Archive

Shannon Jaworski

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Downtown Los Angeles is a place all its own – littered with businessmen, artists, the homeless, bars, rubbish, cafes and hidden cultural gems. By the corner of Fifth and Spring sits the aptly named “Last Bookstore”. Entering the Last Bookstore, I am overwhelmed by history and inspiration. There is the cliche musky, aged book scent, combined with the smell of old cabin wood. A faint sour odor can be detected as you walk the perimeter of the venue, it is the scent of dried urine outdoors seeping in through the windows. People are quiet, with respect for the atmosphere, but comfortable enough to speak to one another and bustle with curiosity about the store.

As I move through the bookshelves and to the upstairs, I am compelled by art exhibits – innovative forms and shapes spewing into my field of vision. There is so much to see – I walk through the entire store, mouth gaping, eyes wide, heart full. Plants grow from stacks of records, archways are formed out of books. I feel a tinge of sadness, knowing that there is all this beauty and information in the world that I will never have enough time to consume. I fall in love with the old typewriters, the dusty books, the rainbow of book bindings, the art installations.

We head back downstairs to take our seats for the open mic poetry readings. I feel at peace and full of wonder, as I always do in places of such tremendous inspiration. I sit, I look around, and I write. I write about all these books, all these authors, whose work became “whole,” and how I never feel done, and how I wonder if the world is running out of ideas, or if they are infinite. Is there such thing as infinite possibility? Is anything truly unique anymore? Has this thought been thought before? In this setting? In this sequence?

The poetry begins. Every voice brings goosebumps to my skin, a smile to my face, and a tear to my eye. People are expressing, and regardless of what it is they are expressing, there is beauty solely in the expression. I relate to each of them, I relate to them having feelings, and I feel envious that they are emoting and I am not. I want to express, I have so much to communicate, but I am timid. So I listen, and absorb, and feel. I see my friends watching, listening alongside me, and I feel content. I am where I belong.

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Though Frederick Law Olmsted is perhaps best known for his work on Central Park in Manhattan, he has left his mark on numerous cities across the continent via his landscape designs. Olmsted was born in 1822, in Hartford Connecticut, to a merchant with a passion for nature. Frederick’s mother died before he reached age four, the woman his father remarried had an equally fervent love for the natural world.

Frederick attended prestigious schools such as Phillips Academy and Yale College, but chose to drop his plans for college due to sumac poisoning, which hindered his eyesight. Nonetheless, he went on to enjoy numerous careers and titles, including farmer, sailor, journalist, Leader of Sanitary Commission, conservationist, and ultimately – landscape designer.

Olmsted was introduced by Andrew Jackson Downing, a revered landscape architect, to an English architect by the name of Calvert Vaux. Vaux and Olmsted entered a Central Park design competition together, and they won, despite Olmsted having never before executed a landscape design. The Central Park project, beginning in 1858, was the start of a fruitful partnership between the two designers. Some of Olmsted’s other projects include: public parkways in New York, the Niagara Reservation in Niagara Falls, Mount Royal Park in Montreal, the master plans for UC Berkeley and Stanford University in California, and copious park systems across the United States. His firm was involved in the design of almost 5,000 projects in nearly every state in the country.

Olmstead worked on the Emerald Necklace in Massachusetts from 1878-1896. The Emerald Necklace is a 5-mile park system stretching from the Charles River to Dorchester, and is comprised of six parks: Back Bay Fens, The Riverway, Olmsted Park, Jamaica Pond, Arnold Arboretum, and Franklin Park. This chain was designed with the intention of connecting people and nature. As intended, it has become a place of recreational activities, from sailing to hiking, and the system even includes a zoo.

In 1895 Olmsted suffered a mental breakdown and was living in an asylum in Massachusetts until he died in 1903. Sadly, his groundbreaking work was not fully appreciated until after his death; Olmsted’s passion for nature lives on through his awe-inspiring work across America.

Image sources:

http://www.emeraldnecklace.org/park-overview/

http://www.blogomite.com/2010/04/olmsteds-emerald-necklace.html

Skip Conversions

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Oliver Bishop Young, since 2008.

Young’s London skip conversions convert existing urban environments into urban playgrounds.

Photo Source: http://monkeysonthebrain.blogspot.com/2008/10/skip-conversions.html

Source: (re)designing Nature, Publisher Hatje Cantz

 

Landscape With Animals

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Regula Dettwiler, 2008

This therapeutic garden’s caricature-like sudden hills and wandering animals create a playful environment at this care home in Austria.

Photo Source: http://www.publicart.at/home.php?pnr=597&il=12&l=eng&weiter=1

Source: (re)designing Nature, Publisher Hatje Cantz

 

Platform of Hope

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Khondaker Hasibul Kabir, since 2007

This platform is located amidst the grimy slums of Dhaka, in Bangladesh, and plays on the concept of perspective and the meaning behind different points of view.

