The outdoors of the new UU fellowship hall, our design committee has all agreed should maintain a feeling of our local natural wilderness. I have been searching for places that are similar to our local area which maintain this feeling and those which may look and be wonderful in many ways but fail to maintain the feeling of nature.
In the middle of the University of New Mexico, near downtown Albuquerque, is a beautiful spot called the Duck Pond (35.0850 -106.6224). To see photos go to this location on Google Earth and click Layers>Photos>Panoramio and 360 Cities.
This is a fine spot in the middle of a city, and it tries to create a feeling of naturalness but it fails because it is too controlled and too contrived. Obvious examples of the artificial quality of this location are the pond being outlined in a raised border, a path that is constant width and hard surfaced and a spraying fountain. There can’t be a complaint about the local building, because it is necessary, but it could be masked with the berm being a few feet high planted with some local shrubberies making the view intermittent and dappled. The berm could be low enough so the pedestrians, on the path outside, could see over it and through the bushes to a view of the pond.
To make it look wilder the path around the pond could be gravel sloping gently down into the pond and a few feet back into the grass, but a little irregular on the borders. If the pond was less than perfectly circular it would feel more natural and wild. There could be a little natural vegetation in the pond and located in shallow areas small islands, large enough to support a few ducks. A few benches could be located within view, but to be wild is would be formed of natural local materials and randomly located, tucked back into the shrubberies a bit.