Rutgers senior designs meditation garden
A good landscape architecture design can provide people with the opportunity to experience the "variation of time and different scenery," said Muzi Li, a Graduate School—New Brunswick student who unveiled her design of the New Jersey Sharing Network’s (NJSN) Landscape of Life Meditation Garden on July 28.
“This gives more possibilities for landscape architects to design not only the spaces, but also the landscape in different time and different season," Li said. "That is why landscape architecture amazes me the most.”
The NJSN is a nonprofit organization that aims to save lives through organ and tissue donation, said Victoria Day, a representative from the organization.
“This garden was created to honor those who gave, pay tribute to those who received, offer hope to those who continue to wait and remember the lives lost while waiting for the gift of life,” Day said.
The space is open to all. Day encourages visitors to gather and reflect with loved ones, spend time alone surrounded by nature in, meditate to the sounds of running water or dedicate a stone in memory of a loved one.
“In addition to serving as a peaceful place for thought and remembrance, the meditation garden will also recognize the people who have made monetary contributions to the NJ Sharing Network,” Day said.
A portion of funds used in creating the garden came from NJ Sharing Network’s Employee Giving Campaign, said Li, who she drew inspiration from many sources.
“Organ donation is a life-saving action, and it also represents the passing on of one life to another," she said. "I hope to bring a feeling of life extension to this healing garden and bring healing and comfort to donors, their families and staff who work there."
The creation of the garden involved in-depth correspondence between both Li and NJSN.
“Last spring, New Jersey Sharing Network reached out to the Landscape Architecture department at Rutgers looking for a garden designer,” Li said.
The group wanted to “show their gratefulness, and memorialize the donors,” Li said. The Sharing Network allotted an 8,400-square-foot lawn space, located in between the headquarters and the parking lot.
Li and the organization worked together on the design and implementation of the garden, as Li was required to meet with the network's committee and go over the designs.
"I presented to the board group several times about my garden design,” Li said.
The contractor for the project was hired by NJSN. The garden was built by Landscape Techniques, Inc. of Nutley, New Jersey. Groundbreaking on the project took place in December 2015.
“During the construction, I went to the site to select materials and talk about design details with the contractor,” Li said.
Li researched healing gardens and found case studies for inspiration. In particular, the Danbury Hospital NICU Roof Garden, from Dirtworks Landscape Architecture, PC, helped her with her design. She drove there to visit the space.
Li spoke with the nurses at the roof garden in Danbury, Connecticut to gauge their feelings on the garden.
She met with Dirtworks President David Kamp, who showed the pair other healing garden projects from Dirtworks. Most importantly, they discussed what elements are crucial to a healing garden. Holly Nelson, a professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture, accompanied her on the trip.
"(We) talked about some elements that we needed to pay attention to while designing,” Li said.
Faith Hoatson is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.