“This does not mean one is helpless before nature, but rather that nature’s conditions are unexpected, like Price’s hill torn by the flood. In another sense Olmsted’s parks exist before they are finished, which means in fact they are never finished; they remain carriers of the unexpected and of contradiction on all levels of human activity, be it social, political, or natural.” (Smithson, p. 119)
I lived in Manhattan for 4 years and Central Park is really quite a bizarre concept: a rectangle of green designed by humans to look as “natural” as possible before being plopped down in the middle of a crowded asphalt island. The city itself is a product of design with a well-coordinated grid system. Streets run east to west and avenues run north to south with most having logical, numerical names (that is, until you get downtown and everything turns into a diagonal, jumbled mess).
To what extent can humans design around nature? When do natural forces take over? Does nature design us?