites, and apprenticeships in the arts, sciences,
and other ﬁelds. They will also become the most creative and economically competitive.
A young woman, a senior specializing in dance, is asked what makes the Conservatory school diﬀerent. “This
Transit choices, school choices, and school design can
school steps you out of normal life,” she says. “Everyone
work together to create a greater educational whole.
is diﬀerent here, but we all love art.” Home-schooled since
Traditional urban density is not a necessity in reaching this
kindergarten, she speaks with astounding clarity for a self-
goal, but the options of encounter and access, once oﬀered
professed introvert. “All my life, I’ve been very sheltered,” she admits. “With art, you learn to judge the art and not
For Further Reference To learn more about the school preservation initiative and related public policy, see the website for the National Trust for Historic Preservation (www.nationaltrust.org), which has been leading research and local support in this area for the last ﬁve years. It’s helpful to search the site for “school preservation.” The Council of Educational Facility Planners International recently created a useful publication on schools and smart growth. Published in 2004, this report reﬂects a rising awareness on the part of facilities planners of the need for ﬂexibilty in funding and site options. CEFPI’s 2004 document can be downloaded from their website (www.cefpi.org/pdf/ SmartGrowthPub.pdf). For images and program descriptions of the Saint Paul Conservatory for Perfoming Artists, see the school’s website (www.spcpa.org). issue #3
the artist. When you pursue one kind of art, you become an artist in every way…it gives you an understanding of diﬀerent types of people and their struggles.” What if we all questioned our assumptions about the places and times that learning really happens? One of our ﬁrst discoveries may be that work and learning, play and performance are o�en strongest when they arise together. The most formative play experiences may not happen on “playgrounds” at all. They happen when we perform in life, in public places, and with other people. They happen as a part of a city life that, like native language, raises us up the world and our possibilities within it. The good news is that, just because you’re an artsy kid in high school, September needn’t be bleakest month of all.
Frank Edgerton Martin is a writer, campus planner, and regular contributor to Landscape Architecture Magazine.
State of the Outstate
BE M I
BI HIB NG
te hi rc
em El nd
RGO A F
so ci at es
by Adam Regn Arvidson
es ssociat SAS+A Kent G. Worley LHB
ow does this sound?
“I am looking out of
my oﬃce window at the waves coming in from Lake Superior.
as it is in the Cities – even if metro area designers might think otherwise.
I have a 2 and a half
mile bicycle commute to work every day. I am close to
Minnesota landscape architecture is a li�le metro-centric.
recreation and ﬁshing. I don’t have to waste time driving
Nearly all of the events sponsored by the Minnesota
north: I am north.” Pre�y nice? Mark Anderson isn’t
Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects
bragging. He is merely stating the main reason he has
(MASLA) take place in the Cities. The annual banquet, the
stayed in Duluth, even though, it might seem, it could be
golf outing, and nearly every educational opportunity are
hard going practicing landscape architecture anywhere
held about 150 miles from Duluth, 230 miles from Fargo,
but the sprawling conﬁnes of the Twin Cities metro
and 250 miles from Bemidji. “250 miles is not an easy
area. Anderson is a senior landscape architect at LHB, a
trip for a one-man show,” says Richard Rose, who runs
Duluth-based multidisciplinary design ﬁrm. He has been
Bemidji-based Rose and Associates. And he’s not afraid
in Duluth since 1974 and at LHB since 1986. He admits,
to travel. A�er schooling at Kansas State and Wisconsin,
along with most of the other LAs practicing outstate, that
he opened a practice in Canada, where he did extensive
he feels a li�le bit disconnected from the profession, but
work with isolated communities and parks and recreation
maintains that business is just as exciting and lucrative
in the Northwest Territories. (Talk about outstate.) He
etts ie & B
What is it like to practice away from the Twin Cities metro area? 9 landscape architects share their stories.
