Now Open: Composite Landscapes at the Gardner Museum


On Thursday, June 27th, the Gardner Museum in Boston opened it’s latest exhibit: Composite Landscapes: Photomontage and Landscape Architecture, hosted in the Hostetter Gallery. With contributions from Richard Weller, James Corner, Yves Brunier, Gary Hilderbrand, Adriaan Geuze and many, many more, the exhibit focuses on landscape architecture’s use of photomontage as one of our key representational forms.

These composite views reveal practices of photomontage depicting the conceptual, experiential, and temporal dimensions of landscape. The first exhibition of its kind in North America, Composite Landscapes illustrates the analog origins of a method now rendered ubiquitous through digital means. In revisiting the composite landscape view as a cultural form, Composite Landscapes illuminates the contemporary status of the photographically constructed image for the design disciplines, and beyond.”

How is it that designers render ideas and show them to clients? What are the best tools for communication, visualization, and imagination? Andrea Hansen, assistant curator, shared a few previews of the exhibit’s pieces with Landscape Urbanism:

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Yves Brunier. Museumpark Rotterdam. Three men and a dog walking (1989-1993) Continue reading

A Walk to the End of the Line: The (Almost) Untouched Third Section of the High Line


The terminus of the High Line at the West Side Rail Yards, part of the third and final section of the elevated rail line to be added to New York’s favorite, not-quite-new-anymore public park and the site of new art installation. Photos and Text by Laura Tepper, except as noted.

A Walk to the End of the Line:  The (Almost) Untouched, Third Section of the High Line Is Open for Previews

The northernmost and last unfinished section of New York’s acclaimed High Line park won’t open to the public in earnest for at least another year, but this summer small groups of lucky ticketholders have the opportunity to experience the 300-yard stretch of urban wilderness in the raw. High Line park rangers are leading visitors on a series of sold-out walks along the yet-undeveloped site known as the “High Line at the Rail Yards,” or simply as “Section 3.” The tours occur under the premise of previewing “Caterpillar” a site-specific sculpture installation created by Brooklyn-based artist Carol Bove. However, the landscape itself steals the show. 

The High Line, of course, is a wildly successfully public park built atop a 1.2 mile-long decommissioned elevated freight rail structure that runs along Manhattan’s west side. Sections 1 and 2 of the park weave through the Meatpacking District and Chelsea between Gansevoort and 30th streets and attract so many visitors, both locals and tourists, that it can be hard to move through the more narrow sections of the park.

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A crowd herds slowly through a tapered part of Section 2

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Sunbathers vie for seats on the custom rolling lounge chairs of Section 1 (Image courtesy of James Corner Field Operations)

Section 3 begins at 30th Street where the completed sections of the park end. Continue reading

Scenario 3: Rethinking Infrastructure. Latest Issue Now Published!


Image credit: “Delving deep: a ganat system in an Iranian desert tunnels deep into the mountain profile,” from The Humanity of Infrastructure by Dane Carlson. NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using data from NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and the U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team.

We are excited to announce the launch of the latest issue of the Landscape Urbanism Journal – Scenario 3: Rethinking Infrastructure! Crafted by Editors-in-Chief Stephanie Carlisle and Nicholas Pevzner of the the newly-named Scenario Journal, Issue 4 looks at the pressing questions of how infrastructure of the next century will be imagined and built. As the co-editors write,

“Infrastructure underlies and shapes urban growth, yet for the most part exists outside the realm of design discussions, tucked below ground or hiding in plain sight. Long fascinated with complex, dynamic powerful systems, designers are finally turning their attention to the potential of infrastructure as fertile conceptual territory.With the pressing issues of climate change, financial malaise, unemployment and failures of governance, it is clear that the old approach to infrastructure — heroic but expensive, brittle, and difficult to maintain — will not be possible for too much longer. How do we ensure that the urgent conversation about the design and conception of infrastructure is a multidisciplinary project? How do we move beyond the buzzwords of green infrastructure, soft systems, and eco-engineering, in order to create a landscape infrastructure that is robust enough for the challenging times ahead?”

These questions framed the past six months of research and work by Stephanie Carlisle and Nicholas Pevzner in the latest issue of the Landscape Urbanism Journal, Scenario 4: Rethinking Infrastructure. Continue reading

50 Ideas For The New City

“Support the arts through asset-building. Capture the energy of people going about their day. Make a difference in a community you know. Map everything. Design for generational diversity. Listen to your ecosystem.”

These ideas and others are part of 50 Ideas for the New City by Urban Omnibus and the Architecture League of New York. An open event and a “showcase for good ideas for the future of cities.” Do you have a project that captures (or executes) one of these ideas? As they write in their manifesto, “We hope, in some small way, we can help re-enchant the urban environment as a landscape of possibility, a realm of action and intention, and a place that represents — and deserves — a long and evolving history of creative ideas.” Check out the posters, below, also created by Urban Omnibus.

How will you participate?

