American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2005 Professional Awards
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Selected Tree Matrix and “Emergent” Landscape. The material palette for the Garden is limited to 21 indigenous trees able to withstand flooding and nutrient shortfalls. Trees are combined to produce emergent landscapes and urbanisms of ever-growing complexity.
Selected Tree Matrix and “Emergent” Landscape. The material palette for the Garden is limited to 21 indigenous trees able to withstand flooding and nutrient shortfalls. Trees are combined to produce emergent landscapes and urbanisms of ever-growing complexity.
Project Context: Little Rock Recreation Corridor. The Garden of Trees is a key programmatic component of the developing riverfront. The Garden’s algorithmic strategies suggest landscape urban planning organizations beyond the scale of a project.
From Trees to Rooms. Didactic planting schemes switch between diverse patterns with robust species clusters at the Garden’s edge to homogeneous patterns organizing the interior.
Schedule of Components: Design and Administration. Considering the intersection of successional, participatory, funding, and administrative dynamics, planning is derived from a series of networks that can be incrementally developed.
Seasonal Transformations. Trees are also selected for their aesthetic qualities related to proportion, color, fragrance, texture, and scale, and arranged according to their changing seasonal features, or succession dynamic.
Planting Plan. Tree arrangements derived from concepts in plant sociology, and algorithmic protocols related to Fibonacci proportions and cellular automata, form a series of display rooms, akin to an art museum.

Clearings, Clusters, and Cloisters: A Garden of Trees for Two Rivers Park, Little Rock, AR
University of Arkansas CDC, Fayetteville, AR

"Strong reliance on formal and compositional traditions, but really revises them through layered and complex plantings. . .emergent. . . considers seasonality, all encompassing. . . management process shapes how it will be experienced."

— 2005 Professional Awards Jury Comments

A 140-acre section of the 1000-acre Two Rivers island park will be planted as a Garden of Trees. Two Rivers Park is being developed as a regional urban park, accommodating pedestrian, bicycle, boat, and vehicular networks. The Garden’s planting design will highlight indigenous tree species, keeping in mind that most people—as our client observes—often “fail to see the trees from the forest." Identifiable arboreal spatial arrangements like allées, bosques, hammocks, and groves will form outdoor rooms to create a living educational center along the Little Rock Recreation Corridor. Slightly different from reforestation programs that attempt to recreate a natural condition, the Two Rivers Garden of Trees will be a composed gallery of specimen trees. Similar to paintings in an art museum or specimens in a natural history museum, trees are curated to deepen appreciation for their ecological work.

Trees are didactically organized to form outdoor rooms of different scales. In the tradition of museological composition—paintings in a museum—curators display objects through thematic narratives to facilitate memory of those objects and to dramatize an object’s affects. Akin to the spatial sequence in constructed memory systems, allées, bosques, lawns, and groves in the Garden of Trees present an exhibition of trees for our memory. The project proposes that planning might begin with the tree as an irreducible landscape unit to create large-scale measures of order.

The material palette for the Garden is limited to trees and ground cover. The site for the Garden of Trees lies within a riparian flood zone regulated by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Neither alterations of the ground plane nor introduction of architectural structures to the Garden site will be permitted. The 21 trees selected for inclusion are indigenous to the area’s riparian ecology and capable of withstanding the periodic inundations to which the site is subjected. Trees are selected for their aesthetic qualities related to proportion, color, fragrance, texture, and scale, and are arranged according to their changing seasonal features, or successional dynamic. The local experiences of participating horticultural and forestry consultants determined plant sociology and nutrient management. Cloistered rooms are defined by singular and dramatic interior affects, while exterior edges informally merge with the surrounding Forested Clusters.

In a process known as Emergence, tree arrangements morph from managed patterns featuring a singular dramatic effect produced by one species to self-organizing species clusters that merge formal rooms with the more diverse Forested Cluster. Akin to a pixilated landscape, the Garden of Trees is an emergent system characterized by planting algorithms applicable at all scales. As a catalyst for future growth, the Garden suggests an early stage urbanism without buildings.

Because the Garden’s fundamental logic is defined more by algorithmic protocols (cellular automata and Fibonacci proportions) than a set of fixed forms, room configurations can change without compromising the Garden’s integrity. Indeed, planning relies on the generation of new patterns with greater complexity by successional development.

The State Forestry Commission is sponsoring the Garden of Trees as a demonstration project of urban forestry—the notion that trees provide both urban and ecological services. The Garden is a design-build collaboration between the disciplines of landscape architecture, architecture, planning, and horticulture in a University Community Design Center, the State Forestry Commission, and the Pulaski County Public Works Administration. Since construction will be phased as funding is secured from private sources, the plan works like a kit-of-parts to accommodate flexibility in project development. There is no one preferred development sequence determining room construction. Fibonacci-proportioned plats with various grid typologies streamline surveying and construction layout of trees, while harmonizing relationships among parts. The planting plan manifests varying orders of precision, recognizing that community volunteer groups will incrementally plant large areas of the Garden with seedlings and/or saplings donated by the State Forestry Commission.

The Forestry Commission will provide early-stage management assistance with thinning, white-tail deer and other nuisance species control, nutrient, and irrigation programs. In addition to construction of all ground surfaces (Summer 2005), Pulaski County and the City of Little Rock public works staffs will partner to plant and maintain the formal allées with mature trees (Fall 2005 and Spring 2006). The Garden of Trees will be an important social anchor and rest stop along the county’s 31-mile bicycle trail, and a catalyst for the extension of its arboreal patterns throughout the river valley recreation corridor.

The Pulaski County administration is assembling an independent 501(c)3, or non-profit, organization—Friends of the Garden of Trees—to sponsor and administer the Garden once the first phase of planting and construction is completed. Such organizations allow visionary projects developed within local government administrations to persist beyond a founding personality regardless of future governing administrations. Discussions are under way with the State’s flagship University to establish a horticultural development and learning lab, sharing project stewardship with Friends of the Garden of Trees. Donors are currently being solicited for funding of various Garden Rooms and trails.


Vertical Layering. The sectional layering of species as understory, midstory, and overstory systems distinguishes rooms through differences in light quality, scale, edge density, and openness.
Tupelo Foyer. This is the grand entry foyer leading to the Garden’s interior. The foyer is defined by a deciduous overstory of Water Tupelos and a coniferous understory of Eastern Red Cedar; species that also mark the line between high and low ground.
Great Lawn and Shumard Oak Alleé. This is the most majestic room in the Garden with a grand, manicured lawn bordered by an alleé of Shumard Oaks. The alleé is a wide pedestrian promenade in the tradition of the American urban park, framing views to Pinnacle Mountain.
Red Fall Room. Like other cloistered rooms bordering it, this room is subsumed by a singular and dramatic interior affect, while informal exterior room edges of multiple species merge into the surrounding Forested Cluster.
Fibonacci Garden. This subsection contains the most elegant and “slow” rooms in the Garden, recalling the English court garden with its spaces for courtship, weddings, strolling and relaxing lawn sports. Its five square rooms are generated from the Fibonacci spiral.
Bosque Plaza. This Plaza is a large rock garden showcasing specimen trees composed to create the coordinated floral effects of bouquets. The Plaza houses a bicycle rest station at the intersection of bicycle and pedestrian paths, accommodating different movement speeds.
Climax Succession Development. Outer edges support a more indeterminate succession dynamic than inner ring tree arrangements whose precision requires greater human management. Inner ring rooms celebrate a more pristine social life expected in the Garden’s alleés, bosques, and groves.
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