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06 of process







EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Cristina Bejarano Gene Stroman GRAPHICS LEADS Daniel Dominguez David Koo

The sixth issue of GROUND UP was made possible by the generous support of: The Beatrix Farrand Fund for Public Education in Landscape Architecture Department of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning, UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley

EDITORIAL LEADS Lauren Bergenholtz Josh Gevertz Kate Lenahan

Special thanks to: Jessica Ambriz Karl Kullmann Susan Retta

TEAM MEMBERS Faranak Khas Ahmadi Logan Egan Justyn Huckleberry Stan Kim Ben Lamb Derek Lazo Dining Liu Serena Lousich Karla Mendoza Myra Messner Cynthia Miao Grace Mitchell Natali Ovalles Yue Pan Jason Prado Qing (Linda) Tian Rafael Tiffany Alexa Vaughn

GROUND UP is curated and produced by students of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley. For inquiries, contact Visit us online at Printed in Canada Š Copyright 2017, The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form by any means without the prior permission of the publishers. Articles, photography, and image copyrights are retained by their authors or original owners. The


opinions expressed in these articles are those of the

Karl Kullmann Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning, UC Berkeley

contributors and staff, and are not endorsed by the Regents of the University of California.


FOREWORD Process is the vehicle of manifestation. It takes myriad forms––methodical, messy, intuitional, and rational. While purposeful, process is rarely linear, nor are its yields predictable. The very power of process lies in deliberately withholding expectations for a prescribed result. The discipline of landscape architecture is invested in process beyond the creative act of design. Our work is fundamentally temporal; it draws from a palette of materials in flux. In the landscape, biotic and abiotic substances are rarely static. Our practice engages with sites that shift, flood, wither, and bloom. Methods draw from diverse fields of inquiry. Our processes take form as interdisciplinary endeavors of collective becoming. In this sixth issue of GROUND UP Journal, we have sought out testimonies of process with the hope of better comprehending our own. The following pages contain a diverse collection of narratives, from encounters with landscapes of inequality to musings on the relationship between science and design, from the evolution of a planting plan to a synaesthetic investigation of Queens, New York. These testimonies are often less concerned with conclusions than with rising action, complications, and reversals, moments obscured in the final deliverable. Together, these singular threads coalesce into a reflective record on the role of process in our discipline. To document a process is an act of recovery which begins by looking back. We have found, however, that the continued examination and critique of process is often the surest way to move forward.











Kofi Boone


Nate Kauffman




32 34 40 44



08 24



Stephanie Lin and Micaela Bazo



54 62 70 76 84

Kristina Hill, John Largier, and Laurel Larsen





Robert Glass and Gita Khandagle


Thomas Church Competition




FIELD RECORDINGS Sylvia Baumgartner



Angela Mimica, Min Yuan, and Lauren Bergenholtz


Michael Beggs


92 94 100 102 108






Karl Kullmann





SAND (TYP.) Jonah Merris

Solange Roberdeau


Chip Sullivan


118 120 124






Elena Kasselouri and Gabriella Georgakaki




Emily Schlickman


EXPECTANT TOPOGRAPHIES Tiago Torres Campos Published on



“TO B E S E E N, TO L I V E W I T H D I G N I T Y, A N D TO B E CO N N EC T E D” - Alicia Garza

Black Lives Matter (BLM) is one of the most influential American protest movements in the 21st century. Building from contemporary mobilizing strategies developed through Occupy Wall Street and other movements, BLM channeled widespread public outrage to the police murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012 into an international movement that makes a deceptively simple proposition: you cannot have a just society if an unarmed black person’s life is not protected from state-sanctioned murder. BLM’s intersectional leadership (two thirds of its founding members are queer black women), decentralized structure, lack of reliance on established black organizations, strong aversion to established black “leaders,” and embrace of social media as an organizational tool extends the rich traditions of nonviolent direct action used by generations of black people to effect social change. In this case, it represents an information age, “Do It Yourself” approach to organizing.


WHY BLACK LANDSCAPES MATTER On November 28, 2016, Professor Walter Hood organized and moderated a panel discussion entitled “Why Black Landscapes Matter” at UC Berkeley in which he invited Kofi Boone, Sara Daleiden, and Austin Allen to present their work, and included Malo Hudson and Alma du Solier as respondents. This represents a summary of Kofi Boone’s lecture from that night, and is a preview of an anticipated future publication.

However, some have questioned the long-term impact of BLM on national policy as affecting black people and all Americans. BLM created a comprehensive platform now being championed by The Movement for Black Lives that extends to areas of health, safety, and welfare where black people live. What does this broader agenda mean for designers and planners that work with black people and black communities? What are the implications of this era on the landscapes where black people live, work, worship, remember, and play? The timing of this topic is significant. Twenty-three years ago, Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM) featured a cover story in which landscape architects offered their reflections


If one were to crop the top from this picture, the view features a mother and daughter, well dressed, and on a well maintained main street. However, the inclusion of the “colored entrance� sign alters the gaze. In this image Gordon Parks captured the driving conundrum of being Black in American public landscapes. GROUND UP : ISSUE 06


Department Store, Mobile, Alabama, 1956, Photograph by Gordon Parks, Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation.

in the aftermath of the LA Insurrection.1 In that issue, past, present, and future leaders in democratic design gathered and shared their perceptions on the limitations of contemporary landscape architecture to effect social change in black communities. Many of these perceptions interrogated the prevailing project delivery model, the economics that drive landscape architecture practice, and the challenges of serving those without land ownership, money, and political organization.


The story built on themes brought forth 25 years prior by Whitney Young in his historic keynote address to the American Institute of Architects (AIA).2 In the aftermath of nationwide insurrections ignited by the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Young admonished architects and the design community for not representing the communities they served and doing more harm than good. As an aside, this speech is credited with kick starting the Community Design Center (CDC) movement, which provides pro bono design services to communities in need. If there is a common thread here, it is that both the LAM article and the AIA address that preceded it by a generation were responses to crises. BLM and the Movement for Black Lives are different. Both offer systemic arguments that extend beyond black people. Although unarmed black people are murdered by police every year at a disproportionate rate, police murder Latino and Native American people at equally disproportionate rates, and murder more unarmed white people than people of color combined.3 In addition to the mainstream dismissal of BLM as merely “identity politics,” the compartmentalization of these issues as just black issues that somehow do not affect white people is false. Jelani Cobb recently made the point that “the myth of White supremacy is the lack of

recognition of mutuality”4—that somehow doing harm to black people does no harm to white people and others. I want to expand that; I think many people think that doing harm to black landscapes will not hurt other landscapes, or will not affect landscape architecture overall. It may be time to not only think about how Landscape Architecture can better serve Black communities, but also to be honest about the need to begin a radical rethink of the profession. Especially in the nascent days of what looks to be a federal government that will threaten the protection of our rights and resources, how can we rethink our approaches so that Black Landscapes Matter? For the purposes of this paper, I want to build on a quote from BLM co-founder Alicia Garza. At a panel called “Building Multi-Racial Coalitions” sponsored by Race Forward, Garza described the underlying motivations for the BLM movement as fighting “to be seen, to live with dignity, and to be connected.”5 I will use these three themes as lenses to examine landscapes in the Carolinas with a emphasis on North Carolina, and attempt to show how Black Landscapes (could) Matter.

