08 September 2008

Sense of place places

In our studio we are exploring some different landscape architectural experiences hoping to develop a better response and sensitivity to inherent sense of place.

As a first example I offer up a road in Central Kentucky's horse country that used to be called Paris Pike. It wound through and around and past elegant horse farms, beautiful rolling hills, and historic stone walls. But it was twisty and windy and, often enough, deadly. So, for almost as long as I could remember, there was talking of widening the road, but with great opposition since standard KY DOT safety improvements would have destroyed the character of one of America's great scenic drives. After decades of talk, a design team was finally assembled to create a more context sensitive solution. They found a variety of creative solutions - like splitting the road ribbons apart and around old trees and fences and building some new fences and walls that enhance the experience - that stand as a testament to how designers should contribute on a project like this. Led by Jones and Jones of Seattle, the final solution is subtle and elegant, and the drive along the Paris-Lexington Road is still one of the great scenic drives in the US.

What are your examples?


Anonymous said...

Union Square Park is my very favorite built landscape. Located in the heart of Manhattan at the junction of Broadway and Bowery, the plaza is easily reached by the 4,5,6, L, N, Q, R, and W subway lines. Visit on Fridays during the growing season for a farmers mart selling Jersey Fresh produce, or anytime during the week to find local artists selling their wares. The steps provide a nice seat for catching an evening street performance, watch skateboarders and BMX bikers, or just observe the hustle of the city. Overlooking the park is one of the most unique clocks to be found, counting backwards to midnight, and showing the phase of the moon.


My favorite natural landscape is Hacklebarney State Park, in Morris County, NJ. The glacial stone deposits make for interesting compositions and great hiking. A small waterfall feeds a bass-stocked stream perfect for wading. The high trail and low trail provide very different experiences. A very worthwhile place to visit.


Ed Krafcik said...

When people travel to Jackson Hole, Wyoming by plane they land in the small and historic Jackson Hole airport. This is my favorite example of a place that was not designed to have a special sense of place, but instead developed it because of the landscape it is situated in. The demand for tourism in Jackson Hole led to the need for an airport. Because of the mountainous terrain, the single runway airport had to be cited in Teton National Park, and is the only airport in the country that is in a National Park. Stepping off the plane onto the tarmac is an experience unlike any other airport, as people are greeted on one side by the towering Teton Mountains and on the other side graceful rolling hills for as far as the eye can see. (…plan your trip now)



Pershing Park in Washington, DC is my favorite example of a landscape designed to create a sense of place. As one enters Pershing Park they are invited to walk down many steps to the water and enjoy the white noise created by the waterfall and forget about the cars, people and government all around them. Although the water may not always be an inviting color, the environment provided by the sunken plaza and the abundance of seating space creates an inviting place for groups to mingle or individuals to reflect on life. Don’t worry, the curving design of the benches surrounding the perimeter of the plaza keep away undesirables because sleeping on a curved bench turns out to be quite the challenge.



Drew Siglin said...

Perhaps one of the most magnificent places in the world is Niagara Falls. This may be a huge tourist attraction today, but the falls have been there since the end of the last ice age. This is an example of a place that was not designed but certainly has its own sense of place. The first settlers of the new world who saw this must have been amazed.



A built landscape that creates its own sense of place is the Epcot Theme Park at the Walt Disney World Resort. When visiting the site, you no longer feel like you are in Florida. Epcot feels like it is its own country. It combines several international cultures and advanced technology into its design. The Imagineers at Disney used Universal Design when creating this successfully built landscape.



ben heller said...

The place that stands out to me as a built landscape which creates a sense of place is Pebble Beach Golf Course in California. To me, when on the golf course, you know that you are on the west coast, and more importantly, you know that you are looking into the Pacific Ocean. One of the courses’ most distinguished features is, in fact, its miraculous view into the ocean. This course is unlike all others because it hugs the coastline.




My favorite natural landscape is Zion National Park. When I traveled to Zion I had never been mountain climbing before, however, after traveling to the park, I know now how thrilling this can be. Zion gives its own sense of place, however, not only because of the large canyon, but also contributing to the sense is the magnificent color of the rocks. The bright red color gives visitors a sense that they are at a place that is truly special.




charlie oropallo said...

Skaneateles, New York

My favroite example of a place that was designed to respond to or create a sense of place is the town of Skaneateles, New York. Every summer my family and I visit relatives that live through out New York State, and we always drive through and stop at this town. This historic town is located at the North end of the Skaneateles Finger Lake and is framed by the Catskill mountains on all sides. The downtown district and residential areas alike date back to 1796, with traditionally restored homes and businesses. Whether one goes for a walk downtown and shops or eats at unique stores and restaurants, or relaxes in the park and enjoys the views or goes for a ride on the ferry there are many things to do in this unique and beautiful town.



