Saturday, October 01, 2005

Boboli Gardens

Venerdi sono andato Giardino di Boboli--amo questo il posto!

Boboli Gardens reminded me of my childhood. The sights, the sounds, the smells. The rustling of the leaves, the children running and playing, the smell of the grass and trees. The light simply splayed on the grass threaded through the trees--strands from in-between, dancing as if a green zebra running in a dream! The heat on my face as I lie on the grass. The cool of the grass to the palms of my hands. The vistas and the little bambini running and exploring, finding new paths, investigating rocks and statues, playing ball and learning to walk with Daddy. Mothers chitchatting away while carefully guardano alla tutti bambini.

I was alone today in Boboli gardens. But as I lay on the grass thinking of those of whom I care for and have done the same for me, I realized they are all here inside me.

I really love watching the leaves flutter on the grass. There are so many of them! A million or two, maybe three or four thousand more; how ever many your imagination sees scattered on the garden's floor. ...and there are those little bugs that float in the air, swimming above the grass!!

Back in Moraga, the town where I grew up, down the street from where I live, there is a little park called Rancho Laguna. There is a large lawn there; in the evenings there are dogs and children, in the midday mothers. In the summer mornings you'll see a wonderful daycamp where I used to work. On the grass, if you ever look closely, you'll find the same leaves rolling up and around, sprinkling to the sound of the tall trees. Each dried leaf with its own unique imperfections. At Boboli I smelled one: it was pepper and pine.

This morning when I left the apartment to go to Mercato San Ambrogio, the world was different. Firenze no longer was a new place for me. This is not a bad thing, as it might seem; for it meant this place has accepted me and that I am now welcome to stay as I please. The texture of the pavement, the color of the air, the way the world looked from within me was different from before.

Boboli Gardens also made me think of UC Santa Cruz--the forest and feel of moving through such a beautiful space. In-between the ecotone, across the vista and into the forest. Boboli is very articulated but vast and complex--truth that wayfinding challenges can arise for beautiful, inspiring journeys even in highly structured space--like Villa D'Este! Make sure you take the two main axis; think about a section.

UC Santa Cruz could learn from Boboli: consider science hill, consider its axis. Think about the grace of making a north campus!

Also, one last little thing... the other night I did an interview with UCSC’s City on a Hill Press regarding the UCSC 2005 Long Range Development Plan. If you're interested in thinking about some of the things I think are important to think about on this topic: importance of academic planning and relationship to physical planning (research Strategic Futures Committee, Master Plan for Higher Education, changes in proposed populations), the campus site and environment (research Thomas D. Church), the college system and student-life community (research Kerr and McHenry), the feel of the campus' form (compositions, decentralized centers, wayfinding, natural-built interweave), the irony of comparing today's idea of "sustainability" with the "original vision" (research 1963, 1971, 1978, 1988, 2005 LRDP land-use program, concepts, and principles), architectural diversity (research each UCSC college), the importance of planning principles for design (research 1963, 1988, and 2005 LRDP principles, 1993 LRDP implementation program, consultant, admin, staff interpretations), context and city (research the City of Santa Cruz, Monterey Bay, and the University of California), the importance of flexibility within the LRDP as a planning framework, and tracing continuity, evolution, assumptions, and interpretations. Also pay attention to the paths of infrastructure (all kinds) and how they structure the order of things to come.

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