I am not a graduate of the Conway School of Landscape Design (alas) but I am an admirer of the school, its teachers, principles and curriculum, and of the work its 600 grads have done around the country, and the world. As part of the celebratory 40th Reunion weekend I attended a program of Lighning Talks. A number of alums from different years were given six (6!) minutes to describe their recent work.
Ginny Sullivan is an alum who lives in Conway. I wrote about her and her book, Lens on Outdoor Learning, last year here. With her co-author Wendy Banning, Ginny is aware of the growing concern about how little time children spend out of doors. In her work Ginny explains that time out in nature is not only health giving, or even only about learning about nature, but about the pleasures of learning in general, and of gaining confidence. In her practice she designs schoolyards that are”devoted to habitat and problem-solving [that] becomes an engaging and language-rich environment for children and teachers alike. It serves all aspects of curriculum, conveys the message of caring for nature and children, restores attention, and allows for play, inquiry, and reflection.” Of course, the book also gives all of us with children and domestic landscapes, or access to parks new ways of looking at nature with our children, having creative fun, and appreciating the valuable informal ways our children learn about the world.
Peter Monro now lives and practices in Maine. His 6 minute presentation focused on his interest in “the planning and design of walkways and their role in urban and regional economic development.” On is website Walking by Design he includes a photo gallery of different kinds of paths, from a path across a field, to the High Line Park in New York City which is a marvelous ‘path’ through the urban air on what was an abandoned rail line that brought goods to the businesses in lower Manhattan. The site even lays out a multiplicity of the ways a path exists and the variety of issues that we will consider intuitively, or deliberately when we design and build a path for our own use.
Unfortunately I do not have a good photo of Tim Taylor who has taken path-making to an entirely different scale. He has been working for the past five years in Abu Dhabi where a spectacular new city for 60,000, Al Raha Beach is being designed and built. Tim is the project director for all the public spaces working with a large team who are designing walkways, promenades, parks, marinas, a light rail system, bus lines, street scapes, all the ways that people will walk or move from one place to another. This is an extraordinary project.
I will be writing more about the work of other graduates of the Conway School of Landscape Design from time to time. Some are doing important work right here in our own neighborhood, while others are working in foreign climes. Stay tuned.