Pine Barrnes, New Jersey

The Pine Barrens of New Jersey have a very unique yet diverse ecosystem and plant life in the midst of the Philadelphia-New York megalopolis. It has some of the cleanest and most picturesque bodies of water in the state and surrounding area. This is my favorite place that is not designed yet exhibits its very own sense of place, unlike any other anywhere. I have hiked, kayaked, and canoed through much of the Pine Barrens and it is always intriguing and I always find something new and interesting.



Michael Horvath said...

Van Vorst Park in downtown Jersey City is a built landscape that definitely has a strong sense of place. What gives the park such a sense of place is a combination of the site’s history, context, community and use. The site dates back to Dutch colonization of about 1630 where it was the town square. Today the community uses the space for a variety of things such as reading the book they took out from the library that is across the street or buying fresh produce during the summer. Revitalized brownstone homes face in towards the park adds to the sense of place.



New York harbor has a sense of place that anyone can feel even when visiting it for the first time. The reason why the harbor has such sense of place is because of its great history of immigrants passing through this area and because man has been able to exploit this area for centuries. The unique buildings, bridges, statues and smells also make this place unlike any other.



Christine Rung said...

The natural landscape that I feel most connected to is Taroko Park in Hualien, Taiwan. I've been to various national parks of several countries, but to me, it's beauty is unrivaled. The gorge itself is a sight to behold. Originally a pile of limestone deposits, pressure from various shifting tectonic plates eventually transformed the limestone into marble. In turn it was then carved by the river into what it is today. Usually when we think of marble, we are inclined to conjur up images of fancy front steps or Michelangelo's sculptures, so upon seeing the marble gorge for the first time, I felt that I could identify it as nature's own work of art.


On the opposite end, a built landscape that I feel, embodies a sense of place is central park in New York. Visited frequently by both foreigners and locals alike, I've always make time to walk through at least a small portion of it, regardless if I'm with friends or family. However, while I can go on and on about how special this place is to me, I must say that without Manhattan as its border, I wonder what this park would be like.


Laura Vaughn said...

A place that has not been designed and has a deffinate sense of place is the the Hudson Palisades. They are a landmark to the river towns of Westchester County, NY. They are a beautiful backdrop to our communities and even more spectacular up close. The sheer size of the cliffs is awesome from the river below and the experience of finding a shady cove on the Hudson River is one to be had.



A sucessful built landscape that evokes a sense of place is Washington DC. Since Pierre L'Enfant designed the streets of Washington DC there have been multiple actions taken to improve and maintain this sense of place. The wide avenues in a radial plan immitate the grand streets of Paris. Laws inforce that that no building is taller than the Capitol. The sense of place in our nations capital is unmistakable. It was designed to create a sense of place that is formal and demonstrates the influence of the government in this city.

Plan of Paris

Plan of Washington DC

* radial notation of streets
White House

*notice some topography

David Buschhorn said...

Portland, Oregon is my favorite built landscape in that it answers many questions we have with the environment and the interaction between the environment and people. The way they built the city to make an interaction with economic growth and environmental concerns is far above the standard for building a city. One of the amazing things you feel in that city is the community in that it is a large city with a small town feel and the way the street scapes are laid out, you get that warming impression of safety and security.


My favorite natural landscape is the Grand Canyon, but not because of its vast canyons and the magnificent magnitude of the experience as a whole, but because of the sequence of events that take place when you arrive to the Grand Canyon from the south. Upon arriving to the Grand Canyon, you would not even know you are there as you come through a large evergreen and barren landscape and you would have no clue that you are at one of the seven wonders of the world. Even as you get to the visitor center, you still cannot see the canyon. Then, as you walk up a trail through the woods, a window opens up to the amazing site and it makes you wonder what the explorers thought as they wondered through these vast woods and desert and stumbled upon an enormous cliff that exposed such a grand sight.


Anonymous said...

Ty Triplett says....

North American Temperate Rainforest
The temperate rainforest is a unique environment that has it’s own sense of place. Unlike other types of forests, it can only be found in the northwest. Cool and moist with seasonal change, it is a rainforest without the oppressive heat and humidity. Kinda neat….
Landschaftspark by Peter Latz is a built environment two- fold. The original steel plant was built in response to the heavy industry influx to the Duisburg-Nord. After its closure Peter Latz reimagined the industrial landscape as a “playground” and experiment in controlled decay. It’s kinda beautiful, kinda ugly, and a really cool experience.

