by Glennis Drew
WILLISTON—If you search for I-89 rest areas in Vermont, a website appears for the architecture firm (Wagner Hodgston) that designed the spacious, welcoming stop. A good description of the space appears on the website, along with a diagram of the layout of buildings, picnic tables, walkways, parking, and trees:
Extending the presence of the Vermont Tourism Bureau, the Welcome Center Program called for two new tourist information centers fulfilling a variety of different functions – reception area, restrooms, a shop with regional crafts and products, interactive information center – all housed within a vernacular expression of architecture, the Vermont Barn, and set within an agrarian setting. The landscape design is a sculptural interpretation of the agrarian landscape composed of oversized rolling furrows, apple orchards, outdoor seating, and a picnic area comprised of whimsical picnic furniture reminiscent of farm implements artistically arranged within a farm yard.
When I am passing through the area, I make it a habit to stop and stretch my legs, as well as grab a cup of coffee and peruse the inevitable table of baked goods offered by various charities’ fund-raising efforts. Early in October I was surprised to find, at the end of the walkway north of the entrance, people picking apples from the mature orchard. It was serendipity! Lovely ripe apples, younger people reaching up into the trees to supply the less able and agile with the beautiful fruit. Ripe, red Macintosh apples on the ground were being picked up by kids and tucked into pockets for a snack later in the day. The kids ran around the trees, laughing and playing. This had to be what the designers imagined for the space as they laid it out on paper.
While I had long wondered at the possible function of the undulating concrete “waves” on the southbound side, there is no interpretation necessary for an apple tree.