The Greenbush Project
Introduction to Site Plans & Box City
We wanted students to feel strong physical and emotional connections to Greenbush buildings and outdoor spaces. For three mid-winter months, we used field observations to develop landscape architecture plans – and measurements and photos to create architectural models of fifty historical buildings. Here are contextual notes for the 6 items in this section:
- Questions for Observing and Redesigning Open Space Sites
- Open Space Site Design Assignment
Using the framework we employed in our October 25 “Walk with Sam Dennis” (in Field Experiences section), our student teacher organized another field trip to observe landscape features in open spaces in the Triangle. On December 7, small groups (2-3 students each with a parent or other adult) documented one of 10 target sites in the Triangle. Back in the classroom, each student used their field notes to develop a conceptual site design in response to this prompt: How could you change one area of the Greenbush Triangle and how would that affect the local community?
- Questions for Randall Students
- UW Landscape Architecture Students Present Greenbush Plans
Prof. Sam Dennis gave his University of Wisconsin landscape architecture students an assignment to create detailed plans for the Triangle neighborhood. As part of their process, the UW class came to Randall School to work with us for a morning. We told them about our projects and showed them a slide show we developed of historical and contemporary Greenbush photos. Then, in 6 groups (History, Environment, Demographic, Transportation, Land Use and Zoning, Parks and Open Space), university students asked the 5th graders a series of prepared questions to gather local kids’ perspectives on the Greenbush.
On February 14, the Randall class walked to Agricultural Hall on the university campus to see and give feedback on a gallery presentation by UW Landscape Architecture students showcasing their recent plans for Greenbush open spaces. Several of the university posters were later displayed at the Greenbush Community Conference.
- Making Box City
- Terrace Town 2006 (March 3 & 4, 2006)
“Terrace Town brings architecture, design and city planning curriculum to Dane County elementary classrooms. Over several weeks, students learn how cities are planned, what makes a quality city, and how citizens can participate in the improvement of their community. Classrooms design and construct a scale model city and then install them in Monona Terrace’s Exhibition Hall for public viewing. Teachers work in partnership with volunteer ‘mentors’ – architects, planners, and design professionals- to facilitate the students’ work.”
—From Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center 2019 website
For our contribution to Terrace Town 2006, we decided to create a “Box City” neighborhood of 50 cardboard and paper mache scale-model buildings showing the Greenbush around 1960, just before Urban Renewal when the City of Madison destroyed every building in the center of the community. Each student made 1 to 3 models of historical Greenbush buildings, typically a residence plus a commercial or public building, and the class displayed our model historical neighborhood on three different occasions: Terrace Town 2006, our Greenbush Community Conference, and Festa Italia.
A university student searched building condition and acquisition parcel files at the State Historical Society Archives for buildings with footprint measurements and photos from multiple views. The UW student also measured existing buildings we were modeling. Since the archive files didn’t provide measurements for the sizes and placements of doors and windows, and usually didn’t give the heights of buildings or individual walls, or components such as porches, the students measured such features on the photos, and used ratios to come up with approximate dimensions. Using those measurements and estimates, and math classes on calculating ratios, the students determined the dimensions of the footprints and each side view of the buildings they were modeling.
Much of the construction was done with the guidance of the art teacher during art classes, aided by parent volunteers. By the time cardboard was measured and cut to scale, walls and roofs erected with tape and glue, paper mache used for rounded features, and paint applied, the students felt attached not just to “their buildings” but also to the owners and users of the original structures.
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Questions for Observing and Redesigning Open Space Sites
Greenbush Site #1
Site Marker: Greenbush Memorial – Plaque at the corner of W. Washington Ave. and S. Park St.
- What is the purpose of this plaque?
- Is this easily accessible for people to read?
- Is there a way to make it more accessible?
- Could you make plaque stand out more? Would people of the former Greenbush appreciate that?
- Does this represent the Greenbush community at all? Why or why not?
Greenbush Site #2
Site Marker: Parkside Apartments – Seating area off to the left of the main entrance, right off of S. Park St.
- Why do you think this seating area is here?
- Would you like to sit out here in nice weather?
- Does it look like it is well used? What could make it more used?
- Is there a different location for this seating area around this apartment building?
- Would a different area change the use or purpose for it?
Greenbush Site #3
Site Marker: Bayview Sign at the corner of Regent St. and W. Washington Ave.
- What do you think is the main purpose of this area?
- Does this area look used at all? Why or why not?
- Should this area be used more or less? Why?
- How could you get this area to be used more or less?
- Is this a major part of the Bayview area?
Greenbush Site #4
Site Marker: Any courtyard in the middle of Bayview apartments.
- What do you think this area is used for?
- Do you think this area is used more or less than the Bayview playground and open field? Why?
- How would changing this area affect the surrounding apartments? Other courtyards?
- If you lived here, what would you use this area for? Why?
Greenbush Site #5
Site Marker: Gay Braxton Parking Lot – Seating areas on either side of the parking lot.
- Do you think this is a good area for seating areas? Why or why not?
- Do you think many people use these seating areas?
- Where would you like to sit if you lived in these apartments?
- Why do you think the benches were put here?
