Chihuly Garden and Glass

Some may argue that Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures have become too mass-produced, with many similar-looking pieces displayed around the world. However, each of his garden installations has a unique quality, due to the ways in which the glass pieces are integrated with the landscape. One of the best examples is the outdoor component of the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum in Seattle, since this garden was designed for both sculpture and plantings, effectively combining and balancing the two.










Photos by Alice Webb

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Water Features in the Landscape

Aside from inducing a sense of calm, moving water tends to have a psychologically cooling effect, and it softens or masks surrounding noise. In the built landscape, it can be incorporated in many ways. Examples below illustrate some of that variety: a few of these features are meant to be interactive while others are not; several of them emphasize the water, which is more subtle or secondary in other cases; and some were designed to mimic nature whereas others are geometric in pattern or form. In all cases, the inclusion of water clearly adds to the appeal of these outdoor spaces.

Water feature 1
Playful jets in Place des Festivals, Montreal, Quebec

Water feature 2
Waterfall in the Split Basin, CityGarden, St. Louis, Missouri

Water feature 3
Rock wall resembling natural strata with water seeping out, Teardrop Park, New York City

Water feature 4
Fountain in the Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon

Water feature 5
Interactive fountain in Portland, Oregon, that alternates between jets and mist

Water feature 6
Sculpture with trickling water in the Rose Test Garden, Portland, Oregon

Water feature 7
Water feature in Portland, Oregon

Water feature 8
Waterfall and channel, Chinatown Park, Boston

Water feature 9
Mosaic fountain, Lincoln Road pedestrian mall, Miami Beach, Florida

Water feature 10
Planter with falling water in a courtyard, Miami Beach, Florida
 
All photos by Alice Webb, except the following:
Photo with bear sculptures/fountain in Portland, Oregon, by Nancy Novell

Site Furniture with Flair, Part 2

As a continuation of my original post on this subject, here are some unique outdoor seats that I’ve come across (both on location and online). It’s always a pleasure to see furnishings in the landscape that are custom-designed and out of the ordinary.

seat 1
Curvilinear series of stone/metal seats and bollards at the Federal Reserve Plaza in Boston – These also appear to serve as a security measure, keeping vehicles away from the building.

seat 2
Temporary installation in Boston (2013) – part of a series of art benches along the Fort Point Channel

seat 3
Wooden seat wall with attractive pattern in downtown Boston

seat 4
Tile seating in Rio de Los Angeles State Park, California. Photo credit: Laurie Avocado

seat 5
Double-sided bench designed by architect Zaha Hadid, located in the Dallas Museum of Art’s sculpture garden. Photo credit: Alfred Essa

seat 6
“Tourist Trap” – temporary seat in Belfast, Maine, 2014

seat 7
“The Greeter” – temporary seating in Belfast, Maine, 2014

seat 8
“Stumped” – temporary seating in Belfast, Maine, 2014
 
All photos not credited otherwise were taken by Alice Webb.
Photos by others were obtained from Wikimedia Commons.

Chinatown Park, Boston

The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway is a 15-acre linear urban space in downtown Boston, sited on land where Interstate 93 was previously located (now in a tunnel below). The greenway has been criticized for not being designed cohesively; however, the space should instead be considered as a series of disparate urban parks, each with its own merits.

One of the better-conceived spaces along this route is Chinatown Park, located at the southern end of the greenway. It was designed by Carol R. Johnson Associates, a Boston-based landscape architecture firm. The park is approximately three-quarter acre in size, and includes a curvilinear path with red sculptural features, a waterfall fountain and stream, plants native to Asia, and a plaza for festivals and other activities. China’s culture, history, and natural scenery are all represented by the park’s elements.

Chinatown Park 1
This bold, modern gate at the north entrance of the park is a counterpoint to the ornate, traditional Chinese gate to the south (shown in later photo). Red is a very popular color in China, representing good fortune and joy.

Chinatown Park 2
North park entrance – The sculpture in background is entitled “Zheng He’s Mizzen Sail”. The park’s pavement pattern symbolizes the scales of a dragon.

Chinatown Park 3
The waterfall fountain is composed of reclaimed seawall stones, acquired from a part of the Boston Harbor where many Chinese immigrants arrived.

Chinatown Park 4
Recirculating stream, flowing from the waterfall fountain

Chinatown Park 5
The park includes Peonies and many other plants of Asian origin.

Chinatown Park 6
“Bamboo curtains” at southern end of serpentine walkway

Chinatown Park 7
Plaza at southern end of park

Chinatown Park 8
The traditional Chinese gate can be seen at the south end of the plaza.
 
Photos by Alice Webb

Public Art in Outdoor Spaces, Part II

I’ve encountered a variety of interesting art pieces in landscape settings ranging from urban to natural. Some are in parks and nature preserves, others are along city streets and alleys, and a few are in small town centers. Some integrate visually and thematically with their surroundings, and others stand alone. Below are a few favorites.