Anonymous said...

Ty Triplett also says...

Hyperlink didn't work, check them out with these links.

Temperate Rainforest




Anonymous said...

My favrotie natural landscape is Monmouth Battlefield State Park in Freehold/Manalapan, NJ. It is the battle of monmouth field turned into a park. Once you exit the visitor center you are on the top overlooking onto the battle field and at the bottom there is a small bridge that leads you into a very old orchard field and an old farmhouse that was built in the 1700s. There are also many hiking trails inside the park and small play areas as well.



My favorite built landscape is Darling Harbour in Sydeny, Australia. When I think of Sydeney it is the one place I think of. You can see the opera house from there and there are little shops and restaurants and water taxis. When I was in Sydeny I was at Darling Harbour every day. It was a nice gathering place with alot of culture.




Anonymous said...

the last comment was by me, Dianna.

Anonymous said...

April Maly Said:

This place is very special to me because it was located directly behind my house. There is a twenty or so foot deep area the separates the town of Verona from Cedar Grove and it travels all throughout my town. When I was little I used to walk down the banks and upstream which would lead to both the town library and my best friends house. Even though it was in the middle of town, when you were down there you feel like you were away from the world, like you were on your own secret passage way to two of my favorite places.

Yankee Stadium

This sense of place is the exact opposite of the brook behind my house. The minute you enter the stadium you are immediately bombarded with energy from the fans and the game. Because of the shape of the stadium you are completely consumed by the life inside and are overwhelmed with excitement. This is a distinct sense of place which is unlike most.


bobara said...

A space not intentionally designed but with a distinct character of space is that of Thayer Street on Providence. All of the buildings have a historical and quaint small town feel, while the shops and people that populate the space are wide and varied. It contains a sense of exotic, hip, and fun within such a small place.

A newly discovered public space for me, designed well, is Beihai Park, in central Beijing. Through the northern entrace, you are required to enter through a rounded gate and a small path enclosed by a grove of bamboo on each side. After that, you are led through several "rooms" focused on small water features. It finally leads to the great opening with the lake and temple. The beauty of that passage is that you forget about the enormity of the city you are in and then you are opened back up to the large scale, but with a focus on land forms as opposed to buildings. Granted the platforms that do project onto the lakes create a dynamic space made for local performances.

Anonymous said...

My understanding of "Place" is different than solely the description of a location; "Place" is something that happens to a location after it has been experienced. For every ecperience, a location has a different feeling or emotion, this is why the "Sense of Place" is indefinable. Characteristics of a location, though ever changing- can be recognized, but "Sense of Place" is unique to the individual. This photo exemplifies my idea of a non-designed, virgin esq. landscape, showing minimal signs of human disturbance- a clue that someone has experienced a sense of place.


The landscape of Las Vegas is constantly being redesigned, and refurbished in response to a "Sense of Place" that was built in at commencement. The sense being- a place where all inhibitions can be thrown to the wind, and unique experiences can be had. To maintain and build upon this feeling, and to keep the people coming, it must adapt, constantly responding. In a way Las Vegas both responds to, and creates "Place".


Anonymous said...

^ Shane Umbach ^

Anonymous said...

Kat Kohler

Place that wasn’t designed and has its own sense of place
West End Coffee Shop
One of my favorite places are your typical off the beat coffee shops. West End on Easton Ave or Sanctuary on Easton Ave. Are example I chose because they have this miss matched cozy atmosphere that is constantly changing. While there was some basic design format originally planned the seating and decore are often randomly aquired and changing between groups moving chairs around and local artists displaying and selling there work which adorns the walls. In this way the local coffee shop is very similar to the local art mentioned in the article if one were to see companies like starbucks as a major city gallery. Companies like Starbucks look to the local coffee shops for inspiration on there design while some local shops look to the well established design of Starbucks and like companies.

Place that was designed
Teardrop Park
One of my favorite designed spaces is Tear Drop Park in New York City. Where as the previous example was more of a cultural sense of place this is a physical/ regional sense of space. The whole thing is completely artificial made to feel quite natural and exemplify a part of the catskills near New York City. This was to make the residence of the area get a feeling for the natural area beyond the city. This is a little bit of a cheat when it comes to creating a well designed space by taking an already great example found in nature but also an amazing feat by capturing this simple idea and squishing it into a very small multilayered, faceted, and used space.