- Should safety be a concern for these seating areas? Why or why not?
Greenbush Site #6
Site Marker: Bayview Mosaics – End of the Braxton Pl. turnaround.
- What is the purpose of these mosaics?
- Do you think these mosaics fulfill that purpose? Why or why not?
- Do you think many people know about these mosaics? Why or why not?
- What could you do to draw more attention to these mosaics?
- What else could be done here besides just the mosaics?
Greenbush Site #7
Site Marker: Brittingham Apartments – Seating area behind the apartment complex.
- How popular do you think this seating area is for residents of the surrounding apartments? Why?
- What other options for seating are around this area? What are the differences?
- Do you think many people know about the mosaic at the middle of this seating area? Why or why not?
- What do you think is the purpose of this mosaic?
Greenbush Site #8
Site Marker: Brittingham Apartments – Seating area in front of apartment complex along W. Washington Ave.
- What is the purpose of this seating area? How do you know?
- How popular do you think this seating area is for residents in this apartment complex? Why or why not?
- What other options for seating are around this area? What are the differences?
- Would you sit here if you lived in this apartment complex? Why or why not?
- What would you change about this seating area to make it more comfortable? Why?
Greenbush Site #9
Site Marker: Greenbush Memorial Statue – Across from the Triangle on Regent St.
- What is the purpose of this memorial?
- How many people do you think spend considerable time at this memorial? Why?
- Would you spend considerable time at this memorial? Why or why not?
- What would help you spend more time at this memorial?
- Do you think location for this memorial is good? Why or why not?
Greenbush Site #10
Site Marker: Bayview Garden – Next to open field and Bayview playground.
- Should this area be open to all people in the Triangle? Why or why not?
- Who do you think uses this area the most? Why?
- What could make this area more accessible to all people in the Triangle?
- Is this a good location for a garden? Why or why not?
- What purpose does this garden serve the Triangle community?
Open Space Site Design Assignment
Open Space Site Designs
Using your notes from our December 7 field trip, you will redesign one or more features of the open space site you observed. Your assignment is to answer the following question: How could you change one area of the Greenbush Triangle and how would that affect the local community?
Use the following ideas from your notes to present your design:
- What area of the Greenbush Triangle were you in?
- What is the function of the area you studied? What features showed this function?
- What changes could you make to this area of the Triangle?
- How would your changes impact the function of the area?
- Do you think your plan is possible? Why or why not?
Questions for Randall Students
UW Landscape Architecture Students Present Greenbush Plans
Making Box City
We selected our buildings and then worked hard painting and cutting and gluing and papermacheing them to perfection. Working on our houses made us realize how sad it would be to have them destroyed and how attached the old Greenbush people must have been to their own homes and businesses.
I picked two Jewish buildings: Agudas Achim Synagogue, and Sam Onheiber’s house. My synagogue, Beth Israel Center, used to be Agudas Achim before it moved.
After building the cardboard Greenbush, I got very attached to it. Now I have a better sense of what it would feel like if they bulldozed it down.
At first, we were just ‘pushing’ to finish our Box City Project. Now that we’re done, I realize we were ‘pushing’ to really feel what those buildings were.
Through the whole process, I wanted to finish but when I finished, I wanted to do more.
Creating a building was not easy, but when I stopped, I wanted to do it more.
No one could ever re-build the Bush – I think we came quite close.
Terrace Town 2006
Each building has its own individual shape and size. That means each building is special in a different way.
Regent St., West Washington Ave., Park St., Murray St., Milton St., Mound St., Francis St., Italian Workman’s Club, Longfellow School, Madison General Hospital, Agudas Achim Synagogue, Park St. Shoe Repair, the Harris/Allison house, the enormous Tobacco Warehouses, Buffo Cerniglia, Abe Barash, Mike Shivers, the DiSalvos, Merle Sweet, Catherine Murray, Eugene Parks. That is Greenbush.
The Greenbush is filled with many different cultures. When they mix together, they become a community.
We wouldn’t have frozen pizza. The Pelliterri’s would never have started the trucking company. Rayovac might not have become as big an employer as it is today. And no only that; many things wouldn’t have been if we had never had the Greenbush.
Before I was in Mr. Wagler’s class I had never even heard of the Greenbush, but now it seems like, how could I not have heard of it?
I can only say that I’m sorry I missed out on the Greenbush and what it had to offer. Urban Renewal was a thing that broke more than buildings, it broke people.
When Urban Renewal happened in 1960, Madison’s cultural diversity was destroyed. Now, the Greenbush is ignored by the city. It needs help.
When they tore down the Greenbush, they not only took the people’s hopes, they also took the bond that was between all of the people.
The Greenbush was not just a neighborhood, it was a family.
The sense of community in the Bush was so strong you could taste it!
It seems to me like the Greenbush has more stories than all of Madison.
I can’t believe they tore the Greenbush down. Hopefully they won’t make that mistake again.
“I wish I had lived in the Bush.
From what I have heard of the Greenbush neighborhood, if I would have gotten the chance to live there, I would consider myself very lucky.
If I could, I’d live in the present with the same people and buildings from the old Greenbush still here.
If I could go back in time, I would go back to the time of the Bush.