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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

FROM THE JUNE 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

I’m not sure how many magazines with advisory boards actually put them to work, but at LAM, we meet with ours monthly by phone and find their advice invaluable. The LAM Editorial Advisory Committee (you can see its members on our masthead, page 6) is drawn from a cross section of ASLA’s membership. Each month, a different member leads the call, along with a backup, and those two people together set the agenda and lead the conversation. The topic is entirely of their choosing. Those of us on the magazine staff occasionally chime in, but mainly we listen.

A recent call was led by two early-career professionals who focused the conversation on the ways landscape history is taught in landscape architecture schools. In particular, they wanted to address the overwhelming bend in the history curriculum toward European design traditions and values. “We don’t see a lot of landscape architecture not designed by white men,” one said. “What do we accept as ‘high design,’ and how can we challenge how these [notions] are rooted in Eurocentric design principles?”

The question expands easily beyond high design to human spatial behavior, preference, and need. In any case, it’s an especially pertinent subject given the broad recognition within landscape architecture that the profession is overdue for diversification if it is to address the issues confronting the modern world. “In the past, landscape architecture history was taught along European garden types and sprinkled in other influences such as Chinese and Japanese gardens,” noted one of several committee members who is a university educator. “Now that it’s a global profession, people are talking about other influences. A lot of people elsewhere are trying to make sense of (more…)

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

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Image courtesy of Roxi Thoren.

From “Living Lessons” by Victoria Solan in the March 2017 issue, on student investigations into how animals design their own environments.

“Earthworm art.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

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.

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From We Declare in the May 2016 issue, five landscape architects, scholars, and advocates revisit “A Declaration of Concern” for the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s 50th anniversary celebration.

 

THE LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT AS URBANIST OF OUR AGE

BY CHARLES WALDHEIM, HONORARY ASLA

The anniversary of the founding of the Landscape Architecture Foundation and the original LAF declarations invites us to revisit the identity and aspirations of the field itself. The founders of the “new art” of landscape architecture specifically identified architecture as the most appropriate cultural identity for the new professional. In so doing, they proposed an innovative and progressive professional identity. This new liberal profession was founded during the second half of the 19th century in response to the social, environmental, and cultural challenges associated with the industrial city. In this milieu, the landscape architect was conceived as the professional responsible for the integration of civil infrastructure, environmental enhancement, and public improvement in the context of ongoing industrialization. American boosters of the new art of landscape committed the nascent profession to an identity associated with the old art of architecture. This decision to identify architecture (as opposed to art, engineering, or gardening) as the proximate professional peer group is significant for contemporary understandings of landscape architecture. This history sheds compelling light on the subsequent development of city planning as a distinct professional identity spun out of landscape architecture in the first decades of the 20th century, as well as on debates regarding landscape as a form of urbanism at the beginning of the 21st century.

This line of inquiry points toward the long-standing lineage of ecologically informed regional planning that grew out of the origins of landscape architecture in the first half of the 20th century. That tradition manifests itself in (more…)

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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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BY BRIAN BARTH

Landscape architects feel the push of architecture-centric software.

Landscape architects feel the push of architecture-centric software.

From the February 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Building information modeling, or BIM, has become the default digital format for designing buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure the world over, though in theory it is just as applicable to landscape design. You are not likely to find an architecture or engineering firm that does not employ BIM software, but there are surprisingly few landscape architecture firms that do. It’s not that landscape architects don’t appreciate the information-rich approach of BIM—quite the contrary—but many loathe its building-centric nature.

“Landscape architecture as a profession is kind of down on BIM,” says James Sipes, a landscape architect based in Atlanta who was an early proponent of adapting the technology for landscape architecture purposes. “It seemed to be exactly what we were looking for—that combination of CAD and 3-D modeling and smart software that linked things together in the way we as landscape architects design.” But, Sipes says, companies like Autodesk, which publishes Revit, a BIM software used widely by architects, “put a lot of time and energy into building BIM data for buildings and building components, but none of that had anything to do with landscape architecture.”

All of which would be fine if landscape architects weren’t being pulled into (more…)

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Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture (Flickr: Pollinator 2) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

This is a big year for pollinators at ASLA. Not just because of recent ASLA advocacy efforts for legislation protecting and enhancing pollinators and their habitats in the United States, but also because of ASLA’s involvement in the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a new White House initiative aimed at creating a million new pollinator-friendly gardens within the next two years. Disappearing habitat, lack of native plants, pesticides, and unknown forces are leading to the frightening loss of pollinators, and the White House is calling on the nation to step up its game.

Mark Cason, the government affairs manager at ASLA (and our friendly floormate), is leading the pollinator advocacy projects. He sees landscape architects as poised to help rebuild pollinator populations. “ASLA is promoting the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge as a way to engage landscape architects to incorporate pollinator-friendly habitats in their designs,” says Cason. Providing for pollinators might seem like a no-brainer, but a study last year found pesticides toxic to bees covering plants marketed as “bee-friendly”; this problem underlines the need to do more. If we protect pollinators, we protect ourselves.

For more information on the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, please visit here.

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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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