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BY ANJULIE RAO

Beyond the Built Environment is inspiring everyone to lift while they climb.

FROM THE MAY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE

 

One day, Pascale Sablan sat down at her computer and googled the phrase “great architects.” Dozens of architects’ names appeared on the screen, and to her surprise, very few of them looked like her. “There was one woman—Zaha Hadid—and nine people of color,” says Sablan, an architect at S9 Architecture in New York. Hadid, holding two boats, also accounted for one of those nine.

In that moment Sablan was concerned for kids, because when kids hear about something they might like to do—maybe architecture, or landscape architecture—“they google it first,” she says. To find out why so many white men would appear in that search, she contacted Google and was told that there was not enough content created, referenced, or cross-referenced that had addressed the contributions of the myriad women or people of color in design. She thought, What about those architects, landscape architects, and urban planners practicing right now? Where is their library of greatness?

Sablan’s nonprofit organization, Beyond the Built Environment, is now bringing diverse designers to the forefront. “We’re focusing on designers who are using their talents to combat social injustices in policy and the built environment, designers who are engaging communities to solve problems that people wouldn’t think design can solve,” she explains. “We are elevating talented designers who are making the profession an amenity to the community rather than just to developers.” (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Landscape architects can do more than talk about diversity—they can act.

FROM THE MAY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The high school students were pretending to be plants. They crouched in front of giant, wall-sized pieces of parachute cloth, china markers in hand, and slowly grew, black lines following suit. Recalling the movement of the prairie grasses just outside, they waved and swayed and curled in on themselves, a collective interpretive dance that evoked the native grasses and wildflowers that they had been studying all morning. Quickly a mass of black lines became a monochromatic prairie, a temporary mural inspired by the small patch of native grassland visible from the hallway window.

Leading the drawing exercise was Erin Wiersma, an artist and associate professor in the art department at Kansas State University. Wiersma is best known for her massive biochar “drawings,” which she makes by dragging huge sheets of paper across freshly burned prairie. The exercise at J.C. Harmon High School, located in the largely Hispanic Kansas City, Kansas, neighborhood of Argentine, was part of Grassland Interview, an interdisciplinary art and ethnography project created in collaboration with the landscape architect Katie Kingery-Page, ASLA, the associate dean of Kansas State’s College of Architecture, Planning, and Design. (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 DIANA FERNANDEZ, ASLA

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Vicki Estrada, FASLA, opened Estrada Land Planning in 1985, and over the course of nearly 35 years, the firm has worked on planning and landscape architecture projects that have helped define the city of San Diego. Her work as a community planner and advocate over the past three decades was community engagement before there was “community engagement,” and her imprint can be seen everywhere in the city’s parks, streets, communities, and transit. We asked Diana Fernandez, ASLA, an associate at Sasaki, to interview Estrada about her career and her life, and what followed was a very candid and wide-ranging conversation about gender, representation, identity, and making landscapes that don’t pretend. (This interview has been edited and condensed.)

Diana Fernandez: I’m so curious to find out what brought you to landscape architecture. I often feel like all of us landscape architects have stumbled into the field somehow.

Vicki Estrada: It’s a funny, interesting story actually. There were two processes. First of all, when I was in elementary school, I would draw. They were little downtowns. I was supposed to be listening to the teacher, but I would draw little downtowns in isometric view and with a ballpoint pen and my dad’s old office papers. You can still see his office logo on them.

The principal came by one day and said, “Hey, Steve,” my name at the time, “you’re going to be an architect.” I am? So from fourth grade on, it was kind of ingrained in me. You’re going to be an architect. You’re going to be an architect.

I got accepted at Cal Poly for architecture, and I went off. I had one year to go. I met some architecture friends, and I went down to Cal Poly Pomona on one Saturday to visit them. I remember walking down to the campus on a Saturday afternoon. It’s all deserted. It’s all quiet. We looked at this great big new lecture hall. So I walked in—have you seen the movie, The Blues Brothers?

Fernandez: No, I haven’t.

Estrada: Well, there’s a scene in The Blues Brothers where they walk into a church, and James Brown is the preacher, and the door opens up and you see the sunlight come down. I opened up the door, and there’s this room full of students, and onstage was this old guy with long, gray hair, with a cane. He pounds on the stage and he points—I swear it looked like he was pointing at me. “Imagine the Earth as a canvas,” he says. “Architects put dots on the canvas. Engineers connect the dots. You are the only ones who can paint the entire canvas.” Being an architect, I go, “What the fuck? What is he talking about?” (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Detail, paving, and construction of cable car line on Broadway, 1891. Photograph by C. C. Langill and William Gray. (Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints, and Photographs, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations).

THE PRESTIGIOUS RESIDENTIAL FELLOWSHIP WELCOMES A NEW GROUP OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE PROFESSORS.

 

The MacDowell Colony, which grants artists across different disciplines residential fellowships to pursue their craft, is welcoming four landscape architecture educators into the program for its Spring 2019 residencies. The duo of Present Practice (Parker Sutton and Katherine Jenkins), who teach landscape architecture at the Ohio State University; the Harvard Graduate School of Design landscape architecture professor Robert Pietrusko; and Jane Hutton, a landscape architecture professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, will all spend up to eight weeks through May in Peterborough, New Hampshire, working in scholarly isolation. Now in its 112th year, MacDowell provides a private studio, as well as meals, accommodations, and some stipends.

This spring term’s fellows are architects and landscape architects, composers, filmmakers, interdisciplinary artists, theater artists, visual artists, poets, nonfiction writers, and fiction writers. Each crop of fellows is selected by a panel of subject matter experts. (more…)

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REVIEWED BY GALE FULTON, ASLA

Landscape Architecture and Digital Technologies: Re-Conceptualising Design and Making

From the October 2016 Issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine

 

Warning: possible confirmation bias ahead.

One of the most perplexing aspects of landscape architecture education and practice that I’ve encountered is what I’ll grossly refer to here as representation. In the nearly two decades that I’ve been a student, professional, or involved in some capacity with teaching at the university level, I can think of no other domain as consistently polarizing than the critically important area of how landscape architects generate and communicate their ideas. Perhaps the most pernicious aspect of this issue is the ongoing divide between digital and analog processes—using the computer versus hand drawing. At first glance, one may likely assume this issue to simply be generational—older generations of designers were not educated in the use of the computer and so are less accepting of it than of those techniques and media with which they were trained. But, surprisingly, there seems to be a continued skepticism or distancing from advanced computational processes even by those of the postdigital generations, which is much more troubling given that these will be the future leaders of the discipline, and, as the authors of this book so effectively demonstrate, not embracing the digital in a robust way at this point significantly reduces the potential of the discipline to have the type of impact it aspires to have.

Landscape Architecture and Digital Technologies: Re-Conceptualising Design and Making, by Jillian Walliss and Heike Rahmann, both academics based in Australia, is a well-reasoned, well-written, and at times polemical book. It critiques landscape architecture’s failure to more fully embrace the potentials of digital media. It educates readers about the ways designers are using sophisticated digital processes right now in very real professional and academic projects and research. And it aspires for landscape architecture to leverage digital technology (more…)

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