This study revives the forgotten vision for a public water garden by
internationally-renowned mid-century architect Edward Durell Stone.
Contemporaneous with his design of the Kennedy Center in Washington
DC, Stone designed an equally monumental park to accompany the Greers
Ferry Dam in Heber Springs, Arkansas. Completed in 1962, the dam was
part of a reservoir-building program to generate hydroelectric power in
tandem with regional economic development and new community building
for this rural area. Influenced by the hydraulics in Roman and Persian water
gardens, Stone’s masterful vision deployed late modernist tropes
combining monumentality and glamour across the 269-acre site. Despite
the site’s 240-foot drop into a ravine, Stone’s schematic vocabulary left
gaps on matters of passage over the terrain, native planting, and water as
an experiential medium. Designed in a different era, Stone’s design did not
account for ecological fit or visitor-centered approaches to support park
operations. Essentially a heritage preservation project despite not having been built, the 2016 Plan shows that preservation can be
an innovative platform for reframing and refreshing the contemporary.