Posts tagged with "Landscape Architecture Foundation":

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Landscape architects face crossroads to address shrinking ecological resources

This presentation was part of the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s The New Landscape Declaration: A Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future held in Philadelphia June 10–11. The 25 speakers were asked to write a 1,000-word “declaration of leadership” and ideas for how landscape architecture can make its vital contribution in response to the challenges of our time and the next fifty years. These declarations were then presented at the summit.

With what are we welcoming our future generations? Piles of plastic? Polluted air and dirty water? Life in degraded environments with mismanaged resources is the normal human experience in many parts of the world. The statistics are staggering. Of the total world population of 7.2 billion, about 6 billion live in developing countries, where access to clean water, clean air, and efficient systems of waste disposal is a daily struggle. Water, especially, is a severely contested resource in these contexts, both in terms of quantity and quality. In India, for example, over 100 million lack access to safe water, and diarrhea causes 1,600 deaths daily. Where water mafia and water dacoits are a grim reality, where suicides, murders, and street-fights over water scarcity are a serious issue, and where commuting back and forth from work could involve wading through chest or knee-high flood water, the problems associated with water management in India point to a crisis, which is only expected to get worse with impending climate change and rapid urbanization. And while some problems clearly fall outside the scope of a landscape architect, there are many issues that can be addressed through better water management landscapes. This is where the agency and action of landscape architects at both system-and site-scale become critical, applicable not only to water but also to other contested resources.

Today in developed countries, we are shocked and even resigned by reports and personal experiences of the air quality in Beijing, the water crisis in India, or the food scarcity in Africa. Conditions, however, were not so very different in the 1950s and 1960s in North America when people wore gas masks in Los Angeles and decried the region’s filthy rivers. When a small group of landscape architects gathered here in Philadelphia and crafted the “Declaration of Concern,” noting the degradation of America’s water and air, the world was not such a different place. If anything, the issues have become more global, critical, and widespread. And in this context of contested resources, landscape architects must step in to do what we can to restore and re-establish healthy relationships between humans and their environment. I entreat all landscape architects to rise above parochial discussions, territorial predispositions, and disciplinary comfort-zones to address the very real issues of water, air, food, waste, minerals, and energy, with which rapidly urbanizing and developing countries such as India now grapple.

The “Declaration of Concern” is a demonstration of the enormous responsibilities the profession attempted to take on. The last fifty years have seen the coming of age of the profession of landscape architecture. Landscape architects have drawn on formidable skills of research and analysis to understand and map multilayered issues, and conveyed this understanding to the general public through visualization of complex landscape systems spanning both scale and time. Many landscape architects have attempted to restore damaged ecosystems and designed better human and non-human habitats. Yet, we have just scratched the surface, and much remains to be done in the context of resource management, especially that of water, food and waste in developing countries.

From these countries, there are many lessons to be learned on alternative definitions, frames, paradigms, systems, and landscapes of resource management, all of which are rapidly being transformed and degraded as we speak. We urgently need to understand the various ecologies of resource management in the developing world. What can we learn from cultures that designed multifunctional resource infrastructure and practiced community-ownership of landscapes to inform the design of resource management in industrially developed countries, and vice versa? Before we engage in design, we must understand and evaluate existing systems.

As designers, we have two avenues of intervention for addressing resource issues. The first is through design to improve existing resource landscapes, and the second is to create alternative paradigms for better resource management through the structuring of new built environments. The projected increase of the world’s population to nine billion by 2050 will almost entirely be population growth in developing countries, accompanied by rapid urbanization. For example, in the next 50 years, India’s population will peak at 1.6 billion and the country will be adding more than 400 million to its urban population—about 20 more Mumbais! The development of urban territories to accommodate these millions desperately needs the expertise of landscape architects equipped to design urban landscape systems for better resource management. It also presents unprecedented opportunities for design experimentation. How do we take the lessons we have learned in the urbanization of developed economies and apply them in our design responses to the resource management problems of the developing world?

Part of the challenge ahead is not only to address resource management issues head on but also to make the general public, especially the decision makers in the developing world, aware of the contribution that we can make in improving resource management. In most parts of India, when I introduce myself as a landscape architect, people either catch only the first part and transform the phrase to “landscaping” or “gardening” or latch on to the familiar word “architecture.” Not surprising — because there are very few landscape architects in India. About 800 landscape architects serve a total population of 1.25 billion and of this handful, fewer still engage with issues of resource scarcity and/or mismanagement. As landscape architects, we must actively make opportunities for engagement happen by better preparing ourselves with alternative design solutions and communicating them to the public.

Today’s landscape architecture students live in a complex, networked world and must be prepared for a future defined by global professional practice, to meaningfully engage in and to craft the built environment of not only their own community but also of cultures dramatically different from their own — dealing with life-threatening issues related to water, food, and waste. These issues often fall outside a landscape architect’s traditional scope, which is a missed opportunity for the discipline. Training the future generation of landscape architects to deal with these issues at different scales is the only way to make our discipline relevant in the coming 50 years.

