Behind every favourite public space in Winnipeg is a landscape architect with a vision.
Winnipeg, be not discouraged by the painful and prolonged embarrassment that is Portage and Main.
Our most famous intersection may be a failure, but Winnipeg has, often despite itself, created some great and beloved public spaces.
Those are the ones with many different uses in all seasons, like the new Central Park downtown where there’s a toboggan run in the winter and performances of Shakespeare in the summer. Great spaces also respect and accentuate existing natural features, such as the huge woodlot preserved as part of the landscaping around the new Winnipeg Humane Society headquarters. Great public spaces are planned to last generations, and evolve, like Assiniboine Park. And they foster neighbourly interaction and promote pride in the city, like The Forks.
Great public spaces include everything from traditional parks such as Vimy Ridge to the plantings and paths around the new Investors Group Field to the distinct way the streets feel in the Exchange District — the lights, the paving stones, the curbs, the benches, the setbacks.
"Any one of your favourite places you think of going in Winnipeg — that’s landscape architecture," said Monica Giesbrecht, a principal at the firm Hilderman Thomas Frank Cram. "The great ones are the ones you don’t even have a clue we designed."
In Winnipeg, landscape architecture sometimes fails to earn much love. Politicians and developers often focus only on the buildings themselves, rather than what’s between them and what binds a neighbourhood together. The creation and maintenance of Winnipeg’s public spaces often isn’t counted in the infrastructure deficit, even though they define the city’s character and make it livable. And landscape architects often get confused with gardeners or get brought in at the end of a project as an afterthought to, as Giesbrecht jokes, put some parsley on the pig.
September is Manitoba’s first Landscape Architecture Month — long overdue, since the province is home to the country’s first and still excellent landscape architecture programs. To mark the month, some of Winnipeg’s best landscape experts — Giesbrecht, Bob Somers from Scatliff+Miller+Murray, and the University of Manitoba’s Ted McLachlan — took stock of Winnipeg’s public spaces, picking some hidden gems and pointing out (many) missed opportunities.
Updated on Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 10:23 AM CDT: Spelling mistake corrected
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Woman drank self to death, man says
How the seven mayoral candidates stack up so far
Warm, wet weekend in store for Winnipeg
Mailbox sites anger residents
11-year-old conservationalist gets meeting with polar bears
Accident closes Trans-Canada Highway near Virden
Dead toddler had CFS contact
Officials: 4 Palestinians killed in West Bank
Police forced to moo-ve cows off highway
Walters needs to keep his eyes on the prize
Pot may be legal, but homeowner agreements can ban
Western wall a hurdle for Blue
Calif. dolls were meant to spread cheer, not chill
Holiday World plans new winged roller coaster
Judge denies Hernandez's request for dismissal
Transcript shows concerns during US execution
Lockout looms as Met contracts set to expire
Quakes shake southeast Alaska near Juneau
FIFA rejects calls to strip Russia of World Cup
'This is the reward for the work we do'
Russian execs fear lasting damage from plane crash
Temple happy to learn about return of urn
Ford Fest party to hit Toronto park tonight
McNuggets pulled from sale in HK after meat scare
Son of S.Korea sunken ferry owner detained