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Archive for the ‘BOOKS’ Category

Elizabeth Meyer, FASLA, the Merrill D. Peterson Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia School of Architecture, will be at the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture on March 9, 2017.

We are delighted to announce the first event in the Landscape Architecture Magazine Lecture Series, a program we’ve been cooking for a while now. The LAM Lecture Series will bring together design professionals, educators, and thinkers in conversation around provocative issues in the field of landscape architecture. From the beginning, we’d hoped to land Elizabeth Meyer, FASLA, as our inaugural speaker, and we are very pleased she’ll be joining us on March 9 at 7:00 p.m. in conversation with our own LAM Editor Brad McKee. Meyer will be speaking at the new ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture in Washington, D.C., about her ongoing engagement with the idea of beauty in landscape architecture, in a talk titled, Beyond Sustaining Beauty: Aesthetic Entanglements with Climate Change Science.”

Meyer’s talk will build on several years of thinking and writing on landscape and aesthetics, and we thought we’d post the two foundation essays she wrote on the topic as a kind of primer for Thursday’s talk. The first, “Sustaining Beauty: The Performance of Appearance,” appeared in the magazine in October 2008 (originally published in the Spring 2008 Journal of Landscape Architecture), and remains one of our most requested reprints. More recently, Meyer published “Beyond Sustaining Beauty: Musings on a Manifesto,” in Values in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design: Finding Center in Theory and Practice, edited by M. Elen Deming. We think both essays, and the talk she’ll give at the Center, will be topics of conversation for a long time to come.

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Hever Castle Maze, Kent, UK, 1904. Courtesy Hever Castle & Gardens


Yew Maze, Hever Castle & Gardens, Kent, UK, 1904. Courtesy Hever Castle & Gardens

Labyrinths and mazes are meandering ways to get from one place to another. As such, they’ve mostly been placed in the arena of baronial garden follies like topiary: trimmed hedges, a gazebo at its center, some ducks in a pond, and a high five once you’ve successfully traversed from point A to B. But author Francesca Tatarella has found that labyrinths’ persistence over time and their geographic pervasiveness are clues to a much deeper truth. In her book Labyrinths and Mazes: A Journey Through Art, Architecture, and Landscape (Princeton Architectural Press, 2016), she sees them as a set of existential questions we ask ourselves. “Labyrinths help us draw closer to mystery, and stave off the fear that the unknown creates in us,” she writes. “They deal with questions such as: Should I even start a journey if I don’t know where it will take me? Will I get lost if I head down an unknown path? And if I do get lost, will I be able to find my way back?”

By navigating a labyrinth’s contours and completing its choreographed rituals of movement, she believes we can master a small bit of our inner world, (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

An abandoned island is the Venice Lagoon. Local Code by Nicholas de Monchaux, published by Princeton Architectural Press 2016.

An abandoned island in the Venice lagoon. Local Code by Nicholas de Monchaux, published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2016.

In his new book, Local Code: 3,659 Proposals About Data, Design, and the Nature of Cities, the University of California, Berkeley architecture and urban design professor Nicholas de Monchaux develops new tools for the mass customization of underused and vacant urban lots, highlighting the limits of inflexible systems thinking. His book charts a way forward with an eye on past failures, and new possibilities founded in corrective measures that have proved to work.

American cities’ first encounters with data, he writes, happened after World War II. That’s when protocomputing power, developed by the military and Cold War consultancies such as the RAND Corporation, merged with tabula rasa modernist urban planning. These binary solutions to complex built environments (remembered most vividly as Robert Moses-style urban renewal that tore down anything old and dirty) became what de Monchaux calls (more…)

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Along with the rest of the country this month, LAM is celebrating the centenary of the National Park Service. Our particular franchise on pride in the park service is that ASLA, which publishes LAM, can claim a good deal of paternity in its creation, as detailed in our April issue. A hundred years later, we travel to a couple of the most famous parks, Grand Canyon and Grand Teton, to look at the challenges that landscape architects encounter in keeping these treasured assets balanced between their wild popularity and fragile ecologies. We visit one of the newer national parks, the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park in New Jersey, to look at how geological beauty and an industrial legacy fit together in an urbanized setting. Looking back at the Mission 66 design program of the mid-20th century, we discover the tensions the park service has in preserving a certain zeitgeist, in which some auto-centric features, in particular, are not universally loved.

