Posts Tagged ‘existing conditions’

Last week I traveled to Hodges Gardens to ground truth, or field-check, a map of the landscape.  The map is an undated and minimally labeled drawing I discovered a few months ago in the Hodges Foundation Archive.  Given a few clues on the early development of the Garden, it’s safe to conclude the drawing is not a site masterplan from the design phase.

The map covers all of the Main Gardens, Visitor Center/Parking areas, as well as Willow Point and over to the Butterfly Garden near the Lakeside Amphitheatre.  As part of the documentation process, a priority has been to compare this map to current conditions on the ground to assist in the process of analyzing the landscape’s recent change over time.

The coral colored rectangle in the above comprehensive map notes the area of interest expanded in the image below. Source: Hodges Foundation Archive.

Current and historic images, as well as historic drawings may help with dating the map.  For example:  when an item (or shape/form) whose known date of installation is identified on the map, it can generally be figured that the map was probably produced after the date of the given element’s establishment.  Similarly, if an item of known installation date is vacant from the map,  it is likely that the map was produced before that element was established in the landscape.  Given enough of these types of clues, a date can be estimated for the map/plan.

Exceptions and flaws to the method exist: suppose an existing item were purposefully omitted from a map.  Still, the simple process can be pretty accurate and very helpful in better understanding and using an unlabeled map.  [Along other lines, historic photographs can also be roughly dated using similar clues].  This kind of information is essential to historic landscape planning.

The arrow above marks the intersection where two (2) elements were recognized as being established in different time periods. Walkway 1, which is also noted in Figure B below, was recognized as a later addition to the landscape. In this case, Walkway 1 was absent from the map; I penciled it in to depict existing conditions, as shown above.

Much of the Hodges Gardens map held true to the shape of the landscape today.  However, I was able to update a few things–including the addition of a few current-day walkways.  The example in the image below was fairly easy to identify as a later addition to the landscape.  Notice both the change in material (similar but different) and also the angles connecting the paths in the intersection–both of which suggest the two paths were created at separate times.

Of course, a change in material doesn’t always suggest a different time period:  such changes can be design decisions on paper before initial installation even begins (say, a clear transition from concrete to stone).  In the case below though, it is pretty evident that the later addition is attempting to imitate the other material; an exercise that would usually and controversially be employed only with a later addition.

The arrow in this present-day photograph marks the intersection shown in plan view in the above map.

This photograph focuses on the intersection marked by arrows in the above images. Item 1 marks the later addition that I penciled in to the above map. Walkway 2 is the primary pedestrian circulation route at this intersection.

Another view of the intersection as discussed above. Note the lines/angle connecting the two walkways. This unique form in the landscape suggested that one element was a later addition.

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HG 6-7-11 DL 61

I’ve yet to hear back from Shreveport’s Eric Brock.  However, the Brock with which I connected and left voice mails may not be the author/preservation advocate Eric Brock I’m seeking.   As mentioned in the About section of the blog, posts are expected to be a mix of both discoveries and hurdles.

In the meantime, I have updated the ExploringHodgesGardens Flickr page, and I would encourage you to check it out.  The above photo is taken from near a large Ginkgo biloba tree on the middle level of the main garden area.  I think it captures a good example of an important element of the main design philosophy employed throughout the Garden, which celebrated existing topographic and drainage patterns to create a rich garden experience.  While the above pool is a 1950s constructed element, it widens and sits realistically below the above slope, which was an element of the early site’s existing conditions.

On the Exploring Hodges Gardens Flickr page, site visit photos are categorized into different sets.  Currently, the sets are arranged by location, and cover the following Hodges Gardens subjects: Visitor Center Facilities, Garden Areas, Administrative Area, Historic Greenhouse Facility, and House Island.  The photos are not necessarily works of art, but rather, are intended to document and present current conditions.  I plan to add more photos and to think of the Flickr page as a Hodges Gardens landscape features collection.  In addition to viewing by individual sets/subjects, it’s also enjoyable to employ the slideshow option.  Just look for the Slideshow button near the Share option on the exploringhodgesgardens photostream.  That’s http://www.flickr.com/photos/exploringhodgesgardens/.

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Comparing historic images with current views can be an excellent way to explore recent landscape change, which is important in understanding the full story of a landscape.   After finding the location of an historic image, I attempted to place my camera in just the right spot to capture a view for such analysis.  I must admit, this was an exciting exercise.  See examples of the process below.

Stonework waterway. Comparison of c.1960 image from nearly same location, June 2011. For reference, note the two major lines of curving stone waterway walls, as well as the curving stairway in the top left and three stone benches in the top left quarter of each photo. Clearly, several trees are present and providing welcome summer shade that were not present in the earlier landscape. Though less prominent in the current photo, this area still hosts additional colorful annuals, especially earlier in the spring.

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