Exploring Landscapes at the National Building Museum

image: Alexandra Hay
image: Alexandra Hay

Earlier this month on March 12, visitors to the National Building Museum in Washington, DC were greeted by an usual sight in the museum’s monumental Great Hall: a life-size plan of a garden, being artfully arranged and re-arranged by visitors of all ages.

Even more impressive was the view from the second story, which provided a better sense of the overall plan from above, and how it relates to the experience of walking the space down below. By bringing a plan drawing to life and making it interactive, the event gave participants a chance to experience and understand more fully how the plan drawings landscape architects create translate into actual spaces—a chance to bridge the gap between 2D and 3D.

image: Alexandra Hay
image: Alexandra Hay

Alongside examples of plans by the Washington, DC-based firm Oehme, van Sweden & Associates—highlighted in a nearby exhibition—children, families, students, and other visitors were all encouraged to participate, using giant sheets of paper, markers, and items of various shapes to trace and cut out the desired garden elements, from stepping stones and ponds to curving beds and plants of all sizes.

image: Alexandra Hay
image: Alexandra Hay
image: Alexandra Hay
image: Alexandra Hay
image: Alexandra Hay
image: Alexandra Hay

The Design and Build a New American Garden program coincided with the exhibition The New American Garden: The Landscape Architecture of Oehme, van Sweden, open until May 1, 2016. For more about the exhibition and about OvS, see The Dirt and The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s online gallery.

In addition to the New American Garden, other events and programs at the National Building Museum that highlight the work of landscape architects include: Luminous Landscapes, an exhibition of stunning black and white photographs taken by Alan Ward, FASLA, that will be open until September 5, 2016, and the upcoming summer installation, ICEBERGS, designed by James Corner Field Operations.

And, throughout the month of April, the National Building Museum will also be offering an array of specially themed programs to celebrate World Landscape Architecture Month:

Wild by Design Talk & Book Signing
Thursday, April 7, 12:30 – 1:30 pm

Jens Jensen The Living Green
Thursday, April 14, 7 – 8:30 pm

Capturing the Art in Landscape Architecture Educator Workshop
Saturday, April 23, 9 am – 3 pm

Luminous Landscapes: Photographs by Alan Ward Talk
Monday, April 25, 6:30 – 8 pm

The Landscapes of Oehme, Van Sweden Bike Tour
Saturday, April 30, 10 am – Noon

Pop-Up Park Day
Saturday, April 30, 11 am – 3 pm

For those in the Washington, DC area and those planning to visit this spring, add the National Building Museum to your list of places to see, whether you stop by during World Landscape Architecture Month or to take in some of the engaging events the museum has coming up later this year.

by Alexandra Hay, Professional Practice Coordinator at ASLA and National Building Museum Volunteer

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