Photo Source: http://we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/2011/03/book-review-redesigning-nature.php#.UXLn1b_d1Lw

Source: (re)designing Nature, Publisher Hatje Cantz

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Blog 4:

The drive into Balboa Park is a winding one – tree-lined with perfect grass fields beyond. Everything is calculated, from the snake-like road to the even spacing between the trees. The sprawling landscape goes as far as you can see in some directions, with views across the city to the ocean. Once parked, we mistakenly came across a raised landform topped with an immaculately constructed park. From afar, one can only see the archways and delicately carved railing surrounding the space. The fencing circles the entire park area, with evenly placed Roman-looking doorways forming a geometric shape. Within the path, there are smaller paths surrounded by pristine grass, they lead toward the center of the park. The area looks like a spiderweb, made up of zones and shapes. Walking to the middle, I was awestruck by the precision with which the sections of the park were placed together. They were like a perfectly grafted puzzle, gripping to the other pieces at the edges.

Approaching the center of the common, I could see only a circle of tall, thin, and piney trees. They formed a flawless sphere around a mystery centerpiece. Upon growing closer to the center, I was able to make out a fountain amidst the trees. People sat on and around the fountain, eating in silence, quietly relaxing, or even meditating.  Walking into the enclosed circle is like entering a new space, yet still full of the same shapes, lines, and flawlessness. The water created the light sounds of rainfall, while the sun shone in great beams all around me.  The aura was not one for noise or speed, this segment of Balboa park was conducive only to soft whispers and slow meandering. I passed beyond the center fountain across to the other side. I walked under a trellis, matching the one parallel to it, on the other side of the enclosed space. Walking away, I turned and looked back, noting the linear and arithmetical vision laid out in front of me. Who knew such fierce lines and geometric shapes could create such a place of calm and quiet?

Blog 3 (revised):

It was about time I took a trip out of Los Angeles, needing to experience a bit of “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”  With excitement and wonder we drove down the coast, stopping to gaze at and photograph the ocean, playing the role of “tourist” perfectly. We visited some beautiful sites on the first day in La Jolla – especially The Salk Institute and The Museum of Contemporary Art. Though only a couple hours from home, it felt like were a world away. The seaside, laid-back vibe of La Jolla is so far-removed from the fast pace of Los Angeles, it was a welcomed break.

The second day we ventured into San Diego itself, stopping downtown in Little Italy for art supplies. Military jets roared through the skies as the ocean quivered and glimmered under the sunbeams, we were filled with unending excitement. We were headed to the Japanese Garden at Balboa Park, but Apple Maps took us to the opposite side of the park, amidst construction and a military base. We parked and began to walk to where the blue dot on the phone indicated the garden was. Little did we know, we were far off-course. We arrived at the “garden” only to find an unfinished construction site. We kept walking and came across some military men who kindly pointed us back to where we came from, feeling sorry for our lack of direction. We took a different route back toward the car, continuing to believe the garden would be around the next bend or over the next hill… it was not. But in our adventure we came across the park’s many other stunning sites. There was a view of the city and the park, all at once. There was a seamless geometric garden with brilliant and ornate archways, paths, fencing, and paving. Balboa Park has innumerable hidden gems, even the construction areas are a beautiful work in progress.

We eventually made it to the REAL Japanese Garden. It was an exquisite sight to behold, and it was incredible to see the development of such an intricate landscape. By getting lost we were able to discover some of San Diego’s and Balboa Park’s marvels. Like I always say, everything happens for a reason. Apple Maps – thank you for the detour.

Blog 3 (original):

I had not been to the San Diego area since my road trip down the coast of California five years ago. It was about time I took a trip out of Los Angeles, needing to experience a bit of “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”  With excitement and wonder we drove, stopping to look at the ocean, playing the role of “tourist” perfectly. We visited some beautiful sites on the first day in La Jolla – especially The Salk Institute and The Museum of Contemporary Art. The second day we ventured into San Diego itself, stopping downtown in Little Italy for art supplies. Military jets roared through the skies as the ocean quivered and glimmered under the sunbeams. Filled with unending excitement, we were headed to the Japanese Garden at Balboa Park. Unfortunately, Apple Maps took us to the opposite side of the park, amidst construction and a military base. We parked and began to walk to where the dot on the phone indicated the garden was. Little did we know, we were far off-course. We arrived at the “garden” only to find an unfinished construction site. We kept walking and came across some military men who kindly pointed us back to where we came from, feeling sorry for our lack of direction. We took a different route back toward the car, continuing to believe the garden would be around the next bend or over the next hill… it was not. But in our adventure we came across the park’s many other stunning sites. There was a view of the city and the park, all at once. There was a seamless geometric garden with brilliant and ornate archways, paths, fencing, and paving. Balboa Park has innumerable hidden gems, even the construction areas are a beautiful work in progress. We eventually made it to the REAL Japanese Garden, just in time for the end of lecture. The Japanese Garden was exquisite, and it was incredible to see the development of such an intricate landscape. Sadly, we missed some valuable information during the presentation, which was the sacrifice we were forced to make for discovering some of San Diego’s and Balboa Park’s marvels. Like I always say, everything happens for a reason. Apple Maps – thank you for the detour.