The Schreyer Gardens: Nautilus Garden, Penn State (2004-2005)
The Schreyers have been significant benefactors to the University donating tens of millions of dollars to create the Schreyer Honors College supporting academic programming and facilities. As a testament to their love of landscape, they also funded a contemplative garden to be created near the Honors College. Their total hands-off approach during the entire project allowed me artistic freedom to follow personal themes.
The final design is a path that represents a journey of understanding whether it be searching for an answer to a single question or seeking knowledge throughout one’s life. The beginning of the path passes through a simple circular lawn surrounded by white birch. This space represents youth and looking at a question in simple terms of black and white or right and wrong.
Next the path passes beneath a towering horse-chestnut tree with dense shade and gnarly roots along with craggy boulders. This low point on the path represents the complexity and contradiction that comes about when simple solutions no longer work or apply. It may be a time of confusion and darkness in one’s life.
Finally the seeker rises higher on the path and twists once more to discover a stone terrace that is laid in the spiral pattern of the chambered nautilus shell. This final arrival point is framed by large trees with a view of a stone church across a long greensward. The spiral pattern of the pavement represents an infinite geometry that can be found at all scales in our universe from a fern frond to the Milky Way. It is this understanding of connectedness and the epiphany of realizing that we are tiny parts of a greater whole that gives us a glimpse of enlightenment.