Chicago’s Olympic 2016 bud organizers have changed the location of the aquatics centre to the west side of Washington Park next to the proposed Olympic Stadium however this has not gone done too well with local historians and residents as the park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The other cause for concern is Washington park was designed by the father of American landscape architecture Fredrick Law Olmsted (also designed of New York’s Central Park). This last point causes more concern from historians and landscape architects across the USA.
This raises a few questions about the role of landscape and landscape architects in society.
Are landscape designs meant to be kept as historical records of the past when they were built or are they meant to evolve with the uses, needs and wants of the city’s citizens?
Are the landscape designs created today envisioned for the future 100 years or the next 10–25years?
For what I have gleaned from the internet that Washington park has itself gone through numerous changes such as sheep grazing, and a conservatory which no longer exist in the park.
We often hold designs of the past in high esteem due to their perceived historical value and romantic notions of place. However, this can often impede or restrict development of landscapes and the possibilities of creating new places that could invigorate a city. Continuing to maintain parks as a historical record or picture postcard landscape often hinders landscape design and management as any change is often seen by users as desecrating the “great” design. This often occurs in landscapes around the world with the replacement or changes to park buildings or trees.
Although landscapes are integral to daily lives and wellbeing of residents changing the design of a landscape such as a park can often reinvigorate the landscape and attract new visitors from around the city and great a new sense of energy and activity in the park.
The Olympic bid should be about the Games and winning for the right reasons, as we have seen in the past Olympics can rejuvenate a city’s community and landscape.
For more information on the Olympic Bid goto Chicago 2016
Also goto the starting point for this op-ed piece
[SOURCE: Chicago Tribune – Chicago Olympic venue switcheroo: Right for the city's bid, but right for its historic parks?]
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