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Archive for the ‘HISTORIC LANDSCAPES’ Category

Editor’s Note: This month, the Society of Architectural Historians awarded Vittoria Di Palma’s Wasteland: A History (Yale University Press, 2014; $45) the 2016 Elisabeth Blair MacDougall Book Award. The award, established in 2005, recognizes “the most distinguished work of scholarship in the history of landscape architecture or garden design.”

Back in May 2015, we featured the title as our “Backstory,” and we’re sharing the piece again in recognition of the SAH award.

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“Wasteland is a cultural construct, a creation of the imagination, a category applied to landscapes rather than an inherent characteristic of them.” So writes the historian Vittoria Di Palma in Wasteland: A History (Yale University Press, 2014; $45), her study of 18th-century landscape ideals. Elegantly laying out the pervasive if elusive role that disgust has played in the development of modern notions of landscape value, Di Palma asks us to look again at undesirable spaces. Dividing her study by typologies—swamp, forest, and mountain—Di Palma examines the way that new and evolving definitions of wasteland have, in their repellence and contrast, shaped the theories of landscape beauty and utility that continue to influence our perceptions of landscape today.

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A new film focuses on Jens Jensen.

From the April 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Jens Jensen didn’t care much for the White City. According to the new documentary Jens Jensen: The Living Green, he, along with the architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan, rejected the European influence of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and embraced the prairie and its ecology as the American landscape idiom. Today, many of his pioneering ideas about the use of native plants and landscape conservation have new currency. Jensen, who was born in Denmark but is closely associated with Chicago’s urban parks and midwestern landscape preservation, will be the subject of an Earth Day observance at the New York Botanical Garden. A screening of the documentary will be followed by a panel discussion with Darrel Morrison, FASLA; Robert Grese, ASLA; the filmmaker Carey Lundin; and Jensen’s great-granddaughter, Jensen Wheeler Wolfe.

Jens Jensen: The Living Green Film Screening and Panel Discussion at the National Building Museum, April 14, 2016, 7:00–8:30 p.m.

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BY GARY HILDERBRAND, FASLA

Dan Kiley's South Garden at the Art Institute of Chicago has seasoned over nearly 50 years into a rugged, magical hawthorn canopy.

Dan Kiley’s South Garden at the Art Institute of Chicago has seasoned over nearly 50 years into a rugged, magical hawthorn canopy.

From the October 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

There is nothing quite like sitting beneath the almost fully connective canopy of 50-year-old cockspur hawthorns in Dan Kiley’s South Garden at the Art Institute of Chicago in early summer. The 32 trees at the center of the garden, set in a 20-foot grid, reached their natural maximum height long ago. Their wily trunks have thickened and twisted with age; their craggy, wandering branches continued to elongate, eventually overlapping and intertwining, creating a space that has a level of repose perhaps unequaled in a midcentury urban landscape space. Crataegus crus-galli has narrow, waxy, obovate leaves, which are naturally held upright at the tops of the branches, suggesting intolerance for shade; they filter a kaleidoscope of sunlight and shadow onto the warm brown crushed-stone paving below. Reflections from the water surface and gravel color the air. Though generally I find the modernist conceit of describing “rooms” in landscapes inadequate or ill-suited, this canopy explicitly creates a ceiling and produces a dazzling sense of interiority within the garden’s sunken court space. It’s hard to believe you are sitting within 150 feet of Chicago’s main drag.

Michigan Avenue, the historic eastern anchor of Chicago’s exalted grid, attracts hordes of traffic and tourists to its institutions, architectural sites, and parks. There are excellent urban landscapes to see here, including the Lurie Garden, Maggie Daley Park, Grant Park, and the grounds of the Field Museum. None is more tranquil than the South Garden. Peter Schaudt, one of Chicago’s most admired landscape architects, considered it Chicago’s best landscape space. This year, ASLA conferred its Landmark Award to the project, which recognizes works between 15 and 50 years old that retain their design integrity and benefit to the public realm. At about its 50-year mark, the South Garden more than (more…)

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BY DANIEL ELSEA

Ireland's National Landscape Strategy makes clear the twining of land and national identity.

Ireland’s National Landscape Strategy makes clear the twining of land and national identity.

From the September 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In May, Ireland unveiled a National Landscape Strategy (NLS), in an attempt to establish guidelines for the governance of the country’s historic geography while recognizing its inherent dynamism. Getting to grips with a nation’s landscape in such an ecumenical, broad-brushstrokes way is a tall order, even for a small island nation the size of Maine. Human settlement has left its mark on the Irish landscape for nearly 10,000 years. It’s an old place etched with memories, from the craggy coasts of Western Ireland to the karst of County Clare to the genteel Georgian terraces of Dublin.

