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Cornelia  Hahn Oberlander, on site in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, in 2013. Photo by Anne Raver.

 

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and a recipient of the ASLA Medal, died this weekend at the age of 99, leaving behind an unparalleled legacy of designed projects and a lifelong commitment to advocacy for the profession. Born in 1921, she fled Nazi Germany in 1939 for the United States, eventually attending Smith College and Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, from which she graduated in 1947. Five years later, she moved to Vancouver, British  Columbia, with her husband, the late architect Peter Oberlander, where they both had high-profile careers for several decades. Oberlander designed many projects internationally, but her life and work are closely linked with the Canadian cultural landscape.

As word of Oberlander’s death spread, praise for her influence and activism appeared on social media, where she was called a “visionary,” “icon,” and “legend.”  Elizabeth Meyer, FASLA, who served on the Oberlander Prize Advisory Committee, tweeted, “We stand on Cornelia’s shoulders. Great talent, creative risk taker, generous mentor.” Chris Reed, FASLA, of STOSS Landscape Urbanism, agreed, saying, “Cornelia leaves a stunning legacy of work and leadership, and humanity.”

Oberlander’s landscape architecture work has been extensively published in Landscape Architecture Magazine, as well as the general and design press. A selection of articles published in LAM and available online include “Permafrost Frontier,” a profile of Oberlander’s work in the Northwest Territories; “Canadian Modern,” profiling her work in Vancouver; and “Northern Terrain,” about Canada’s National Gallery.

Among the many opportunities to learn about Oberlander’s contributions are Susan Herrington’s Cornelia Hahn Oberlander: Making the Modern Landscape and the recent documentary City Dreamers, which focused on four influential women designers and critics: Denise Scott Brown, Phyllis Lambert, Blanche Lemco van Ginkel, and Oberlander. The Cultural Landscape Foundation, which conducted an oral history with Oberlander in 2008, announced in 2019 that a recently established international landscape architecture prize would be named in honor of Oberlander. The biennial prize will carry a $100,000 award as well as two years of public engagement. The Cultural Landscape Foundation has extensive information about Oberlander’s career and the Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize on its website, as well as a recording of the livestreamed memorial service held on May 24, 2021.

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BY KARL KRAUSE

Designers and advocates reckon with the uneasy history of safety in environmental design.

FROM THE MAY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In 1285, King Edward of England issued the Statute of Winchester—a sweeping reform of law enforcement to curb rising crime across the country. To address highway robbery, the statute required a change to the environment: All landowners had to remove “bushes where one could hide with evil intent” within 200 feet of country roads—an early attempt to codify environmental design to improve safety that became the standard practice in English law enforcement for centuries.

The use of environmental design to address safety continues today with Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, more commonly known as CPTED (pronounced “sep-ted”). Along with calls for police reform and defunding, amplified in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, design activists such as the New Orleans-based Colloqate Design have demanded abolition of CPTED tactics that “criminalize Blackness under the guise of safety” and fail to address the underlying causes of crime. So how has CPTED, meant to replace traditional policing with community policing, come to be seen as oppressive? (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.

BY NINON SCOTTO DI UCCIO

FROM THE MAY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Last winter, Dana Tinio, Student ASLA, a graduate student in landscape architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, responded to a prompt the National Association of Minority Landscape Architects (NAMLA) posted to its Instagram account: “What do you think is the biggest challenge for minorities in obtaining leadership roles in landscape architecture? And what would you propose to remedy this challenge?”

The prompt was part of NAMLA’s first mini-scholarship campaign for students, and it carried a tempting prize of $500.

“Landscape architecture in the U.S. is a historically white profession guided by Western pedagogy, thought, practice, and bias,” wrote Tinio in her winning submission. “This fact underlies the biggest barrier for minorities to achieve leadership roles in the field. Though the discipline is growing more diverse, changing dominant structures and perspectives is a challenge.” (more…)

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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

FOREGROUND

Print to Scale (Tech)
A low-budget student project meets new 3-D printing technology, and an award-winning garden
is the result.

        Room to Lead (Advocacy)
The National Association of Minority Landscape Architects formed in a moment of recognition. Now it is using its platform to reach out to students.

FEATURES

    Alternate Ending
Silver Lake Reservoir in Los Angeles was once a gathering place, but when it was decommissioned, the future went hazy. Navigating a vocal public process, Hargreaves Jones and the local firm Chee Salette honed a jumble of ideas into a plan for people and wildlife.

Whose Eyes on the Street?
Design strategies meant to prioritize safety in public housing often increase surveillance and overpolicing instead. A new program for New York City Housing Authority communities returns the keys to the people who live there.

The full table of contents for May 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 May articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Alternate Ending,” Hargreaves Jones; “Whose Eyes on the Street?” Geoff Manaugh; “Room to Lead,” NAMLA; “Print to Scale,” Mississippi State University.

