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Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Cowles’

BY SARAH COWLES

At Washington University, students document and memorialize a landscape in flux.

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

The crane whined, the cable tightened, the tree swayed, and the crowd murmured. But Tree B5, an 80-year-old, 85-foot-tall, 15-ton Quercus palustris, did not budge from its place in the Brookings allée. Earlier, a crew used high-pressure hydro-excavation tools and a giant vacuum to daylight the oak’s filigree of roots, and arborists jumared up with four cable slings to steady the crown. The audience in front of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis was transfixed by this massive marionette, anticipating the moment the formidable machine might pluck it like a weed. After the failure of the initial tug, the crew phoned the crane supervisor to ply more tension, and yet some grounding force would not let go. B5 was defiantly planted.

Choreographing this potent—and at times absurdly moving—tree-removal ceremony was Jesse Vogler, Affiliate ASLA, a 21st-century Fitzcarraldo and an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts. Vogler and his team of students thought this act of landscape demolition (more…)

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BY SARAH COWLES

In this installation by Terremoto, a carpet of pavers leads from the Rudolph M. Schindler Studio of the Schindler House into the courtyard, terminating in a circle of prickly pear cactus. Photo by Joshua White.

 A group exhibition of landscape architecture at the Schindler House, co-curated by Mia Lehrer and Priscilla Fraser.

Every May in Los Angeles, men in orange whack back the dry, gold grass, making a mandated measure of defensible space in a landscape of fires, earthquakes, and landslides. This year, though, brought relieving rains. The Hollywood Hills came in green after years of severe drought, yet the message remained fixed: We must continue to cut back, tear out this and put in that, and mulch it over with colored gravel.

In flush times, it is irresponsible to deny water to our gardens; in dry times, we are guilty if we indulge them. This austerity imperative severs our intimate connections to the land. Edicts are always prefixed with “low”: low-water, low-maintenance, low-impact, which is said to require merely an aesthetic attitude adjustment. Yet all this lowing denies us the everyday tending practices and attentions; our attention to growth, flowering, decay; our ability to watch a sweet-pea tendril spiral or to inhale the scent of wet soils.

The temptation is to flip the script: Be a lush. Resist the conservatism of conservation. Practice a radical (more…)

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