Archive for the ‘BOOKS’ Category


Homes along old Highway A1A in Summer Haven, Florida. Photo courtesy St. Johns Public Works.

The McHarg Center—a new research initiative that will study the intersection of urbanism and ecology—is dedicated to studying how “urban growth and all of its related infrastructure can relate better and be better tuned to ecosystems,” says Richard Weller, ASLA, chair of the landscape architecture department at the University of Pennsylvania. The center is awaiting its formal launch next year with an exhibition, book, and conference timed to the 50th anniversary of Ian McHarg’s seminal book Design with Nature. In the meantime, the center, housed within PennDesign, has invited Jeff Goodell, the author of The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World (Little, Brown, and Company, 2017), to visit for an inaugural lecture on March 29, at 6:00 p.m. in the lower gallery of Meyerson Hall.

In the spirit of McHarg’s research, Weller envisions the McHarg Center as an intensely multidisciplinary place. “When he completely overhauled the curriculum at Penn, he stacked the building with scientists,” Weller says. Likewise, Penn’s McHarg Center will invite scientists, designers, engineers, and public policy experts into an (more…)

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Mulan Primary School in Huaiji County, Guangdong, China, by Rural Urban Framework and the Power of Love. Photo Courtesy of Rural Urban Framework.

John Cary’s book Design for Good (Island Press, 2017) details a now familiar formulation for do-good design in the developing world: a western architect working closely with local partners, using local materials assembled to respect vernacular traditions and modern aesthetics, employing local labor trained as an act of grassroots economic development.

From the remotest outposts of developing-world privation to the forgotten places much closer to home that exist in the shadow of great wealth, Cary (the former executive director of Public Architecture, the public-impact design nonprofit) advocates on behalf of design for dignity. “Dignity,” he writes, “is about knowing your intrinsic worth and seeing that worth reflected in the places you inhabit.” It’s not an aesthetic goal, or a measure of the designer’s saintly ambitions. It’s a quality of the users’ experience.

The building types he examines are familiar (Rural Urban Framework’s Mulan Primary School, supportive housing by Michael Maltzan for the recently homeless in Los Angeles’s Skid Row) and totally singular to their contexts. There’s MASS Design Group’s cholera treatment center in Haiti made necessary by the region’s devastation from a 2010 earthquake that piled onto what was already the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation. Also by MASS (Cary’s prototypical standard-bearer for his generation’s inequity-attuned designers) are “maternal waiting homes” in Malawi. These combat sky-high maternal mortality rates by creating lodging near health clinics for women in the last weeks of pregnancy, assuring quality medical attention when they give birth. Atlanta’s BeltLine, the most landscape-oriented project profiled, forges a new landscape type out of a disused rail corridor: a network of greenway trails that loop an entire city.

Quoting the social activist Dorothy Day, Cary calls for places like these that create a (more…)

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To listen to some mainstream urbanists today, you have to wonder what body of theory, if any, they are paying attention to in order to make what often seem hopelessly naive and homogeneous proposals for new urban developments. Admittedly, this group is often the same bunch who don’t have time for impractical theorization because they are out there doing real work, but some idea about “good” city form obviously drives their approach. Unfortunately, many of the theories in circulation stem from a belief that the city is nothing more than a problem to be solved—it’s too dense, or not dense enough; gray and dirty rather than green; impervious and polluting; unjust and inequitable; or not living up to that crowning achievement of being “walkable.” Obviously, most if not all of these criticisms can be leveled at cities in one place or another at one time or another, but what are the implications for the urban imagination of designers if this is the only lens through which the city (arguably the greatest cultural artifact ever produced) can be viewed—a massive problem which must be “restored” to some nostalgic, fictional notion of the healthy city? And, more optimistically, what new propositions, pedagogies, and disciplinary alignments are necessary to overcome these narrow worldviews and begin to engage the phenomenon of urbanization in a more compelling and realistic way?

In his new book Landscape as Infrastructure, Pierre Bélanger, ASLA, an associate professor of landscape architecture and a codirector of the Master in Design Studies Program in Urbanism, Landscape, and Ecology at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, lays the groundwork for such an approach. Assembling a decade of design and scholarly research, Bélanger provides readers with a much-needed alternative history of urbanization (primarily in mid- to late 20th and early 21st-century North America), as well as a survey of the contemporary forces that drive urbanization patterns today. These aspects of the book are complemented by an account of the accompanying epistemological shifts brought about by new understandings of complexity and ecology as well as a resurgence of (more…)

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Improbable Botany. Illustrations by Jonathan Burton. Published/Curated by Wayward.

Wayward is a collective of landscape architects, architects, urban growers, artists, and other assorted creative types who design landscape installations for “exploring new models for how green space can work in cities,” says its founder, Heather Ring. The group’s experimental and often temporary projects emphasize creating “narrative environments that tell stories through the spaces.” The projects have included chromatic explorations of algae growth and weaving slow-growth sculpture from living trees.

