Oasis Garden, McMaster University

2003 to 2004
Hamilton, ON

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of their graduation, the Class of 1954 commissioned a garden for the present and future students of McMaster University. The garden provides a place of respite and evokes a feeling of what the campus had been like half a century before; when it was less urbanized. The garden also expresses the spirit of the Class of 1954. In 1954 the University was comprised of a handful of buildings and three faculties: Arts, Science and Divinity.

The Committee values the garden for its timelessness, aesthetically pleasing quality, vandal resistance and its capability of providing colour, and interest from September to April when the majority of students are on campus. The inclusion of plants is important to the Committee as it evokes a sense of a less cultivated landscape in a now urbanized setting.

At the Oasis Garden, nature and timelessness are represented by rock.  Pink granite from the Belmont Rose Quarry of Havelock, Ontario make up the material quality of this garden. Surrounded by the grey limestone of the surrounding heritage campus buildings, the garden is truly an oasis of colour in all seasons.

Fifty hand hewn granite rocks reflect 50 years that have passed since the Class of 1954's graduation. The rocks are ordered within a grid of coloured concrete paving stones. The grid alludes to science and mathematics, but also to the work of artists of the early 1950’s, therefore marking a cultural moment in time. In this way, the rocks allude to the relationship between nature and man. Some of the fifty seat rocks are cap rock with tops smoothed by millions of years of weathering. Other seat rocks bear the traces of the drill marks which occur as a result of the quarrying process. The pavers contain fine pinkish aggregate which is derived from crushing Belmont Rose granite as part of the paving stone manufacturing process. Situated in the planting beds which surround the grid, three irregularly shaped upright rocks bear the names of the faculties of Arts, Science and Divinity.