Any person.
Any study.
Any Cornelliana.

An alumni
blog about Ezra's
University. (more)


Suggestions? Tips?




[+] Cornell News

[+] Higher Ed News

[+] Campus Pubs

[+] Alumni Interest

[+] Diversions

[+] Blogs

[+] Sports

[+] Other Places


[+] By Month

[+] By Author

The “Welcoming” Fence and the Future of Cornell’s Gorges

Figure 1: One of NADAAA's pre-schematic designs for a suicide barrier at Cornell that uses metal pickets.
Image Credit: Cornell University and The City of Ithaca Means Restriction Pre-Schematic Proposals, NADAAA

Looking through the PowerPoint showcasing NADAAA’s pre-schematic designs for the suicide barriers a couple weeks ago made me think of one of the first projects I ever reported on for Landscape Architecture, a corporate garden in Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. At the time this landscape was constructed, the neighborhood was very much in transition, so the landscape architect was asked to provide a place that would feel public during the day but could be secured at night.

When I interviewed the landscape architect about the project in the summer of 2008, he proudly explained how he had addressed this challenge by designing a “welcoming” fence. The chic black fence he designed had no horizontal components, only vertical bars and this allowed it to be somewhat more transparent than your average fence, he explained.

The photographs here show the fence is in fact more transparent than your typical fence when viewed straight on in elevation (Figure 2). The problem is, when you are walking on one of the pathways parallel to the fence, you will rarely look at the fence straight on. As soon as you start to look at the fence at an angle, its transparency lessens (Figure 3), to the point that when you are walking right next to it, the fence may as well be a wall (Figure 4). Needless to say, the people I interviewed around the space did not find it welcoming. Many did not realize the garden was open to the public, and it is not very well used.

(Continues with imagery after the jump.)

Figure 2: "The Welcoming Fence" in elevation

Figure 3: Same fence viewed slightly askew

Figure 4: Walking alongside the fence, it might as well be a wall.

NADAAA needs to learn a lesson from this garden in Silver Spring as it works to develop the bridge barriers for Cornell. The main way that people will experience Cornell’s suicide barriers will not be from afar, it will be walking right next to them. If NADAAA wants to be taken seriously when they say that one of their goals is to design a barrier that feels like it isn’t there, then they should eliminate all the options involving steel pickets from consideration and start showing us what it really feels like to walk next to the other materials.

To view more of NADAAA’s pre-schematic designs, click here.

The university is encouraging people to send them feedback. If you are interested in sharing your thoughts about the barriers in general or NADAAA’s design alternatives you can submit comments here.

Daniel Jost is a writer and editor with Landscape Architecture Magazine, however all views expressed in this article are his own.

Dan Jost | Posted on April 04, 2011 (#)

blog comments powered by Disqus

Other Recent Posts

-- WSJ: Cornell Wins NYC Tech Campus Bid (EBilmes)

-- Barrier Update: City Approves Nets (DJost)

-- Big Red Cymbal Guy (Nagowski)

-- New York Times Survey on Campus Recruiting is Flawed (KScott)

-- Barrier Update: Legal precedent suggests City of Ithaca will not be held liable for gorge suicide (DJost)

-- Despite MSG Loss, Big Potential for Big Red Hockey (EBilmes)

-- City Council Will Vote on Suicide Nets (DJost)

-- An Encounter on the Upper East Side (Nagowski)

-- Showing Off Your School Spirit (Nagowski)

-- Chipotle Ithaca? (KScott)

-- Cornell at the ING NYC Marathon (KScott)

-- Crossing Over a Fine Line: Commercial Activity on Campus (KScott)

-- Milstein's Downfall (Nagowski)

-- Can any Cornell-associated organization really be independent of the University? (Nagowski)

-- Slope Media Revisited (EBilmes)

-- Slope Media Group Approved for Byline Funding (KScott)

-- Occupy AEM? (KScott)

-- New campus pub to be good for both Greeks and non-Greeks (Nagowski)

-- Gagging the Election (Nagowski)

-- The Changing Structure of Rush Week (Nagowski)

-- Ivy League Humility in the Midwest (EBilmes)

-- Of Median Grades and Economics Minors (Nagowski)

-- Homecoming Recap (Nagowski)

-- My Cornell Bookshelf (Nagowski)

-- The Sun's Opinion Section Has Suddenly Gotten Good (Nagowski)

-- Remembering the 11th (Nagowski)

-- Cornellian Tapped as Top Economic Advisor (Nagowski)

-- Cutting Pledging, and the Good Which Comes With It (EBilmes)

-- Why Cornell Should Not Close Fall Creek Gorge (Nagowski)

-- Welcome to the Class of 2015 (Nagowski)