IELDSpencer Jo F TH R O N
Yaggy Colby CH R ES T E
SCAPE fall 05
came to Bemidji in 1981 for very speciﬁc reasons that are
on the same page,” he says, “especially when big box
not unlike Anderson’s. “It was a conscious move,” he
retailers are knocking on the door and development is
recalls, “to a small town with certain educational values.
happening on the outskirts.” His gentle cajoling of the
[Bemidji has] a unique mix of natural resources and
powers-that-be is, admi�edly, part altruistic and part
shrewdly businesslike: he wants his community to realize its potential, and he wants to make a living helping that
So, then, the air is fresh, the ﬁsh practically jump into the
happen. The cajoling, hopefully, leads to good projects.
boat, and small-town feel is a daily emotion – what about the work. What is it like without the critical mass of clients,
Sydow, similarly, laments the lack of guidelines and
practitioners, and creativity a large metropolis usually
ordinances to force developers’ hands. He says there is
incubates? What is it like, really, to run a business in
such a high level of quality in the north country’s undevel-
Duluth? Or Fargo or Bemidji or Rochester or Northﬁeld?
oped sites, but “there are fewer restrictions to ensure a
higher quality of development” when that occurs. Sydow
ccording to asla.org’s “Firm Finder,” (the
started SAS in 2001 a�er a 6 year stint in Colorado and
supposedly deﬁnitive listing of who’s whom in
earlier work in the Twin Cities. His knowledge of what
landscape architecture), Minnesota has 9 ﬁrms
is happening elsewhere is useful as he navigates Duluth’s
practicing outside the Twin Cities metro area.
political scene. The public involvement, however, is only
are two ﬁrms in Fargo, North Dakota, and another two
part of the story. “I am out to change the standards,” he
in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (cities certainly within the
says, “even though we don’t have the ordinances in place.
sphere of inﬂuence of the Land of 10,000 Lakes). Of these,
I set a higher standard for [SAS+Associates’] clients from
several were unreachable, either having relocated to larger
the get-go.” Masterpole quickly echoes the sentiment.
metropolitan areas (Omaha, in one case), or unresponsive
“There is sometimes not much appreciation of landscape
to phone calls. The rest are a vocal, invested, involved
architecture [in Rochester],” he says. “Developers might
bunch, even if the metro folks haven’t heard their names.
say they need a planting plan, but they’re not thinking
Apparently, some of the big keys to outstate success
in terms of all the elements. I always think how a devel-
include being a generalist and ge�ing one’s hands dirty
opment can be mixed-use, how it should be designed.”
with local happenings.
Masterpole also faces the diﬃculty of convincing local developers (and there are very few in town) to change
Spencer Jones, a solo practitioner in Northﬁeld, sits on
their bread and bu�er, even though people continue
that city’s Park Board. Luke Sydow, founder of Duluth-
to buy what they are selling. “I say let’s give people a
based SAS+Associates does the same in the city by the
choice,” says Masterpole.
lake, and also gives time to the Comprehensive Planning Commission.
Masterpole, head LA at
you have to spend time outside normal practice to convince people, and in a small town like this, you can very seldom find ways to get paid for that kind of effort
has his ﬁngers in just about everything (his neighborhood group, most passion-
But if, in fact, the outstate is home to fewer developers,
ately), a visibility that got him named one of the ﬁve
fewer homeowners, and smaller cities with smaller
most inﬂuential people in southeastern Minnesota last
projects, isn’t every client precious? Couldn’t too much
year (see sidebar). These designers have to know a li�le
pushing put an LA oﬃce out of business fast? Here’s
about everything, in order to educate communities on the
where the generalist takes over. In a small market, variety
merits of good design, smart planning, and the value of
is the spice of business. Kent G. Worley has been in and
landscape architecture; and, according to Rose, “you have
around Duluth since 1967, a�er a ﬁnishing a Masters
to spend time outside normal practice to convince people.
degree at the University of Michigan. He joined a ﬁrm
And in a small town like this, you can very seldom ﬁnd
that later became Architectural Resources, Inc., a multi-
ways to get paid for that kind of eﬀort.” He is working
disciplinary oﬃce that today has locations in Hibbing and
to bring smart growth and green design principles to a
Duluth. (One of the principals of that ﬁrm, incidentally,
community of about 12,000 people (the smallest outstate
is landscape architect Earl Thedens, who has recently
city with a landscape architect). “It’s tough ge�ing people
moved from Hibbing to Duluth.) Worley was with ARI
until 1995, when he started his own practice. Through his
career, Worley has worked, “on sundry kinds of things,”
A Landscape Architect’s Inﬂuence Andy Masterpole, ASLA, is one of the most inﬂuential people in Southeastern Minnesota. In the 2005 New Year’s Day issue of the Rochester Post-Bulletin, he appeared alongside four other notable “movers and shakers” proﬁled in the paper. Masterpole stood out because designers don’t usually appear on such lists. Pastors, yes. Community fund-raising champions, probably. Somali refugees who tutor at-risk youth, deﬁnitely. But a landscape architect? As director of planning for the local engineering ﬁrm McGhie & Betts, and as a neighborhood advocate and all-around multi-tasker, Masterpole is trying to introduce new thinking to the region. “I try not to use cul-de-sacs at all,” he says. “I consider them evil.” Masterpole also wants uses mixed, natural corridors preserved, and development compact and high-density. None of these ideas seem particularly groundbreaking if you live in an urban area, but Rochester’s zoning laws and design sensibility make growing smart a constant battle for Masterpole. His solution? Reject existing and outdated codes and write new ones instead. “It takes so much persistence,” he reveals, to change the status quo, “but I have been fortunate enough to convince [developers and the city government] that they should try something new.”
