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fah377 lec 3.pdf

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University of Toronto St. George
Pam Wolff

lec 3 review Olmstead’s work to frame experience of sublime American landscapes (along with Vaux); to bring experience of powerful landscapes into NA cities via design of urban parks (ex. Central Park, Mount Royal) tabled the relationship between seemingly polar settings, that the audiences for such landscapes are related, the advocates for preservation and idealization are urban, constituencies for these places also urban; image of the city involving those spaces beyond translation of imagery in 19th century into urban city via institution of rural cemetery, increasingly important as a pleasure ground, key figure in move to development urban parks motivations for transformations of urban cities in later 19th century, unhealthy conditions, spectre of social unrest; beautiful picturesque scenery psychologically and morally uplifting; notion that the shared experience of the landscape provides common ground for immigrants, public space becomes tool for democracy (recall radical transformation, the radical illusion upon the land of quite low value, of Central Park) another kind of design process (ex. applied to Mount Royal), equally profound yet subtle: process of editing and refinement, to draw out existing characteristics (noted by Downing as the task of landscape architecture); reviewing power of the mountain through construction of very gentle path and a planting plan that articulated and intensified different vertical zones of the mountain: amplification of experience of leaving the city different kinds of representation: the need to exhume different documents about a landscape in order to put together 3 dimensional understanding of place; location, topographic character, image of the place (experience) the need to look at different images: the question of time, because landscapes are always changing - seasonal, daily, linear change several kinds of changes: climate, size as we analyze documents about landscape, we must always be constructing picture of 3 dimensional space and really of a 4th temporal dimension; with a landscape there is the moment of design and construction, but limitless moments of its inhabitance • Boston: infrastructure as a green ribbon a context that views the city as infrastructure rather than public space Olmstead’s work in Boston engages radical rethinking of landscape, infrastructure, environmental processes, civic space; where the improvements are for utility, scenery while solving transportation and drainage issues Franklin Park not an independent place (compared to Central Park, Mount Royal) end of a series of places that wind around the city and performs essential functions Arnold Arboritum, Jamaica Pond, the Riverway, the Fenway (attaching to Commonwealth Avenue, which preceded Olmstead’s work, leads to the Common...) each serves a different need, possesses different character: the scenery is not urban and yet it weaves through the centre of the city, serving central functions infrastructure: series of systems that underlies the systems that we use (consciously) Boston founded on rocky peninsula in sheltered harbour; granitic hills form edge of basin, shallow plain forming shallow till filling in of area sectioned off by dam out of original peninsula basin of the Charles River is an estuary opening to the sea by mid 19th century the back bay is being filled in, railway, mills; there is about to be a huge residential development there note the immensity of restructuring happening around the peninsula: 1835-50, population growing from under 60 000 to 170 000; to create new land around peninsula and around the neck 1820: environmental catastrophe of shallow sinking mud flat now unable to be cleaned by the tides; pollution problems, debris from city would sit, no way to get out: solution is to fill completely and turn into residential area another noted problem: Boston growing by annexing adjacent towns, process led to quite uniform development of what was heterogenous communities; process of homogenization one of the factors led to citizens appeal for need for parks and preservation (response to apparent erasure of diversity) the Boston Common, grazing land until 1830; 1859, public garden built and later improved as competitive response to Central Park - instigated greater interest in public space; Olmstead consulted regarding whether small parks/centralized park system optimal he responds that Boston doesn’t have space for a park, which requires a certain scale and size dedicated for scenery outline of series of parks connected by proper roads (now Parkway); 1876 Commission publishes comprehensive report calling for parks and ways on existing streets Olmstead proposes system of public spaces connecting various, dispersed regions (Fenway, Riverway, Jamaica way, Arbor way) 1878-95: construction, over 2000 acres of open land Back Bay Fens mud flats damned off from estuary in 1820 for power generation, later for railway; a drainage outlet for 2 water bodies, the Muddy River and Stony Brook, thereby becoming fouler and fouler; the tidal streams that came up during high tide would sometimes back up over the dams; meanwhile land being developed as fancy residential area 1880: Olmstead transforms original design for use as conventional storm sewer basin for floodwaters into landscape solution (sanitary improvement); second goal to restore salt marsh that was damaged by pollution reconfiguration of mud flats, although not as inhabitable as Central Park, retains scenic characteristics water gates (look up locations) regulated quality of water coming and out of bay; in event of storm, the run-off... muddy river always flowed through conduit into Charles River but during particularly heavy tides water would flow over Fens temporary holding place for storm water (2 gates) with substantial storage capacity, overflow capacity; substantial area reserved for recreational purposes a technically challenging project: plants had to withstand salt spring and salt immersion; not like the native salt marsh but a completely constructed landscape, a direct development of existing features of the salt marsh (novelty of the image in the city); Olmstead refused to call it a park but a ‘fens’: soupy marshy piece of land; the Fenway Muddy River Improvement like the Fens, looks natural enough so that people came to think that it predated settlement near the Fens, up and around to meet Jamaica pond Olmstead had suggested this project to parks commission with encouragement from Brookline had been tidal creek between Brookline and Boston but by 1880 the water was brackish, full of cat-tails, sewage/dump, tended to flood because there wasn’t a clear channel for storm water to flow away; like the Fens, first goal was a sanitary improvement; Olmstead also argued for economic gain: mitigation of sanitary hazards would improve land values, increase tax base 1880: continues promenade from Boston commons to Jamaica pond, winding stream constructed, Jamaica pond excavated in order to clear waste and debris 10 years of struggle for land appropriation and financing 1890: changing city limit line, linear drive for pleasure traffic fantasy scenography in the city: invention of marvelous landscape of the kind to provide psychic benefit and escape from hectic city; not only a dream of nature but also a construction that is carrying storm water: that utility is the reason for its existence; not only to move water but traffic was not intended to be a park but a drainage route, transformation of a tidal stream that had become a garbage dump; then becomes circulation route for boaters, pedestrians, and furthermore a civic amenity immediately upstream from Muddy River and continuing parkway from Fens: Jamaica Park the pond the only large freshwater pond in Boston, until 1888 was a water source; in terms of design/infrastructure it was not so much t
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