“TO B E S E E N” T H E Y W E R E L A N D SCA PE A RCH I T EC T S SLAVERY AND THE DESIGN LEGACY OF MUTUALITY: MIDDLETON PLACE, SC When North and South Carolina were a single colony, the region was struggling to identify a cash crop profitable enough to grow. Despite early failed attempts, white landowners found that the climate and tidal action of the rivers surrounding what is now Charleston, South Carolina were ideal for rice production. Yet plantations like Middleton Place initially struggled for two reasons: a lack of local

Middleton Place, South Carolina

White landowners learned of the Wolof people in present day Senegal (West Africa) and their expertise in rice cultivation. For generations, Wolof people planted, harvested, and processed rice at a large scale. Although called “farmers,” the Wolof not only planted and tended crops—they perfected intricate lock and flooding systems to maximize rice growth. Many Wolof people also possessed the Sickle Cell trait. This genetic condition mutates normally disc-shaped red blood cells into sickle shapes, causing chronic clotting, pain, and even death. However, even then, doctors knew that the sickle cell trait also produced an increased resistance to malaria. With that knowledge, slave owners plundered Senegal and strategically bought slaves who were Wolof rice farmers with the Sickle Cell trait. During the construction of Middleton

Place, fear of malaria kept white plantation owners and their white workers away from the plantation, meaning that Wolof farmers planned and constructed much the rice cultivation areas in isolation. They essentially built, and through cross-cultural translation, designed the rice plantation.


For many scholars, Middleton Place is among the only remaining early “designed” landscapes in colonial America. It is most famous for its beautiful butterfly lakes, and home to the first Camelia species planted in America. The success of rice cultivation led to an economic boom and the explosion of wealth for Charleston’s land and slave owning class. For a time, South Carolina was the wealthiest colony in America. Notable in this story is the high level of talent and ingenuity of the skilled African people who built estates like Middleton Place under extreme duress. But for some reason, American landscape architecture avoids discussion and recognition of the African and GROUND UP : ISSUE 06


rice production knowledge, and exposure to mosquitos. White plantation owners and their workers were getting sick and dying from malaria.

black contribution to the profession. By any reasonable definition of the role, the Wolof and the countless thousands who did similar work across the burgeoning nation were landscape architects. These black landscapes were the foundations of wealth and power in this country.


BLACK TOWNS After the end of the Civil War, recently freed black people endeavored to create their own communities. During Reconstruction, with newfound access to political and economic power, black towns and institutions emerged wherever black people lived. Princeville, North Carolina became the first incorporated black town in America. Princeville was unfortunately developed in the floodplain fringe of the White town of Tarboro (built on high ground). Through such topographic siting, Princeville and many other southern black towns were doubly burdened. After “Restoration,” the aggressive retrenchment of White Supremacy that swept through the South after Johnson’s compromise in 1877, racial violence exploded throughout the state and the nation. Princeville was under consistent racial attack for much of its history. Since the town was built in the vulnerable land discarded by whites, Princeville also fell victim to numerous floods and hurricane damage. Just this year, Hurricane Matthew resulted in damage condemning 51% of the town. But even with that risk and outcome, Princeville retains significant meaning for black people in North Carolina. Their tenacity to build and rebuild basic human systems—landscape systems— under extreme duress, make them landscape architects as well. ROSENWALD SCHOOLS North Carolina distinguishes itself by having the most Rosenwald Schools in the country. This regional school program was born of a southern tour involving Booker T. Washington, founder of the Tuskegee Institute, and

Julius Rosenwald, co-founder of Sears and Roebuck Company. Rosenwald, appalled by the deplorable conditions of schools in poor black rural towns, created a matching-grant program. If local communities could raise half of the resources required to build a new school, he would match it. Additionally, the program used school design patterns that prefigured current sustainability practices, such as orientations that maximized sanitation, daylight, and natural ventilation. Black people built nearly 700 of these schools across the state and over 5,000 more across the region. Sadly, many of these sites have fallen into disrepair. But they echo a time when local people, black people, raised their own funds, contributed their own know-how, and sited hundreds of state-of-the art facilities in their own communities. They were landscape architects.

Princeville retains significant meaning for black people in North Carolina. Their tenacity to build and rebuild basic human systems—landscape systems— under extreme duress, make them landscape architects as well. HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES North Carolina has the most Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) of any state. Although largely founded by white philanthropists to prevent black students from attending Predominately White Institutions (PWI), HBCUs continue to play a critical role in grooming future generations of American citizens. Many campuses were laid out by their architects, many of whom were black. Designed by the first black architect to graduate from a PWI school of architecture, Robert Taylor, and built by the first generations of students, many HBCUs have early vestiges of the community build model we celebrate today. The people who designed, built, and

How can one credibly discuss the American landscape without including plantations and the legacy of slavery? This can be a toxic arena for sure, but with more nuanced understanding, there are opportunities to reclaim the mutuality that produced the country’s earliest landscapes. Enslaved Africans were not big dumb brutes, and white slave owners did not possess all of the knowledge and understanding. In the case of a place like Middleton Place, quite the opposite was true. Acknowledging this mutuality between black and white, in the midst of extreme oppression, may even shed light on contemporary design strategies in light of Michelle Alexander’s groundbreaking work and addressing the legacy of mass

Mainstream landscape architecture relegates critical black landscapes to historic preservation, cultural anthropology, and archeology. Why not landscape architecture?

incarceration in contemporary black communities.6

“TO L I V E W I T H D I G N I T Y ” PU B L I C S PACE FO R B L ACK LE A D E RS H I P D E V E LO PM E N T THE NEGRO PARK AND SNCC In an effort to uphold the Jim Crow legacy of separate but equal facilities for black and white Americans, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) purchased open land on the edges of the South Park East Raleigh Neighborhood. “The Negro Park” was created in 1938. Nearby Pullen Park, an amusement park privately donated and funded by white Raleigh newspaper owner Stanford Pullen, featured a wide array of amusements, but excluded black people. “The Negro Park” was a part of a larger effort to master plan a significant section of Raleigh’s Black community. The overall plan not only included an amusement park, but also a school and public housing. Some local historians consider the overall “Negro Park” plan as one of the first mixed use master plans in the state. Local black leaders later successfully petitioned for a name change. The Negro Park later became John Chavis Memorial Park, in honor of John Chavis, the first black teacher allowed to teach both black and white students in the state and who also lived nearby.7 Within walking distance of Shaw University and St. Augustine’s College, the park served as the green heart of Raleigh’s black community. It was also a regional attraction seen as one of the few “safe places” for black people traveling between Atlanta and Washington, DC. A who’s who of black political, economic, athletic, and entertainment leaders all frequented the park. Until Brown v Board of Education II, it had equal amenities to Pullen Park. GROUND UP : ISSUE 06



sustained these campuses during the days of Jim Crow were landscape architects. The first black landscape architect to graduate from an accredited program was David Williston at Cornell University, a North Carolina native from Fayetteville. Among his many accomplishments was the campus plan for Howard University and its famous central space better known as “The Yard.” The significance of this space in celebrating the gathering and public dialogue of black people cannot be undersold. For a contemporary understanding of the significance of The Yard, see Ta-Nehisi Coates’s seminal work, Between the World and Me. Digging into the origins of the state of North Carolina, we see that mainstream landscape architecture history, theory, and practice relegates these critical black landscapes to historic preservation, cultural anthropology, and archeology. Why not landscape architecture?

The park also supported political organizing. Shaw University is rightfully credited for being the home of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a precedent for BLM initially led by Ella Baker. However, South Park East Raleigh residents alive at that time say that the initial planning and survival strategies employed in non-violent direct action were rehearsed in the park, not on campus. Specifically, the park was home to training sessions for how black women should handle aggressive white male threats in protest action.