looks one part Richard Gere and one part Good Ol’ Boy), Masterpole cuts a memorable ﬁgure.
His demeanor, however, is more the
patient educator (with a dash of cheerleader for good measure). This combination of whimsy and knowledge works with both clients and city council members—many of whom he considers friends. It has also made him a darling of the Post-Bulletin. Since October 1998, Masterpole has graced that sheet numerous times: as a member of the Aesthetic Design Review Committee for Trunk Highway 52; for his own rain garden demonstration project; and in “Your Style,” a regular feature on the local fashionable. Asked if he thinks he is inﬂuential, Masterpole considers for just a moment, as if he’d been wondering about that since the article came out. “I think I am,” he concedes, “because I cover a lot of different I have to represent my neighborhood, the development
community, and the environment. I enjoy walking that ﬁne line.” He is also willing to concede that location has a lot to do with his inﬂuence. He knows his vision is ﬁnding easier foothold in other places. But why not seize the moment in Southeastern Minnesota, too? And appearing in print in the illustrious company of good Samaritans and community do-gooders certainly gets the word out. Editor’s Note: this article was commissioned by Landscape Architecture Magazine, but never published.
housing to large residential projects to designs for civil engineers and architects. To Worley, that diversity, along with his projects’ typically close geographic proximity, has been the greatest beneﬁt. “I can remember many diﬀerent projects,” he says, “and going to see the process of the work. We were able to do that o�en, to make lots of trips.” Seeing things built is a satisfying cornerstone of Worley’s career, and something he could not imaging doing in the Cities.
the cardinal rule for life with fewer available clients: either stay lean or diversify your talents
n addition to being generalized and communityinvolved (things that perhaps even metro area practitioners might claim), outstate oﬃces have another
primary facet in common. Almost across the board, LAs practicing away from the metro are either sole practitioners or operate within a larger multidisciplinary ﬁrm. Worley has done both. Sydow, Spencer Jones, Rose, and
Often adorned with colorful ties and vintage jewelry (and a haircut that
ranging from Duluth’s famed I-35 corridor to public
Mike Allmendinger, founder of Land Elements in Fargo, all work alone or with a very limited staﬀ. Anderson’s LHB, Thedens’ Architectural Resources, Masterpole’s McGhie and Be�s, and Rochester-based Yaggy Colby are all much larger oﬃces where architects, LAs, and sometimes engineers work side-by-side. The landscape architecture or LA/planning oﬃce with 5 to 8 designers simply doesn’t exist out there. This illustrates the cardinal rule (adaptation, if you will) for life with fewer available clients: either stay lean or diversify your talents. Spencer Jones obtained degrees from the University of Minnesota and Harvard, a�er which he worked for an architecture ﬁrm in Northﬁeld and then, in 1994, went out on his own when the demise of that ﬁrm became imminent. He has done extensive work with Carleton and St. Olaf Colleges (both in Northﬁeld), as well as continuing to work for local architects.
He says that
once he was a solo practitioner, he recognized the need to keep the practice small, in order to keep overhead low. “That way,” he describes, “I would be able to take the falls and rises easily.” While he admits this has meant declining some larger projects that have come his way, he feels it has worked well overall. Anderson describes LHB’s diversiﬁcation as a means of broadening the ﬁrm’s SCAPE fall 05
reach, thereby capturing a larger array of potential clients.
away from the seven counties. Some voice frustration
Uniquely, LHB also operates an oﬃce in the Twin Cities,
about Twin Cities practitioners running up to their neck
while maintaining its corporate headquarters in Duluth.
of the woods and not seeking out a local collaborator.
