PATRICIA JOHANSONEndangered Garden, San Francisco, CA

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This miniature mountain range surrounds a butterfly meadow planted with vegetation that provides sustenance for endangered butterflies, whose tiny eggs appear on the underside of leaves.

Visually, the serpent's head mimics the enormous San Bruno Mountain seen across the Bay.

Similarly, both the "Ribbon Worm-Tidal Sculpture" and the "Coiled Tail-Overlook" echo the monumental terraces of Bayview Hill, simulating connections within the landscape and the observer's mind.

Advancing and receding tides bring nourishment to this landscape's true protagonists — vertically zoned inter-tidal communities and thousands of resident and migratory birds. "Endangered Garden" is now part of a California State Park, and few visitors seem to realize that sewage is underfoot. The garden proposes a new aesthetic for designers: to envision solutions that are as creative, functional, and biologically productive as nature herself.

The following is republished from: Patricia Johanson: "Beyond Choreography: Shifting Experience in Uncivilized Gardens", Symposium on Landscape Design and Experience of Motion, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., May 19-20, 2000, in: DUMBARTON OAKS COLLOQUIUM ON THE HISTORY OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE. © 2000, Patricia Johanson and Trustees for Harvard University

The transport-storage sewer / baywalk echoes the natural curve of the cove and has been designed as a viewing platform for the life of the bay.

Many people walk, jog, ride bicycles, and skateboard here every day because it is now part of the Bay Circuit Trail, but they also stop to observe the birds and waterfowl feeding in the marsh and mudflats below. During the migrations, thousands of birds can be seen at Candlestick Cove, and there is the daily drama of rising and falling tides, and the interplay between those eating and those eaten. Even a casual visitor seems to notice the horizontal sorting of species feeding at different water depths...

Dropped below the level of the baywalk, people experience only the quiet lapping of waves, the shrill cries of birds, and tiny tide pools, often within the crevices of rocks that line the shore.

Visitors' bodies are now physically close to biologically diverse habitats, and many pause to examine the invertebrate populations — small clams, mussels, barnacles, worms and snails — that appear at low tide and make this area so popular with birds...

Fluctuating water levels, as well as individual tolerances for minutiae and mud, determine the path of travel. Fish and small crabs can be seen under water, and unexpected variations in substrate determine how deeply we sink in. Many visitors can be seen picking up and examining small bits of rocks, shells or detritus, and then throwing them back into the water.

The sculpted "Ribbon Worm", of course, echoes the larger baywalk snake, as well as the tiny living ribbon worm, "Emplectonema gracile"... Similar undulating forms—ripple marks—are formed by underwater currents and repeated incessantly underfoot. As Barbara Matilsky notes, "The work fosters an environmental ethic regarding the value of even the smallest living things by making visible the tiniest animals of the bay." This fusion of form, function, and ecological system that I want the visitor to discover, and its pervasiveness from microcosm to macrocosm, often lies along a mucky path. I believe such unfolding relationships require individual wanderings, the considered pause, and knowledge acquired over time, rather than a specific route...

Project commissioned by the San Francisco Art Commission for the Sunnydale Pump Station, 1987.

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