1 - Art on the High Line 1
Cut-outs in a small panel (viewed through a scope) on New York City’s High Line transform this view of buildings into abstract shapes.

2 - Art on the High Line 2
More art on the High Line: A modernistic wire structure with houses and seed/fruit trays for birds and insects seems to represent the intersection of city and nature, as does much of the High Line. A similar structure faces the opposite direction on the other side of the walkway.

3 - Garden in the Woods
These transparent facial profiles at Garden in the Woods in Framingham, Massachusetts, appear to symbolize the connection between people and nature.

4 - MSU art museum
Juxtaposition of “natural” and built forms – Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University in East Lansing

5 - Felice Varini - New Haven
Painted optical illusion in New Haven, Connecticut, by Felice Varini – this shape is only visible when one stands at a specific point. As one progresses further down the alley, it no longer appears as four circles within a square.

6 - Cambridge granite sculpture
Sculpture composed of various types of stone in Cambridge, Massachusetts

7 - Sculpture in Eastport ME
Granite sculpture in Eastport, Maine – a town whose principal industry is commercial fishing

8 - CityGarden bas-relief
Bas-relief piece in CityGarden – a sculpture park in St. Louis, Missouri

9 - Sculpture in Montreal
A deep discussion taking place in Montreal, Quebec

10 - Belfast ME bench
Colorful bench in Belfast, Maine

11 - SLCH healing garden
Whimsical piece in the Olson Family Garden at St. Louis Children’s Hospital

See also Public Art in Outdoor Spaces (Part 1)

Photos by Alice Webb

Citygarden, Saint Louis

Citygarden is a relatively new (2009) sculpture park in downtown Saint Louis, Missouri, which I visited in late October of 2012. It encompasses two city blocks, and features over 20 works of art. The design of this park was inspired by the natural characteristics of the region’s river environments. Along the northern edge of the property, urban terraces represent river bluffs; the central, lower segment loosely depicts a flood plain; and a serpentine seat wall symbolizes a river as it winds along the southern section of the park. In addition, Citygarden has several sustainable features, including six rain gardens and a green roof on the park’s café.


All features at Citygarden are meant to be experienced – there are no “Do not touch” signs to be found at the park. In warmer months, a thin sheet of water runs down the Tilted Disc in front of this sculpture.


A series of steel arcs is one of the first sculptures in view when entering the park from the east. The Limestone Arc Wall, which gently curves across the length of the park, can be seen in the background.


The long, rectangular Split Basin is situated in the northeast quadrant of the park. There are two levels to this basin, with a waterfall in between, where the Limestone Arc Wall intersects it. A modernist café is situated to the right in this photo.


Arc sculptures as seen from above the Split Basin’s waterfall


The lower portion of the Split Basin includes stepping stones.


Park visitors check out the Video Wall.


The granite Meander Wall separates lawn from lush plantings


The Meander Wall continues along the southern section of the park, for 1,100 feet.


“The Door of Return” stands along the park’s central walkway. In summer, the Spray Plaza, behind this sculpture, includes numerous vertical water jets that spray in various patterns, with dancing lights at night.


“Scarecrow” stands guard along a wooded walkway.


“Zenit” adorns the summit of a hill at the park’s northwest corner.


View from the park’s high point, facing southeast


Playful rabbit sculpture at the park’s west end

Photos by Alice Webb

Site Furniture with Flair

Outdoor benches need not be ordinary – I’m often searching for one-of-a-kind seats, which seem to be a rarity among a profusion of manufactured site furnishings. Below are a few examples of unique seating opportunities that I’ve encountered on my treks through parks, gardens, and along urban streets.


“Talk tube” benches flank the entrance to Marla Dorrel Park, Cary, NC. These were created by an artist.


One of many “peel-up” benches on the High Line in New York City


A protruding slab of stone in this wall serves nicely as a bench. It’s located at Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA.


Here is a series of curved benches at West Podium Park in Boston. Note that the width of each bench narrows from one end to the other.


Artist-created fish bench in Eastport Park, Boston


Clever melding of bench with building at South Boston Maritime Park

The following photos are of semi-permanent benches and chairs in downtown Belfast, Maine. Each was designed and built by an artist or craftsperson as part of the town’s “Please be Seated” project. They are bolted to the pavement and kept in place for part of one year (June through October). These are some of the 2012 installations.


“Isn’t it Grand” bench


“Birch Perch” bench


“Buoy-oh-Buoy” bench


“Elemental Earth” bench


“Adirondack Red Magnum” chair (made from slats of a wine barrel)


“Catch a Wave” bench


“The Nest” seat

Photos by Alice Webb