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Posts Tagged ‘architecture’

And you get an article in the New York Times. (The shooting stick reference is found in this earlier post.) The Times featured a proposal by the architectural firm, Taller 13 Regenerative Architecture, to daylight three rivers in Mexico City and turn the now-buried rivers into urban amenities. If you read between the lines, the article reveals both the promise of this landscape urbanist vision (a bold re-imagining of the cityscape that is intoxicating in its sweep) and the pitfalls if the proposal is totally unrealistic. At some point, bold vision has to meet scientific knowledge, technical expertise, and implementation savvy. From the article, “Prophets and young dreamers are rarely very good at diagnosis.” Where is the balance found between dreamy proposals and practical issues of implementation?

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Ever since the Boston Globe published an article on the “smackdown” between Landscape Urbanism and New Urbanism in January, landscape urbanism and Harvard’s Landscape Architecture Chair, architect and urban theorist Charles Waldheim, have been the subject of a surprising amount of national news coverage. Nothing like a good fight, I suppose. The latest installment is Waldheim’s plenary address to the Congress for the New Urbanism meeting (CNU 19) earlier this month. Waldheim was interviewed by Duany at the end of his talk, and the video has just been released. Waldheim’s introduction is at the 27-minute mark, and he speaks for 50 minutes.

Where this takes landscape architecture is an open question. It is interesting to see how news organizations portray landscape architecture when they discuss landscape urbanism. Waldheim has been the Chair at Harvard since July of 2009, so landscape architecture does get mentioned in that context, but the emphasis is on architecture. I cringed when I read this paragraph in the now notorious Boston Globe article:

As the New Urbanism was growing in influence, another movement concerned with city-making was quietly beginning in an unlikely corner of the academy: landscape architecture. The field had spent most of the 20th century being seen as something of a backwater, an ornamental craft whose practitioners were responsible for making things pretty once the work of designing buildings was complete. But landscape architects had expertise in something that most planners and urban designers were not trained to think about: ecology. Starting at the University of Pennsylvania in the ’80s, landscape architects started to argue that their training meant they shouldn’t just be consigned to “putting parsley on the pig,” in the words of Australian landscape urbanist Richard Weller.

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Two dots, anyway. One dot concerns general workforce needs. 3 basic skills needed in a knowledge economy, according to Tony Wagner, Harvard education expert and author of The Global Achievement Gap, summarized in a NY Times column (Nov. 21, 2010) by Thomas Friedman: “the ability to do critical thinking and problem-solving; the ability to communicate effectively; and the ability to collaborate.” This is good news for landscape architecture because the studio model of instruction does this – or at least it has the potential to do this. Can the studio model be pushed further to do this better?

Another dot concerns present opportunities for landscape architects – opportunities that are perhaps unique to the present moment. An unusual source for this dot – a YouTube video from the Future of Design conference held at Taubman College, University of Michigan in late 2009. It’s unusual because conference organizers videotaped the tables of conference attendees during a small group discussion session and posted the videos online. And it is unusual because the attendees are architects talking about landscape architecture. I think it’s helpful to see how others view us, especially those in allied fields. (Presumably, the people speaking in the video are architecture faculty members – if you recognize them, let me know.)  Some lines that caught my attention: (more…)

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What was and what next. Architectural Record published this review, What Was… 2000-2010 – Features – Architectural Record, of 2000-2010 that considers the impact of change on architecture. There are numerous articles on what next? too. To what extent are these ideas applicable to landscape architecture?

The money quote from Clifford A. Pearson: “After a period of wealth creation on a scale never before seen, what do we have to show for it all?”

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