Posts Tagged ‘MOMA’

BY JONATHAN LERNER

The Museum of Modern Art wonders whether unsanctioned, light-footprint design gestures can humanize the world’s megacities.

From the January 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In exploding cities around the world, ever-increasing populations of the poor find themselves occupying dense makeshift settlements, or dangerously subdivided apartments, or massive, isolating housing estates. Official planning and development mechanisms seem unable to cope as cities expand in ways that are disorderly, unpredictable, and resistant to the provision of infrastructure and services. Can design solutions redress the imbalance of wealth and poverty that underlies this? Can city dwellers themselves transform dysfunctional places into communities with livable futures? Can an art museum help solve this global problem? These are questions posed by Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities, an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).

Uneven Growth is the third effort in MOMA’s Issues in Contemporary Architecture series. The first was Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront, in 2010. It elicited concepts for responding to sea-level rise and climate change two years before Hurricane Sandy’s piercing alarm, and some of those ideas have been incorporated into projects now moving toward construction in metropolitan New York. In 2012, Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream imagined restorative strategies for six representative American suburbs following the mortgage debacle. These concepts turned out to be more and less radical, but all were more or less doable. In the current exhibition’s catalog, Barry Bergdoll, a former head of MOMA’s Department of Architecture and Design (and still a part-time curator there), describes the series as “laboratorial,” intended to formulate and show “experimental results that do not yet exist.” In that spirit, Uneven Growth paired design firms with local knowledge together with others that have international experience on teams asked to work up speculative proposals for six cities: Lagos, Nigeria; Rio de Janeiro; Istanbul; Hong Kong; Mumbai, India; and New York. They were asked to address their city’s situations via tactical urbanism: to consider what could be effected by citizens themselves; to incorporate the cultures of improvisation that overcrowded cities naturally elicit; and to devise interventions that could be made lightly and with limited resources.

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The new Nature Gardens at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County by Mia Lehrer + Associates provides habitat for the city’s surprisingly diverse wildlife and brings the museum’s research outside; Gweneth Leigh, ASLA, compares the dull and outdated playgrounds of the past to two challenging, yet exciting, Australian playgrounds by Taylor Cullity Lethlean and James Mather Delaney Design; and Lauren Mandel, Associate ASLA, looks at how research at the Chicago Botanic Garden roof gardens by  Oehme, van Sweden Landscape Architecture are designed to provide hard data on suitable plants and soil depths.

In our departments, Now highlights Louisiana’s wildlife management areas, Dirk Sijmons’s studies of energy and landscape, and a new program that puts chief resilience officers in cities; Water takes a look at the Miami Conservancy District in Ohio; Practice features an unusual partnership between a salt merchant and the firm Landing Studio; and in The Back Jonathan Lerner wonders if MOMA’s exhibit, Urban Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities, is as tactically urban as it aims to be. All this plus our regular Species, Goods, and Books columns. The full table of contents for January can be found here.

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  January articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “So Cal,” Luke Gibson Photography, Courtesy Mia Lehrer + Associates; “No, No, You Go First,” Brett Boardman; “This Is a Test,” Robin Carlson/Courtesy Oehme, Van Sweden; “A Plan to Plan?” Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries/The Conservation Fund; “Dry on a Good Day,” Courtesy Miami Conservancy District; “Strange Companions,” Courtesy Landing Studio; “Growing Pains,” Courtesy NLÉ and Zoohaus/Inteligencias Colectivas.

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