Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Taking a Closer Look at Columbia's Papermaker Garden

If you're like us, you have gingerly walked by the vacant lot at the Northwest corner of Wabash and 8th street.  Or maybe you've taken a glance at the corner from up top on your way to work from the El.  It's pretty clear that something is going on there, but not sure what.

Columbia clearly has part of it dedicated to keeping bikes safe, but it also appears that some experiment or something is also going on in the space.  Well this curiosity recently bubbled over for us and as a result we went to the spot to read what was going on and snap some pictures.

Upon further investigation the area is called the "Papermakers Garden" and the sign on the fence reads:
The Papermaker's Garden contributes to Columbia College's green initiative by producing suitable paper fibers, and offering collaborative and cross-disciplinary education.  An urban garden such as this will reduce air pollution (because plants filter the air by using excess carbon dioxide to make oxygen), cool the air through evaporation thus cutting energy use, reduce urban runoff, and also give students access to natural, sustainably grown fibers for papermaking, and a chance to interact with the natural world.  They will utilize the fibers being conscious of not only environmental concerns of fiber production but also of ideas with conceptual artistic practice -- collaborating with science, art, and the environment.  Columbia's art students will be able to learn about the plants in a practical way, and use that knowledge to fuel artistic practice through papermaking.  The garden will also be an alternative art side - outdoor sculptures, paintings, and performances will invigorating the space, enhancing the positive visibility of the space.
Pretty cool stuff!


Dan said...

I appreciate their efforts, however it looks like there is a lot of open space in there. I hope they add more grow boxes.

Brianbobcat said...

As a former Columbia student, let me shed more light. This land is obviously the former home of Buddy Guy's Legends. Columbia owns the land, but I'm not sure how much of the parking lots behind and to the side they own. The master plan calls for a new student building to go there to be about 13 stories with 2/3 of that being classrooms, and some performance spaces, computer labs, and lounge areas. Buddy Guy's lease originally expired in '06 or '08, something like that, but Columbia renewed their lease until Buddy Guy's moved up the block. AFAIK, Columbia still plans on constructing the student building, but between the economy and their Prioritization plan, they don't have the money. Get used to the bike locker and garden, cause they'll be here for a while.