It is an exciting time to be a landscape architect, but only if we embrace the opportunities and challenges ahead of us. There must be a crusading determination on the part of landscape architects to address the real issues of resource management if we are ever to permanently establish and realize the true potential of our discipline.

This article was part of our Oct. 12 issue which focused on how water is shaping today’s landscape architecture and urbanism. Communities face deluges and droughts—for some, the stakes can be survival itself, but others see opportunities for decadence. To explore these stories from around the U.S. and the world, click here.
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Landscape Architecture Foundation issues New Landscape Declaration

Just months after the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s (LAF) Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future (which ran June 10 to 11 at the University of Pennsylvania), the organization has released the New Landscape Declaration—a call to action for ecological justice through environmentally conscious and sustainable design. This past summer’s conference assembled 715 attendees from across the globe, including places like China, Argentina, and Australia, and featured over 75 speakers and panelists looking to set a course for new, more redemptive application of landscape architecture. According to their website, the New Landscape Declaration seeks to “bring together related professions into new alliances to address complex social and ecological problems,” so that society may better “adapt to climate change and mitigate its root causes.” Moving forward, the organization will work to strengthen its capacity for inclusive leadership and activism, and to raise awareness of the vital contributions of architecture through research, as well as “new practices that result in design innovation and policy transformation,” according to the declaration. The renewed call to action comes on the 50th anniversary of the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Declaration of Concern, written by Ian McHarg and other landscape architects who “decried the burgeoning environmental crisis, and heralded landscape architecture as critical to help solve it,” as written on the LAF’s website.
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First “Remarkable Objects” podcast makes the case for quantifying the landscape

A production of DeepRoot Green Infrastructure, Remarkable Objects is a new podcast series focused at the intersection of nature and urban design, and is interested in how nature and the built environment engage with each other, as well as the potential for resilient and sustainable architecture through research and innovative practice. In its first full episode, producer and creative director at DeepRoot Leda Marritz chatted with Barbara Deutsch, executive director of the Landscape Architecture Foundation, about the Landscape Performance Series—an online resource to “help designers, agencies, and advocates evaluate performance, show value, and make the case for sustainable landscape solutions,” according to their website. The project also works to demystify the actual work of landscape architects by making their findings a public and accessible resource, and in the process, seeking to bridge the gap between academia and practice. The Landscape Performance Series is six years in the making and consists of over 100 case studies of projects across the United States. After gathering research, each project is quantified, and an analysis is composed of its successes and failures. As Deutsch explains on Remarkable Objects, “sometimes [the architecture] doesn’t perform the way you wanted it to,” and this outcome could be “a result of the design solution, a change in the process, that something wasn’t implemented as designed, or something was value engineered out that made a critical difference.” The Landscape Performance Series has noble goals but is not without its own set of constraints. Sometimes there isn’t enough time, the data collection tools are not available to practitioners, and, of course, the environment is always changing and evolving. Still, Deutsch argues that the very act of evaluating and documenting performance creates a mindset around sustainability and resilience, leaving practitioners in a position where they can understand more fully “how to do it better the next time,” Deutsch said. The Remarkable Objects podcast airs every other Wednesday over the course of the eight-episode season.
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SHFT+ALT+DEL: October 28

Cecilia Alemani has been named the new curator and director of the High Line Art Program.  Previously, Alemani had worked as an independent curator and writer, and is currently a guest curator for the upcoming Performa 11. Lucinda Sanders has been named the 2012 President of the Landscape Architecture Foundation.  Her tenure will begin on October 30, 2011 at the American Society of Landscape Architects’ (ASLA) annual meeting.  Sanders is the CEO and a partner at OLIN. The Washington, DC office of Perkins Eastman has announced that J. Scott Kilbourn will join as a Principal and Chief Operating Officer.  Kilbourn has more than 28 years of design and planning experience.  Most recently, he was Vice President at RTKL where he worked in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, and DC. Suanne Bassett, principal of Suba—Connecting through Architecture and Interior Design, is re-launching her firm.  Bassett, who is licensed in California and New York, returns to her own practice after several years of collaborating with local San Francisco Bay Area firms. Corey Martin has been named principal at Portland firm THA Architecture.  Previously, Martin worked at Richard Potestio and Allied Works before co-founding Portland-based PATH Architecture with partner Ben Kaiser in 2005. Perkins+Will has announced that Wayne Perlenfein has joined the firm as prinicipal and will focus on federal government in the Washington DC office.  Previously, Perlenfein ran his own firm of Rogers, Perlenfein & Associates and was also the jurisdiction executive and senior program manager for planning, design and construction for the Architect of the Capitol in Washington DC. The Center for Curatorial Leadership (CCL) in New York City has announced its 2012 class of fellows. The program spans four weeks and includes instruction by Columbia Business School faculty, a six-month mentorship, a week-long museum residency, and long-term team-based project. Have news on movers and shakers in the architecture & design universe for SHFT+ALT+DEL? Send your tips to people@archpaper.com!