There is a lot of other great stuff in this issue: Three landscape architecture firm principals share their approaches to requests for proposals or qualifications by clients, in Office. A report on a new vision for the beleaguered Westside, long an African American stronghold in Las Vegas, finds a mix of hope and anxiety for residents, in Planning. If you want to master a not-even-a-footprint ethos on public lands, ask the Burning Man festival organizers how it’s done. And this month’s book review is about Beyond the City: Resource Extraction Urbanism in South America, by Felipe Correa. And don’t miss our regular Now, Species, and Goods columns. 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 ungating August articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Surge Time,” National Park Service/Michael Quinn; “Industrial Evolution,” Sahar Coston-Hardy; “Hit Delete,” Hershberger Design; “Wild Rides,” National Park Service, Yosemite Research Library; “Mind Your RFPs and Qs,” Big Muddy Workshop; “Wary of Change,” Kirsten Clarke Photography; “Mission 66 Hits 50,” Google Earth; “Vanishing Act,” Andrew Miller.

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BY JULIAN RAXWORTHY

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From the July 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In my seminar on contemporary theories of landscape architecture at the University of Cape Town, I recently asked students, during the week allocated to discussing landscape urbanism, to choose a project from Africa that could be called “landscape urbanist.” One student chose the renovation of the Luanda waterfront in Angola. This project is an upgrade that could just as easily be described as conventional landscape architecture or urban design practice. That landscape urbanism seemed to just be landscape architecture to my students suggests how generic the term has become when considered in relation to implementation: It could be just about anything. Landscape urbanism is a vibe.

Landscape urbanism is an evocative term that has exercised great influence over academic design discourse in landscape architecture but has remained ambiguous in practical terms. One of its key propagandists, Charles Waldheim, Honorary ASLA, a professor at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, has attempted to provide a “general theory” for it in his new book Landscape as Urbanism, which, while engagingly going some of the way toward doing so, leaves the persistent question of “OK, but so what?” remaining.

Talking about landscape urbanism is more like (more…)

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Margie Ruddick and Thomas Rainer talk about their new books on wild landscape design.

Margie Ruddick and Thomas Rainer talk about their new books on wild landscape design.

From the July 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In the past several months, Thomas Rainer, ASLA, and Margie Ruddick have each published books centered around notions of designing “wild” landscapes in the public realm to help restore ecological diversity in urban settings. Ruddick’s book is Wild by Design: Strategies for Creating Life-Enhancing Landscapes (Island Press, $45), and Rainer’s is Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes (Timber Press, $39.95). We invited the two to ASLA’s offices to talk about the project they have in common. This interview has been edited and condensed.

Why did you each decide to write books on wildness in landscape design?

Margie Ruddick: I didn’t actually think of my work as wild at all until Anne Raver wrote this piece, “In Philadelphia, Going Green or Growing Wild?” [about Ruddick’s home garden, in the New York Times], and then I started to get e-mails from people all around the world, and I realized: This is wild gardening.

Thomas Rainer: It felt like a good place to be, and we [Rainer and his coauthor, Claudia West, International ASLA] are both plant geeks. We had a lot of practical problems to work out in terms of how to (more…)

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BY GALE FULTON, ASLA

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From the June 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Several conditions of the contemporary world present serious challenges to traditional or conventional ways of thinking and making in landscape architecture. Some of these, such as the continuing analog versus digital debates, are tiresome, rarely well-argued (by at least one side if not both), and counterproductive to an advance in the cultural efficacy of the discipline. Others are more complex and unwieldy, but also likely have much greater capacity to expand the scale and scope of landscape architecture in the future. In this category I would place the interrelated questions of “planetary urbanization,” “Nature,” and the effects of the Anthropocene among the most perplexing and fecund for the future of the discipline. As Jedediah Purdy writes in After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene, “As climate change shifts ecological boundaries, problems like habitat preservation come to resemble landscape architecture. We can’t just pen in animals to save them; we need to secure migration corridors and help species move as their habitats lurch across a changing map.” In effect, we will have to become planetary gardeners.

Obviously, such massive questions exceed the capacities of any one discipline’s knowledge. But this “bigness” should not be an alibi for continued reliance on outmoded ways of thinking such as notions of cities or sites as discrete, bounded conditions that can be operated on without understanding of context or flows. Similarly, and perhaps even more relevant to the day-to-day practices of many landscape architects, ideas (or ideologies) regarding nature, ecology, wild, invasive, and native continue to be treated as simplistic binary conditions that prematurely shut down what could be a vast territory of conceptual and practical exploration. It may also be that landscape architecture is particularly well-suited to engage these territories because of the unique disciplinary potential made possible through the hybridization of typically distinct science/design/humanities epistemologies. With these larger questions in mind, two recent books prove useful in providing not only new conceptual frames to intellectually engage these issues, but also updated tools and techniques necessary for developing concrete practices to physically and practically engage these conditions in ways that move beyond the status quo.

As the title suggests, Planting in a Post-Wild World by Thomas Rainer, ASLA, and Claudia West, International ASLA, draws upon the notion that (more…)

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