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Archive for the ‘HISTORY’ Category

BY JARED BREY

A new grant funds an effort to catalog the commemorative landscape.

FROM THE JANUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In 2017, Karyn Olivier, a Philadelphia-based artist and associate professor of sculpture at Temple University, wrapped a 20-foot-high monument to a minor Revolutionary War battle in her neighborhood park in mirrored acrylic. It reflected back the image of whoever walked past it. It amplified a nearby sculpture of the 17th-century abolitionist Francis Daniel Pastorius. At certain angles, it disappeared altogether. Olivier was hoping the project would help her neighbors see the park in a new way, and that it would say something about “the fragmentary nature of how history is revealed to us.”

“How do we make monuments porous? How do we make them malleable?” Olivier asks. “What does it mean for me to become the monument?”

Olivier’s piece was part of a citywide exhibition, curated by the Philadelphia-based public art and history studio Monument Lab, which grew out of the work of Paul Farber and Ken Lum, two fine arts faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design. The show asked Philadelphians to think about what would make an appropriate monument for the contemporary city. The exhibition unexpectedly coincided with the infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which formed partly in opposition to the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. In the three and a half years since, the conversation about America’s monuments—whom they commemorate, who builds them, and why—has only broadened. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Wheeling, West Virginia. Photo by Rebecca Kiger.

A landscape architect’s roots in Appalachia are the source for a new project from American Roundtable.

 

Appalachia Rising begins with a simple prompt for a place that’s been exploited and maligned for much of its modern history: “We can start by listening to what the people of West Virginia are interesting in seeing in the future.”

Nina Chase, ASLA, is the editor of Appalachia Rising, and what follows is both design document and policy paper, and part of the final project for the Architectural League’s American Roundtable series, which is focused on better futures for small and medium-sized towns. American Roundtable was supported by the Graham Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and Chase (a cofounder of the landscape architecture and urban design firm Merritt Chase and a West Virginia native) will host a presentation on January 27 on the team’s findings along with several of the contributors. In addition to Chase, the Appalachia Rising team consists of journalists, academic researchers, photographers, and documentary filmmakers, each working to “understand communities through their land and people and the ways in which the two have interacted to make place,” according to the introduction by the American Roundtable project director Nicholas Anderson. Each of the nine reports commissioned by the Architectural League is arrayed across five themes (public space, health, work and economy, infrastructure, and environment) to better enable comparisons across the nine regions studied for the project. Beginning with Appalachia Rising, each multimedia report will be available online. Chase and contributors Caroline Filice Smith and Elaine McMillion Sheldon will present their research on January 27 in a webinar at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. (more…)

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TEXT BY MIMI ZEIGER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHAD RESS

As the country confronts economic stalemate, Chad Ress’s photographs prompt comparisons with imperfect efforts to rebuild in the past.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

On February 17, 2009, less than a month after his inauguration, President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. A stimulus bill meant to jump-start the nation’s flatlined economy, the Recovery Act, as it was popularly known, promised nearly $800 million to state and local governments for the funding of “shovel-ready” projects.

The following year, the Ojai, California–based photographer Chad Ress stood on a dry lake bed in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and watched a tractor maneuver boulders into totemic piles in New Hogan Lake in Valley Springs, California. He was there to document a project funded by ARRA. The resulting photograph is almost boring. The frame captures signs of California’s epic drought; what was once covered in water is now dust. The sky is nearly white. Yet that line of rocks was evidence of money at work.

The book America Recovered (Actar Publishers, 2019) pairs Ress’s photographs with snippets of text that he pulled from recovery.gov, the government-sponsored and now-defunct website that listed each of the public works funded by ARRA. Although the site was taken down in 2016, a mothballed version can be found in the Library of Congress archive. The recovery.gov site didn’t show photos or drawings, just obtuse project descriptions of what might get done and a dollar amount. The unheroic list was meant to demonstrate transparency, but it had all the charm of bureaucratic efficiency married to a partisan political climate (the Republican-controlled Senate at the time aimed to minimize many achievements of the Obama administration).

The website struck Ress as an important counterpoint to the archive of images amassed during the Great Depression by Roy Stryker, who launched the documentary photography division of the Farm Security Administration under New Deal legislation. Photographers including Walker Evans, Gordon Parks, and Dorothea Lange were assigned to photograph America under economic hardship. Their cameras captured how people were living, government buildings, factories, and places of worship. Parallel documentation undertaken by the Works Progress Administration celebrated the monumentality of new public works—such as the majestic Hoover Dam photographed by Ansel Adams.

“I wanted to explore those disconnects between what I could read on recovery.gov and what I could see,” Ress says. “I was hoping that the language would align with what I could photograph, but that only happened once: New Hogan Lake, Valley Springs.” (more…)

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FOREGROUND

Pained Plaza (Planning)
Three public spaces from midcentury Philadelphia have been earmarked for reinvention. Two have succeeded, but one, a space for public expression, remains in limbo.

