The Cultural Landscape Foundation has released the latest documentary in its ongoing Oral History series, which documents the lives and careers of pioneering landscape architects through in-depth interviews, archival footage, and on-site videography of their most noteworthy projects. The most recent edition focuses on Laurie Olin, recipient of the National Medal of the Arts and one of the nations most esteemed landscape architects. Through 29 segments amounting to over 90 minutes in total, the documentary charts Olin’s seminal career from his early years in Alaska and at the University of Washington, to his professorship and the University of Pennsylvania and his work on such influential projects as New York’s Battery Park City, Bryant Park, and Columbus Circle. The documentary series is part of the foundation’s multifaceted Pioneers of American Landscape Design initiative, which aims to identify and promote significant designed landscapes and explore the personal and professional histories, design philosophies, and significant projects of their designers. Past subjects of the Oral History project include M. Paul Friedberg, James van Sweden and Carol R. Johnson. Check the foundation’s website for additional information and a wealth of highly informative videos.
Posts tagged with "Laurie Olin":
Landscape architect and OLIN principal Laurie Olin has been awarded a 2013 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal for Architecture by the University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello. The award recognizes leaders who exemplify the actions and goals that Thomas Jefferson, an architect himself, would have admired. The medal will be awarded to Olin on April 12, the day before Jefferson's birthday, and he will be delivering a lecture at the UVA School of Architecture. We assume he will be sporting a bow tie. “Laurie Olin is one of the most revered landscape architects of our time,” Kim Tanzer, UVA's architecture dean, told UVA Today. “He is an inspiring teacher, an extraordinarily talented and prolific designer, and an international thought leader in environmental design. From his drawings and writings to his built projects, he has set an amazing example for several generations of landscape architects. We are thrilled he will become the 2013 Thomas Jefferson Medalist in Architecture.” Past architecture winners have included Mies van der Rohe, I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry, and Maya Lin. The other two recipients this year were Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp and FBI director Robert S. Mueller III.
Once considered downtown LA’s central park, the problematic 4.5-acre Pershing Square may soon be slated for a few welcome changes. Councilman José Huizar of District 14 recently told LA Downtown News that sports and entertainment company Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) has committed $700,000 seed funding to re-think the 164-year-old park. The money is part of a community improvement package AEG had agreed to in order to create a football stadium in Los Angeles. One of the possibilities the office is investigating is returning the park to a much simpler design, more in line with the needs of downtown's added population. “As it stands now, Pershing Square is overdesigned. If you’re standing outside you can’t even see what’s going on inside,” said Rick Coca of Councilman Huizar’s office. Coca said there are still several other details that need to be put in place before the office can further push the move. For one thing, the seed money is contingent on the realization of the Farmer’s Field football stadium, which was approved last year, not to mention the question of who would ultimately purchase AEG. Pershing Square’s history has been problematic since its conception as Block 15 in 1849. The park has gone through a number of names and renovations since then, the latest of which came at the hands of Ricardo Legoretta and Laurie Olin in the 1990s. Greenery gave way to granite and concrete with a 125-foot purple campanile rising from its center. The re-design has served to isolate the public from the space and the amount of hardscape can become intimidating for passers-by. As more and more residents move back downtown, Huizar’s office has said that starting the conversation about Pershing Square will someday lead to more opportunities to turn things around in the historic park.
In an amusing aside, landscape architect Laurie Olin discussed his bow ties on the firm's blog today. Olin briefly described the style of landscape architects. "Well, there are probably as many styles of dress for landscape architects as there are regions of the world for them to practice in," he said. And he argued that there is a time and a place for the bow tie. "There are of course clients for whom you wear blue jeans, and events where that’s completely inappropriate." Ties in general, he added, are one of the last frontiers in attire for masculine elan. "I think that because there are so few details in men’s clothing and so little ornament, that ties have become uniquely important. It’s one of the last gasps of flair and color for men. Humans respond to color, and it signals various things. It signals that, 'I’m a wild and crazy guy' or 'I’m alive' or 'I’m sensible.'"
Frank Gehry is trying to save architecture, and it's about time. His company Gehry Technologies, which provides technology and related services to design and construction firms, on Tuesday announced a plan to bring together "the world's most distinguished architects" in a "strategic alliance" intended to transform the building and design industries through technology. In other words they've put together a really impressive advisory board. The list of architects, designers, and business leaders includes: David Childs, Zaha Hadid, Greg Lynn, Laurie Olin, Wolf Prix, David Rockwell, Moshe Safdie, Patrik Schumacher, and Ben van Berkel. That's no joke. Among other things, the group will strive to promote higher quality projects, greater efficiency, and more cost effective techniques. "We have a tremendous opportunity to be better and more efficient," said Gehry Technologies CEO Dayne Myers. He and Gehry Technologies' Chief Technology Officer Dennis Shelden suggested that the group, which will meet in person once a year and via conference call quarterly, could address the industry's crippling wastes in time, money, and materials by promoting better work flow and communication, among other things. "When this group speaks it's going to carry a bigger weight than any of them individually, or just Gehry Technologies," added Shelden. Kicking things off the company just announced a partnership with Autodesk to improve the capabilities of Building Information Management (BIM). In an unprompted statement from the AIA, which offered its support as well, AIA President Clark Manus pointed out that "as much as 30% to 50% of all time, money, materials, and resources that go into a construction project do not add value to the final product." That's impressive too, just not in a good way.