In San Francisco, much of the hotted-up dialogue around the unfolding redevelopment competition for Crissy Field can be pinned on filmmaker George Lucas and his proposal for a Lucas Cultural Arts Museum in the heart of the vaunted Presidio. The competition, to replace the old commissary building with a cultural institution on the Crissy Field site, includes two other contending proposals, but it’s Lucas’s recent sally in the New York Times that got people talking, and looking. To the Times, Lucas blasted the competition’s proposals and the sponsor, the Presidio Trust, for its handling of the redevelopment, and he threatened to take his project to Chicago (where his wife, Mellody Hobson, is the president of an investment firm) if it is rejected—a tactic that will be familiar to anyone who followed Lucas’s real estate tangles in Marin County.
Archive for the ‘HISTORIC LANDSCAPES’ Category
From the August 2013 issue of LAM:
By Linda McIntyre
In December 2006, as the National Park Service was starting up the process of developing its National Mall Plan, Susan Spain, ASLA, and Alice McLarty, who are landscape architects with the park service, took me on a tour. As we walked along the rock-hard compacted soil underneath the iconic, yet worn and weedy, lawn panels of the Mall (the tree-lined central axis of the wider National Mall in Washington, D.C.), Spain and McLarty told me how the park service hoped to overhaul the site’s decrepit infrastructure, including, incredibly, the turf (see “Pall Over the Mall,” LAM, April 2007).
I was skeptical. How could any planted site survive more than 25 million visitors and hundreds of permitted events every year? Paving might be redone and new trees planted. But surely the public’s First Amendment right to assemble in the center of the nation’s capital—for demonstrations, festivals, tourism, and softball, to name a few of the everyday activities there—would be the death of any lawn soon after it was installed, no matter how good the intentions or design.
The Portland Open Space Sequence, completed between 1966 and 1970, includes two of the most famous landscapes of the modern era—Lovejoy Plaza and the Ira Keller Fountain. At both sites, Lawrence Halprin & Associates designed fountains that abstract natural gorges in concrete and invite people to play in them. Recently, these spaces, a smaller fountain known as The Source, the grass-covered hillocks of Pettygrove Park, and all the pedestrian malls connecting them were named to the National Register of Historic Places. You can read more about the nomination here.
The landscapes join a very small group of modernist landscapes listed on the register. Peavey Plaza by M. Paul Friedberg, FASLA, and Gas Works Park by Richard Haag, FASLA, joined the register in January, though plans are still afoot to demolish Peavey. The Portland spaces have received much more support locally. The Halprin Landscape Conservancy was founded in 2001 to contribute to their care, and Portland’s City Council affirmed its support for the spaces’ registration last June.
From the January 2013 issue of LAM:
By Gary Hilderbrand, FASLA
Each generation makes and remakes the city, through grand schemes and incremental acts. As they alter the city’s streets and public spaces, our mayors, developers, institutions, planners, architects, engineers, and landscape architects reimagine the texture and shape of urban life. Aldo Rossi suggests, in The Architecture of the City (1966), that the city is built on the collective memory of events and impulses, achievements and artifacts, and forces of evolutionary change; its cultural ethos accrues through alteration and the passage of time. Would anyone not endorse Boston as a consummate example?
People love Boston’s coherent, identifiable character, one that evolved over four centuries as it has grown from a coastal village to a thriving metropolis. It’s a city rich in cultural assets—America’s Athens. Its iconic spaces have by necessity adapted to changing contexts: the practical simplicity of the Common, which supports varied forms of public life today as it did in 1620; the pattern of crooked colonial streets, which keeps travel downtown confusing to visitors but picturesquely varied and pleasing; the elegant hierarchies and radical urban reform expressed in the planning of the Back Bay and Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace, which have proved resilient in the face of massive change; the inspired and majestic rock pile of H. H. Richardson’s Trinity Church, somehow even more compelling alongside the prismatic marvel of Harry Cobb’s John Hancock Tower. We can all identify other notable Boston treasures and how they’ve been altered in the face of new realities.
Fletcher Steele was one of the first landscape architects to experiment with modernism, but he was not a modernist zealot. In fact, he once said: “A good garden abounds in suggestions to the past.”
A new short film created by the Library of American Landscape History and the filmmakers at Florentine Films/Hott Productions examines Steele’s most famous work, Naumkeag. The garden is best known for its Blue Steps with their parabolic railings; however, the stairs have only a small role in the film Fletcher Steele and Naumkeag: A Playground of the Imagination. The landscape historian Robin Karson, Affiliate ASLA, who provides most of the commentary, says the garden’s “masterpiece” is actually its sculptural South Lawn, which the film captures beautifully. Meanwhile, much of the film is dedicated to Naumkeag’s garden rooms that draw from Chinese and European precedents. You can see the entire film on the LALH website.
The prefect of Rome is moving forward with plans for a giant landfill just a few hundred yards from one of the world’s most historic landscapes, according to a report in the Belfast Telegraph.
Hadrian’s Villa, constructed by the Roman emperor Hadrian between 118 and 138 AD, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ruins of this 200-acre garden city have inspired generations of designers around the world. Yet local officials are planning to open a landfill just 700 meters upwind. (more…)