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Posts Tagged ‘Trails’

In Sic Erat Scriptum, landscape architect and filmmaker Evan Mather argues that the Interstate Highway System that has reshaped the nation through epochal public works is not the project of technocratic 20th century humanist ambition, but something far more ancient and out of our control. Through fictionalized Grand Junction Bible College landscape urbanism instructor Melvin McNally (portrayed by Mather), his short film makes the pop-science case that the interstate is really the result of “biomigratory ecology rooted in ancient habitats and dominions.” That is, these roads follow dinosaur trails.

The video’s grainy film quality gives it an air of archival mystique that contrasts with sharp overlay maps of transit corridors throughout the millennia. Accelerated footage of miles of highway whirring past give way to fictionalized newspaper pages filled with dummy text in Latin telling of “Devil Lizards” unearthed during road construction.

There’s the interstate, which was preceded by the early 20th century highway system, which followed railroad lines. These lined up with pioneer wagon trails, themselves mapped to Native American trails, whose only purpose was to follow large mammal migratory patterns.  And concentrations of fossils found in clusters along these paths indicate these creatures were lured by “ancient dinosaur watering holes,” McNally says. It sounds like the prologue to a dusty paperback science fiction novel from the late 1950s. But broken down step by step, it seems reasonable. Foregrounded in acknowledgment of the Anthropocene age (the period of history where human activity is the strongest force affecting planetary ecosystems and geology), it questions whether we’re really writing our own novel, or instead cribbing notes from a story told long, long ago.

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This month’s LAM is like no other, as we focus all our attention in the feature section to one spectacular project: Barangaroo Reserve in Sydney, designed by PWP Landscape Architecture with Johnson Pilton Walker of Sydney. The 14-acre headland park, which fans out before Sydney’s central business district, is part of a 54-acre urban project within the lines of what had been a colossal shipping terminal. It involves practically everything that is so risky, wonderful, and artful in landscape architecture today—not least the shaping of a new stepped stone foreshore, built from gigantic slabs of sandstone hewn right from the site. It includes lush gardens along sinuous paths that trace along a dramatic slope up from the water. And the new parkland connects intimately with central Sydney. Even for a dean of the profession like Peter Walker, the chief designer, it is a once-in-a-career project.

Don’t miss all the other great stuff in this issue! There are pieces on designing with decomposed granite at Kenyon College; a rather radical adventure by the military to try therapeutic landscape as an answer to post-traumatic stress disorder among returning battle veterans; a quest to uncover the history of “trail marker” trees on onetime Native American lands; and a review of a wonderful new book on the California designer Ruth Shellhorn. The full table of contents for November can be found here.

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.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating November articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Peter Walker’s Point,” Hamilton Lund/Barangaroo Delivery Authority; “Keeping Up Jones,” Rendering by Studio RHLA; “The Road to Evidence,” Lisa Helfert; “Searching for a Sign,” Courtesy Lakes Region Historical Society; “The Right Path,” Neil Budzinski; “Her California,” Photograph by Ruth Shellhorn, Courtesy Kelly Comras

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