Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nature Notes: NCMA Green Statement

When I went to the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) on Sunday, mostly to see the completed additional building (West Building) and surrounding landscaping, I was very happy to see tall grasses.
I love tall grass that's allowed to grow, instead of mowed, and it's so rare to see it as part of a landscape in my area, unless it's an ornamental perennial grass.
The NCMA is located on a 164 acre park which has had a variety of sections with different habitats represented. For many years the park has included areas with tall grasses and wildflowers but the landscaping directly around the museum was more formal. I didn't expect that the new landscaping directly around the new West Building galleries and East Building museum would have natural areas.
One reason I had a feeling that the tall grasses were intentional and were not going to be mowed is there were other areas around the museum with more traditional landscaping and gardens. It didn't look like they would accidentally leave large areas of tall grass while mowing other areas.
When I got home I went online to see if I could find out if they were indeed incorporating natural areas into the gardens around the museum buildings.
Sure enough I found that the native grasses which were not going to be mowed were incorporated into part of the landscape immediately around the East and West buildings as well as in the museum gardens.
The NCMA Green Statement says that the gardens will have large areas of tall native grasses to reduce mowing and irrigation.
Drought tolerant plants are being used and a 90,000 gallon cistern stores the roof water and air conditioning condensation.
Water from the cistern is not only used for irrigation but also to replenish the reflecting pools which are in the museum gardens.
To give you an idea of how fast the grasses and other plants have been growing, all of the shots except for the one directly below were taken this Sunday. The photographs above encompass the area directly surrounding the East and West museum buildings, as opposed to the large art park which I'm not covering in the post except for the pond expansion which I'll end with. The next shot is one I took at the end of February when they were beginning to be able to work on the landscaping. Amazing how much has grown in a little over two months.
I thought I'd move out toward the pond renovation for the rest of this post. The completed pond renovation is scheduled to be completed by this fall. Below are shots I took this past Saturday of where they are in the process.
Through a grant from the North Carolina clean water management fund the museum is able to rebuild a bioswale and retention pond on the site. Several bioretention zones are designed to retain storm water and are part of an overall storm water management plan that will not only meet current standards but improve water quality in the House Creek basin.
One more thing I'd like to mention is that in association with North Carolina State University, the Museum has established the Partnership for Art and Ecology, a park management and educational collaboration. Updated Note - The shot below is one of the letters in "Picture This" which I didn't realize until someone left a comment which I appreciated. I should have known that because I had seen the view from the elevator which is the only way you can see it. At the moment you'd have to see it from the air since the East museum with the glass elevator looking out over it is closed for renovations. If you are interested in reading about that work, Picture This is the eighth work described on the NCMA Art Park page here.
To visit other participants, you can go to the home of Nature Notes. Thursday is the Nature notes post day but as usual mine is early.


Johnny Nutcase said...

This is a great post Carver, and reassuring to know they are using native grasses! Seeing mowed grass all the time makes me crazy. I have some friends who had all native tall grasses on their small property and people just didn't get it. It looks beautiful! Letting (native) grass actually grow is SO environmentally beneficial. Thanks for posting this!

Cezar and Léia said...

What a perfect day dear friend!NCMA is a wonderful place, I loved those sculptures,very modern and also loved the building structure!
Thanks for sharing these fabulous pictures and all information!

Narrative Threads said...

The NCMA has always done an amazing job with their outdoor areas. I am looking forward to being able to view the outdoor museum on my next visit - no time on my first.

Jan said...

We've visited this great museum, when we visit our daughter in Clayton. I'm so glad to see what's going on.

CherieNB said...

That last shot is actually one of the letters in "Picture This" by Barbara Kruger, Henry Smith-Miller, Laurie Hawkinson, and Nicholas Quennell. From the website, "Giant letters spell out PICTURE THIS and are sculpted in various materials, covering over 2½ acres, including the Joseph M. Bryan, Jr., Theater, seating elements, and a film screen. Many of the sculptural letters incorporate text that focuses on specific references to the history, culture, and landscape of North Carolina. It's very neat, although you can't really see it except from the sky, and from the now closed glass elevator!

Rambling Woods said...

I also like to see that great thought and attention went into the planning and that people were willing to let something be that isn't a perfectly cut and trimmed area....I wish more places would do that...Michelle

Gel said...

Do you hear me saying "Road Trip?" Terrific post, Carver. I'm glad you enjoyed your day so much. Your fabulous photos definitely document green!
Tall grasses, so green. The sculpture- mmm.

Walter Havener said...

As Landscape Architect for the Expansion landscape I can assure you that aesthetics are the primary goal of the landscape but with the strong underlying design of resource reduction - fuel, water, fertilizers. As your readers clearly understand the native grasses have a great aesthetic appeal but not all visitors agree. Please make your comments known to the musuem!

Thanks for your comments.

Carver said...

Thanks to everyone for commenting. As I've blogged about before, particularly in rants when I got upset at how the native grasses are mowed at Shelley Lake when the wild life are still trying to forage for seeds, I love native grasses. They are so beautiful all times of the year, I even like the dried winter ones. I appreciate all of the comments and am glad that Walter Havener commented to let me know that all visitors don't appreciate the aesthetic appeal of native grasses.

I fear that human nature what it is people often comment more about what they don't like as opposed to what they do like. I will be sure to let the museum know how appealing I find the landscaping.

It's funny because I've blogged before about how my city has (or had at one point I haven't checked recently) a rule about how tall people in the city could let there grass grow. Since I have a wildlife garden and have eliminated lawn from my landscape, the wilder my garden gets the more I fear someone will turn me in since some of my grasses are clearly ornamental but others are tall native grasses I leave for the animals that enjoy them.

NicoleB, Egypt said...

I love the way the place looks like now!
Amazing that nature can 'rebuild' itself that fast.
Great that they try to preserve natural resources and give natural nature a chance too

Serline said...

There are quite a few galleries and little museums here in Bangkok, but nothing that even comes close to NCMA. Beautiful place!

Crafty Green Poet said...

how nice to see long native grasses incorporated into a gardened area like this

eileeninmd said...

Great post, Carver! The Museum is a wonderful place. The tall grasses are great for birds too.

Squirrel said...

Great content and photos. I really like the lonesome bare tree photo.

MyMaracas said...

What great news to hear the museum is preserving some of its natural environment and using a cistern. Great place, and a very informative post!

walk2write said...

How cool that an art museum incorporates the art that nature produces! It's funny, but my post for this week references Shakespeare's take on the very same subject. You did a wonderful job portraying the progress of the building project, Carver.

AscenderRisesAbove said...

a great post; was that one item a tree stump; or a statue? wow it is huge

Carver said...

Thanks again for visiting and to answer the question about the sculpture that does look like an immense stump - the artist is Ursula von Rydingsvard, title - Ogromna, 2009, cedar and graphite, H. approx. 19 ft.

Caron said...

I love native grasses and out here in both Kansas and Iowa, it is not uncommon to see them growing on purpose like this. The use of native plants is so responsible and wise and most of all, it's really very pretty and peaceful. Not far from my office is a huge expanse of grass that is amazing when the breeze makes them wave.