The Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Greater Albuquerque, founded in 2000, is a non-profit organization, open to all regardless of religious affiliation.The campus has fitness and athletic facilities, an outdoor aquatics center, early childhood education center and provides a wide variety of cultural, educational, and recreational programs that serve people of all ages. The JCC, in partnership with the Foundation for Building (FFB), engaged Groundwork Studio to assist in designing and visioning a new garden for the Center through repurposing an unused, 3,400-square-foot gravel landscape buffer into a multi-purpose garden that builds and reinforces the Center’s overall goals and visions.
“The idea of the Garden is founded on the belief in the lasting value of Tikkun Olam [which means healing & repairing the World and is one of the tenants of Judaism]… It is becoming a metaphor for our future, for the resilience that lies in all of us, and provides a place of peace and sustenance in challenging times and in a challenging world.”
– Jim Folkman (FFB)
The site plan was developed with review and feedback (including two virtual interactive design sessions) from a steering committee of JCC members. Major programming goals included food production (community outreach), meditative/tranquility space, outdoor education space, extended gardening season, shade & seating, sustainability & security.
“Using the theme of water, the garden is organized much like a stream or creek with pools and eddies where the main circulation path represents the stream, and the eddies are nodes where various activities occur, such as meditative spaces, work areas, garden beds and seating areas. This approach allows the JCC to keep the existing trees that are on-site, while providing a flexible framework where we were able to incorporate the steering committee’s many amazing ideas into the garden.”
– Mike Pace (GWS)
The new design placed careful consideration on preserving several existing trees. The JCC building’s relationship to the garden, along with the locations of the existing trees, influenced the garden layout. The Center has a meditation studio that looks out onto the shaded gathering space, bringing the inside out and the outside in. A prominent stone water feature further promotes healing to onlookers. Other features include:
- Storage shed and greenhouse for tool storage and planting starts
- Free seed and cookbook library
- Various sizes of raised planting beds
- Elevated planting beds that can accommodate wheelchairs
- Three-bin compost system built out of woven logs
With funding and implementation phased over two to three years, JCC members and the community will be able to participate throughout the process. The garden design is adaptable to the Center’s needs and vision and was intentionally developed to be a place of inspiration and considerable use for the community.