My time in the Designing the Parks 2014 internship program is winding down. Over the past 6 months I have been working on the cultural landscape documentation for First State National Monument. It’s been a great learning experience to start landscape documentation from the very beginning, as it is very much like solving a puzzle! You gather the pieces and try to put it all together to create a cohesive picture. I spent a lot of time researching the site history and creating a thematic framework in order to place the Woodlawn Tract into the larger American landscape.
As Eliot says, I am probably the current “expert” on this 1100 acre site. Nestled in the Brandywine Valley – a pastoral and peaceful landscape, the Woodlawn Tract holds a variety of rich historical narratives: Quaker culture, civil war history, Mason-Dixon line, industrialism, and landscape architecture/planning – models of industrial communities/new urbanism. Eliot and I traveled to the Woodlawn Tract twice over the course of the internship to conduct research at archives and to gather document the site through fieldwork. The major product from the last six months was a draft cultural landscape inventory/report for the site, three period plans and fourteen property plans.
What I’ve learned over the past 6 months…
The work of OCLP is incredibly valuable and important. OCLP’s reports and documentation places important landscapes within its historical context…their work helps park managers interpret and manage the landscape for visitors. It was really great to work on First State and to think about how the landscape reveals American history – how the historical fence lines revealed how large parcels were subdivided among large family lineages. The work is incredibly challenging and thoughtful and requires a curious detective-like mind.
Working at OCLP has been quite rewarding – the office environment is incredibly nurturing and supportive. Everyone is very accessible and happy to take time out of their busy workload to help you troubleshoot or provide a perspective. On a more personal level – one of the highlights of the office is the daily “family lunches” where everyone eats together and engages in conversation over lunch.
Moving forward, I do think that this experience has provided me insight into how the public sector varies from the private sector in terms of work life balance. I am definitely interested in historical landscape preservation and planning – it is very thoughtful and engaging work to discover and narrate a landscape. In my next steps – I intend to work at a private landscape architecture design office to gain experience in design and construction. I’d like to learn more about how designs are built, how edges meet and different material uses. Perhaps I will return to the public sector and preservation after a stint in the private sector.
I’ll be hanging around Boston for the foreseeable future! It’s starting to feel like home. 🙂
Happy holidays everyone!