Nature Without Ecology

Piet Oudolf At Work

By Piet Oudolf, with an introduction by Cassian Schmidt; London and New York City: Phaidon, 2023; 276 pages, $79.95.

Reviewed by Rosetta S. Elkin, ASLA

Piet Oudolf At Work

“For me garden design is not just about plants, it is about emotion, atmosphere, a sense of contemplation.” So begins Piet Oudolf in his latest monograph, At Work, adopting a tone of wisdom and mischief. The wisdom in this book is offered freely across a selection of hand-drawn planting plans that are reproduced with meticulous care. Each drawing offers a lesson to the reader in “How to Oudolf.” A kind of manual for designing nature without ecology is found in the series of artful drawings that reveal a strategy for working with plants through quantity, species, spacing, and cultivar. Here, he seems to say, is my secret recipe. The mischief is found in its provocation—go ahead, copy it. I dare you to try. Continue reading Nature Without Ecology

More Virtuous Circles

Prodded by new laws, designers join France’s emerging circular economy.

By Ilana Cohen

A detail by Wagon Landscaping shows an asphalt topcoat transformed into mulch. Photo by Yann Monel.

Architecture 2030 estimates that the embodied carbon of materials will account for 72 percent of emissions associated with new construction between now and 2030. The Sustainable SITES Initiative further underscores the importance of materials in the landscape context, as their selection accounts for up to 41 of 200 possible points in the project rating system—more than any other section. Worldwide, designers are looking for ways to create meaningful landscapes with lower carbon footprints through smart material choices. One approach is the reuse and recycling of construction materials. While such strategies are used in the United States, reuse is often rejected as expensive, logistically complicated, and difficult to implement in traditional design projects. But in France, reuse is becoming mainstream, and landscape designers are developing innovative approaches to reuse in new projects and recycling materials that cannot be reused. Continue reading More Virtuous Circles

Destination Danville 

A rural city bets on water access and landscape amenities as the keys to economic revitalization.

By Kim O’Connell

The project coincides with a decision to remove a defunct hydraulic dam.
The project coincides with a decision to remove a defunct hydraulic dam. Photo courtesy City of Danville.

Throughout its history, Danville, Virginia, has been a pass-through city—a place where people and products were often headed someplace else. Located on the North Carolina border, this small industrial city is bifurcated by the Dan River but remains largely cut off from it. Continue reading Destination Danville 

Rest Easier

Hoerr Schaudt’s revamped entry to Graceland Cemetery helps visitors slow down.

By Zach Mortice

A truncated patch of asphalt and two small parking lots marked the original entrance.
A truncated patch of asphalt and two small parking lots marked the original entrance. Photo courtesy Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects.

“If there’s a street named after someone in Chicago, they are likely buried at Graceland,” says Joshua Bauman, ASLA, a senior associate at Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects in Chicago. Founded in 1860 and the eternal home to many of the city’s greatest heroes, scoundrels, industrialists, and politicians, Graceland Cemetery also hosts national figures, such as the first Black champion heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson, and a concentration of architects (Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) that makes it a pilgrimage for design mavens. Continue reading Rest Easier

Kongjian Yu: Found In Translation

The recent announcement of Kongjian Yu, FASLA, as the winner of the 2023 Cornelia Hahn Oberlander Prize sent us back to the archives for this piece on his work at Hing Hay Park in Seattle.

—October 26, 2023 

Early concepts by Kongjian Yu, FASLA, explored the park’s role as a stage, an orchard, and a series of terraces.
Early concepts by Kongjian Yu, FASLA, explored the park’s role as a stage, an orchard, and a series of terraces. Image by Turenscape.

By Betsy Anderson, Associate ASLA

On a steely afternoon in late January, the soft notes of a dizi floated over the sound of construction in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. The flutist played amid a line of safety fencing and the maneuvers of a carry deck crane. This was not an unusual scene in a city filled with building projects, in a neighborhood that proudly cradles cultural expression. But today, anyone crossing the intersection of 6th Avenue South and South King Street would not be greeted by the usual half-built shell of a mid-rise. Instead, a much less orderly silhouette emerged on the street corner. Asymmetrical, animalistic, and unapologetically red—a bending steel-clad structure reached up, piece by piece, to embrace the district’s most recently completed park. Continue reading Kongjian Yu: Found In Translation

A Designer’s Guide to the Twin Cities

Local firms share the best of Minneapolis’s food and design culture.

Peavey Plaza by M. Paul Friedberg, FASLA/Coen+Partners. Credit: Eleanor Triplett via MPLS Downtown Council.

As landscape architects prepare to descend on Minnesota for the 2023 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture this month, we’ve asked Minneapolis design firms, including TEN x TEN Landscape Architecture and Urbanism and Damon Farber Landscape Architects, to guide us through their favorite places in and around the Twin Cities. Continue reading A Designer’s Guide to the Twin Cities

Book Review: Little Thrills

Letting Play Bloom: Designing Nature-Based Risky Play for Children

By Lolly Tai; Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2022; 240 pages, $50.

Reviewed by Lisa Casey, ASLA


The playground manufacturer Richter Spielgeräte, who worked on Slide Hill at Governors Island in New York City, wanted a product to help “make children strong and support them.” This simple statement in the opening case study of Letting Play Bloom: Designing Nature-Based Risky Play for Children evinces a philosophy contrary to the idea that children are fragile beings in need of protection. It’s an idea that echoes an idea from the essayist Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who identifies that some entities are “antifragile.” A teacup is fragile, particularly in the hands of a toddler. A plastic cup, however, is resilient when thrown on the floor. But antifragile is entirely different: a system that grows stronger under stress. Children are antifragile in that their muscles, bones, and minds need appropriate stress in a supportive context to grow strong. Without it, they fail to thrive. Continue reading Book Review: Little Thrills

The Magazine of the American Society of Landscape Architects