Speakers Focus on Ground + Water

Speakers Focus on Ground + Water

In recognition of National Landscape Architecture Month and the 190th anniversary of Frederick Law Olmsted’s birth, RISD’s Landscape Architecture department is hosting a lecture series this month focused on the interaction ofGround + Water. Speakers from four diverse landscape architecture firms – ranging from a sole practitioner who builds every design with his own hands to an international firm with a staff of more than 180 – will discuss their groundbreaking work on four consecutive Tuesdays, beginning tomorrow, April 3.

“Olmsted’s work understands the critical relationship between ground and water,” notes Assistant ProfessorScheri Fultineer, the interim department head who organized the lectures. “This series is our way of acknowledging the shoulders we stand on.” Considered by many to be the father of landscape architecture, Olmsted designed Boston’s Emerald Necklace, the chain of parks and waterways that she describes as “one of Boston’s central amenities and a civil engineering masterpiece.”

“Landscape architecture is a very broad discipline that can include everything from intensely personal artistic expressions to highly engineered technological interventions, with projects ranging from a single stone wall to a riverfront that goes on for miles,” says Fultineer. With that in mind, she organized the series to represent that range and encompass the breadth of inquiry that takes place in the department. Four of the seven speakers are adjunct faculty members at RISD and three of the firms with representatives coming to campus are winners of2011 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) awards.

The first speaker in the series, Jon Piasecki of Golden Bough Landscape Architecture in Housatonic, MA, emphasizes “stone work, native planting and drawing connections between people and the land” in his practice. In a talk entitledGround is to Water as Stone is to River, he will discuss his Stone River project in eastern New York state, for which he earned an ASLA Honor Award last year. As an architect who researches archaic and bronze age earth magic and stone joinery, “Piasecki is the one outlier in the series,” notes Fultineer.

On April 10 adjunct faculty members Eric Kramerand Joseph James MLA 03 ofReed Hilderbrand in Boston will talk aboutWater Tectonics ­­– how “managing and moving water affects their projects,” says Fultineer. “They are known for their extremely elegant and carefully constructed land forms and the delicate interplay of earth formation and water collection.” Reed Hilderbrand, which handles projects for museums, schools and other cultural institutions, earned a2011 ASLA Honor Award for its design of a sustainable urban grove at Central Wharf Plaza in Boston, and a second award in ASLA’s residential category.

On April 17 Gina Ford and Laura Marett of Sasaki Associates in Boston and Shanghai will present a talk calledWater Work, focusing on Sasaki’s winning proposal in the 2012 Water Works Parkitecture Competition in Des Moines, IA. The plan integrates “the ecological and social functions of [a 1,500-acre park] and river into a unified landscape – a place of adventure and water experience that serves as an entrée to a restored, easily accessible wilderness.” They will also discuss their Chicago Riverwalk and Cedar Rapids 10th Street Streetscape designs.

On April 24 Mark Klopfer and adjunct faculty member Kaki Martin of Klopfer Martin Design Group in Cambridge, MAwill wrap up the series withDamaged Land/ Troubled Water, a discussion of their brownfield remediation and landscape project atThe Steel Yard in Providence, the nonprofit arts organization started and sustained by several RISD alumni and located at a former industrial site. The project, which also earned a2011 ASLA Honor Award, “pioneered a new approach to remediating polluted soils and creating a sustainable urban wild,” says Fultineer.

The Ground + Water lecture series is made possible by the Carolyn B. Haffenreffer fund, established in 1973 to support lectures in the departments of Landscape Architecture, Architecture and Interior Architecture. Under the program, well-known academics, conservationists, land-use planners, and landscape architects have spoken on the effective management and use of the environment. A long-time friend and supporter of RISD, Haffenreffer received an honorary degree from RISD in 1980 and served on the Board of Trustees for 15 years. She worked with a variety of civic groups whose aim was to restore and preserve the beauty of the landscape and cityscape around us.

Each Ground + Water presentation takes place at 6:30 pm inRoom 106 of theBayard Ewing Building, 231 South Main, Providence, RI. The talks are free and open to the public. A companion exhibition featuring work by the speakers and Landscape Architecture students is on view in the BEB Gallery from April 3–21.

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