The Gardens of August: Wyndygoul

Lantern slide of Seton’s manor house at Wyndygoul, Cos Cob, Connecticut, circa 1900 image: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ggbain-01507
Lantern slide of Seton’s manor house at Wyndygoul, Cos Cob, Connecticut, circa 1900
image: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ggbain-01507

Part of a Research, Reachout & Restore series on historic and cultural landscapes

A century after the start of the First World War and 53 years since The Guns of August was published, the garden where Barbara Tuchman wrote her Pulitzer Prize-winning work reveals itself.

Barbara Tuchman’s daughter once mentioned the garden to me in passing, recalling a Japanese maple—or was it a weeping cherry, with layered limbs cascading over stone walls onto the smooth surface of the pond? It was her grandfather’s, Maurice Wertheim’s, garden. This frugal recollection, like a grudging haiku, conjured an elegant landscape. I couldn’t shake it.

Since our conversation many years ago, I pieced together the few threads and clues that I remembered. Earlier this spring, I finally found the elusive garden and learned about its storied past. It remains extant, albeit threadbare. Originally it was the property of Ernest Thompson Seton, a wealthy naturalist and Englishman who bought up six old farmsteads in the village of Cos Cob, Connecticut, creating his country estate in 1900 and naming it Wyndygoul, Scottish for windy glen.

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3 Thoughts on Outdoor Kitchen Design

Keeping it simple. This outdoor kitchen tucked into a corner of a rooftop outdoor living area in Fargo, ND features only the appliances needed to serve the outdoor dining and living rooms. Image: Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet
Keeping it simple. This outdoor kitchen tucked into a corner of a rooftop outdoor living area in Fargo, ND features only the appliances needed to serve the outdoor dining and living rooms.
image: Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet

With Eric Groft, FASLA, principal at Oehme, van Sweden, and Russ Cletta, principal at Russ Cletta Design Studio

They can be big or small, simple or complex; they can tax to the very limit your understanding of design principles, and they can even be something completely foreign. Get it right and you’ve created a beautiful stage for a homeowner’s best memories. Get it wrong and, well, you know.

Each year ASLA surveys its residential landscape architects for the latest design trends, and each year outdoor kitchens come out as one of the most important design elements. With this in mind, we interviewed Eric Groft of Oehme, van Sweden in Washington, DC and Russ Cletta of Russ Cletta Design Studio in Venice, CA to get their top three thoughts on what it takes to design an outdoor kitchen that will delight homeowners for many years.

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The Best Spaces to Move Through

Sunrise over Paynes Prairie in Alachua County, Florida near Gainesville image: Wesley Hetrick via Flickr
Sunrise over Paynes Prairie in Alachua County, Florida near Gainesville
image: Wesley Hetrick via Flickr

In 2013, we asked Professional Practice Network (PPN) members about the best spaces to move through. While the concept of the architectural promenade—and its emphasis on moving through built spaces to get a full sense of them—is associated with the rise of modernism in the early twentieth century, the experience of landscapes has always been intrinsically tied to motion, pathways, and changing perspectives. An always changing view—as one walks, as the day progresses and the angle of the sun shifts, as the seasons change, and as crowds ebb and flow—is far more captivating than a static experience that does little to reward visitors passing through.

We received many unique ideas and suggestions on the best spaces to move through; the following were mentioned more than once:

A prairie

Battery Park, New York City

Central Park, New York City

Grand Central Terminal, New York City

The High Line, New York City

Times Square, New York City

The National Mall, Washington, DC

FDR Memorial, Washington, DC

Golden Gate Park and Bridge, San Francisco

Millennium Park, Chicago

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

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Housing and Community Design, Reimagined

Bud Clark Commons, Portland, OR - ASLA 2013 Professional Residential Design Honor Award Winner - Mayer/Reed image: C. Bruce Forster
Bud Clark Commons, Portland, OR – ASLA 2013 Professional Residential Design Honor Award Winner – Mayer/Reed
image: C. Bruce Forster

Building on the momentum of a great general session on equitable communities at the 2014 ASLA Annual Meeting and a burgeoning interest in environmental justice, it is time to take a critical look at ASLA’s Housing and Community Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) in order to reimagine and reinvigorate it for 2015 and beyond.

With more than 300 members, the PPN should be an active, dynamic group that contributes to the PPN programs in place that allow members to connect with one another and share information—including The Field blog, Online Learning presentations, and a LinkedIn group. In the past few years, however, the activity level for the Housing and Community Design PPN has fallen and the group has lacked the guidance of an engaged PPN chair, co-chairs, or larger leadership team to create greater interest and energy for the network.

We need to hear from you about what you want to see from the PPN and how you would like to get involved. Does the group need a new name and/or a refined mission to provide a better sense of focus? How can this PPN better reflect the work you do and provide the resources you need?

