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SEPTEMBER LAM: HIDDEN VIEW

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FOREGROUND

Big Tree, Small World (Interview)
The author and entomologist Doug Tallamy’s new book, The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees, advocates for the environmental workhorse of trees.

One Big Picture (Water)
A comprehensive new map of the Colorado River Basin connects the watershed and the people.

FEATURES        

Licensure on the Line
After years of political attacks, the design professions are uniting to protect
against threats to professional licensure.

Worlds Away
Hidden in the leafy Washington, D.C., suburbs, Glenstone has been an insider’s destination for years. For a new expansion and outreach, PWP Landscape Architecture designed a landscape
for the confluence of big art and small moments.

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

Credits: “Worlds Away,” Glenstone; “Licensure on the Line,” LAM; “One Big Picture,” Pete McBride; “Big Tree, Small World,” Rob Cardillo Photography.

IMAGINE THAT

BY ZACH MORTICE

Jennifer Mok’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge theme park, set on the planet of Batuu. Image courtesy Disney 2021 Marvel.

 

Dream Big with Design meets kids where they are to help them find their place in landscape architecture.

 

Jennifer Mok doesn’t have a job like most landscape architects. “We build worlds,” she says. Mok, a landscape architecture studio executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, designs theme parks and resorts. “Our designs have to be complete; it has to be immersive. It’s putting the magic into that experience [for] the guest.”

The newest example of this design philosophy is her team’s designs for the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge theme park. Set on the planet of Batuu, on the far rim of the galaxy, Black Spire Outpost is a dusty haven for villainy. There are seedy bazaars, parked space freighters, and spire-like petrified trees that meld into domed structures: unmistakably alien, but also of a piece with one of the most richly realized sci-fi universes ever made.

What Mok and her team of a dozen-plus landscape designers do is both a continuation of the legacy of Ruth Shellhorn, one of Disney’s first landscape architects, and also a wild extrapolation from it. As acts of sheer invention, where the singular purpose is amazement, these places are landscape architecture at a scale that’s unforgettable, and that makes Mok an ideal participant for “Dream Big with Design: A Showcase of Landscape Architecture and Pre-K–12 Design Learning,” ASLA’s two-day session of design introduction and education for primary and secondary school students. Mok and her team at Disney will present their work as landscape design Imagineers, along with landscape designers from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Legoland theme parks, and Minecraft-related programming, on September 23rd and 24th. “If it excites students to see what landscape architecture does with Imagineering, but opens up for them a world of, ‘This is what you could do as a designer, and apply that anywhere,’ that’s what we’re hoping to do,” Mok says. Continue Reading »

i, DESIGNER?

BY PHILLIP FERNBERG, ASSOCIATE ASLA, AND BRENT CHAMBERLAIN

Advancements in Artificial Intelligence creativity should make us rethink the future of landscape architecture practice.

FROM THE AUGUST 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

If you were to thumb through old issues of Science magazine, once you hit 1967 you would come across an obscure article coauthored by Allen Newell, an esteemed pioneer of artificial intelligence research, arguing for the validity of a new discipline called computer science. In the article, Newell and his colleagues Alan J. Perlis and Herbert A. Simon address some fundamental objections within academia to the idea that the study of computers was, in fact, a science or even a worthwhile pursuit. The questions are simple but fundamental: Is there such a thing as computer science? If so, what is it?

As you read the objections and their respective responses, you might begin to think as we did about the similar line of questioning that has been employed in landscape architecture. Substitute the computer speak with our own professional jargon and you have near carbon copies of themes from licensure advocacy meetings, ASLA conferences, or academic treatises on the state of the discipline. Computer science and landscape architecture have a surprising amount in common. They are both relatively new (at least in the official sense), they have both evolved in significant ways over the past century, and they both have been in an ongoing existential discussion about their position amid peer disciplines. This is nice to know but not revelatory.

