Turn Park Project Wins 2018 Richard Guy Wilson Prize
For so many traveling the well-worn roads of the New Jersey Turnpike experiencing the Meadowlands is often limited to a distanced gaze out an automobile window. The Meadowlands suggests a place you see, but do not explore. For others, the suburban swampland is known as the home of professional sports franchises like the Jets and Giants. And for others, it is a place of underworld mystery, a dumping ground of secrets and adversaries. For UVA Landscape Architecture graduate students Madelyn Hoagland-Hanson, Sarah Pate, and Ru Wu, the Meadowlands has the potential to become much more. Their vision for Turn Park is a response to recent speculations that the site might become America’s first National Park for climate resilience – and that vision has earned them the prestigious Richard Guy Wilson Prize for Excellence in the Study of Buildings, Landscapes, and Places. The $5,000 annual prize – named in honor of Wilson, Commonwealth Professor of Architectural History, and supported by an endowment generously donated by Wilson’s former student, Mallory Walker – provides undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to examine and reflect upon the value of place and the diverse ways through which we all contribute to the shaping of the environment. It encourages participation from students of any discipline at UVA, including diverse forms of submission from writing, design, poetry, painting, legal/business briefs, scholarly research, and essays, film, and photography. This year’s winning proposal focused on the ways in which the Meadowlands present a unique juxtaposition between twenty-first-century ecological concerns, twentieth-century infrastructure, and nineteenth-century theories of nature and aesthetics. The proposal includes an 80-year plan for building and managing the region’s extensive salt marshes, and creates a series of Olmsteadian gardens around the western spur of the turnpike – the region most threatened by predicted sea-level rise. In their submission, the students called Turn Park “a place to encounter apparent boundaries and find that they were never there. A series of strange gardens in the midst of a machinic wilderness, it is a park where ‘democracy can look back upon itself,’ and forward again – forever spiraling like an interchange, or the inner folds of a rose.” The winning proposal was selected from 51 entries and chosen by a jury that included Lisa Goff (Assistant Professor of English and American Studies, Director of Institute for Public History), Shiqiao Li (Weedon Professor in Asian Architecture, Chair of the Department of Architectural History), Ekaterina Makarova (Associate Professor of Sociology), Beth Meyer (Merrill D. Peterson Professor of Landscape Architecture), Richard Schragger (Perre Bowen Professor of Law, Joseph C. Carter, Jr. Research Professor of Law), and Richard Guy Wilson (Commonwealth Professor of Architectural History).