Kay McFarland Garden

JULY 26, 2021  |  TOPEKA, KS

A Cultural Bond

Built in July 2020, The Kay McFarland Garden creates an immersive environment to explore the connection between two widely different cultures. The exhibit shows how rural, Midwestern development mirrors the same principles as found in Japanese Zen Gardens. Studio Tectonic designed the space with intent to build opportunities that visitors could walk away with meaningful connections.

The Kay McFarland Garden would be a memorable experience, down to the smallest detail.

Kay McFarland Garden | Wing 1 | Topeka, KS

“The Kay McFarland Garden has an exhibit hall in the middle of the garden. This would feature the work of Studio Tectonic and ACME, to create a unique environment that would bridge a culturally gap. Photo provided by Seth Frankel from Studio Tectonic.”

The design of the exhibit would be crafting a balance between the different elements presented in the new space: The simplicity and beauty inherent in Japanese architecture and landscaping, the local Kansas environment and the culture of it’s people, and the significance of the donor, Kay McFarland. And, ultimately, building the connection to all of these different ideas, and how they relate to the viewer.

We are more closely connected to the invisible than to the visible. 

Seth Frankel from Studio Tectonic emphasized the importance of creating connections between the audience and the information saying that the audience is eager to know how they relate to the history, but often times are not aware of their connection. He went further to explain how no matter how beautiful a design, if it doesn’t create the connection, the impact of the exhibit will only be superficial. Why remember when it doesn’t affect you?

Kay McFarland Garden | Plyboo Display 2 | Topeka, KS - Square
Kay McFarland Garden | Plyboo Display 3 | Topeka, KS - Square

A visitor will automatically be astonished by the natural beauty of the new garden. Japanese Gardens blend a variety of elements to create a sense of organic organization in each section. The viewer connects to this experience, remembering how it made them feel as they explored the environment further.

This new experience makes the Kansas landscape appear muted. Studio Tectonic took that feeling of astonishment and applied it to the local environment. Systematic lines of crop mirror the carefully arranged Japanese rock gardens; Japanese poet ideals match the same sentiment as their American contemporaries.

“This approach works to build an appreciation for the exotic while championing the familiar. It is a subtle effort to celebrate aspects of visitors’ own lives that may be under-appreciated.”

Seth Frankel, Studio Tectonic

ACME was selected for fabrication of interior displays. This would consist of 6 PVC Oak and Plyboo Displays, as well as a PVC Oak mannequin base. Studio Tectonic’s vision was to have displays that mimicked traditional Japanese architecture.

Japanese architecture is simple in design, everything fairly basic from a construction point of view. However, from this simplicity, the expectation for everything else is heightened.  Perfection is expected. To allow the viewer to appreciate the beauty of the wood, nothing can detract or risk the appreciation being lost.

Kay McFarland Garden | Plyboo Display 7 | Topeka, KS

“Crafted with a PVC Cedar frame, and Plyboo inserts, the displays aim to capture the beauty of Japanese architecture. Photo provided by Seth Frankel from Studio Tectonic.”

Our craftsmen took special care when laying the Plyboo insert. Each piece had a different coloration pattern featuring streaks of dark brown mixed with natural beige. For a continuous color across the display to not detract, the team took extra care in examining each piece of Plyboo and selecting accordingly to achieve the effect. This minor detail was minimal in the overall design but would assist in completing the vision that Studio Tectonic had.

Art always demands hard work, creativity, and craftsmanship.

Seth Frankel said he was impressed with ACME’s dedication to maintaining quality. Our rejection of lumbar that didn’t match the expectation was significant to Seth’s team, showing our passion to get everything just right.

Kay McFarland Garden | Plyboo Display 1 | Topeka, KS - Square
Kay McFarland Garden | Touch Screen integration | Topeka, KS - Square
Kay McFarland Garden | Plyboo Display 6 | Topeka, KS - Square

On April 10th, 2021 the Kay McFarland Garden was reopened with a grand opening festival. Japanese cultural events filled the garden as they welcomed in the hopeful start of the new year.

The Kay McFarland Garden is an appreciation for the simple. Beauty can be found in the Oak grain of a seamless board. Beauty can be found in the craftsmanship and use of wood to craft meaningful exhibits. Beauty can be found in your backyard if you open yourself up to what it has to offer.

“All photos have been provided by Seth Frankel from Studio Tectonic.”

You can read more on the Studio Tectonic website: www.studiotectonic.com

If you would like to know more about what ACME can do for you, send us an email to info@acmescenic.com or call us at 503.335.1400