Acknowledging the role of public space in not only protest action, but also in leadership training and development in the black community, is critical to understanding the effectiveness of Civil Rights era struggles. 14

The park, and later the university, birthed one of the most important Civil Rights era movements (SNCC) and distinguished itself by breaking the patriarchal structure embedded in other organizations like Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). SNCC more accurately reflected the roles black women have played historically in organizing and protest. Acknowledgement of the role of public space in protest action as well as in leadership training and development black community development is critical to understanding the effectiveness of Civil Rights era struggles. BLACK WALL STREET Although the Black Wall Street in Tulsa is more well known (in no small part due to its murderous end at the hands of white supremacists in 1921), it was not the only one. In the early twentieth century, Parrish Street in Durham, North Carolina, was

the home of what were two of the largest employers of black Americans in history: North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company and Mechanics & Farmers Bank. At their heights, NC Mutual Life and M&F Bank funded and underwrote more black land ownership and building construction than any other entities in the country. Their close proximity led to the moniker “Black Wall Street.” The success of this area persisted for generations. Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X all extolled the virtues of this example of black economic selfsufficiency in urban America. The “space” this economic boom provided was equally important for the cultivation of black political leadership. In addition to the leaders of NC Central University, the Black Wall Street phenomenon led to the emergence of people like Pauli Murray. Murray, the first black female episcopal priest and a queer woman, claimed Durham as her home and base for continued activism and agitation. The tragedy of Black Wall Street was its proximity. Located one block away from Main Street, or rather, “White Main Street,” the accumulation of this economic influence and political cultivation was regulated by what in Durham was known as “The Gentleman’s Agreement.” The wealthiest and most powerful white businessmen gave the business leaders of Black Wall Street incredible (for that time) influence and decision-making in the city with one caveat: they did not want to be embarrassed through public protest. For that reason, you will not find many records of traditional protest in Durham during the heydays of tobacco and textiles. Conflicts were handled behind closed doors and in secret until Brown v. Board of Education II. This Supreme Court decision led to federal mandates for states to eliminate discriminatory

Where are the local capital reservoirs to draw upon for sustained work in the black community? CREATIVE PROTEST On February 1, 1960, four black students from NC A&T State University decided to occupy the lunch counter at Woolworth’s in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina. Their sit-in prefigured a wave of non-violent direction action from college educated black students across the South and is rightfully credited as in part sustaining the Modern Civil Rights Movement. Days after their protest, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to speak at White Rock Church in Durham, North Carolina heralding the student efforts as “creative protest.” The lunch counter eventually became integrated. That action provided a pathway for other college students to find a role in effecting social change. In Durham, students occupied an ice cream parlor and achieved the same results. All of these protests depended on the perception of these private spaces as public spaces. Although these public spaces were not “safe,” there was much less overt violence than elsewhere at the time. The tenacity of black students, coupled with hostile, but largely non-violent responses from whites, in part fed North Carolina’s past reputation as a moderate part of the South.

SOUL CITY AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT In an unlikely political alliance in 1969, Floyd McKissick, the first black graduate from UNC Chapel Hill’s law school and long-time NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) leader, worked together with President Richard Nixon on a plan to develop a “Black New Town” in Warren County, North Carolina. Warren County then and now ranks among North Carolina’s poorest communities. McKissick, anticipating future regional economic development projects such as Research Triangle Park, saw this new town as a potential industrial and logistics hub in a traditional pattern where black residents could live and work in in the same community. Dubbed “Soul City,” this effort garnered national attention and design assistance from faculty at NC State University’s School of Design. 15


practices. Residential desegregation and school integration clashes were among the first breaches of “The Gentleman’s Agreement.” This coincided with the decline of textiles and eventually tobacco, leading to increased and persistant rates of poverty in Durham’s Black community. It also led to the creation of the Durham Freeway and urban renewal of the Hayti community, doing grievous generational harm to Durham’s black community.

Soul City Promotional Image GROUND UP : ISSUE 06

Water Plant Rendering from the WPA plans for, Soul City


State and regional lack of cooperation, poor internal organization, and perceptions of impropriety undermined Soul City. Homes were built prior to utilities being installed. Commercial spaces were built without pro forma or business plans. Roads were disconnected or not constructed in the initial phase, making the project inaccessible. In the end, Soul City was shut down partially finished, and subsequently used as a tool to discredit all those involved. The failure of Soul City is a microcosm of a prevailing attitude towards black leadership in the twilight of “great society� programs. Not long after the demise of Soul City, Nixon led efforts to divest from community and social programs. This effort was accelerated by Ronald Reagan and continues to permeate contemporary perceptions of black political leadership as incompetent in cities across the country. If there is a silver lining to the Soul City story, it is the emergence of the Modern Environmental Justice Movement from the same place. In the 1980s, North Carolina was accused of illegally disposing of toxic PCBs

in roadside drainage ditches. A court order required the state to remove all PCBs from the ditches and dispose of them in a landfill. The companies involved conducted a site selection study and identified Warren County. What was not revealed at the time was that race played an explicit role in site selection. Wealthier white residents in Warrenton (the county seat) helped companies to identify places that they thought lacked the capacity for political resistance to landfill location and targeted the black communities. As word spread of the proposed landfill siting, former Civil Rights era activists, who had not organized since the 1950s and 1960s, as well as people who were involved in Soul City, mobilized. They deployed Civil Rights Movement non-violent direct action tactics for environmental purposes. The protests garnered national attention, including the notice of academics that were beginning to correlate race and the siting of toxic waste facilities. Ben Chavis, then Director of the United Church of Christ’s Commission on Racial Justice, was active in these protests,

It is perhaps naïve for landscape architects to assume that the design of public space in black communities is merely a physical and spatial problem. As we value the roles of social media and other virtual spaces for organizing, it’s important to recognize the roles physical places have in the development of the many components which effect change writ large. From the role of John Chavis Memorial Park in nurturing a regional vision of equitable spaces for black people, to the roles black businesses played in building economic self-sufficiency in black communities, to the expanded frame of public space that includes lunch counters and college campuses, black landscapes are defined by all the places black people live their lives. Although noble, it is perhaps naïve for landscape architects to assume that the design of public space in black communities is merely a physical and spatial problem. Public spaces fill more than leisure needs, and designers and planners must defend the role public spaces play in protest action by joining with others to catalyze political and economic change.

“TO B E CO N N EC T E D” B U I L D I N G LO CA L CA PI TA L CHARLOTTE AS THE SORTED OUT CITY Charlotte, North Carolina in many ways represented the most progressive city in North Carolina until recently. The speed of regional economic development made it a magnet for attracting black professionals second only to Atlanta. Concentrated efforts to create a vibrant downtown have resulted in a dramatic turnaround in mixed use and mixed density living with statewide implications. It remains the only city in the state with light rail transit. On paper, these are all strategic moves that could advantage black communities. Charlotte’s First Ward neighborhood was the home of the city’s first black community. By providing supporting services to the city’s banking center, the Second Ward grew as a home to many residents and black-owned businesses. Not unlike many communities nationally, many black communities were identified as slums after World War II. This designation followed decades of suffering under redlining, the early 20th century banking practice which labeled black communities as areas that did not qualify for mortgage lending. Coupled with racial exclusion from the G.I. Bill, the Second Ward struggled to implement community improvements in housing, businesses, and infrastructure. Slated for urban renewal, much of the Second Ward was demolished in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Today it is known as the Government Center, home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and The Epicenter. On a brighter note, the Harvey B. Gantt Center is located in this area, recalling the history of Black Charlotte and bearing the name of Charlotte’s first black mayor and an architect. The building was designed by Phil Freelon, celebrated architect of the Smithsonian African American GROUND UP : ISSUE 06



as was Dr. Robert Bullard. The protests failed and the landfill was built. However, Chavis’s report, “Toxic Waste and Race” (1987), was groundbreaking. After analyzing Warren County, among other case studies, the report concluded that race was the primary determinant in the location of toxic waste facilities, outstripping income and other factors. In their opinion, the researchers found that this constituted a pattern of “Environmental Racism.” In addition to the term and methodology, the Warren County protest is recognized as launching one of the first mainstream American environmental movements led by people of color.

