New Exhibit: Aerial Arts at Studio-X in New York City

Aerial Arts: Defense Discourses, Cartographic Critiques opens Friday, October 11th at Studio-X NYC.

As landscape architects, we have largely inherited the regionalist and realist use of aerial cartography, whether as McHarg-ian underlays or GIS and Google Earth rasters. Instead of dismissing those maps, this show excavates the original, cultural context of post-war aerial imagery, its forgotten geographies and distant debates.

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Now Open: Composite Landscapes at the Gardner Museum

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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

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.

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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

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.” 

 

Edge Operations or Logistics in the Woods

How isolated was Henry David Thoreau’s romantic withdrawal at Walden? In a visual series created by designer and cartographer Meg Studer on The Distopians, she explores (“re-surveys”) these territories. Building off of Walden or Life in the Woods, this series works outward—from woodlots to fireplaces, from adjacent rails to major markets—to re-construct the domestic consumption patterns, international trade, and nascent infrastructural entanglements of Thoreau’s environment.

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These initial diagrams combine Thoreau’s recounting of 1846/47 ice harvests at Walden with commercial records and policy documents, mapping the regional industry and its rail-based network of extraction, storage and glocal consumption. Continue reading

Exploring Philadelphia Landmarks: At Olin, A Look At North Broad Street Development

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The stately Divine Lorraine rises ten stories above Broad Street.
Originally designed in the 1890s, it closed in 1999 and now sits vacant.

Once upon a time, elephants paraded into the Metropolitan Opera House and the Divine Lorraine stood regally ten stories above North Broad Street in Philadelphia. A fantastical quality remains in these two buildings that has outlasted entertainment trends, housing fashions and urban shifts that led to the general decline of the surrounding neighborhood and the near demise of these two landmarks. I had the opportunity to explore these iconic structures on a tour led by Hidden City Philadelphia and learn about their storied pasts and aspirations for the future.

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The White Company, a Cleveland-based automobile manufacturer, held its Annual Dealers Banquet at the Hotel Lorraine in 1922. Photo Courtesy Philadelphia Free Library.

The Divine Lorraine is a Philadelphia legend, if not for its striking architecture than for its resilience. Continue reading

Las Vegas and the Downtown Project: A Photo Tour

Last week, Tech Cocktail and the Downtown Project invited a small group of tech entrepreneurs, innovators, and city enthusiasts (like Landscape Urbanism) to take a look at the projects and grounds of the new Downtown Project area in Las Vegas. I also gave a quick 10-minute talk on questions about the future of cities (forthcoming), but in the meantime, here’s a visual assortment of photographs from both the city-at-large as well as the downtown areas, generally.

Greater Las Vegas: Residential Patterns (and Aerial Photographs)

Flying in from San Francisco, here’s a couple of photos of the cityscape from the airplane window:

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Looking towards the airport and the strip, offset in the background. One of the main visual characteristics of Las Vegas is the desert landscape and the mountains surrounding the flat, tan lands. Note the patchwork of development in the foreground and the scattered suburban developments. 

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Residential suburban housing is an easy pattern to pick up from an aerial view: organized, repetitive, single-colored rooftops.  Continue reading

In Response: Are Architects Really The Last People Who Should Shape Our Cities?

Are architects really the last people who should shape our cities?

The following is in response to an article published by Jonathan Meades in The Guardian on September 18, 2012, “Jonathan Meades: Architects are the last people who should shape our cities.”

I will start out this commentary by disclosing that I am a designer with a Masters in Architecture who has several years experience working in the field. I currently work as a communications consultant for the design profession, and consider it my life’s work and an enormous task to bridge the gap between designers and the users of the places we create. While I am biased towards the necessity of talented, inspired designers and architects, I will be as objective as possible in my response to Mr. Meade’s article.

I often hear complaints that architects do not explain their work well enough – think doctor, lawyer, electrician, or any other specialized field speak. It’s frustrating not only for the person trying to understand what we do, but for the architect who listens to assumptions that the product is a singular entity that was plopped down in its location with a wish and a prayer and an egotistical smirk. I would argue that what architecture needs is better communication. Publishing photographs and articles does not mean architecture will ‘seep into the collective’, it means that designers now have a forum within which to explain what they do and why they do it. It’s a delight to be able to Google images of L’Unite, and read simultaneously the theory and philosophy behind the design, and how successful it remains today. This would not be possible without communication. It is the glue that holds the profession together.

Le Corbusier’s ‘Unite d’Habitation’

There is a universal truth that all architects know, but is generally a very challenging thought to express: that architecture is actually a sum of parts. A building is not ‘an autonomous discipline which is an end in itself’, as Meade boldly states. It is the connection point between multiple disciplines that is the starting block for future transformation and morphology, which the architect actually has little control over. The best architects understand this and use their projects as ways to test theory, understand material, and/or achieve certain agendas based on a myriad of fields. This could mean understanding the effects of spatial arrangements on prison inmates, or environments that aid hospital patients in healing more quickly and getting back home. Designing for the unknown future is an enormous challenge, and one that architects toil over completely. Continue reading