“The market up here couldn’t always support us,” he
Some suggest LAs should not be practicing outside their
says. In 1989 LHB was working on a large business park
own region, with or without local help. Some actually
in the metro area and opened an oﬃce to support that
make regular trips to the Cities to see what’s new, in order
work, immediately hiring a landscape architect to assist
to learn and bring ideas back.
Anderson (and save him regular drives to the Cities). Today, either oﬃce may head a project no ma�er where
Whatever the opinions of these practitioners, they still
the site is located. The distribution of work now occurs
ba�le the provincial stereotype, stated most accurately by
primarily based on specialties – not unlike any large
Richard Rose, who relates that “some folks say you’re not
architecture ﬁrm – and the oﬃces assist each other with
an expert until you’re from 40 miles outside of town.” So
the aid of internet ﬁle sharing and video conferencing.
maybe a region-swap is in order. (Insert pause for gasps
from Twin Citians and cheers from outstaters). igh-tech methods, like what LHB uses to keep the ﬁrm connected, also go a long way to
The fact is, outstate landscape architects are pushing the
helping other outstate LAs stay up to date. In
envelope in places where the envelope is sealed a li�le
addition, these practitioners tend to carefully plan their
more tightly than in the metro, and they deserve recog-
trips to the metro or elsewhere, in order to get the most
nition for at least that. Add on the diﬃculty of doing
immediate impact. Mike Allmendinger founded Land
business in a small market (as Northﬁeld’s Spencer Jones
Elements in 2003, a�er the demise of Fargo-based Maple
says, “in a small community you can be hung for what
River Workshop. Allmendinger does a lot of residential
you do, but also people will know you for what you do”),
master planning, primarily in a conservation bent. He
and these designers are truly hoeing diﬃcult ground. But
doesn’t see himself as out of touch, in fact he recognizes
they are not operating in a vacuum. Though it is even
he is a big part of “bringing new ideas to Fargo, and changing the scenery a bit.” He also knows it is harder to stay current, and
in a small community you can be hung for what you do, but also people will know you for what you do
he overcomes this by making sure he gets to National ASLA Conventions, keeps design
tougher for them to stay connected, up to speed, and in the
publications coming into the oﬃce, and spends time with
know, they all are well versed on current trends, research,
other Fargo-based design professionals.
and projects. And they know these communities. They
in Rochester, has a similar tactic. He subscribes to an
live out there.
So it could be argued that collaboration
internet service that sends national articles to his in-box,
might beneﬁt both metro and outstate practitioners.
he a�ends seminars locally and in the Cities, and gets together every couple of months with other Rochester
Andy Masterpole says to metro area LAs: “I think you
LAs. Sydow feels “it is important to have that relation-
guys are doing a great job. In a way I am sort of envious.”
ship with your co-workers” (and by co-workers he means
But he lives a stone’s throw from the rolling forest- and
co-landscape architects), but he admits the distance does
corn-clad valleys of the bluﬄands, and still gets the diﬃ-
make things diﬃcult. He gets to two MASLA functions
cult, exhilarating challenge of pushing clients for innova-
per year, rather than the 6 or 7 he might like to.
tive, high quality design on a diversity of projects on
urban and rural sites. That sounds pre�y nice. So, then,
o how can the Urban Core reach out to the Land
right back at you, Andy. Maybe the metro LAs should be
of Sky Blue Waters, the Red River Valley, and Bluﬀ
sort of envious, too.
Country? “I’d like to team up with a lot more ﬁrms
from the cities,” suggests Sydow. “When projects come up here, I’d like to team up.” Outstate LAs are closely a�uned to what happens when metro area ﬁrms head outward, and their opinions vary. Some are purely eager to learn
with and from their metro area colleagues. Most feel they have something to teach Twin Cities LAs who venture issue #3
Adam Regn Arvidson is Director of Communications for MASLA, editor of _SCAPE, and a regular contributor to Landscape Architecture. He is a landscape architect with Dahlgren Shardlow and Uban, Inc.
