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Hargreaves Associates did Olympic landscaping

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http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/place/article/Hargreaves-Associates-did-Olympic-landscaping-3770126.php

Hargreaves Associates did Olympic landscaping – SFGate

As the Olympics near their close, here’s the local angle to your next televised glimpse of the curvaceous color that enfolds the shiny venues of Olympic Park.

The 247 acres of greenery and plazas were designed in large part by Hargreaves Associates, a San Francisco landscape architecture firm. Not only that, the firm got the job after the master plan for Olympic Park already was set – but the Olympic Delivery Authority wasn’t happy with open-space elements of that scheme.

“The client told us, ‘We’ve got this product, we don’t like it, we’re not sure why,’ ” says George Hargreaves, whose firm is also responsible for San Francisco’s cherished Crissy Field. “The buildings were set and the bridges were set, but we were able to get rid of just about everything after that.”

Working with the English firm LDA Design, Hargreaves altered the planned river way to allow wider and more natural banks, then cloaked them in vegetation, including a wildflower meadow said to be the largest ever planted in the United Kingdom.

The master plan’s plazas were reduced in size to make room for grass-covered “sculptural tectonic forms” – Hargreaves’ term for hillocks. Along with softening the transition from the busy venues to the River Lea, the hillocks create viewing platforms for visitors to see the city outside the Olympic Village.

While all this is telegenic, it’s also intended to serve as public parkland after an event where the scenery can’t interrupt the flow of as many as 250,000 people at one time. Judging by the early response, Londoners like what they see. “The real star of the Olympic site is the landscape design,” wrote architecture critic Kieran Long of the Evening Standard. “It’s simply beautiful.”

Hargreaves’ opinion? He hasn’t visited the site in months, leaving the final round of hand-holding to members of the firm’s New York and London offices.

“My vow this year has been to spend less time on planes,” Hargreaves says. “The one regret these past two weeks is that I haven’t been on the ground to see what does and doesn’t work.”

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Written by vaphc

August 8, 2012 at 2:19 pm

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