Don’t Forget the Fish

Due to the upcoming Hurricane Irma that is currently between Cuba, Haiti, and the Bahamas, Clemson University has decided to cancel classes at the Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston (CAC.C).  Students were warned through a series of meetings to get a full tank of gas, arrange transportation, and find a place of refuge.  There are several predicted models of how the hurricane’s path might travel in the next several days, but a Category 5 hurricane is something that everyone should take seriously.  To all my fellow classmates, be safe over the next few days.  My house is open to you if you need a place to stay and weather out the storm.  Ventusky is a beautiful graphic webpage you can view to see the wind gusts in a whirlwind color.


Our group presentation on the 6th that Lynn described in the previous post is now up on the documents page for you to view.

As students have completed our research and site analysis stage, we are beginning to start individual design work over the next ten days, I’m reminded of the story Dan Harding told us that he’s called, “Don’t Forget the Fish.”  The story is regarding the architect interviewing process for the New England Aquarium in Boston, MA that was designed by the Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc.

The short version of the story is 3 or 4 other more qualified architects were competing against each other for getting the commission for the aquarium, and the Cambridge Seven were recent graduates of a young firm who had zero aquarium experience.  Since they lacked previous projects of aquarium designs, they didn’t have any defense of why they were the best firm for the aquarium to select; they instead showed a wide range of images that included many different species of fish.

To everyone’s surprise, The Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc. were selected as the architect to design the aquarium.  When they went back to speak to the aquarium, they asked, “Why did you select us?” – to which the aquarium committee responded, “Because of the fish.  None of the other architecture firms showed us what we care and value – the other architects showed us drawings of space, form – talked about technical components of exhibits and tank design and strategies they might employ at this location.  Your presentation was the only one that showed us images of fish – what we care about and value.  Even though you don’t have the experience we were looking for in an architect, you aligned to our values the closest of all the other architects.”

During my research phase, I was particularly interested in the existing vegetable garden at Magnolia and Medway Parks.  Both sets of my grandparents raised a vegetable gardens when I was growing up, and my father raises a vegetable garden today in his back yard.  There’s something satisfying that I can’t quite put into words about working with the soil and toiling against weeds before harvesting vegetables.  There are thousands of stories, metaphors, parables, and imagery of gardens: the Garden of Eden – the Hanging Gardens of Babylon – The Garden of Olives – Henry David Thoreau’s garden at Walden Pond are some of the first that come to my mind.  Gardening is an ancient practice that goes back thousands of years and every relates to every culture.

I haven’t gotten all of the parts and pieces together, but my individual design will be focusing on the existing vegetable garden and the components it needs for a storage shed and shade structure, focusing on the community members in the surrounding area.  Vegetable gardens need at minimum about 1″ of water per week and with the existing vegetable beds here are some basic calculations:

  • Medway Community Garden:
    (61) quantity – 4′-0″ x 8′-0″ raised individual vegetable beds (64,000) +
    (12) quantity – 4′-0″ x 16′-0″ raised community beds (25,000) +
    future perimeter plantings (15,000) =104,000 gallons of water per year or 8,700 gallons of water per month

We’re going to need a lot of water.  Gathering rainwater from the roof surface area and harvesting it in a cistern seems like a smart decision, and rainwater is high in nitrogen, which makes it great for vegetable gardening.  Although there is some concern with rainwater being safe to use on vegetable gardens (because of the potential that rainwater can carry bacteria), it could save Medway Park lots of money on their water bills.

My reminder to myself?  Don’t forget the fish – don’t forget the values of the Parks Conservancy while working on my own design over the next week.

Dont Forget the Fish feature image

Recommended Reading: Sustainable and Resilient Communities: A Comprehensive Action Plan for Towns, Cities, and Regions by Stephen Coyle.

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