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New Book Releases in Landscape: ‘Landprints’ and ‘Garden, Park, Community, Farm.’

Two gorgeous full-color hardback books just crossed the desk of Landscape Urbanism and we can’t wait to share them with you. The first, Landprints: The Landscape Designs of Bernard Trainor celebrates the work of Australian-born landscape designer Bernard Trainor, whose large-scale gardens, airy hilltops and gorgeous hillsides focus on “simple, understated frames to rugged natural panoramas.” While a book only captures the visual aesthetic of the landscape (and as with any photograph, can’t fully capture the sensory essence of being within a landscape) –the photographic work by Jason Liske captures the raw aesthetic beauty of the space and the timeless nature of the designs. The book makes us want to jump in a car and take a slow road trip just to experience each of these places.

Landprints Book Cover Continue reading

For the Love of Drinking Fountains!

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The first of the Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association of England’s drinking fountains opens London in 1859 to “scenes of public rejoicing.”

Public Water: Individual Health, Urban Health

You could shlepp your metal water bottle all over town. You could buy a three dollar plastic water bottle to throw into a landfill for the next million years. Or: you could count on a network of convenient, eco-friendly drinking fountains.

Water from a drinking fountain is arguably the best possible thing for a human to drink. With zero calories, sugar or chemicals, water is the foundation of life as we know it. Water from drinking fountains is tested to city health standards, which are higher than the standards required for bottled water. Drinking fountains (also known, in regional variations, as water fountains or bubblers) reduce dependence on the environmentally degrading plastic bottles for water and sodas (millions of which are thrown away every year). They save people money, too: according to the Pacific Institute, “total consumer expenditures for bottled water are approximately $100 billion per year.” Continue reading

Video: “Why Not? Conversations With the Stewards and Designers of the Golden Gate National Parks”

In the last post, we asked what it took to create a national park on the scale of the Golden Gate National Recreation area. In a joint effort by The Cultural Landscape Foundation and a multitude of volunteers and contributors, a 30-minute documentary explores these questions. Take a look:

Conversations with the Stewards and Designers of the Golden Gate National Parks

Decades of Park Advocacy: Behind San Francisco’s Presidio and Golden Gate National Parks

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What does it take to create nationally-recognized landscapes like the Presidio and the Golden Gate National Parks in San Francisco, CA? The answer is more than just one designer, planner, steward, or advocate–and a lot longer than a decade. On April 4th, the Cultural Landscape Foundation honored the “exceptional number of Bay Area stewards and designers” that have played pivotal roles in creating and shaping this landscape over many decades, including three key leadership organizations: The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, The Presidio Trust, and The National Park Service.

Here are some of the photographs of the Presidio and Golden Gate National Recreation Areas, documented by SWA Group’s Principal Photographer, Tom Fox:

SF Presidio-Lands End-Tom Fox-6125 Continue reading

Compostmodern 13: Resilience, March 22-23 in San Francisco

Resilience - Compostmodern 2013What does it mean for design to improve society and the environment? This weekend’s Compostmodern: Resilience conference in San Francisco brings together designers, entrepreneurs, scientists, and architects to talk about design’s role in creating a more resilient world.

The list of speakers includes David McConville, Cheryl Dahle, Adam Werbach, Alex Gilliam, Terry Irwin, John Bielenberg and many more–and the conversation topics and short-form presentations will include discussions of resilience, design, innovation, composting, social change, and living in a connected world. What does it mean to design with systems thinking and social responsibility at the top of mind? How do recycling, composting, and social change fit together? What can we learn from modeling living systems as inspirations for complex design? Why do most products create so much waste? How can we learn from the patterns of the universe to design strategies that effectively address complex problems?

Join Landscape Urbanism at the event this Friday and Saturday, and watch for our blogging coverage of the event.

More information: Compostmodern 13: Resilience.

>> Also check out the Conversations on Resilience Design happening before the conference on Wednesday, March 20th at Hot Studio in San Francisco:  “Conversations with Ezio Manzini and John Thackara.” 


StreetMix: Code For America Labs Takes On Street Design

Want to design your own street, or quickly show someone what variations in Right-Of-Way (ROW) do to your street? Code For America graduates, in a January 2013 hackathon, created an online drag-and-drop street builder that lets you place various street elements in different spaces, and adjusting the ROW to desired traffic (and pedestrian, and biking) levels. The project states that one of the goals is to “be a part of the national conversation around Complete Streets, or the Project for Public Spaces’ Rightsizing Streets Guide.”


A quick version created with more generous tree sizes.

Designed in part by the desire to increase real-time engagement at community planning meetings, the fellows describe the project as “in the spirit of free software,” and encourage everyone to try it out and comment or suggest new features to help improve its usability.

“By creating an web-based version of this activity, planners can reach a wider audience than they could at meetings alone, and allow community members to share and edit each other’s creations.”

This app is a work in progress, and in a very early stage. Try it out for yourself at StreetMix.Net.