History Museum in Washington D.C. Romare Bearden Park, another and equally significant downtown place, was designed and built as a nod to Charlotte’s most famous artist. Bearden grew up in Mecklenburg County, but became world famous after settling in Harlem and interacting with black artists during the Harlem Renaissance. Bearden Park’s design aspires to some of the post-cubist and impressionist collage work for which Bearden is renowned. It is important to note that Bearden’s work focuses on his rural North Carolina memories in contrast to his lived urban experiences in Harlem; there are no Bearden works featuring Charlotte during his time there.


Is this “blackwashing?” Is this a sincere, misguided attempt to offer equity to black communities by naming parks, which replaced their homes, after their more nationally marketable identity? It is difficult to reconcile the lack of acknowledgement other than signs, in either park, of the black communities that once occupied their sites. Both parks have been leveraged effectively to attract urban redevelopment. However, that development placed no priorities on the local people that once lived there. North Carolina’s legislature bans inclusionary zoning and requiring affordable units in new development projects. This is a right of individual cities, but has not been enacted by city officials. Both park locations lack affordances to enable local business development or any non-recreational activity in the parks and adjacent areas. Is this “blackwashing?” Is this a sincere, misguided attempt to offer equity to black communities by naming parks, which replaced their homes, after their more nationally marketable identity? One wonders if in Charlotte, and across the country, gaining an

identity in a marketable public realm is a fair trade for displacement. As we are learning from the Atlanta Beltline, and monitoring with the 11th Street Bridge Park project in Washington, D.C., there are perils to investing in public infrastructure in advance of the economic and legislative tools needed to mitigate their potentially displacing effects on center city black communities. RACIAL SORTING AND THE DIGITAL AGE Many urban redevelopment efforts parallel the re-segregation of the American city. Charlotte and other cities in North Carolina are more segregated now than in 1960. Today, Charlotte is one of the top 10 most segregated cities by race and lack of social mobility in the country.8 The beginnings of this recent racial sorting can be traced to the statewide enforcement of Brown v Board of Education II, and more specifically, school busing. Today, white residents overwhelmingly attend charter schools, leaving most public schools starkly segregated with predominantly black and brown people and the poor. In general, black people have been pushed from city centers to first ring suburbs. Although this mirrors national trends, Charlotte’s speed of development and lack of supporting social and economic infrastructure for people displaced to outdated suburban sprawl settings is alarming. A recurring theme is that black people, and others perceived as low wealth and low skill, do not attract investment that transforms sprawl landscapes into livable places. Proposing change to these new landscapes in anticipation of their future roles as homes for black people is a pragmatic, but incomplete strategy given what we know about economic development. The Great Migration of the early 20th century, where black people from the rural south relocated in droves to the urban north, is the

Not only are current labor policies working against black communities in terms of wealth creation, the sustained economic devaluing of their places make envisioning local placebased wealth building difficult. However, in the global information age, and in especially in North Carolina with its decidedly anti-union “Right to Work” policies, the pathways for black people to build wealth are constrained. Additionally, the generational debt of living with redlining, block-busting, exclusion from the G.I. Bill, and other exclusionary racial policies mean that not only are current labor policies working against black communities in terms of wealth creation, the sustained economic devaluing of their places make envisioning local place-based wealth building difficult. Racial equity analysis and an emerging set of equitable development case studies offer some guidance on how to identify, address, and monitor the wide array of systems required to provide just results through design and planning. Although this area is an emerging focus of federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Department

of Transportation (DOT), there are a number of cities and foundations that have claimed this arena as a focus. The City of Seattle includes equity as a metric in public space design, and the East Harlem Plan offers potentially scalable approaches to attracting and retaining the range of people required to address racial equity. RECONNECTION TO THE BLACK CREATIVE ETHOS: LEARNING WITH ARTISTS At the NC State College of Design, I led a Ghana Study Abroad program for many years focusing on cross-cultural competence building tools between American students and Ghanaian artists and makers. A major goal of the course was to impact the student’s perceptions of Ghanaian artists. Despite their economic challenges, the Ghanaian artists used the design process to create beautiful things. It was the intention of the course to highlight this ingenuity as a source of inspiration for the students, and through their exchange and collaboration, to co-create innovative experiences, places, and things. Although many efforts have been made to connect landscape architecture with broader arts and culture, there remain divides in the perception of the discipline’s connection to other arts. The information age and D.I.Y. culture have made tools and maker-spaces more accessible than ever. Black people in particular are the heaviest users of social media, and are the most engaged in the production and distribution of videos, music, and even fashion online. However, this energy has not impacted the built environment professions, especially not landscape architects. The recent increase in black graphic and industrial designers illustrates the ability for some black people to discern the role and value of design when it is connected to the products and experiences we use. Reflecting on the topics discussed in this paper, there is an implicit assumption that GROUND UP : ISSUE 06



beginning of the minority-majority American city phenomenon. Through the in-migration of black people, and the outmigration of white people, urban places were made black spaces. The Great Migration coincides with the post-industrial and manufacturing era where fixed capital relied on attracting mobile labor, giving power to labor via union organizing and other mechanisms. In some ways the timing of this migration, compared to changes present in society at that time led to economic opportunity for black people that far outstripped those of staying in place.

since black representation is so low in the landscape architecture profession, the black community does not have the design training or background to participate. I’ve wondered if this attitude and its resultant approaches have limited the potential for co-creation between designers and black people. I’m struck, internationally and locally, by the abundance of designing and making going on in black communities, and wonder if a more concerted effort to connect black landscapes with existing black artists and makers would create new possibilities. Renowned scholar Mark Anthony Neal recently moderated a conversation at Duke University between cinematographer Arthur Jafa and celebrated cultural critic Greg Tate that recovers the need to reconnect to the makers of black cultural artifacts. Jafa, the acclaimed


A more concerted effort to connect black landscapes with existing black artists and makers, would create new, meaningful possibilities. cinematographer of Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust,” described the black creative ethos as “somewhere between holding your tongue and speaking in tongues.” He spoke of the breadth of black expression as being grounded in the spectrum between the sacred and the profane in the manner of Amiri Baraka’s “Blues People”—making no distinction between what others may refer to as high and low cultural practices. Jafa observed that the innovative and avant garde creative expressions present across black popular media culture, music, and fashion indicate that the spirit driving the making of powerful artifacts is as strong as ever. There are some examples of blurring creative lines in the process of making culturally significant places. Rick Lowe’s work in Project Rowhouses combined the celebration of the

artistic legacy of John T. Biggers with the improvisational nature of cultural practitioners working to improve, but not gentrify, the Third Ward of Houston. Currently, Theaster Gates’ work on the Southside of Chicago blends urban planning, architecture, art, and activism in ways that gather and celebrate black cultural capital. When looking at contemporary landscape architecture, one wonders how learning from the dynamic works of contemporary black artists could inform our creative processes. What could the critical study of and engagement with artists, like Lowe and Gates, Kara Walker, Barry Jenkins, or Kanye West, offer in the way of framing the spatial, aesthetic, and experiential qualities of designed places?

