Toronto, ON, CA
Foote’s Pond Wood is a 14-acre natural public park project spearheaded by a local parent who now heads the Environmental Commission. The park reconnects the community with a historically rich plot of land, and provides a link to an adjacent elementary school, synagogue, and Jesuit retreat. The program was designed to rehabilitate the site for educational and contemplative uses—without disturbing the essence of the place. The site is covered with an 80-year old woodlot, with a three-acre pond occupying one end.
This project is being used by funders as a test project to demonstrate the merits of non-material, non-exploitative, and contemplative uses that do not disturb the essence of a place. Although the adjacent religious uses provide a cue to this use, the intention is to reveal the natural spirituality of the forest, wetland and pond. The scheme sees light as the main shaper of space, transforming perception of the place over the course of the day. Its presence turns fields of marsh grasses into ponds of light, lines of trees into brilliant walls, and turns the pond into a mirror for the sky and the trees. The site is now used as an outdoor classroom both formally and informally for ecological and arts curricula. “A conversation of trees” is a sample of how uses can coincide as intimate seating is provided only where trees have grown close enough to have an intimate conversation. Phase 1 of the project included the reconstruction of a dam, fireplace, new bridge, and teaching dock. The design included input from local grassroots groups and NJ Audubon, and it was coordinated with the town. This project is funded by the G.R. Dodge and Nathan Cummings Foundations, and by private local donations.
Location: Morristown, NJ, US
My Role: Landscape Architect