Landscape architect Edward L. Blake (1947-2010) and the Landscape Studio collaborated with architect Marlon Blackwell to investigate the macro and microscopic forms found in the realm of the natural and manmade environment. They looked for opportunities to relate human-made and nature-made structures, exploring the similarity in structural relationships between the two. Blake embraced this human-nature synthesis, acknowledging the drastically diverse histories of the property, including the conditions of abandonment, exploitation, erasure, and nostalgia.
At the project’s inception, Blake developed an initiative to remove invasive plant species from the Park and to introduce plants native to Indiana in hope that they will proliferate throughout the Park once again. Networks of pedestrian paths, the Pulliam Family Landscape Journeys, move dynamically and responsively throughout the Park’s diverse landscape, allowing for the widest range of engagement with the natural environment. These Landscape Journeys provide a means of navigation from the Park’s entrances to some of the inaugural artworks, the Ruth Lilly Visitors Pavilion, and natural features of 100 Acres including the lake, marsh, and meadow. Blake affirmed the important role that the meadow and lake play as central clearings within the Park’s waterland-woodland floodplain. An artifact of construction residue, the serpentine contoured meadow heightens one’s sense of the floodplain’s horizontality and the verticality of trees emerging from it. So as not to diminish its sensual effect as sculpted and cultivated land, Blake choreographed the circulation paths so that they would surround, rather than traverse, the meadow. On the southeast edge of the lake, the Lake Terrace, sits as a gathering space that not only frames the vista out unto the Lake, but unifies the woodlands with the water. Blake reconsidered the relationship between the woodlands and waterlands in terms of a spatial joining of places. His interventions, which he has described as a kind of “teasing out” of the existing site, privilege qualities over quantities, the phenomenal over pictorial, and spirit over function.
Edward L. Blake Jr. was a landscape architect and founding principal of The Landscape Studio of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. In his lifetime Blake pursued four decades of planning and design inquiry; his work is recognized for evoking the poetics of place and region, including projects such as The Crosby Arboretum at Picayune, Michigan, which received a Centennial Medallion Award commemorating the 100th anniversary of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Blake is also the recipient of ASLA's LaGasse Medal for contributions to the management of natural resources and public lands. Blake unexpectedly passed away in August of 2010, but he is survived by the indelible mark he made on 100 Acres and numerous other parks throughout the country. His Landscape Journeys, enjoyed by all Park visitors, serve as a subtle reminder of Blake’s prolific career and innovative thinking.
To learn more about Blake's landscaping philosophies and early plans for 100 Acres, read his article, Placing Nature as Art Park, published in Public Garden, 2007.