LE A R N I N G L A N D SCA PE A RCH I T EC T U R E BARRIERS TO EDUCATIONAL ACCESS I’d like to conclude this section with more explicit issues that prevent black people from connecting to landscape architects and the profession of landscape architecture. We are in a decade long transition with a reduced number of undergraduate programs in landscape architecture and an increase in the globalization of graduate programs. The decline of undergraduate programs has affected North Carolina specifically. Recently, NC State University was forced to close its undergraduate program due to low enrollment. NC A&T State University (NCATSU), the first HBCU with an accredited program, struggles with enrollment. In the case of undergraduate education in general, HBCUs produce more black graduates of professional programs than PWIs. In addition to providing the academic training required, they are attractive to black students and families because they overtly promote their awareness and connection to black culture. NCATSU currently produces

the highest number of black engineering graduates in the country. The institution specifically credits their black “family� atmosphere as a reason for their high recruitment, retention, and graduation rates. Their work is the model for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) 10,000 Black Engineer Initiative that is currently on track to meet its ambitious goal by 2020. By comparison, there are around 250 black landscape architects in the country. Of those with undergraduate degrees, most of these designers attended HBCU programs. Ten years ago there were three accredited programs at HBCUs. Today, two remain with one in dire need of rejuvenation. There have been no explicit strategies offered by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA), or other entities at this time. One program in particular, Florida A&M University, was closed by the University of Florida system despite producing the most black landscape architecture graduates in the country. There was no strategy proffered to defend the need for that program to remain in the interest of the broader profession. Generally, the educational experience of landscape architecture is devoid of the black experience. Black educators represent less than 0.5% of all landscape architecture educators. Student enrollment has hovered at 1.5-2% for 20 years. Landscape Architecture texts do not reference any contributions by black landscape architects:

no history, theories, case studies, or any other acknowledgements. LAM has recently increased profiles of black landscape architects and their works. Can we imagine a future of landscape architecture where the only pathway to the profession is graduate study? Given the scope of the challenges that we face, this seems ridiculously narrow. It is difficult to attract black students to the profession when pursuing a degree demands a level of rigor equivalent to other professions with a higher return on investment. It is especially difficult to do so when our profession offers little representation of black professionals, projects, history, and theories. It seems disingenuous to want to work in black communities, but to neglect to reflect deeply on the disconnect between our professional desires and our professional composition. In the face of declining enrollments overall, we need to reconsider how and what we teach the next generations about our profession. 21

The educational experience of landscape architecture is devoid of the black experience. EXPANDING THE CANON What if we told a different story about landscape architecture? Most of our theory, history, and case studies apply European precedents to American design challenges. Especially in history and theory courses, we have a professional implicit bias towards privileged European landscapes. One can track European innovations in landscape architecture to their alternating dominance as colonial powers. In some ways, their landscape architecture contributions were funded and created through the domination of other peoples and landscapes. We marvel at the craft, but edit the meanings and contexts. Even within European culture, very few people enjoyed the privileged landscapes we acclaim GROUND UP : ISSUE 06


The innovative and avant garde creative expressions present across black popular media culture, music, and fashion indicate that the spirit driving the making of powerful artifacts is as strong as ever.

from history and theory. Celebrating the everyday landscapes for the non-powerful and non-wealthy sends a different message about what landscape architecture can mean to diverse people. Palatial estates were the concretization of monarchies and external symbols of control. Monarchical lands opened to the masses, especially during the industrial revolution, were social experiments to “civilize” the working class, and maintain control in a capitalist framework. This, combined with an increased ecological awareness, could also describe contemporary design efforts in American cities.

What if landscape architecture were described with some acknowledgment of the dynamics of race, class, gender, and power?


What if there was a People’s History of Landscape Architecture? Borrowing from Howard Zinn’s groundbreaking work, what if landscape architecture were described with some acknowledgment of the dynamics of race, class, gender, and power? What if it were possible to see yourself in the mainstream of the profession even if you did not aspire to advance white culture studies? And it is here where the lessons learned from the Black Lives Matter movement can offer hope for a more representative profession. Recovering the poorly documented landscape legacies of black people in the profession of Landscape Architecture is important to this process. But more broadly, what if landscapes were approached as a way to help invisible people and places “to be seen?” What if landscape processes were deployed to help us all “live with dignity?” And what if through our continued and shared commitment to building together a more just society we resisted those forces that would pull us apart and instead engaged in the work with the intent of being “connected?”

Twenty-four years after the publication of Landscape Architecture Magazine’s January 1993 issue on cultural diversity, the “Search for Solutions” continues.

ENDNOTES 1 Cover Story. Cultural Diversity: A Search for Solutions. Landscape Architecture, January, 1993. 2 Whitney M. Young, Jr. Keynote Address at the 1968 AIA Convention In Portland, Oregon 3 Lowery, Wesley “Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no.” The Washington Post, July 11, 2016. 4 From “Post election reflections with Ta Nehisi Coates and Jelani Cobb”, WHUR 96.3, November 16, 2016 accessed via webcasts/post-election-reflections-with-ta-nehisi-coates-and-jelani-cobb/ 5 6 Alexander, Michelle “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”, The New Free Press, New York 2012 7 John Chavis is an ancestor of Ben Chavis, former Director of the United Church of Christ’s Commission on Racial Justice. It was Ben Chavis who led the creation of the report “Toxic Waste and Race” in 1987; the first document providing evidence of “Environmental Racism”, later known as Environmental Justice. 8 Chetty, Raj et al. “Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States”, June 2014 accessed via . The authors rank Charlotte, North Carolina last in the nation for intergenerational upward mobility for black people.









Landscape Architects should develop performance guidelines that defend and reward local economic and political development when changing and creating public spaces.

Landscape Architects should resist the repression of black people and their voices in public spaces and recognize it as the erosion of freedom of speech.

Black landscapes have in part been formed by the legacy of exclusionary policies limiting their economic growth. Landscape Architects should make racial equity analysis standard practice when working with black communities.

Black landscapes have been displaced by broader economic interests and their heritage exploited for placemaking identity. Landscape Architects should not participate in and should openly criticize “Blackwashing.”

Black landscapes are shaped by more designers than landscape architects. Landscape Architects should learn with black artists and designers, and pursue opportunities to co-create solutions.

Black landscapes require black landscape students and professionals. Landscape Architects should work in increase undergraduate enrollments, especially at HBCUs.

Black landscapes are excluded from the canon of landscape architecture history, theory, and practice. Landscape Architects should advocate for a People’s History of Landscape Architecture that includes black landscapes as an integral part of landscape theory. BOONE

Expand the frame of landscape architecture to include black people who transformed the landscape in intentional ways. “Grandparent” the history of enslaved Africans, black institutions and town builders into landscape architecture. Research, share, and teach their accomplishments as landscape architecture.



THE TENTH YARD 70 °.51’ // 42 °.52’


The proverbial whole nine yards has nothing to do with football. An infamously slippery etymological puzzle, it may not reference distance at all, but instead a volume. A standard concrete mixer truck, with its instantly recognizable rotating drum, carries about nine cubic yards of constantly tumbling (and therefore not setting) concrete.


RIGHT Context map of the Upper Dam BELOW Panoramic image of the Upper Dam

Hikers, bikers, flyfishing folk, paddlers of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, and other outdoor enthusiasts may now stumble out of the North Maine Woods to an odd sight. Located at and fundamentally defining the intersection of two key water bodies in a very obscure corner of the most forested state in the lower 48, stands a brand-new, highly advanced, multifunctional and rather monolithic concrete structure. The story of how the new Upper Dam came into being speaks generally to the logistical hurdles of a modern infrastructure project in a remote location and illustrates specifically how the apparent spatial extents of building a particular project may belie its requisite impacts on someplace, somewhere, even if only temporarily. Upper Dam is interesting in that its particular place of impact is a










stone’s throw away but a world apart: a factory that necessitates its own landscape to fundamentally exist. The closest concrete contractor to Upper Dam is an hour and a half away, by the most optimistic reckoning. Dirt roads abound, and unfathomable granite leviathans forgotten by an extinct glacier reliably belch up through the surface of the region’s routes with every winter’s freeze. To simply find, much less frequent this place, is a task, and that is precisely the point. This particular neck of the woods is a get-away from our most modern world and its trappings. A welcome respite from the labyrinth of red spruce, balsam fir, and hypnotically shimmering birch in Maine’s central

west borderlands is a lake called Mooselookmeguntic. Its formidable 25 sq mi area is echoed by a deep serenity along most of the lake’s perimeter; and its entire western shore is undeveloped, well-protected, and heavily forested. Jet skis are not tolerated.

