•All texts for the Projects section have been taken from existing catalogues and are by various authors.
This circular composition, 200 feet in diameter, was carved out of a densely forested wood behind a private home; its form responds to the concave silhouette of the rear of the building. The garden includes two pathways, a sunken fountain, and a small seating area. From the back of the house a visitor can traverse the circumference of the piece or wander through the pine grove within its boundary.
From the rear of the house, walking to the right, one is led to an intimate seating area; to the left, a visitor is guided behind a 6-foot-high berm to the sunken fountain in the back of the garden. The randomly paved passage, interrupted by trees, stays level as it cuts behind the berm, but the ground to the right rises. The visitor walks between two, 30-feet-long, sloping walls: a retaining wall for the berm on one side and a freestanding bluestone wall on the other. Each one rises to a height of 6 feet and drops down to 2 feet; where one is at its highest point, the other is at its lowest. While walking, the visitor’s experience constantly shifts; the garden is obscured and gradually revealed when one passes by the walls.
Continuing through this passage, one approaches three additional bluestone walls at the rear of the garden; two of the walls form a “V,” looking at first like a barrier. These planes frame the focal point of the composition, which is visible from the house itself, but is fully revealed to the visitor only at this point: a 45-foot-long pool, 7 feet below grade, fed by a rush of water that springs from ground level. One of the staircases leading to the pool is cantilevered over the moving water. As one descends the stairs on either end, a gentle waterfall over the rough stone walls is exposed. Here the intimate space and the sound of water enclose the visitor, separating him physically and psychologically in a private space away from the surrounding landscape.
This project was Zimmerman’s first permanent outdoor commission. Here she combined her interest in the human perception of space, initially applied to site-specific installations in the 1970s, with her love of Japanese garden design principles. The composition is not one defined by traditional hierarchies; it is revealed by passage through its individual elements.
The title of the piece is derived from the ancient Sanskrit language. The word describes an awareness of emptiness, which necessarily precedes our consciousness of form.
Private residence, Oak Brook, IL
Bluestone, concrete, water, and plant materials
Architects: Booth Hansen & Associates
Landscape architect: David Kropp
Masonry: Domestic Marble