Ideas That Matter

Peter Walker's Gift

Peter Walker's Gift

Peter Walker, FASLA, inaugurated USC’s annual School of Architecture lecture series with a presentation of “Reflecting Absence", the National 9/11 Memorial in downtown Manhattan.

Pete’s talk, “Before the Memorial”, summarized his journey as an artist, beginning with studying and collecting work by minimalist artists such as Carl Andre.

Peter Walker 911 Memorial

Carl Andre, Photo Wikispaces

Peter Walker Orchard Project

Carl Andre: Secant  Photo: The Orchard Project

Pete described his visit to Vaux le Vicomte, Andre Le Notre’s garden masterpiece outside Paris, and his realization that  the creation of a flat plane not only brings focus and importance to the objects resting on it, but literally commands the space above it.

Peter Walker Vaux le Vicomte Garten

Vaux le Vicomte  Photo: Wikipedia

The Nasher Sculpture Center in downtown Dallas exemplifies Pete's skill in using flatness to great effect. For anyone who hasn’t seen the Nasher, put your Texas bias aside and book your ticket! (And, while you're in Texas, get down to Houston and see the Menil!)

At the National 9/11 Memorial, Pete deployed the concept of flatness to create a platform for the enormous voids that commemorate the trade center and the people who tragically lost their lives on that day. A forest of 416 White Swamp Oaks, arrayed in lines across the plaza, creates a setting where visitors can contemplate the voids.

Peter Walker Voids

9/11 Memorial  Image: Peter Walker Associates

Pete’s contribution to the plaza compliments the initial design created by Michael Arad, whose competition entry presented the idea of preserving the footprints of the destroyed towers. The PWP team faced tremendous challenges in creating the planted plaza.  His lecture included details about the planting of the oaks, and also acknowledged the contributions of his fountain and lighting designers in resolving the technical challenges of making the enormous fountains and illuminating the forest.

This difficult, politically fraught project has taken over ten years and is not yet complete. Pete’s contribution to the design brings beauty and grace to the experience of remembrance.

Lisa Gimmy Landscape Architecture is a professional consulting firm offering master planning, site planning, and landscape design. Since its founding in 1992, LGLA has designed landscapes for schools, campuses, boutique hotels, buildings, public parks, estates, and private residences. At LGLA each project is viewed as an opportunity to explore a series of relationships: between the site and the region, architecture and landscape, and most importantly, between the landscape and the people who will use and enjoy it.

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