Yet the intersection gets more interesting. One of the objections in the article states: “The term ‘computer’ is not well defined, and its meaning will change with new developments, hence computer science does not have a well-defined subject matter.” The authors’ reply is astute and resonant: “The phenomena of all sciences change over time; the process of understanding assures that this will be the case. Astronomy did not originally include the study of interstellar gases; physics did not include radioactivity; psychology did not include the study of animal behavior. Mathematics was once defined as the ‘science of quantity.’” So too is the phenomenon of landscape architecture; it just happens to work on an accelerated timeline. The field is ever shifting, retooling, and reassessing our place as our understanding of our medium and our instruments evolves. Before Olmsted, landscapes were gardens rather than systems; before Ian McHarg’s Design with Nature, those systems were not intertwined with ecology; before CAD, GIS, or Adobe, our only tools were pen and paper. Continue Reading »

PATHS FORWARD

BY KATHARINE LOGAN

FROM THE AUGUST 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Across the Yukon River from Dawson City, up around 64 degrees latitude, the Top of the World Highway wends its way over 65 miles of unglaciated landscape to the border with Alaska. Unlike the Yukon Territory’s typical highways, which track the river valleys, Top of the World runs along a ridgeline. For hundreds of miles in all directions, travelers look out over forested valleys, subalpine meadows, distant mountain ranges, and spectacular vistas that comprise the traditional lands of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in people.

Long before Top of the World was graded and graveled and designated a territorial highway, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in walked this path on seasonal journeys between the river and the mountains—hunting caribou, harvesting berries and wild rhubarb, gathering for celebrations, telling stories. When gold prospectors began arriving in the late 1890s, the leader of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Chief Isaac, growing concerned for the heritage of his people, entrusted their songs, dances, and gänhäk (dancing stick, a symbol of their culture) to a related branch of the larger Hän nation. Top of the World is the route along which this treasure was taken into the mountains for safekeeping.

More than 3,400 miles to the southeast, the traditional lands of the Saugeen First Nation form part of Ontario’s Mixedwood Plains Ecozone, once temperate deciduous forest, and now the most populous and commercially and industrially productive region in Canada. A three-hour drive from Toronto, at the base of the Bruce Peninsula (where a popular national park protects the region’s last unbroken stand of forest), the Saugeen River flows into the eastern edge of Lake Huron. Upstream of the river mouth, in a 100-acre park on Saugeen First Nation’s reserve, a stone amphitheater and 20 acres of terraced gardens overlook the wide river valley. Built in the 1970s with nearly a million tons of locally quarried limestone, the project, known as the Creator’s Garden, was created as a place to foster understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. As a setting for gatherings, ceremonies, music, and theater, the site welcomes thousands of visitors a year. But over the decades, it has fallen into disrepair.

These two landscape interventions—Top of the World and the Creator’s Garden—at different scales and in different bioregions, are each the subject of recent, landscape architect–guided master plans. Through both their substance and processes, these plans illustrate the potential for the profession to help heal the injustice and strife that stem from the colonial history of North America. Continue Reading »

The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

Photo courtesy Brook McIlroy.

From “Paths Forward” by Katharine Logan in the August 2021 issue, about how landscape architects are working closely with First Nations communities in Canada to reconcile its ruthless history of colonization.

“Indigenous medicinal plants on display.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

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.

THE OUTSIDE TRACK

As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish.

BY JAMIE MASLYN LARSON, ASLA

FROM THE AUGUST 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. 

 

Jamie Maslyn Larson, ASLA, met Gabe Jenkins, Student ASLA, when he contacted her last summer through LinkedIn. Jenkins, then a BLA candidate at Clemson University, was interested in an internship at BIG, her former firm. He asked if she had “any advice about landscape architecture, because I’m always willing to learn.” In subsequent conversations, Maslyn says, “Gabe’s life stories and his tenacity and positivity made such an impact on me. I learned that I need to work harder to give platforms for the next generation of voices in our profession.” In September, Jenkins will be starting as a landscape designer at Sasaki in Boston. Continue Reading »

The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

Image courtesy Cameron Gillie Photography.

From “Piece by Piece” by Dawn Reiss in the August 2021 issue, about the Ice Age National Scenic Trail’s glacial formation across Wisconsin.

“Woodland boardwalk in the Plover River segment of the Ice Age Trail.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

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.