Have you worked outstate? Is Minnesota design metro-centric? Have you partnered with an outstater? __SCAPE welcomes letters to the editor. Send them to email@example.com.
illow is supple, earthy, and full of magic. A piece of willow contains energy that awaits transformation in your hands. Bend it fast
and it sha�ers into ruin. Bend it slowly, and it relaxes beneath your power, becoming a line of potential grace and amazing strength. Working with willow can ﬁll you with harmony -- you absorb its magic and stir to its primal
earthiness. Willow grows everywhere in the United States, usually on wet forgo�en sites o�en considered worthless. Chances are that a prime thicket grows within ten miles of your house. Ask nicely, and it might be yours for free. Best yet, a�er being harvested, a willow thicket will renew itself in 8-10 years. Sandbar willow (Salix interior) is the species I have used in construction. It is found in 48 states and grows to heights of 15-18’, with trunk diameters up to 3” at the base. Like bamboo, it grows fast, straight up, and spreads by root suckers into dense colonies. It has few side branches, making it easy to trim into long, straight, tapering poles. Look for sandbar willow in ﬂood plains near rivers or in marsh areas. In the winter, you can spot it from a distance as a gray-colored thicket with a reddish haze created by
Stick by Stick The joy of weaving willow by Marjorie Pitz, FASLA
its ﬁner twigs. Desperation led me to try willow. I needed free saplings and volunteers to help build The Sacred Circle, an AIDS Memorial in Loring Park with a budget of only $2,500. Word of mouth led me to a source of Sandbar Willow—a plant that, at the time, I had never even heard of.
ﬁrst, I cut some willow for experimentation. found
(kids could carry an armful), easy to cut (kids could saw it), tough, and eﬀortless to drill into (no pre-drilling). Its bark is or peel), and it is nonabrasive in your hands. I was hooked. Working with willow is a tactile, natural undertaking. The results can be playful and evocative, as with TreeMan!, above, and The Sacred Circle, below.
SCAPE fall 05
STEPHEN GOLTRY, TOP; MARJORIE PITZ, BOTTOM
durable (doesn’t ﬂake
The Sacred Circle was a place for healing and remembering. The oﬃcial artists’ statement encouraged each passer-by to “Walk into the embrace of ‘trees,’ center yourself, and watch the changing sky.”
Each “tree trunk” was
made with willow saplings cut down before their prime, just as are people who have died from AIDS. Alone, a sapling is not strong, but gathered together, they gain power.
was symbolic of a community sharing a common focus and providing comfort and security. The AIDS Memorial utilized willow as a cladding over telephone poles. The poles were ugly, but free. I screwed willow sticks to the poles in parallel
Willow sculptures have made recent appearances at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum: TreeMan!, above, in 2004; and The Ravenous Bird. right, in 2005.
strands to mask the beat-up surface beneath. The bu� ends were staggered and joints disguised. The eﬀect was remarkably like the mature bark on nearby trees. The sculpture was up for an entire year in Loring Park with no signs of aging or vandalism. I suspect the willow could have lasted ﬁve years or more before beginning to break down, since it wasn’t touching soil.
Ravenous Bird in summer 2005. These pieces were more
deep satisfaction from building with my bare hands and
daring, using willow as a structural material, and working
“found” materials—it satisﬁes a primal urge. This feeling
with its ability to curve.
it not mine alone. I have heard volunteer willow-weavers
ince then, I have installed two other tempo-
rary willow works at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum: Tree Man! in summer 2004, and The
exclaim (with pleasure), “We could just throw some skins What I love about working with willow is how it frees you
over the top, and we’d have a real house!” and, “This must
from straight lines and corners. Willow branches become
be how the Indians made their lodges!”
lines in space, curving at your will to beckon and ﬂow.
windows. It feels as if you are high in the upper branches
of a tree, looking out with ease, but hidden yourself.
you learn. Start small. Learn from experiments. Make a
Walls can bend and merge into a rounded ceiling without any edges. Woven branches create a magical interior, casting a thousand shadows and oﬀering a thousand
ant to create with willow? Here are some tips to get you started. Be ready to play, allowing your ﬁngers, heart, and brain to explore this
new medium without a forced outcome. Playing helps model. Have fun. Take the Arboretum’s class on creating
MARJORIE PITZ, ALL
The other appeal is tactile. Willow branches ﬁt easily in the
a willow tower.
hand and feel good -- Natural. Structures made of willow belong to nature, and people appreciate the honesty and freshness of the material. issue #3
With willow, I derive
I have found that making a model at 1” = 1’-0” is immensely helpful – li�le sticks act like big sticks. Siberian elm, buckthorn, and apple sports work well for models, as these plants throw out long supple shoots in one season. Soak the cut ends of your twig supply in water, and pre-bend them to relax their ﬁbers before use. Use 28 gauge wire and pliers to twist junctions together. You will need a structure upon which to anchor your ﬁrst twigs. Glue strips of balsa to the model base around the perimeter of your sculpture, and wire twigs to them. If your ﬁnal sculpture will have an internal framework of lumber (as I did for codecompliant stairs and platforms on TreeMan! and The Ravenous Bird), build a scale model of this feature and use it to anchor the
Bushwack, bend, braid: these are the steps to create a willow sculpture. First, cut the willow, above, with a bushwacker. Then, use your body to bend the sticks, opposite below right. Finally, weave the fronds and watch the shape coalesce, such as for The Ravenous Bird, right and far right.
