29 July 2008

A walk on the Mall

This past weekend I had the privilege of leading a group of Rutgers students and alums on another landscape architectural tour of the National Mall in Washington DC. Rutgers DC office hosts RU students who are summer interns in DC. And they also help out with the local alumni club. All I have to do is show up and talk about landscape architecture while walking around. This year's crew was especially great since it included an alum of RU LA, but they were all engaged and inquisitive in a way that made it a great time for me.
Every walk is different. This time I tried to emphasize the importance of the names you see like Hains, or Ellicott, or Haupt. So when we talked about the A. J. Downing Urn, it was a lesson in the history of LA, not just DC.One of the things I enjoy doing is showing locals things that are hidden in the middle of the District, like this large Einstein sculpture by Robert Berks. But my favorite is the Jefferson Pier.We saw the work of the Olin Partnership at the NGA Sculpture Garden and the Washington Monument (with help from RU LA alum Kate John-Alder). And talked a little about what makes it successful landscape architecture. A few of our alums also learned the hard way that dogs aren't allowed in either of the sculpture gardens or the Haupt.An interesting side note was the noticeably poor condition of the Mall. The water was dark green. The lawn was patchy. But the elms were hanging in there. But at least it was open and used.

As with past DC tours, I try to guarantee at least one celebrity per walk. I think that a war hero, former Senate Majority Leader, former presidential nominee, former vice presidential nominee, former presidential nominee and current husband of a US Senator counts.
A big Places and Spaces thanks to Bob Dole for keeping our streak alive. And thanks to the students and alums too, who are helping make this a tradition.

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