At the beginning of April I posted an opportunity to get a free copy of the American Society of Landscape Architects’ magazine. And I promised to write a bit about what landscape architecture is. I’m going to try to make good.
I have to confess that my first exposure come only last year from the wonderful Kim Wang ‘98, one Stanford’s landscape architects. I met Kim because of a creative writing class. I wanted to talk to her about the surrealism I feel in Stanford’s landscaping. I described it variously as ‘manufactured’, full of ‘hidden work’, a place where ‘the desert of Northern California looks like some English Jane Austen fantasy garden.’ Kim graciously offered to meet with me and walk around the quad talking about this place. She offered a much more nuanced view of the University’s grounds but I still feel like I’m the emerald city everytime I see the Oval.
During this walk Kim described landscape architecture: ‘It’s everything outside the building. But often times, it’s also what creeps. The in-between spaces, between inside and outside and how they connect. It’s an interconnected network of systems’. This is a lot like the American Society of Landscape Architects definition of the field as ‘comprehensive by definition—no less than the art and science of analysis, planning design, management, preservation and rehabilitation of the land’.
If you think this sounds inspiring and as interdisciplinary as our dear Program, I think you’re spot on. Landscape architects are doing and have done some great things. Anne Spirn is exploring the idea of landscape literacy and using it as a tool for social justice. Others landscape architects have (and continue to ) plan the beautiful green spaces that make our cities feel like home. Just look at Olmstead and his mark on Stanford and my home-city of New York.
So while we still have a little time left in this official Landscape Architecture month—appreciate those in-between spaces. That park you love. Those tree-lined streets and plazas. Chances are, you have landscape architecture to thank.
Apparently April is National Landscape Architecture Month. I’ll try to spend some of my posts focusing on l.a. issues/ideas.
What: Four lectures by and about architects and landscape architects
When: First Talk, April 13, 6:30 pm
Where: Clark Center Auditorium (free and open to the public)
Description: First of four lectures in the series features Kevin Daly, principal of his own firm, Daly Genik of Los Angles. Their work has been honored by regional and national organizations with numberous awards for design excellence. Projects include the award winning Valley Center House, The Camino Nuevo Charte Academy, the Slot Box House, and the new Art Center College of Design South Campus Building