ﬁrst strands. Models are essential during construction. The time you invest is well worth the eﬀort, in order to help your construction crew understand what they are doing. They will enjoy analyzing the model to ﬁgure out how shapes are created and how the lines ﬂow. Despite a succession of inexperienced volunteers helping me on my projects, the ﬁnal sculptures have very accurately replicated the models.
ow to harvest willow?
to your soggy site is crucial (dragging an armload of willow through long marsh
grass is hard work). Late March or early April is a great time for cu�ing—no bugs, no leaves, the ground can still be frozen or dry, and temperatures can be lovely. My ﬁrst willow harvest used handsaws, but a�er ten volunteers spent hours at work, the homeowner came out with a chain saw and in minutes doubled our supply. Through such trial and error, I have found the
SCAPE fall 05
best cu�ing tool to be a gasoline-powered bushwhacker
Amazingly, the willow sticks will not dry out if you
that harnesses onto your body. A bushwhacker cuts at
harvest them early. I let them sit all April and May, and
ground level while the operator stands up, using a circular
the willows retained their ﬂexibility. They do not require
saw at the end of a pole. It looks dangerous, but the bigger
soaking. The wispy tips dry out ﬁrst, which isn’t a big
danger is skewering yourself on the wicked stumps that
deal. If need be, you could refresh willow bundles in a
surround you a�er cu�ing begins.
pond, soaking them one day for every foot of length (a 15’ piece would take 15 days of soaking).
grass with six to ten willows in your arms each trip to the
trailer, counting groups of ten willows and wiring them
listen to its crack warnings, and observe its unique struc-
compactly into bundles (for easy handling), and loading
ture, such as weak joints and natural twisting. Step on the
up the bundles. A 16’ trailer works well for hauling away
willow bu�, reach down and pull the other end slowly up
to the sky, arcing the stick as your feet brace it against the
It took six to nine people six hours to prepare and bundle the 500 or so willow trunks needed for each of my two Arboretum projects.
Typical harvesting tasks include
MARJORIE PITZ, ALL
clipping oﬀ side branches, trekking through long marsh
tart by pre-bending the willow—and bending your body. Learn to work willow by bending it. The willow does the teaching, and it doesn’t take many
sticks to become skilled. Feel it with your feet and hands,
earth. Remember, this is work—you will feel the willow ﬁght you. As the parallel ﬁbers inside each stick gradually relax and separate, the willow becomes more and more supple. Walk your feet along the stick’s length as you pull against your foot-fulcrum to unlock the interior strands. Speed is not rewarded. Willow benders strike ballet-like poses as they release the willow ﬁbers, bending their own bodies to adjust their strength to the willow’s inner forces. Nothing is harder than your ﬁrst few sticks. Beware of trying this alone—you’ll get whipped both physically and emotionally. It seems you need ten hands to subdue and anchor the ﬁrst few springy devils. But what do you anchor them to? Take advantage of any lumber structures you might have (I had stairs and platforms), and screw your ﬁrst pieces into them.
Another technique is to
outline the base of your piece on the ground with lumber (curved if needed). Pound 2x4 stakes into the ground for anchoring the linear outline, and place a 1x4 on each side of the stake to create a trough. The 3-1/2” space inside the trough gives you room to insert the bu� of a branch, and loosely hold it in place. Bend the branch and contemplate its location, while le�ing the bu� end twist and slide in the trough until you pin the other end. Last, anchor the willow bu� into the wood trough with long screws.
Did you see these installations? What did you think? Ever worked with willow? Share your stories. __SCAPE welcomes letters to the editor. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. issue #3
topic: art The powerful thing about a willow sculpture is its details -- so organic, so complex, so fascinating, so intricate. The careful weaving of cut sticks leads to compositions rich with interest, such as TreeMan!, top and bottom; and The Ravenous Bird, middle two.
