Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends A Landscape of Remembrance and Reflection - Page 13

sweet auburn | 2020 volume i 1 2 3 Even for the most experienced designers and clients, landscapes can be difficult to visualize. Scale and context are ever-shifting as one moves through horizontal and vertical space and the feel of a place is fleeting as the days turn into seasons. At Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), we rely on our experience and our instincts but also hedge our bets by making site mock-ups of crucial components during the design phase, before final construction documents are made. At Hazel Path, the boulders were particularly difficult to visualize. Selection of size, quantity, and distribution was done by staking the stone footprints in the woodland and photographing them from multiple angles (1). From there an accurate stone list was made, serving as a guide for “tagging” boulders at the source (2). Once the stones were selected, an MVVA intern accurately measured the tagged stones, carved a facsimile of each from foam, and placed them on a topographic model at the office, affording lastminute adjustments (3). These steps enabled everyone to proceed with confidence and made the installation more efficient. The design began with circulation. Hazel Path itself was the organizing thread, creating the main vantage point for experiencing the entire landscape— from within. Curating its bends, width, steepness, adjacencies, and views was the first step in the design. Swinging the path out, as was shown in the historic maps, created unfolding experiences that shifted between landscape and the built environment. The Fuller obelisks and Washington Tower come in and out of view, lending their magnificence as part of the experience without making the path feel like it was simply aimed at a building. The path width swells here and there, making room for stacked boulders that do double duty as slope retention and seating. Shredded and compacted mulch was selected for the walking surface because it is quiet underfoot, and it was proven to be stable and durable on Myrtle Path. 11