FEATURES

Black Landscapes Matter
In the introduction to his new book (edited with Grace Mitchell Tada), the 2019 MacArthur Fellow and founder of Hood Design Studio in Oakland, California, argues for the power and visibility of landscapes designed and shaped by Black people.

The Dark Side of Light
Sensitive lighting design is one of the hidden assets of thriving public places, but designers worry that their work is increasingly being used to watch rather than illuminate.

The full table of contents for December can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 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 December articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Pained Plaza,” Sahar Coston-Hardy, Affiliate ASLA; “Black Landscapes Matter,” Hood Design Studio; “The Dark Side of Light,” Elizabeth Felicella.

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BY ZACH MORTICE

A presentation to the elders of the Red Water Pond Road Community, part of the University of New Mexico Indigenous Design and Planning program. Photo by Catherine Page Harris.

Faculty at landscape architecture programs are asking what an anti-racist landscape architecture pedagogy looks like.

 

Newly appointed this summer, Sara Zewde is the first tenure-tracked Black woman landscape architecture professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) and one of only 19 Black landscape architecture professors at accredited programs in the United States. And now that her first semester teaching at her alma mater is under way, she’s witnessing a few more firsts.

Discussions of diversity and structural racism at design schools had always focused on quantitative measures, such as the number of nonwhite faculty and students, but now the conversation is shifting to what’s being taught, and that’s new for Zewde. “I have never seen this kind of conversation around the actual curriculum, and that’s what excites me,” she says. (more…)

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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

BY UJIJJI DAVIS, ASLA

FROM THE OCTOBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

“Ideas don’t land—they emerge,” Julie Bargmann, ASLA, began.

On the corner of Grand River and Warren Avenues in Detroit’s Core City stands a cluster of renovated postindustrial buildings, rising starkly amid the remnants of a long-quieted commercial corridor. Within the cluster are the new Ochre Bakery, Magnet restaurant, and a web of small new offices and enterprises. Anchoring the cluster at the center is Core City Park.

In design and execution, Core City Park is an urban woodland. It formalizes Detroit’s naturalized typologies with a true sense of care and intentionality. The park expertly blurs the sense of boundaries through a grove of deciduous trees and an intermittent carpet of ferns and native violets. The site is furnished with found relics and leftover construction materials, all of which establish clearings and seating areas within the groves. An industrial rail line rumbles occasionally across the street.

In the traditional sense of landscape architecture, where there are outdoor rooms with specific programs, this space allows you to break away without leaving the park. Core City Park distributes lush green clusters that frame and link together a network of groves and clearings to characterize a wilderized landscape within a fixed urban typology. Grand River Avenue and the surrounding buildings create a permeable edge that helps Core City Park blur the binaries of public and private, open and intimate, wild and formal. The urban yet natural duality of this park speaks to an effective landscape marriage that fully invites the Detroit context (and discontext) to liven and expand a central green space. (more…)

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This fall, LAM will be highlighting professional and student winners from the 2020 ASLA Awards by asking designers to dive deep into one image from their winning project.

The Landscape of an Agreement: The Role of Regional and Geopolitical Landscape, Agriculture, and Religion in a Future Peace Agreement Between Palestine and Israel, by shelter_expanse, Professional Analysis and Planning Honor Award.

 

Image courtesy shelter_expanse.

“In our work we mostly try to investigate the relationships between people based on the land. We hope this image, in the form [of an] aerial panorama (like those of Heinrich Berann), succeeds in showing this by detailing two entangled populations making clear actions over the land, thus shaping their life and future. It is the landscape that delineates the ground for actions, the Judaean Desert at the foreground, and the Jerusalem Mountains at the back.”

“We always believe landscape can and must take a larger responsibility in society, toward greater equality and justice, with communal and spiritual aspects. But we were still surprised to find to what extent this is possible if one addresses the critical issues and sites with the right tools. In a region cultivated for thousands of years, landscape plays an enormous geopolitical role: People pray, live, and die for it. In a world torn by health and environmental crises, economic and political inequalities, we must come out into the land; leave behind the boutique work for a while. It should be based on a clear and universal set of principles.”

 —Matanya Sack, International ASLA, and Uri Reicher of shelter_expanse

 

The Palestinian–Israeli conflict in the West Bank is one of the world’s thorniest territorial disputes. The firm shelter_expanse, commissioned by Peace Now to look at the situation through the lens of landscape architecture, shows how considerations of topology, land use, and future development can inform negotiations by policy makers and analysts. The design team created a potential solution to the complex patchwork of overlapping claims based on its analysis of the region’s developed territories, agricultural lands, nature reserves, and heritage sites. Providing useful new data in the course of its research, the team created detailed maps of developed areas, turning up new communities not previously recorded. The resulting proposal is based on a vision for long-term stability and growth of a separate Palestinian nation and makes recommendations for specific land swaps between Israel and Palestine. The jury took note of the sensitive approach to the region, where “fights over ownership often neglect realities of the land itself,” and “the ability to de-settle land will hold lessons for flood-prone cities that face the prospect of retreat.”

—Lydia Lee

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