ﬁrm structure. Get your proportions and forms right. Step back for a distant view, as your helpers adjust sticks to shape the sculpture. As soon as you begin weaving strands back and forth through your structure, the whole capricious mess begins to tighten up. It takes at least two people per willow to wrestle a pole into position and pin it. One holds and anchors the bu� end, and one feeds the tip in and out around other sticks. During this process, the stick must rotate, slide, back up a few times, and match its peculiar curvature to the form at hand. A good team can be overheard saying, “That’s perfect! Right there! That branch ﬁts like it was made for this spot!” Then you begin feeling the magic of turning something wispy into something tough.
Each stick you place
increases tension as the willows thrust outwards and interlock against each other. When you feel this rigidity growing, it is amazing—such strength from such thin material! To do the pinning, you can use a combination of screws, wire, and plastic lockties. Nail guns are fast, but risky, as the branches can pop oﬀ a�er the willow shrinks a bit, exposing the sharp and dangerous nails.
Ravenous Bird was wiggly for
a day, since we had to splice
of carpentry, one week of willow by volunteers, and one
willows end-to-end to make
week of ﬁnishing touches and miscellaneous work.
he willow for Tree Man! took only 3-1/2 days, and
Your ﬁrst few sticks might seem frightfully wobbly. The
the total project (including construction of the interior stairs and ramps) required 2-1/2 weeks.
The Ravenous Bird took three weeks altogether: one week
them long enough to arch over the back. By the second
Finding volunteers is a scary thing. I dared ask a contractor
day, however, the wobbles
I had worked with (J.E.Dunn Construction) if they would
were gone and the crew was
build Tree Man! with me. The model was already half built
si�ing conﬁdently on the
so the company president could visualize the concept. I
was hugely relieved and astonished when he enthused,
Don’t worry about those
they saw it as a community service and a team-bonding
wavering willows. It’s more
opportunity for their staﬀ.
important to “outline” the
supplied carpenters for the framing, but oﬃce personnel
ﬁnal form with your initial
did all the willow weaving -- not their skilled construction
sticks than it is to make a
workers. About 24 volunteers helped with each project,
The contracting company
SCAPE fall 05
ADAM REGN ARVIDSON, ALL
“Let’s build it!” This was going to be FUN for them – and
with most people contributing from four to six hours. Try to ﬁnd a reliable person who can help you daily, so the turnover of volunteers seems less frightening. To volunteers, the project feels like a party (they won’t worry about the ﬁnal product like you will). They get a lot of satisfaction from learning new skills and witnessing fast progress. Willow weaving is satisfying and earthy, and passes its magic straight into your crew. Energy levels will be high despite the hard work, and people will become excited and inspired. In fact, working with willow actually brings out the best in people. During the construction of Tree Man! An oﬃce boss came for a half day, and shocked us all. Usually dressed in a black suit and white starched shirt, he appeared in jeans. Normally stiﬀ and critical and driven by the clock, he loosened up a lot as he learned a new skill. While he worked on making a rounder, less-lumpy head, I heard him talking about how the willow “ﬂows”, and how each new piece must “stay with the ﬂow.” Then he talked of understanding the willow and feeling its potential in his hands (this was an engineer talking). Suddenly he called out, “I am ONE with the willow!” The crew roared with delight at seeing their boss unleashed and happy, but truly everyone shared the intimate depth of his discovery.
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They had all became one with the willow.
Marjorie Pitz is Principal in the ﬁrm Martin & Pitz Associates, Inc., which deals primarily with public gathering spaces such as Lower Phalen Creek, the Children’s Memorial at Resurrection Cemetery, the Minnetonka Community Center, Upper Iowa University, and the Sensory Garden and Shade Tree Exhibits at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Marjorie’s foray into the art world has already yielded several projects: Tree Man!, a willow tree house at the Arboretum; Merwyn, a concrete fantasy creature emerging out of the Seward neighborhood; The Ravenous Bird, a 40 foot long sculpture (complete with slide) at the Arboretum, and Turning Leaf at the Minneapolis North Regional Library.
This irrigation plan isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on if the products I specify don’t measure up. Install confidence. Not frustration. Install Rain Bird.
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������������� Reach for the sky. Art and nature combine at The Sacred Circle, made of willow sticks. Read more about sculpting with living branches in topic: Art. photo by Marjorie Pitz, FASLA