Designing Community Spaces at Veterans Memorials
June 2, 2015 | By Admin |
One of our goals as landscape architects is to develop spaces that help to build, strengthen, and bring vibrancy to a community through connections to our physical surroundings and to one another. We have had the fortunate opportunity to be on design teams for several veterans memorials. These projects are unique because the memorial will serve an existing, tight knit community of veterans and those touched by their service.
Nakano Associates is currently working with ARC Architects and the Puyallup Tribe of Indians to develop plans for a new memorial to the Tribe’s veterans. Cultural heritage and tradition are important design criteria that will be reflected through native plantings. Additionally, the Puyallup ancestry, being in close proximity to rivers and creeks, will be symbolically represented through the layout and paving finishes.
In veterans memorial designs, our aim is to provide a place of remembrance that in some way emulates a community’s collective respect for the individuals, families, and diverse ethnic groups who have served our country. We accomplish this through symbolism in hardscape and softscape materials, providing areas for both personal reflection and larger group gatherings. We always ensure the memorial is easily accessible for all visitors.
For example, at the Squaxin Island Tribe Veterans Memorial, completed a few years ago, we developed a design in close collaboration with the tribal members. The Veterans Memorial is anchored by a small ceremonial gathering space representing Squaxin Island, the symbolic heart of the Squaxin Island Tribe who are also known as the People of the Water.
Seven water pools, representing the Tribe’s traditional lands comprised of seven watersheds in south Puget Sound, radiate out from the center space. Each water pool is a setting for a cluster of bronze paddles, each bearing the name of a veteran. The Veterans Committee brought home a large petroglyph boulder that was originally found on Harstene Island and is now sited on the memorial grounds. Other elements include a more traditional flag plaza and interpretive displays with oral history storytelling and plant names in the Lushootseed language.
A veterans memorial can take many different forms, but all memorials need to convey a sense of gratitude and provide solace, strengthen bonds, and do justice to the Veteran’s service to our country.
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Jefferson Universal Movement Playground (Jump!) Community Build
It is a rare and enjoyable opportunity for us to get our hands dirty and help bring one of our own designs into the real world. Last August we were excited to join the community-build for the construction of Jefferson County’s first inclusive playground in HJ Carrol Park in Chimacum, Washington, known as the Jefferson Universal Movement Playground (JUMP!).
Since 2016, the JUMP! playground has been a community-based effort led by Sarah Grossman and Sarah McNulty, two physical therapists who wanted their students to have a playground they could safely use in the Chimacum School District. Today, the formation of JUMP! is a group of dedicated parents, community members, and pediatric Occupational and Physical Therapists. Nakano Associates joined their efforts as the landscape architect to bring their efforts for an inclusive playground into its final phase.
What is an inclusive playground?
Rooted in universal design principles, inclusive playgrounds strive to be spaces where every child -regardless of ability or disability- can explore and be active. Inclusive playgrounds provide a diversity of motor and multi-sensory experiences so that everyone is welcome and encouraged to play. They also approach children’s needs holistically, integrating ways to stimulate and hone social-emotional, sensory development, cognition, communication, and physical needs.
When we arrived at HJ Carroll Park the JUMP! Playground the hardscape was almost complete. Playground contractors from CME Play were placing finishing touches on river rock rivulets at the entrance of the playground.
The main play structure was being hoisted into place and the slides were in the process of being bolted in. This and other play structures on site were chosen for its ability to accommodate the needs of children of differing physical abilities. This one features a seamlessly integrated wheelchair ramp and landing platform.
Gorgeous orca whale sculptures flank the playstructure so that children can clamber up and down their back and sit on their dorsal fin. We soon got to work moving the mother and calf sculpture, bolted in their footings, hoisted them into place, and set them in after a mini excavator/ dug the footing holes.
The playground’s theme is “Salish Sea” evidenced through different Pacific Northwest ocean iconography ranging from orca whales to sea snails and plankton.
Working together with Chimacum community members, it was exciting to participate in the transformation from design documents into the first phase of construction. We are excited to be part of future community builds, and the groundbreaking! It has been an honor to work with such a passionate, dedicated team and to provide an imaginative playground for all children. For more information on the JUMP! playground, check out their website at https://www.jumpplayground.org/.
Nakano Associates went on a field trip through the Danny Woo Community Garden in September 2021 to learn about its 50+ year history and the cultural significance it has in Seattle’s Chinatown International District (C-ID). I had the privilege of working as the garden manager after I finished my master’s degree in landscape architecture, and it remains my favorite place in Seattle. This tour was a great opportunity for me to reflect on the garden’s design history in the company of landscape architects.