Mooselookmeguntic, and its formidable 25 sq mi area is echoed by a deep serenity along most of the lake’s perimeter; and its entire western shore is undeveloped, wellprotected and heavily forested. Jet skis are not tolerated. Maine’s North Woods is astoundingly dense. Third-growth evergreen saplings growing inches apart, strangle the life from each other and the light from the forest floor—a



living legacy of abject clear-cutting. Moose pad around like they own the place. Visiting in the wrong week of the wrong season is to risk being carried off and consumed by sanguinivorous insects. And hikers of the Appalachian Trail still become badly, and occasionally, fatally lost in the woods here—so tangled, dark, and domineering—even in the mild summer season. This immense forest drew European Americans seeking dominion of the frontier, as French Canadians and Protestant New Englanders battled to exploit the region, its resources, and people. More whites from the gentler latitudes flooded in as the industrial evolution of the logging industry fueled, first a timber market, and then a paper production boom largely necessitated by the advent of the rotary printing press.

The forest was logged in a resource extraction so sweeping that pockets of old-growth trees remain only in the region’s most remote hills. The Androscoggin River, whose effective headwater is Mooselookmeguntic, was one of the most severely polluted Rivers in America only two generations ago, largely as an effect of the sulfite processes used in paper making. Long before any of that nonsense, Abenaki Indians—the “Dawn People”—knew well that traveling overland in Maine was, for the most part, folly. Mercifully, the land in this corner of the country is positively shot through with water: lakes, ponds, bogs, innumerable streams, and the massive rivers that frame and ABOVE Photograph of a ‘zig-zagged’ cast-in-place concrete labyrinth weir RIGHT Kennebec River Log Drive, 1922

hulls of the most select trees skinned, stitched, and sealed with pitch to slip through sacred waterways, as furs worth their weight in silver were shuttled downstream to those hoping to stave off winter’s deadly cold. In the ensuing era, those same routes became the functional network for transporting every tree that could be felled. Log drives of stupefying proportion were events expressive of a place turned fundamentally against itself. The river’s inexorable flow acting as a de facto conveyor belt, shunted the surrounding forest—laid utterly low—to mills for pulping.

From the forest, emerged one of North America’s most ingenious, idiosyncratic, and apparently timeless inventions, an object that is an essential avatar of the landscape itself: the birch bark canoe. William Saroyan branded the bicycle “man’s noblest invention.” He clearly never canoed. By comparison, if you’ve ever portaged a canoe through the tangled North Woods, you’ll know that sliding out over still water and slipping a paddle into a mirrorsmooth lake is beyond a relief, it is closer to blissful revelation—this is how you travel through these woods.

The objects and systems humans have created to harness or shape natural flows and forms are often dramatic, conspicuous spikes in the pulse of a particular place. Thus, the most meaningful transport and trade permeating this landscape for millennia literally travelled inside of the disembodied

Dams were crucial functional units facilitating this and other industrial enterprises, and cornerstones of America’s draw toward a national landscape developing by way of infrastructure. Oil fields of the South, the Allegheny’s anthracite mines, Dustbowl-bound monocultures of the Great Plains, and the epic task of taming water out West were all processes built upon, or else grafted onto, large-scale systems of resource gathering, processing, transport, and distribution. Dams played some role in all of these schemes, though most were simply inglorious earthen mounds hemming in some valley’s catchment for local use and abuse. Landscape possesses memory. In a sense, landscape is memory manifest: events and processes of the past that have pushed, pulled, partitioned, painted, and poisoned places are omnipresently observable, though often non-obvious. The objects and systems humans have created to harness or shape natural flows and forms are often dramatic, conspicuous spikes in the pulse of a particular place. As the tide of industrialization seeped steadily through the fabric of North America, enormous reverberations of man’s meddling were inevitable, but often blurred by the uncertainty of extent: how far could the effects of something apparently discreetly local truly travel—in physical outcomes, ecologic GROUND UP : ISSUE 06



drain the state. This makes sense. Maine is annually gifted with 100 inches of snow and 40 inches of rain. 24 trillion gallons of water slide across its low-slung ranges of granitic till and fertile intervales, slinking through a mosaic of waterways laced into the deep, dark woods in search of a coastline longer than California’s. Truly, this is a land of water.






Upper Dam Road + Steel Truss Bridge

Turbine + Generator Bay

Closure Embankment w/ Steel CutOff Wall

Auxilliary Radial Tainter Gate

North S addle D ike Earth E mbankm + ent South S addle D ike Earth E mbankm + ent




Low Flow

The labyrinth weir is a ‘zigzagged’ cast-in-place concrete wall. The increased fixed crest length (480’) relative to the dam’s linear length increases its safe discharge capacity by a factor of 3 while maintaining a contained site footprint for the superstructure

High Flow

The main and auxilliary radial gates rotate to open a spillway

The split leaf gates raise a metal wall to allow and control flows underneath


The old Upper Dam of Maine’s Lake Mooselookmeguntic, for its modest size, was an oddly important nexus in the cultural history of the place. Carrie Stevens designed and refined her enduring Grey Ghost fly fishing streamer in the pools just beneath the dam testing in tumbling, turbulent water food-rich and full of trophy brook trout resembling footballs more than fish. We Took to the Woods, Louise Dickinson Rich’s account of her family’s extended wilderness sojourn, was a watermark meditation on the bounty and beauty of the area, and the Thoreauvian solitude embodied in and emblematic of it.

ABOVE Birds-eye of the construction of the Upper Dam LEFT Exploded axonometric drawing of the Upper Dam

Because of its classification as “high hazard” by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Upper Dam was recently replaced. And, apart from the dissonance of an industrial process unfolding in an otherwise serene setting, its dismantling and aesthetic departure have been met with some lament by many who live in or frequent the region. The old cedar beast was a nostalgic backdrop, after all, and generations recreated on and around the dam, in the considerably expanded Mooselookmeguntic Lake (made 14’ deeper by it), or on Upper Richardson Lake’s trout-rich reach just below it. Building the new Upper Dam was quite a process: the former dam, dating to 1875, was well-embedded in its nexus of the watershed, its cedar timbers knitted tightly into its cribbing braces and superstructure. A 120-ton Manitowoc crane was barged in from nearby Oquosssoc. Brookfield Energy, who GROUND UP : ISSUE 06


consequences, or even the shaping of a cultural psyche?


constructed the new dam, built two crosstied sheet pile reinforced coffer dam walls filled with glacial till to establish a hydraulic void framing the old dam for demolition, and making space for construction of the new. The old dam was demolished and removed; the metal scrapped and cedar chipped. A quarter mile north of the dam is a fiveacre meadow adjacent to a dirt camp road. Formerly an informal cider apple orchard, and inevitably bubbling with many-colored lupines in June, the site was converted into a batch plant for the staging, processing, and delivering of 15,000 cubic yards of concrete required for the dam’s subgrade slab, and formidable, intricate superstructure, including the ‘zig-zagged’ labyrinth weir complex. Components of a Telex portable concrete processing plant were driven in: the entire factory essentially flat-packable, modularized to travel entirely on a truck bed.