It’s an outsider’s perspective on landscape design that might have earned Ring’s London-based band of designers the high school graduation accolade of “landscape architect most likely to commission a science fiction anthology,” because that’s just what Wayward has done.

Having raised nearly $16,000 during a successful Kickstarter campaign, Wayward will publish (more…)

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A new biography of James Rose explores his difficult brilliance.


“Words! Can we ever untangle them?” reads James Rose’s opening salvo in Pencil Points. Appearing in the definitive journal of modernist design thought, the landscape designer’s 1939 essay rejects preconceived ideas of formal or informal design and makes the case for an organic and materials-based approach—an argument approaching revelation at a time when Beaux-Arts methodologies held sway.

Reading the text today, Rose’s words cut through the decades, carrying with them equal doses of wit, creativity, and frustration with the status quo. An uncompromising designer from his time in and out of Harvard (he was expelled in 1937, later returned but never graduated) to his death in 1991, Rose is the subject of the latest volume of the Masters of Modern Landscape Design series published in association with the Library of American Landscape History and the University of Georgia Press. It’s the first biography dedicated to the landscape architect, who although a prolific writer throughout his career and author of four of his own books, has yet to receive the kind of canonical recognition bestowed on his Harvard classmates Garrett Eckbo and Dan Kiley.

As director of the James Rose Center for Landscape Architectural Research and Design—a nonprofit located at Rose’s Ridgewood, New Jersey, home—the book’s author, Dean Cardasis, FASLA, is well-placed to untangle the competing forces of Rose’s career. Few of Rose’s works survive in their original form, and a spare eight are presented as illustrated case studies—a fraction of the more than 80 projects produced in his lifetime. Much of the book is devoted to advocating for Rose’s achievements while trying to (more…)

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“In our language, we have a word; it means, ‘They have no ears.’ They don’t listen, and that’s what was happening.”

—Marisa Miakonda Cummings, Omaha tribe member

Brenda Williams, ASLA, has been working on tribal landscapes for 20 years, but it’s what she’s learned not to do that defines her reputation: Talk first. Her work is a lesson in when and how to listen, and what to do, and not do, with what you hear. Timothy A. Schuler follows Williams as she facilitates a new master plan for Blood Run, a sacred site carved by the state lines of South Dakota and Iowa and years of exploitation. The photojournalist Louise Johns documents the land and the people.

If you don’t live in New York City, you can be forgiven for not knowing Randall’s Island. It’s not a destination park like Governors Island or a national monument like Ellis Island. It’s where the city’s residents go to play games—right up against a sewage treatment plant and some of the city’s most monumental infrastructure. After years of neglect, the playing fields and recreational amenities get a jolt of energy from MPFP, Starr Whitehouse, and Mathews Nielsen, among others.

Also in this issue: A new wetland park for Wilmington, Delaware, has layers of challenge. Jeanne Haffner explores Lawrence Halprin’s unbuilt plans for the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C.; the artist Zaria Forman gives us a preview of her new series on Antarctic icebergs; and the first biography of the landscape architect James Rose asks as many questions as it answers. The full table of contents for August can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be posting August articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Game On,” Sahar Coston-Hardy; “Ears to the Ground,” Louise Johns; “Wrong Side of the River,” Doug Baker, University of Delaware; “Getting Paid,” Dorothee Brand/Belathée Photography; “Traces of Self-Exile,” Courtesy James Rose Center; “BIM There, Done That,” Patrik Argast and O|CB; overlay by LAM.

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Placing Martha Schwartz, FASLA, the past decade has been tricky to folks in the U.S. She has been teaching here, but otherwise has been anywhere else, working away. Now Schwartz has moved back to New York and says she wants to reconnect with her home ground. James Trulove talks with Schwartz in the July LAM about her practice and teaching, a focus on climate hazards, and recent work in China, where Trulove visited two projects in Beijing.

Liz Sargent, FASLA, doesn’t have a slick website or a press packet, but chances are you’ve probably been to one of the cultural landscapes she’s worked on, including nine U.S. World Heritage sites, 33 National Historic Landmarks, and more than 50 National Park Service sites. Kevan Williams takes a deep dive into her work documenting the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Being online means consenting to leaving a trail of personal data wherever we go, but what does consent mean when you’re in public space? Data-tracking furniture in our parks and cities can have a lot of community benefits, but is the technology way ahead of the privacy conversation? Brian Barth looks into the systems that are looking into us.

Also in this issue: podcasts for designers, not just about them; Meg Calkins, FASLA, on new sustainable concrete products; and just in time for your summer road trip, Jane Gillette reviews landscape architect Jack Williams’s Easy On, Easy Off: The Urban Pathology of America’s Small Towns, a book about how highways helped shape the country. The full table of contents for July can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be posting July articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Disrupting the Park Bench,” Melissa Gaston; “Context Clues,” Liz Sargent, FASLA; “Martha Schwartz, Reconnecting,” Sahar Coston-Hardy; “Concrete Minus Carbon,” Chicago Department of Transportation; “Reopened for Business,” EPNAC.COM; “Pictures in Sound,” Courtesy Mark Morris, ASLA.

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