Friday, September 18, 2009

AE17: Rampscape

In honor of today's start of the 2009 ASLA Annual Meeting & Expo in Chicago, here's a discovered "architectural element" that skillfully combines an access ramp and landscape elements, what I'm calling a rampscape.


The rampscape is located at the Tenth Avenue entrance to the Desmond Tutu Center at The General Theological Seminary in Chelsea, which I noticed on the same excursion as when I saw the Sales Tin. The landscape architect is Quennell Rothschild & Partners. The rampscape is perpendicular to the path of travel to the entrance via stairs. A slope of less than or equal to 1:20 means the ramp does not require handrails. A bench and plantings are located on the equivalent of the landing, corten steel defines the outer edges, and plantings and a stone wall sit between the two runs of ramp.


A surprise element is the fountain running down the middle of the center planting bed. It reminds me of the garden at the Querini Stampalia Foundation in Venice designed by Carlo Scarpa, though Rothschild's design and detailing pales in comparison. Even something as small as matching the mortar to the stone would have helped a great deal here; the off-white color calls attention to the sloppy crafstmanship (I cropped the worst part, the drain and uplight in the fountain's basin). Nevertheless this makes me realize I'd love to see more treatments of ramps as more than ADA requirements and with landscaping integrated into them.