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This spring, ASLA convened women of color leaders in architecture and landscape architecture education to discuss networks of mentorship, camaraderie, and solidarity. “Hear their Voices: Inspiring Stories from Women Leaders in Design Education” was moderated by Samantha Solano, ASLA, an assistant professor of landscape architecture and regional planning at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The lively, candid discussion included the following leaders in design education:

Diane Jones Allen, FASLA, director and professor of landscape architecture, University of Texas at Arlington

Maria Bellalta, ASLA, dean and faculty, School of Landscape Architecture, Boston Architectural College

Hazel R. Edwards, professor and chair, College of Engineering and Architecture, Howard University

Vini Nathan, dean and McWhorter endowed chair, College of Architecture, Design, and Construction, Auburn University

After a round of introductions, Solano directed the conversation with sharp, thoughtful questions. Much of the conversation focused on how women can support themselves and each other, navigating male and white-led organizations. Bellalta urged that women carefully consider options on whether to push ahead or to sit back and listen, weighing strategic, deliberative planning against action when trying to navigate around or through what she called “tall people with big voices.” Jones Allen says that leadership has forced her to overcome the desire to always be liked, a deeply entrenched aspect of gender-specific socialization that is more fraught for Black women. “Sometimes, as the director, or the chair, or the dean, you have to make the decision, and sometimes people aren’t going to like you,” she says.  Nathan, meanwhile, suggests pushing at these boundaries to ensure growth, to “follow a little bit of your fear.”

All of this guidance is a part of the omnipresent but seldom publicly acknowledged “inner work” women are forced to focus on in addition to their institutional responsibilities, Solano says. But the discussion also made it clear that the work of diversifying the ranks of design education and design itself isn’t just for women. Beyond the mental and emotional preparation women undergo to exist and thrive in male-dominated spaces, the panel also concentrated on benefits and working conditions that should be fundamental for everyone, but often affect women first, including more flexible working conditions and stronger partnerships between schools and firms. Nathan says that simply hiring more women is not enough. Organizations need to make sure women are placed in positions that control budgets. “Money is what translates into power,” she says, “and power is what translates into influence and impact.”

The panel webinar was hosted by the ASLA Committee on Education. For more information, please visit ASLA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Webinars page, which is available on ASLA’s DEI hub.

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BY JANE ROY BROWN

Carol R. Johnson, 1929–2020. Photo courtesy IBI Group, formerly Carol R. Johnson Associates.

FROM THE APRIL 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When the landscape architect Carol R. Johnson died last December, at age 91, in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, tributes to her extraordinary career quickly appeared. Within days, the Cultural Landscape Foundation, which had conducted an oral history with Johnson in 2006 and included her work at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park in its most recent Landslide campaign, published a remembrance detailing her long and influential career. The New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Architect’s Newspaper followed shortly afterward, a mark of her pioneer stature outside the profession.

Johnson is remembered both for the breadth and scope of her practice, which encompassed many significant public landscapes including the Mystic River Reservation, John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, and John Marshall Park in Washington, D.C., and for her leadership of Carol R. Johnson Associates (CRJA). At a time when women were rare in landscape architecture, Johnson built one of the largest woman-owned landscape architecture firms in the United States.

Educated at Wellesley and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Johnson founded her eponymous firm just two years after graduating. An inveterate traveler and hiker, Johnson’s approach to practice was informed by her deep understanding of the link between nature and culture, but also by a strong entrepreneurial drive, which resulted in a global portfolio of projects for her firm. Over the course of her nearly 60-year career of teaching and practice, Johnson also served on the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Commission for Small Businesses and the Committee on Development Options during the Carter administration.

In 1982, Johnson was made a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects. In 1998, she received the ASLA Medal, “the highest honor the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) can bestow upon a landscape architect whose lifetime achievements and contributions to the profession have had a unique and lasting impact on the welfare of the public and the environment.” She was the first American woman to receive that honor.

In 2010, Johnson gave the interview that follows to Jane Roy Brown and looked back over her career. A year later, she would announce the acquisition of CRJA by the IBI Group. She retired in June 2016, 57 years after founding her firm in her apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

An illustration of Edmond Albius, by Antoine Roussin, 1863. Image courtesy of Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.

An online exhibit hosted by the New York Botanical Garden decodes plants’ relationships to Black people.

 

Of the five plants featured in the New York Botanical Garden’s online exhibition Black Botany: The Nature of Black Experience, some are cash crops typically associated with Black people and slavery, such as cotton and rice. Others highlight relationships that are less well-known. “We wanted to look at how Black culture is always simmered down to low and middlebrow culture, as opposed to scientific or higher-brow knowledge,” says Nuala Caomhánach, a former Mellon Fellow at the New York Botanical Garden and a current doctoral student in the history of science, who curated the show with Rashad Bell, a collection maintenance associate at the garden. Each plant shines a light on the intentional omission of comprehensive Black knowledge of botany and nature, as well as how Black people were often connected to these plants in the popular imagination by slavery.

Very simply, “plants aren’t neutral,” Bell says. (more…)

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