28 January 2009

Live Blog: Tom Woltz on Desiging the Frame

“Designing the Frame: landscape architecture as a tool in the ecological conservation, education & sustainable architecture.”
Thomas Woltz, ASLA
Nelson Byrd Woltz

Holly Nelson described him as "Practicing what he preaches"
Interesting to visit a program situated amidst other professions like ecologists and plant scientists. Here are some projects that he spoke about:
  • The Dell - Stormwater management project at UVA
An aesthetic solution as well as a functional solution.

He refocused on bringing out natural beauty on a series of farm projects. One was called Tupelo Farm. It was recently described in the New York Times:

At Tupelo Farm, an estate near Charlottesville, Mr. Woltz drew on the region’s geology, agricultural traditions and plants — both native and imported — in designing the garden, a project that he has been working on since 2000. Locally quarried fieldstone walls retain the heat of the springtime sun and establish curving terraces for a peach orchard, a gesture at Albemarle County’s history as one of the state’s largest producer of peaches in the 19th century. Nearby, on a smooth flagstone terrace, a group of half-buried boulders has the same geological composition and similarly mounded shapes as the Blue Ridge Mountains that loom over the farmland.

While each farm is different, one of them was intended as a life-long design project, evolving slowly over time. The ethics of water quality management, native grasses, and green design have been so successful that 6 neighbors have also hired the firm to expand their efforts to 2,000 acres.

He also showed us a Charlottesville Urban Farm which helped turn open land in the city into a more productive and more community-oriented landscape.

Finally we looked at Nick's Head Station in New Zealand. It was a controversial site, with many locals initially opposing its purchase by an outsider. Not only is it the place that Cooke first saw, but it is also the place that the Maori first saw (and they found the fossilized remains of a Moa here). However, their designs for conservation of this significant site have helped. Their They have planted 250,000 trees so far, but aren't done yet. But the tree planting is only part of the design process. They've begun actively attracting rare birds with both habitat and recorded calls. But they worked to design the naturalized forms on the site in a way that reveals the human hand. Even areas of crops are formed in more structured ways than you might expect elsewhere. He closed with a few thoughts about the cultural connectivity that is becoming with the site too.

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