Why I Designed Cancer Parks
What I brought to the experience and what I learned from it.
By Milosav Cekic
Rebecca Fish Ewan’s article in the February Landscape
Architecture about cancer survivors parks, and especially the
accompanying Perspective critiques by Claudia Goetz Phillips, ASLA,
and Heidi Hohmann, are right on the money regarding what I would
call the clash of nobility of purpose and banality of expression.
However you express the phenomenon of cancer survivors parks, I
agree with the writers that there are missed artistic opportunities
in most of the projects illustrated.
I should know. I was the architect who won the national competition
in 1989 for the original park in Kansas City, Missouri, and who
designed and built the first six parks in Kansas City, Houston,
New Orleans, Cleveland, Columbus, and Dallas. I also designed cancer
survivors parks for sites in Nashville, Milwaukee, Los Angeles,
and Austin—parks that were not built for various reasons.
When I first heard about and later got involved with the projects,
I found cancer survivors parks fascinating for two reasons. First,
they were the only projects that I knew of to acknowledge the mind–body
connection (of which the story of the program’s founder Richard
Bloch is a living example) and to attempt to help people with cancer
through transformation of consciousness. They therefore held great
artistic interest for me. Second, they were on a borderline between
art and architecture without any strictly utilitarian building program,
thus affording me an opportunity to explore the realm of architecture
and consciousness, which has been my interest for a while.
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