The biophysical rhythms of the place will begin reestablishing a relationship and relative consistency with the cadence of the surrounding forests, fields, and hills. At the inception of dam construction, the meadow was cleared, graded, and covered in shale gravel, and a crew of about 40 worked seasonally to remove the old dam structure and foundation, and to frame the forms for the cast-in-place pours for the new dam. The aggregate and cement masses were trucked in and staged, then piled on conveyor belts and ground into nine cubic yard batches for truck deliveries to the site, and the elaborate

choreography of a crane’s pumping and pouring system for distributing the mix into forms. When Upper Dam is completed this year, and the factory site’s utility is exhausted, Brookfield will do their best to return the orchard and meadow to their prior condition. The biophysical rhythms of the place will begin reestablishing a relationship and relative consistency with the cadence of the surrounding forests, fields, and hills. Those who stayed at the fish camps shall recall the inconvenience and cacophony of the dam’s construction; those who built it might reflect upon the isolation and solitude of the woods and lakes, or the plague of insects; longtime visitors will notice and be surprised by the new ‘nature’ of the place. Brook trout will wander back to the foot of the dam. Deer and moose will creep back into the meadow to gorge on fallen apples come the fall. The memory of this space will envelop the new dam, and it will dissolve into the background: the blind spot and blurred banality of its new normal. But the acts and actions that manifested this place—the crushing of rocks, pumping of water, building of forms, and deafening drone of the diesels that made it possible—will be distilled to little more than lore: mere stories of the moment and those who witnessed it slip into the inevitable, inexorable draw of time, and its fundamental process of forgetting.


ABOVE The Telex portable concrete processing plant


BELOW Remnants of lake Mooselookmeguntic’s old upper dam





A hand drawing records the primary agency of design through accumulated marks on a surface. The simplest tools propose composition in space, scale, and change through time with dynamic living materials. These drawings capture stages of Oudolf’s engagement with the planting design for the Serpentine Pavilion’s summer 2011 incarnation, by architect Peter Zumthor. Without their referent they are delightful to look at; without possessing the author’s depth of experience, is the choreography of his mark-making enlightening or enigmatic?





04 34


The landscape exists because we sense it with our eyes, ears, nose, and skin. These sense-scapes are not isolated from one another; they occur simultaneously and their values differ across cultures. In order to connect with and relate to marginal landscapes and communities, we must feel them through senses we do not normally value as dominant. Sound reveals the hidden relationships between the material and cultural mechanisms of a landscape and its community. An aural process dissects and manipulates an urban soundscape in order to understand its cultural and environmental resonances.

ABOVE Urban sound score of Flushing, Queens

The process of listening to a landscape reveals the cultural idiosyncrasies of how natural systems are valued, abhorred, maintained, and ultimately, designed. Through the examination of human scale experience of the landscape (the senses), an understanding of new methods to meaningfully and productively connect larger systems to displaced individuals and communities may emerge. The


Landscape architecture is a dynamic discipline. It evolves at the borders of design and art; science and imagination; nature and humanity; object and context; dwelling and exterior. Our discipline works with non-static elements that challenge all of these perceived dualities and push us to cross borders to create hybrid visions of new sustainable ecologies. Kinetic forces of wind, sun, soil, and humanity push against and seep into one another to erase and trace dichotomies. Building becomes landscape, ecology becomes urbanity, and humans become nature. Dualities are renegotiated as conceptual and physical movements occur.

Landscape architecture is a moving discipline and this becomes apparent in landscapes of migration where cultural and communal displacements challenge existing political borders and ideas of place making. Sound is invisible. We do not see the noise of wind passing between buildings or voices telling stories. The air resonates and vibrations travel to our eardrums. Sound creates space with rhythm and volume. It creates directionality, depth, and meaning. Listening to the noises, sounds, and voices of an urban main street reveals the relationship between the cultural and physical characteristics of a site. Sound is space. Noise is infrastructural. Voice is cultural. Western designers’ dominant sense is sight. If we use a less dominant sense to create space, we will find unbiased cultural GROUND UP : ISSUE 06


human experience gets lost when one designs from the systems scale. Experience occurs before theory.






SPANISH 265,345

CHINESE 103,235

KOREAN 36447


143 dierent languages are spoken in Queens County. Source: 2005-2009 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B16001 1 Dot = 30 Residents

meaning, and a new bodily sense of time in city and memory.


If we begin to listen to the sounds and noises of Flushing, Queens in New York, we can begin to grasp the cultural underpinnings of story and sensorium. Sound creates space. It exists as an invisible phenomenon. Invisibility implies not seeing. Blind people do not understand invisibility because they hear, smell, and touch. What is invisible to a blind person? Our dominant sense in the Western world is sight, and we use sight because most of our communication stems from written text, and a culture of acquisition that implies ownership. We can own with our eyes because we objectify and focus with sight. Something is always dominant in our frame of vision. Sound disarms the notion of a central figure, because it is not fully coded, or filled with textual meaning. Acoustic landscapes allow us to experience a space without the normal cultural and intellectual values we have been taught. It forces us to step outside of pictorial landscape painting, into viscous rhythm and musicality.

Most importantly, sound implies listening. Listening is both an act of empathy and spatial awareness. What if we could marry the two? There is a succession and movement behind sound that is similar to narrative. We can shut our eyes and close our mouths: we can stop seeing and stop talking. We cannot shut our ears, however; they do not have lids. Our ears are always turned on. Music is primal language. It is loose and idiosyncratic enough to create space for multiple interpretations. Perhaps this is where its power lies: in its ability to render feeling without specifying. It is not static. It does not stand still. It is multilayered. Voices of a community resound with the stories of migration and settlement and land use. The landscape reacts to the evolution of its human habitation. The investigation of sound and its traces seeks to reveal the hidden relationships between the material and cultural processes of a landscape and its current evolutionary trajectory. This exploration maps the cultural density and the needs of marginalized communities in Flushing, Queens, via sound recording and listening. Queens is the third most diverse

RUSSIAN 22,093

county in the United States; over 138 different languages are spoken here. Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Indic languages, and Russian are the top five languages spoken. Walking down Roosevelt Avenue, the main artery of Flushing, Queens, towards the polluted bay, reveals a diverse and complex soundscape created by the overlaps of commerce, transportation, leisure, and culture. Flushing, Queens is defined by its pedestrian lifestyle. There are multiple bus stops, a commuter train stop, subway stop, and connections to major highways. People drive and walk in this densely populated area. The noise of Flushing, Queens is the sound of buses, subways, traffic, and wind. The voice of Flushing is composed of the 143 different languages spoken in Queens County. This urban sound score was created using binaural microphones, which record from two directions simultaneously in order to give the recording a three-dimensional, spatial effect.


The average sound volume in Flushing is 80 decibels; airplanes from nearby LaGuardia Airport fly overhead every 15 minutes. The subway vibrates underground, then above ground. The sound score begins in at the center of Flushing Queens where we hear voices intertwined with noise. As we progress towards the Bay, the noise of infrastructure is dominant, and the voices disappear. The sound score ends at Flushing Bay with wind, airplane, and cars. No human voices. The terminus is at the polluted Flushing Bay where the main subway goes underwater to the other side.


