Designing Taichung Central Park
Presenting a Holistic Philosophy Structurally

Park Rendering (all images © Catherine Mossbach & Philippe Rahm)


Parks have become more than leisure destinations. Cities, as clients, have insisted that parks should include more than tennis courts and swimming pools; but they should also stimulate the brain beyond what nature might have in store. Thus, the winners of the 2012 Taichung Gateway Park competition, Catherine Mossbach and Philippe Rahm proposed an ambitious and innovative series of microclimates as the guiding thought behind their Atmospheres of Wellbeing proposal. The microclimates, scattered throughout the linear site, were to be the product of natural and artificial devices.





The jury at the time was quite enthusiastic about the idea, and, if it could have survived the scrutiny of the client and been carried further, it might have served as a model for parks elsewhere. This was not to be the case, as the City thought that it was a bridge too far. So the team had to return to the drawing board.


The result is no less intriguing: in addition to the atmosphere, biosphere, etc. themes, a new element was injected into the design—educator Rudolph Steiner’s holistic model of the twelve senses as physically suggested by the implementation of twelve structures—should we call them follies? Each is designed in such a way as to suggest a strong connection to a certain human feeling.


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Designing on a Small Budget

A New Front Yard for the Berkshire Botanical Gardens

Berkshire Botanical Center House from road


The front yard of one of the oldest Botanical Gardens in this country is getting a much needed arrival gateway. To provide a design solution to complement the Berkshire Botanical Garden’s newly renovated and expanded Center House last spring, the BBG announced the launch of a design competition, inviting students enrolled in accredited landscape architecture programs at academic institutions to submit design proposals.


The site of the competition is the circa 4,000 sq.ft. Entry Garden area, which will become the new gateway for thousands of its annual visitors touring the Garden, attending special events on BBG grounds and inside the Center House, and participating in BBG’s varied horticultural and educational programs that take place year-round. Although a relative small site for a competition, its importance cannot be underestimated—both visually as well as symbolically. When the winning scheme is realized, the profile of the BBG will definitely be raised, especially for those passing by on one of the county’s main roads which borders the complex.


To adjudicate the competition entries, the fie-member panel consisted of independent designers, horticulturalists, and landscape architects:

• Page Dickey, Writer and Garden Designer (Falls Village, CT)
Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener at Great Dixter Garden and CEO, The Great Dixter Charitable Trust (East Sussex, United Kingdom);
Renny Reynolds, Landscape Architect and Co-Owner of Hortulus Farm (Bucks County, PA)
Mark E. Strieter, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (New York, NY and Charlottesville, VA)
Matthew Urbanski, Principal, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc., (New York, NY).  


Although this was a competition for students only, the possibility that the winning team would be involved with the realization of the project together with a local landscape architecture firm of record was mentioned as a real possibility in the competition brief.


The first-place winner is a team from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville School of Landscape Architecture, which includes Daniel Rose, Sarah Newton, Alexa Macri, and Fern Turpin. Second place was awarded to Harry Wan Fung Lee, Adam Kai Chi Ng, and Anson Ting Fung Wong of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design; third place goes to Dylan Anslow, Colin Chadderton, Kira Clingen, and Jonathan Kuhr of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and honorable mention is awarded to Zichen Liu and Jingyi (Jessy) Qiu of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.


“The winning design submitted by the student team from the University of Tennessee impressed all of us with its clean and modern look that will work well with the traditional facade of the Center House and the surrounding established garden areas,” said Michael Beck, BBG’s Executive Director. “BBG’s staff and design consultants will provide feedback on the concept described in the first-place submission, and will work with the winning team to establish the final design that will be implemented this winter. We hope to unveil the new garden at our season opening on May 6, 2018.”


First Place Design by University of Tennessee, Knoxville School of Landscape Architecture 
(Daniel Rose, Sarah Newton, Alexa Macri, and Fern Turpin)


View more images of the first place design and runners up…




Interview: Jeanne Gang (Spring 2010)

JeanneGang_1411_cropped_ Credit Dane Tashima



COMPETITIONS: When did you decide to become an architect? Was it something you saw early on, or a personal connection?


JEANNE GANG: I always liked making things as a kid, rather than playing with pre-made toys. Not that as an architect you are actually building your own buildings, but it’s a profession that is related about putting things together, thinking how things work, making models, etc. While growing up on family trips, we looked at a lot of architecture, landscape and bridges. My dad was an engineer; so he always would go out of the way to go across some long bridge. One of the things that made a big impression on me was seeing the Indian native-American cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde, where landscape and architecture was kind of blended and so connected to culture. Also, being good at math and art was a good combination which led me into that.

Ford Calumet Environmental Center, Competition Winner 2004

COMPETITIONS: Maybe you don’t have to be good at math anymore to become an architect. Werner Sobek, Helmut Jahn’s engineering expert for many years, said that the students he had at Harvard were mainly interested in designing something, not necessarily how it would be put together — they could give that to somebody else to figure it out.

JG: Then why couldn’t just anyone be an architect? If you aren’t going to be connected to how it’s put together, then why go to school for so many years? Architecture is at its best when it is a synthesis of structure, materials, forms. If it’s missing one of those things, it’s dropping down a notch.

COMPETITIONS: After finishing your studies at the University of Illinois and Harvard, you worked in the office of OMA in the Netherlands. This wasn’t your first stay in Europe. So I’m wondering what you took from those experiences?