Merit Award Winner
Project Name: E-Way Model Restoration Exhibit
Location: Middleton, Wisconsin
Design Team: Saiki Design
2019 marked the 50-year anniversary of the E-WAY concept, developed by renowned landscape architect, Philip H. Lewis, Jr. FASLA, also known as the Father of the Environmental Corridor. The E-WAY concept was developed in 1969 with a grant from the Endowment of the Arts to develop a framework for inventorying a region’s existing natural and cultural resources to communicate their value and importance to the public. The ‘E’ represents local educational, ecological, esthetic, exercise, and environmental systems, connected by various modes of transportation to allow people to see, explore, and enjoy their natural surroundings. This concept was later adopted as the foundational framework for the Dane County Parks Open Space Plan and an inspiration for regional planning to preserve large tracts of land for public use, preservation, and recreation. The result of that planning effort and proceeding open space is embodied in the Lewis Nine Springs E-WAY, a beautiful seven-mile environmental corridor in Dane County that exhibits several points of natural and cultural interest, while offering numerous educational and recreational opportunities.
In 2020, The Foundation for Dane County Parks sought professional services to restore a large three-dimensional model of the E-WAY system, built by Lewis and his students at the University of Wisconsin Madison’s Environmental Awareness Center in the Landscape Architecture Department in the 1970’s. Restoring this model was important to the foundation because many of Lewis’ large-scale maps, plans, and large-scale models had been lost or destroyed.
The landscape architect was responsible for the physical restoration of the model in addition to the design, construction, and installation of the model display framework and overall exhibit in the new education space at the Lussier Family Heritage Center. The restoration process of the 50-year-old model began with an intensive inventory, documentation, and analysis of its current physical conditions and thorough research into its history and the E-WAY concept. Prior to any restoration, the landscape architect developed digital diagrams to communicate virtually with the Foundation for Dane County Parks and Lewis Family. Once the cleaning and restoration process began, layers of paper and other materials used for ongoing studies were removed to expose the original E-WAY concept. The restoration involved replacing missing and damaged pieces, repainting and sealing the surface with a UV protective epoxy coating.
To further honor the model’s history, UW-Madison Landscape Architecture students were heavily involved in all aspects of the restoration process. Given the pandemic’s affects on working environments, efforts were made to schedule the work to allow for social distancing, material availability delays and price fluctuations, and working remotely. While the model sections were being restored in the landscape architect’s office space, the wood exhibit structure and display were constructed at an off-site location. This required the exhibit to be designed and constructed in a way that could be disassembled, transported, and re-assembled in place. The model also needed to be moveable for maintenance and event purposes after its permanent installation at the Lussier Family Heritage Center, so hidden castors were added to the base. The exhibit framing and platform were designed with simple materials to be approachable and emulate the boardwalks found throughout the Lewis Nine Spring E-WAY’s trail system. Two graphic displays flank the model, providing information about its history, significance, and Lewis’ life work to communicate the importance of environmental planning and public education. The exhibit was completed and revealed during a Historical Marker dedication ceremony celebrating the legacy of Lewis’ commitment to the county parks and environmental stewardship at a regional and local level.