Sustainable Parks Become Focus of Yale Architecture Program

by Roberta Seldon on March 30, 2012

Sustainable parks have been the topic of choice for the past two weeks at several events at Yale University’s School of Architecture, Yale Daily News reports.

On Thursday, New York City Parks and Recreation Department commissioner Adrian Benepe came to the university to discuss the connection between public parks and the environmental movement. In his talk, entitled “New York City’s Sustainable Parks for the 21st Century,” Benepe mentioned many of New York City’s recent projects, including the Freshkills Park on Staten Island, in which seniors in the undergraduate architecture program at Yale have been designing works of energy-producing land art as part of a design competition.

Tom Zook, one of the professors of the class working on the Freshkills Park project, told Yale Daily News that the project has been helpful in shaping students’ awareness of sustainability issues.

“I think that in trying to choose a way to generate energy, [the project] has revealed to me the complexity of the issue,” Kevin Adkisson ’12, a senior in the class, told Yale Daily News. “It’s one thing to have solar panels or farms in Las Vegas, but it’s harder to do something that works on the scale and under the conditions of New England.”

Daniel Whitcombe ’12, another member of the class, told Yale Daily News that producing a mechanism that is both sustainable and aesthetic has been challenging for the class.

According to Yale Daily News, one class member is working on a large-scale vegetable garden that achieves the aesthetic component. Another student is designing a sculpture that focuses on the sensory aspects of wind. Still, another student’s project features metal flower ornaments — a feature characteristic of traditional Dutch architecture.

Students must finish their projects by April 18 for the school’s end-of-semester final review process. The judges, leaders in New York’s sustainable design field, will evaluate the designs in July.

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