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Living Laboratory at the Great Park

Mary Miss, Great Park Design Studio artist, is developing a living laboratory at the Orange County Great Park.

Great Park Design Studio artist Mary Miss announced today she is taking the lead in developing the concept of a “Living Laboratory” -- a place where hydrologists, sociologists, artists and others will work together to explore ideas and create new concepts for environmental and social sustainability -- at the 1,700-acre Great Park in Irvine, Calif.

Mary Miss uses collaboration as an artistic approach to redefine the relationship between the built conditions and natural environment when working on public projects. One of her projects, Double Site at Greenwood Pond, in Des Moines, Iowa created demonstration wetlands in an inner-city park. In Arlington County, Virginia, Miss’ design transformed a 30-acre sewage treatment facility into a public place where visitors become aware of how their behavioral habits affect the waste treatment plant and the Chesapeake Bay.

Over the next century and beyond, Miss sees the Great Park as a place of experimentation where sustainability efforts can be a tangible experience and new ideas about environmental and social sustainability evolve. By arousing the public interest and educating through participation, she hopes to make visitors aware of important environmental issues in 21st Century.

“Artists working side-by-side with hydrologists and ecologists will make intangible ideas of sustainability tangible,” said Mary Miss. “For example, a tower might be built that attracts birds from the wildlife corridor into the main park area. The use of water resources to create wetlands fosters habitat for a host of species. Artists and designers will become an integral part of the park’s evolution.”

Mary Miss is collaborating with landscape architect Ken Smith, environmental ecologist Steve Handel, architect Enrique Norton, and landscape architect Mia Lehrer on the Master Plan for the Orange County Great Park. The team won an intensive, international design competition to become Master Designer in January, 2006. Their winning design features a two-and-a-third mile-long canyon and amphitheatre, and retains part of the old runway as a linear monument to the Marine history.

The Orange County Great Park will be a major metropolitan park and the focal point of redevelopment of the 4,700-acre former Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro. The Great Park will include extensive natural areas and open space in addition to recreational and cultural uses.

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December 8, 2019, 8:05 am PDT

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