Please complete this quick survey to provide us with much-needed feedback.

We look forward to hearing from you! If you have any questions concerning the Housing and Community Design PPN, let us know.

Reevaluating the Hutong

image: Shawn Balon
image: Shawn Balon

The Beijing Journal’s headline “Bulldozers Meet Historic Chinese Neighborhood,” published on July 20, 2010 in the New York Times, was both a snapshot of a turning point in history, and also representative of an endemic issue of Chinese urbanism. The area specifically discussed in the article is the Gulou neighborhood located directly north of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. This 50+ acre-area hosts a pair of defining brick towers whose drums and bells have helped Beijing’s citizenry keep track of the hour since the early 1700s.

Within this historic city center lies the hutongs. The rich history of the hutongs are magnificent and tangible, filled with active street life, restaurants, music venues, andy most notably, Chinese style courtyard homes. Hutongs are a manifestation of the history of China and an integral component of the culture that is still lived today.

This post takes me back to summer 2011 when I first wrote the preceding paragraphs as I began my initial research towards my Masters Design Study (MDS) at the University of Texas at Austin. My interest in this topic was born out of personal experience with the place, and also the timely nature of the urbanistic issues as I lived and worked in Beijing in 2009.

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ASLA Marks Centenary of Rome Prize

The American Academy in Rome image: James O'Day
The American Academy in Rome
image: James O’Day

Centennials are occasions upon which to reflect and bestow honor. This year, the American Society of Landscape Architects has an important, historic event to observe—the centenary of Edward Lawson, FASLA, winning the prestigious Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture at the American Academy in Rome in 1915. Lawson was the first landscape architect to win the coveted prize, which was sponsored by ASLA. It was a turning point for the profession as well as for this newly-minted Cornell graduate.

At the July meeting of the Potomac Chapter of ASLA, Brett Wallace, ASLA, and Shawn Balon, ASLA, of the Executive Committee endorsed the proclamation submitted by James O’Day, ASLA, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Chapter Liaison, to recognize the achievements and historic importance of Lawson’s ASLA-sponsored fellowship at the American Academy in Rome.

The presence of Lawson at the academy was a coup de main for ASLA. After years of striving, the nascent and evolving profession would be accorded the same recognition that its “sister” arts—architecture, painting and sculpture—had enjoyed since the academy’s inception in 1894. The new fellowship in landscape architecture made it possible for young professionals to join the collaborative dialogue that was shaping city planning and urban design.

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Call for Presentations

The Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden at the Dallas Arboretum image: Lisa Horne
The Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden at the Dallas Arboretum
image: Lisa Horne

We are looking forward to the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Chicago this November. Join us for a high energy PPN meeting to spark creativity and create new connections! We are honored to have Robin Moore, Honorary ASLA, and Nilda Cosco, PhD, Affiliate ASLA, as our meeting keynotes.

Our presentations last year were a hit with record meeting attendance. We are continuing the dialogue of new ideas with another round of presentations, and we invite you to take part. Participants can look at broad issues like universal design, safety, emerging health issues for children, etc. or focus on a specific project. A presentation can be about process, innovations, trends—whatever you want to share.

Interested in presenting? Submit a title, short summary paragraph, and brief outline for your slides (one to two words per slide) to Lisa Horne at lhorne (at) rviplanning.com by Friday, August 28.

For inspiration, check out the amazing work done by the Campus Planning and Design PPN in 2013 and 2014.

We look forward to seeing you in Chicago! The Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN meeting will take place on Sunday, November 8 at 9:15 AM.

by Lisa Horne, ASLA, a project  manager at RVi/NJB in Dallas, Texas, and co-chair of the ASLA Children’s Outdoor Environment PPN. She may be reached at lhorne (at) rviplanning.com.

Portfolio Workshops for Landscape Architecture Students

Portfolio Workshop:  Kathleen King (Design Workshop) and Adam Carreau (CU-Boulder ENVD, Senior) image: joni m. palmer
Portfolio Workshop: Kathleen King (Design Workshop) and Adam Carreau (CU-Boulder ENVD, Senior)
image: joni m. palmer

Who
In my experience teaching undergraduate and graduate students, students do not find much help in their programs/departments creating a portfolio for job applications, whether it’s for a summer job, internship, or for “the job” upon graduation. The portfolio is, of course, just one part of the application process. The cover letter, resume, and list of references are also items that many students do not understand how to organize, outline, and write in a professional manner.

Most universities have a career services office but I have found that they cannot attend to the unique aspects that design job applications demand. Some design schools offer portfolio courses (1-3 credit), workshops run by renowned portfolio gurus, and portfolio review sessions. All of these are terrific opportunities for students, yet many of them are typically “one offs.” Over the years I have been involved in these offerings in various ways but am always looking for ways to improve the means by which we educate our students about creating successful and meaningful portfolios, as well as the other components of the job application.
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