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Garden to be built near Norris Hall –

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Garden to be built near Norris Hall

The expansive lawn in front of Norris Hall may be gone soon, and replaced with a garden for solitude and contemplation.

The Virginia Tech Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, in collaboration with the landscape architecture and horticulture departments, is planning to build a garden for reflection where Seung-Hui Cho went on a shooting rampage on April 16, 2007, resulting in 32 deaths.

“This is a university-wide project that was envisioned by Jerzy Nowak, the former director of the center, and this project has been presented to various segments of the community over the past three years,” said Amy Splitt, the CPSVP office manager.

The Norris Garden is part of a program called the Hokie Spirit Garden Trail, a university-wide project connecting current and future gardens on campus with bicycle and walking trails. Initially, the program applied for a grant through a private foundation called Open Spaces, Sacred Places, but was denied, Splitt said.

“We still continued with the landscape architecture department with the idea of persevering with the Hokie Spirit Garden Trail and Norris Garden as a flagship destination on that series of connected green spaces on campus for contemplation and reflection,” she said.

Terry Clements, a landscape architecture associate professor, assists 16 fourth-year architecture students in developing different conceptual ideas for the garden’s design. Each of the 16 students will then unveil their own garden designs at community meetings where the public can provide their comments on the design.

“The students are going to take those comments and revise the drawings and models so we can get a better idea of what a contemplative garden might be on this area of campus,” Clements said.

In addition, the meetings provide community members the opportunity to provide their input on the design. After the community meeting, the architecture students will alter their designs based on the community’s feedback. At the end of the semester, the project team will hold another meeting, where the community will choose the top three designs and combine them to create the final blueprint.

“I think it will be a good place for the community, a nice place on campus,” said James Hawdon, the CPSVP director. “I see it as a way to bridge the Blacksburg and Virginia Tech communities.”

Although the design is not finalized, Clements said there are a few features to expect in the completed version.

“The idea is that it’s supposed to be a contemplative place, so it will more than likely have smaller garden rooms in it and a fair number of benches or seating places,” Clements said. “There’s also a real desire from some people to add some sort of water feature: moving water, a pond or an artificial stream. It’s really some place that’s different than the lawn landscape we have right

However, because of the funding necessary for the construction and maintenance of the garden and the uncertainty of funding for the project, there is currently no working budget.

“We’re really just trying to get an idea of what’s possible right now,” Clements said.

Still, Hawdon has high hopes for the project.

“We’re excited for this project to move forward,” Hawdon said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to fund it.”

While the April 16 shootings played a large role in the creation of the project, Clements said it will not be a memorial garden.

“We’re not in any way trying to replace the memorial in front of Burruss, but to provide a space where people can reflect themselves, be away and feel more private and intimate and surrounded by a really lush nature,” Clements said.

The next community meeting for the project will be held on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. in 121 Burruss Hall.

A version of this article appeared in the Feb 9 issue of the Collegiate Times.


Written by vaphc

February 10, 2012 at 7:36 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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