Landslide2008: Marvels of Modernism


In the early 1960s, concerned about preserving the integrity of the water supply in the eastern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area, East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD) adopted a policy requiring all open water storage reservoirs be covered in order to prevent contamination. Working closely with local community members, EBMUD took a two pronged approached for the project at Estates Drive in order to both protect the area’s water supply and provide “a park-like setting that will complement the lovely neighborhood in the vicinity of the reservoir” (John McFarland, EBMUD General Manager, March 16, 1966). EBMUD’s engineers and the landscape architecture firm Royston Hanamoto Mayes and Beck collaborated in the design of an open-cut reservoir and fountains that successfully addressed both the municipal mandate and the aesthetic concerns. With the support of the residents, the City of Oakland Planning Commission unanimously approved the design and construction began. 

With pioneering landscape architect Robert Royston at the lead, the Estates Drive Reservoir was completed in 1966. Both Royston’s international and regional influences are evident in his design for the reservoir. The international influence is clearly delineated in the biomorphic contours and asymmetrical placement of the fountains which create a large-scale sculpture, evocative of Spanish artist Joan Miró. The reservoir design also minimizes the use of water, respecting California’s revolving drought cycles, by integrating curvilinear tiered bases for the fountains in order to abstractly represent the presence of water.  

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List of Marvels

Boston City Hall Plaza
Boston, Massachusetts

Estates Drive Reservoir
Oakland, California

Heritage Plaza
Heritage Park
Fort Worth, Texas

Kaiser Roof Garden
Kaiser Center
Oakland, California

Lake Elizabeth
Allegheny Commons
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Manhattan Square Park
Rochester, New York

Mill Creek Canyon

Kent, Washington

Miller Garden
Columbus, Indiana

El Monte
Hato Rey, Puerto Rico

Pacific Science
Center Courtyard

Seattle, Washington

San Francisco, California

Peavey Plaza
Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, Minnesota

education partners
Garden DesignGeorge Eastman House
Additional Sponsors

American Society of Landscape Architects’ Indiana, Pennsylvania/Delaware, Minnesota, Northern California, Texas, Upstate New York, and Washington Chapters • Astorino • Charles Butt • Design Within Reach • Topher Delaney • Sandy Donnell & Justin Faggioli • Fathom • Tom Fox • Hillman Foundation • Indianapolis Museum of Art • Lorraine Osmundson • Richard T. Murphy • National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Northeast, Southwest, and Western Offices- with funds from the Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation of New York, Dodge Jones Foundation Intervention Fund, and Eastern Massachusetts Preservation Fund • James Richards • Seibert & Rice • Diana & Bruce Shuman • Ann Stack • SWA Group • TBG Partners • Michal and Jeffrey William Tincup • Unilock Inc. • The Woltz Charitable Trust