Wednesday, June 3, 2015

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U.Va. Architecture Professors Among Finalists for Prestigious International Prize

Two projects designed in part by University of Virginia faculty members are among the 11 finalists for a major international landscape architecture prize.

Organizers of the eighth Rosa Barba International Landscape Architecture Biennale Prize, to be awarded next month in Barcelona, last month recognized three U.Va. School of Architecture faculty members – Iñaki Alday, Margarita Jover and Teresa Galí-Izard – as outstanding designers.

The competition jury – chaired by renowned Dutch landscape architect Michel Van Gessel, and including members from Australia, Spain and the United States – selected the 11 finalists from among landscape architecture projects completed in the last five years by some of the leading architectural firms from nine countries.

Alday, Quesada Professor and chair of the Department of Architecture, and Jover, a lecturer in that department, along with their firm Alday-Jover, were honored for their landscape architecture design of The Park of the Meander of Aranzadi in Pamplona, Spain.

Galí-Izard, associate professor and chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture, contributed to a team that worked on another project in Spain, serving as a landscape designer and agricultural engineer with Batlle & Roig Architects, who designed and managed the reclamation of the Val d’en Joan landfill in Barcelona.

Other nominees for the prize include works located in Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Mexico, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Some of the projects are already widely known, such as the High Line and Queens Plaza in New York and Quinli Park in China.

The Rosa Barba International Landscape Architecture Biennale exhibition and symposium opens Sept. 25 in Barcelona. The finalists will lecture on their work, and the winner will be announced during the three-day symposium.

Alday-Jover’s Aranzadi Park – built into the meander, or bend, of the Arga River – was recognized as a public space of extraordinary quality that balances the relationship of the river, local residents and the area’s agricultural heritage in a radically innovative way.

The park’s vegetation grows with the help of the river, while its gardens serve as orchards to boost local food production. The park’s spaces function as both contemplative and educational areas for local citizens.

The nomination recognizes a park that is still young, but that incorporates the historic vegetable gardens in the meander, or river’s bend. The park has been heavily tested through the highest flood in Pamplona’s history.

The Park of Aranzadi was recognized in other recent international forums, including the sixth edition of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 2014, “Urban by Nature,” which was devoted to showing built works, speculative designs and research projects about the relationship between nature and city. The landscape designs of Aranzadi are currently exhibited in the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The second finalist project, the landfill park – considered to be one of two flagship post-industrial landscape reclamation projects in Europe – employed a multidisciplinary team to solve three problems of the space: closing the landfill, creating a new public space and restoring the landscape, and integrating the transformed landfill back into the natural Garraf Park in which it is situated.

Galí-Izard’s design team was asked to cap the rubbish in a ravine on the 490-acre site and re-make it as a public space. Galí-Izard and local farmers evaluated, planted and maintained the landfill site. This strategy marked a major shift in landscape architectural practice in Spain by expanding the focus from traditional gardens to large-scale ecological solutions.

The landfill project also received the European Prize for Public Space in 2004, the second Mediterranean Landscape Prize in 2006, and was featured in the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale in an exhibition, ”Grafting Architecture: Catalonia at Venice.”

“The international recognition of Alday, Jover and Galí-Izard’s work underscores the quality of design practitioners found on the School of Architecture’s faculty,” said Elizabeth K. Meyer, dean of the School of Architecture and Merrill D. Peterson Professor of Landscape Architecture.

“These three faculty members exemplify the best of contemporary creative and critical design practitioners who, while working collaboratively with engineers and scientists, imagine, construct and manage new types of public space that intermingle socio-ecological processes in complex urban environments.

“In different ways, they challenge the boundaries of architecture and landscape architecture. We are fortunate to have colleagues with such creative practices sharing their talents and experiences with our students in the design studios and classrooms at the University.”

More information about the International Biennale of Landscape Architecture can be found here.

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