These all now come under the protective purview of Ireland’s Department of Arts, Heritage, and Gaeltacht (the latter word referring to the Gaelic language). The agency has committed itself to a 10-year program to implement the NLS, with the completion of a comprehensive national Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) within five years. “It encompasses all landscapes—rural and urban, beautiful and degraded, ordinary and unique,” says Martin Colreavy, Ireland’s principal adviser on built heritage and architectural policy.

Ireland, of course, is a divided island, and the department’s remit extends to the boundaries of the Irish Republic—that is, the three historic southern provinces. The fourth province to the north—what we call Northern Ireland—remains part of the United Kingdom. The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has drawn up its own “Landscape Charter,” which will complement this one, reminding us that politics is often a land-based proposition.

If boundaries define landscapes, then landscapes define identity. As the NLS indicates, this is Ireland living up to its European obligations as (more…)

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July’s LAM looks at the long-needed rehabilitation of Babi Yar Park, a memorial ground in Denver dedicated to the lives lost in Kiev, Ukraine, during the Holocaust, by Tina Bishop of Mundus Bishop; a rethinking of Chavis Park in Raleigh, North Carolina, by Skeo Solutions, which embraces the park’s African American heritage through public engagement; and the ground-to-crown planting of the One Central Park high-rise in Sydney, designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel, with Aspect | Oculus and Jeppe Aagaard Andersen, where sprawling green balconies make what is said to be the tallest vertical garden in the world.

In this month’s departments, the Milan Expo 2015 centered on food sustainability seems to draw controversy from every angle; Molly Meyer is leading the charge for affordable, simpler, and greater biodiversity in green roofs; and nature reclaims lands once lost from the demolition of two dams on the Elwha River in Washington State. In The Back, an exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History immerses visitors in the beauty of Iceland through sight and sound. All this plus our regular Now, Species, Goods, and Books columns.

You can read the full table of contents for July 2015 or pick up a free digital issue of the July LAM here and share it with your clients, colleagues, and friends. As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 200 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 July articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “The Global Cucumber,” Tim Waterman; “Green Roof Gold,” Michael Skiba; “A River Returns,” National Park Service; “Star Witness,” © Scott Dressel-Martin; “The Chavis Conversion,” Skeo Solutions; “Live It Up,” Simon Wood Photography; “Songs of Ice and Fire,” Feo Pitcairn Fine Art.

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The Headland Park at Barangaroo Sydney, designed by PWP Landscape Architecture, is scheduled for its formal opening this summer. It is a total re-visioning of what was once a one-kilometer concrete slab described as the “third runway at Sydney airport” into an organic waterline reminiscent of its original form when Aboriginals inhabited the area. This nearly four-minute video, presented by Barangaroo Sydney, describes the multidisciplinary approach to the project and the separate components, from the sandstone hewn from the site to the native vegetation selection, that create a place unique to Sydney. Separately, an interview with Peter Walker in 2010 goes into detail on the design decisions for the iconic landscape, as well as what the design elements mean for Barangaroo and Sydney. For a more promotional video detailing the history of the site to the present, visit here.

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BY MIMI ZEIGER

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To revive downtown, the city appears poised to drive right through a masterpiece.

From the December 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The city of Fresno sits in the middle of California’s San Joaquin Valley. When you drive into town from Los Angeles, the landscape is agricultural and framed by roadside eucalyptus trees. It gives way to off-ramp clusters of gas stations, fast-food chains, and light industrial warehouses. Most of Fresno’s neighborhoods, after nearly 50 years of decentralization and flight from the urban core, sprawl north, tracking the edge of the San Joaquin River. The city’s historic downtown and civic center are a near ghost town.

At the heart of downtown is the Fulton Mall. In the early part of the 20th century, it was Fresno’s main drag, Fulton Street, six blocks lined with banks and department stores. In 1964, the landscape architect Garrett Eckbo turned the street into a modernist pedestrian mall as part of a master plan for downtown Fresno by Victor Gruen Associates. Photographs of the period show a wide promenade full of people flanked by the awnings of existing buildings. Daffodils peek out of Eckbo’s sculptural planting beds, fountains gurgle, and a clock tower by Jan de Swart, an expressive interpretation of a historic form, unambiguously marks the mall as the new town square.

Today, the mall is the center of a fight over downtown Fresno’s redevelopment. The city government, with a $14 million federal transportation grant, supports plans to put a new complete street down the center of the mall. Preservationists plan to file a lawsuit to block the scheme. The rhetorical standoff between sides comes down to revive versus destroy, but the conditions on the ground tell a more complicated story about the role of design as a catalyst and a scapegoat in a changing urban landscape.

(more…)

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