Lagoon in Santa Barbara – Photo: Linda Daley

What defines beauty in the landscape?

The question is meant to be rhetorical, as I recognize responses will differ person to person. But for designers the question is an especially relevant one, as the exploration for beauty helps shape our work.

I remember a particular moment when I sensed a connection with a particular landscape. I was in my early twenties and working in midtown Manhattan. As a typical New Yorker, I regularly weaved through the streets of the city in a rush, maneuvering through the throngs of visitors who, to my youthful annoyance, all walked too slowly. Didn’t they know I had a pressing “to-do” list to accomplish during my precious one hour break?

Then one day, Paley Park stopped me in my tracks.

Creative Commons Images by saitowitz

Creative Commons Images by saitowitz

Long before I learned about the profession of landscape architecture Paley Park made we aware of the nexus between landscape and architecture, an interstitial space designed by Zion & Breen Associates back in 1967. Paley Park is quite small, an outdoor space located on private property, but open to the public during the day. Much has already been written about the park’s success as an urban oasis, and I spent a lot of time there enjoying it as such.

To this day I think about Paley Park during discussions about the design of public spaces, and I find myself searching for similar in-between spaces in cities I visit or live in. I am particularly drawn to these places where I can observe individuals enjoying quiet moments buffered from noises and the bustle of a crowded setting.

Vincent's Court, Los Angeles - Creative Commons/Wikimedia

Vincent’s Court, Los Angeles – Creative Commons/Wikimedia

I am sure that every landscape designer has their own Paley Park story. We turn to them not to duplicate their design, but to explore their success as places that connect us to our environment, whether that environment is a natural lagoon, a former industrial site (such as the location for Seattle’s Olympic Park), an abandoned railway transformed (e.g., Promenade Plantée in Paris), or even an urban alley.

We will share with you this week some of the places that inspire the AHBE Lab team as landscape architects…



Post a comment
  1. August 3, 2015

    Reblogged this on Typefiend™ and commented:
    These interstitial – the spaces existing inbetween here and there – can be buffered zones of peace and tranquility, whether dividing busy urban zones or natural ecosystems (e.g. marshes, the pause between coastal and riparian zones).


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Making of 10 Parks That Changed America | AHBE LAB
  2. My Lasting Connection to the Land | AHBE LAB

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