When Yoni Angelo Carnice MLA ’20 first visited Cayuga Playground in San Francisco, he was struck by a wooden sculpture of a woman dressed in the traditional Filipino Maria Clara gown, with a graceful elegance that reminded him of his grandmother. The distinctively personal atmosphere of the park stayed with Carnice, and later became the basis of his year-long research project, “Eden of the Hinterlands: Reclaiming Asian-American Garden History,” under the Douglas Dockery Thomas Fellowship in Garden History and Design, sponsored by the Garden Club of America and the Landscape Architecture Foundation.

Before coming to the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Carnice worked in ecological restoration and climate-based policy work. “I was doing very regimented invasive plant removal, and planting native plants, in a more binary way.” He sought a more fluid, holistic approach to landscape architecture. His time at the GSD and his experience at Cayuga Playground, which “weaves landscape narratives, plants, and architecture together in a beautiful way,” was a revelation. Located in the Outer Mission district, it is an unexpected, idiosyncratic gem in a city dominated by “mow and blow” parks. And it is largely the work of one man, Demetrio Braceros, a Filipino immigrant who became Cayuga’s gardener in 1986.

Read the full story on the GSD website.