Stephen E. Hamwey
A challenge—which we anticipated—was balancing the port’s mission of a “green and environmentally conscious” space with the community’s vision for the park…
With this particular landscape architecture project, what was the most difficult issue your firm faced or the most unexpected challenge that may have influenced new thought and unique approaches in the project?
A challenge—which we anticipated—was balancing the port’s mission of a “green and environmentally conscious” space with the community’s vision for the park to provide a buffer from the port operations, reduce noise and air pollution, and provide both passive and active open space for diverse users. To successfully accomplish this balancing act, Sasaki had to gain the trust of both groups. We engaged in ongoing dialogues with both the port and community, and cultivated a true understanding of their divergent needs. When we developed the design concepts for the park, both of their voices were reflected in our ideas.
In general, do you feel that the role of the landscape architect is changing on similar project types? Did this project expand or evolve your role as a landscape architect in any way?
Working as the prime consultant for Wilmington Waterfront Park was truly rewarding. We had the ability to meet and work with all the various interested parties. As with many of our projects, Sasaki’s role as landscape architect incorporated many other functions. It was our responsibility to listen carefully, work with our team to digest what we heard from everyone, and react with design ideas and options that reflected diverse needs and desires. Our firm’s collaborative culture was instrumental in successfully bringing together the client group, the user groups, and the entire design team. We were then able to create solutions that met everyone’s needs.
How is your installation or project possible today in a way that it may not have been in the past, and how have current trends or thoughts in landscape architecture inspired new creative solutions?
Sustainability is an important aspect of all projects, and this park is a great example of innovative solutions working synergistically. We paid particular attention to the reuse of materials, storm drainage, irrigation/recycled water, titanium dioxide wall applications, low water fixtures, and lighting. Recent technology in lighting allowed us to provide both aesthetically pleasing and functional lighting. Dark sky-friendly fixtures along all the pathways are inviting and emit practically zero light pollution to the surrounding community. LED accent lighting along the walks, within the fountain areas, and on the bridges offers a variety of color.
In the context of this project, how is your office and your design process being influenced by current thoughts in academic curricula? In turn, are your current projects and processes guiding the ongoing reformulation and development of academic curricula?
Landscape architecture education should address the physical and social impact open space projects make to city or community. Programs should also foster greater emphasis on sustainability—in regards to both design and technical execution. Sustainability should be completely integrated into the design process, not an optional add-on. Landscape architects have a huge opportunity to be good stewards of the earth’s resources for generations to come. Finally, academic curricula should continue to encourage landscape architects as leaders (prime consultants) on similar open space projects. Landscape architects should have the skills to direct teams of consultants, informing holistic work.