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American Society of Landscape Architects

 

August 2006 Issue

Dump + Art = Park
In 1991, this sculpted landfill opened to critical acclaim. How’s it doing now that the trash has settled?

By George Hazelrigg, ASLA

Dump + Art = Park Kevin Collins

Mention Palo Alto, California, and one thinks of Hewlett Packard and Stanford University, but Palo Alto is also steward to some of the last surviving salt marshes in the San Francisco Bay area. Today, the Palo Alto Baylands comprises a mix of natural and man-made features, including a 150-acre landfill surrounded by saltwater and freshwater marshland, creeks and sloughs, a municipal airport, power transmission lines, a recycling station, and a sewage treatment plant. Despite the human intrusions, the Baylands hosts rich plant and animal life—more than 150 bird species have been identified at this West Coast migratory stop.

In the late 1980s, Palo Alto commissioned a design team of Hargreaves Associates and two environmental artists, Michael Oppenheimer and Peter Richards, to design a park for the landfill. While much of the park would have to await final closure of the still operating landfill, now tentatively scheduled for 2011, the team was tasked with converting a 30-acre portion into a space for passive recreation and public enjoyment, a work of art that responded to the natural and cultural history surrounding the site. Byxbee Park opened to the public in late 1991, and received an ASLA Honor Award for design in 1993 and an Outstanding Achievement Award from the U.S. Conference of Mayors a year later.

All these years later, how is Byxbee Park doing?

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