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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.

Milosav Cekic

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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