Magazine article University Business

The North Country Japanese Garden at St. Lawrence University: A Place for Reflection and Learning

Magazine article University Business

The North Country Japanese Garden at St. Lawrence University: A Place for Reflection and Learning

Article excerpt

A COLLABORATION BETWEEN two professors at St. Lawrence University (N.Y.) brought students to visit Zen gardens in Japan. What they brought home was ideas for a garden blending nature, art, and East Asian and local aesthetics.

* FUNCTION: The North Country Japanese Garden serves as a place of reflection for the campus and the broader community, and as an outdoor classroom.

* CHALLENGES: An Asian studies grant supported the trip and a class taught by Catherine Shrady from the geology department and Mark MacWilliams from religious studies. "We picked students from across the disciplines, and each student focused on a particular aspect of the gardens," notes Shrady. The final assignment: Design a Japanese garden and help win university approval to build it. They suggested "a lovely, large but completely neglected and unused courtyard" for the garden, she says. With the humanities and arts on one side of campus and the sciences on the other, the goal was to join the two academic areas.

Grants and donations took care of the funding. Then the project team focused on logistics. The big question: How to remove a sculpture, rocks, and fill from an inaccessible courtyard and then bring in needed materials--including two rocks in excess of five tons and beyond the capacity of existing equipment? Courtyard access was limited to an archway with a set of stairs, explains Grounds Manager Marcus Sherburne. "We thought about using a crane and lifting the rocks over the building. …

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