Archive for the ‘Shoulders of Giants’ Category

Land is political. Making change happen – to protect landscape resources, to create more sustainable neighborhoods and cities, and so forth – requires that potential changemakers have political awareness, at the very least, and, better yet, shrewdness and intuition. Phil Lewis, emeritus professor of the University of Wisconsin, tells a story in his book, Tomorrow by Design, from the early years of landscape planning, before the environmental movement, that is worth repeating. Lewis demonstrated political ingenuity that is simply too uncommon. (more…)

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One of my favorite stories about discovering the profession of landscape architecture comes from the autobiography of Ian McHarg (A Quest For Life, 1996). I am reminded of this story when I read about some landscape urbanist proposals. First, the story, and, later, an explanation of what it might have in common with landscape urbanism.

For several years now, I have asked students in my classes if they have heard of McHarg. Routinely, in a class of 40 ro 50, one or two hands go up. For a quick introduction, I refer them to the classic book, Design With Nature, and often – even though I hate to use them – one of the obits written after his death in 2001, like this one from the NY Times. Wikipedia is always a choice too. McHarg was born in Scotland in 1920. At the age of 16, he spoke with a career counselor who suggested that he might try landscape architecture. It still amazes me that this happened in Scotland in 1936. McHarg tells the story (pp. 21-22):

Then he said, “Have you ever considered landscape architecture?” I had never heard of it. “I have a friend who is a landscape architect,” he said. “His name is Donald Wintersgill. I will arrange to have you meet him.” (more…)

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