Olmsted’s Blank Snow

Sergio Lopez-Pineiro and Nicole Halstead

Project Title

Olmsted’s Blank Snow

Entrant Location

Buffalo, USA

Special Recognition

2013 Honorable Mention

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Project Summary

Consulting and Snow Plowing: Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, Buffalo

Funding: 2010 Independent Projects Grant, New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), New York

Olmsted’s Blank Snow (Video) Edition: Sergio Lopez-Pineiro, Music: Anthony Kozar (Ambient Nouveau #1)

During the winter of 2010-11, Olmsted’s Blank Snow was a temporary winter landscape located in the parking lot of Front Park, one of the six Olmsted Parks in Buffalo, New York. With the ambition of transforming this parking lot into a winter garden, we implemented a snow plowing plan that located eleven snow mounds resulting from daily plowing in positions different from the regular ones. As a public space, Front Park holds an important role at three different scales: local, urban, and regional. Although this project considers these three scales, Olmsted’s Blank Snow also acts as a prototype demonstrating how to transform standard snow plowing practices into creative tools for generating new landscapes. The resulting landscape achieved to artistically exploit the spatial conditions defined by these typically overlooked snow mounds while also exposing the hidden potentials of snow removal as a winter practice that can positively transform public space. We live in a permanent “summer mindset:” winter is perceived as a temporary season, while summer is portrayed as an everlasting condition. In contrast to summer’s green spaces, this project demonstrates the value of winter’s white spaces and shows how standard snow plowing practices need to be considered beyond practical needs.