To hear the sound recordings, please visit GROUND UP : ISSUE 06




Public urban spaces are, sometimes, sites of protest and resistance. The millions who assembled around the world on January 21, 2017—as part of the Women’s March against the bigotry of the Trump administration—are well aware of this unique virtue of public urban spaces and the open discourse they facilitate. But, what happens when the issues being protested are rural, suburban, remote, global, atmospheric, or infrastructural? Are urban public spaces still appropriate sites of resistance? Perhaps we need to rethink the strategies used to fight climate change, oil pipelines, travel bans, and sea level rise—and their effects on diffused sites with boundaries far from any one urban center. - Richard L. Hindle 40

COMPETITION PROMPT The 2017 Thomas Church Memorial Design Competition, sponsored by the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at UC Berkeley, asked students in the college to develop spatial strategies to resist the Dakota Access Pipeline and to speculate on the changing status of protest in the 21st century. Is a permanent protest site required?

Should there be multiple protest sites?

Can representation help the protest effort through dissemination of information?

Could planning strategies and architectural intervention forestall future sections of the pipeline?

What digital tools and new media might facilitate ongoing resistance to the pipeline?

What are the essential elements of a “landscape of resistance?”

No specific sites or scales were implied by the competition brief. The only requirement was that teams employ the tools of spatial design to transform the physical, virtual, or political landscape, associated with progress and completion of the pipeline. The competition provided an opportunity for students to facilitate ongoing protests at the Standing Rock Reservation and rethink landscapes of resistance.

1. STARVE THE BLACK SNAKE David Koo Dinning Liu Yang Liu


The Sioux Tribe refers to DAPL as the Black Snake, in reference to an old sioux tribe prophecy that if a giant snake burrowed into the earth the world would soon end.

The Pathway is the easement granted for pipeline. Our design will concentrate along the 50’ and 150’ easements that will be granted for the DAPL.

A Defensive Landscape is a combination of Landform, Water, Wind, and People, placed along the easement of the Black Snake to provide obstacles.


Energy Transfer Partners are major investors of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Increasing construction costs & strengthen the encampment of the Water Protectors would encourage divestment.

2. POP-UP PIPELINE Maryell Abella Danielle Chan Andrew Saephan





Spatial use diagrams

modification of space = activation of landscapes + people



Popup pipeline + people

Berkeley, CA | Sproul Plaza

New York City , NY

| Times Square

3. AMPLIFY Faranak Khas Ahmadi Natali Ovalles Myra Messner




TYPOLOGY 1. Gates TYPOLOGY 2. Shelter




TYPOLOGY 4. Barrier TYPOLOGY 2. Shelter

TYPOLOGY 3. Sound colonnade


TYPOLOGY 3. Sound colonnade

TYPOLOGY 4. Barrier TYPOLOGY colonnade TYPOLOGY3.2.Sound Shelter

TYPOLOGY 4. Barrier

TYPOLOGY 4. Barrier









Every car in Cuba is a taxi; this was the first lesson we learned. While waving our arms in the air one morning in Havana, we unintentionally hailed enough cars to fill half a city block. The other expectant riders on the curb used subtle hand signs with different combinations of fingers to represent various routes. It was clear that we were new here. Our driver agreed to the price (a quarter of his monthly salary) and gave a slight nod to his current passenger, who left the car and began hailing another. This small act of displacement surprised the class. Like it or not, we were officially participants in the unequal development of Havana.


BELOW From left to right: Conducting lectures on the streets of Vedado; Interviewing local market vendors in Casablanca; Mapping the Regla neighborhood. RIGHT The overall urban vision consists of 14 proposals from the class.

“Somos estudiantes de arquitectura del instituto federal de Zurich, y estamos estudiando la transformación del puerto de la Habana,” was the line we recited to our driver, an exengineer from Holguín. Noticing an Obama air freshener hanging over his rear-view mirror, we began asking him questions about the recent changes in Havana. As his rusted Ford barreled down the Malecón, passing classic American cars, Chinese compacts, and freshly imported BMWs, he described his desire to be part of the changes and prosperity coming from the tourism boom in Havana.

This was one of many informal interviews we conducted during our weeklong excursion outside the confines of the academic gated community and into the messy complexity of the city. Our Fall 2016 “Port of Havana” design studio aimed to propose sustainable architectural solutions for the transformation of the city’s recently decommissioned harbor. Currently lacking any comprehensive development plan, the port and its surrounds provided an ideal “classroom” to practice Urban-Think Tank’s alternative research and design methodology. Amidst the vast and varied layers of a diverse and rapidly changing city, our on-the-ground process was simple: look, observe, listen, ask, absorb, and understand.

Mino Sommer, Market Acupuncture Antoina Cruel, Plaza Flotar Christina Akesson, Compartir la Fábrica Okan Tan, Entrance Havana Jurek Brüggen / Marco Bruggman, Ciudad Anclada Andrea Briccola, Hotel Particular Lea Vejnovic, Public Harbor Campus Alana Elayashy, Copahabana Marco Graff, Cuba Care Quentin Halter, Special Economic Zone Sevde Kircali, Sustainable Havana 45 Zirong Song, Urban Relink Nicolas Rolle, Social Traboule Dimitri Bartholdi, Housing Havana

Together with local architecture students from the Instituto Superior Politécnico José Antonio Echeverría (CUJAE), we conducted a series of mapping and fieldwork exercises around the port, exploring disconnected neighborhoods and empty industrial sites. Along the way, we met locals and were often invited into their homes, cataloging personal histories and visions for the future of their city. Students attended a series of meetings, lectures, building tours, and workshops with experts from the Office of the City Historian, the Planning Department, and the Swiss Embassy. From our vantage point in the present, we analyzed the historic context and developed a contemporary urban design to positively affect the lives of the city’s inhabitants. GROUND UP : ISSUE 06


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PORT OF HAVANA Havana’s strategic location in the Gulf of Mexico made Cuba one of the most important trading hubs in the Americas, a key node between the New and the Old World. At the center of Havana is the harbor. For centuries, it remained a crossroads of cultural exchange, generating wealth and imparting a cosmopolitan flavor to the city. With the imposition of the US embargo in 1960, and later economic difficulties flowing from the dissolution of the Soviet bloc, international trade suffered immensely. The harbor became a vast area of vacant factories, abandoned piers, and rusted cranes.


Today, industrial activities have been relocated to the newly-constructed port of Mariel on the outskirts of the city. New Cuban government policies have created a wealth of investment opportunities in the old port, presenting new challenges for this latent land in the center of the city. Responding to the tensions between globalization, modernization, and the country’s revolutionary socialist tradition, our students designed alternative architectural typologies, radically questioning the future development of the port. Taken together, the proposals form an inclusive urban vision

challenging conventional approaches to urban development characterized by privatization, fragmentation, and gentrification. ACTIVATE THE WATERFRONT Antonia and Mino sought to address the barriers that restrict Cuban citizens’ access to the port’s waterfront. Over 12 hectares of restricted industrial land border the port, and the Cuban government limits the use of boats to only those authorized by the military. Most neighboring residents are unable to even point in the direction of the water. Disturbed by this fact, Mino proposed retrofitting light-industrial warehouses along the edge of the water, transforming them into functioning marketplaces for individual start-up cuentapropistas—privately owned self-employed businesses. Antonia connected these new acupuncture points through a network of public paths and bridges that span several neighborhoods along the waterfront. Together, they propose new programming to reactivate the water as a valuable resource. Mino’s fishing market reinvigorates a dead commercial industry, serving to clean up the bay and provide new job opportunities, while Antonia’s sailing school introduces water sports to empower local youth.

MAKE A SELF-SUFFICIENT CITY From many parts of the city, one can see a towering flare stack emitting a continuous orange flame over the surrounding neighborhoods. The Nico Lopez refinery covers almost four square kilometers on the southeast side of the port. It illustrates Cuba’s paradoxical relationship with energy. Though


LEFT Market Acupuncture, Mino Sommer ABOVE

Ciudad Anclada, Jurek Brüggen and Marco Bruggmann

Cubans consume relatively little energy—well below the UN consumption goal of 2000 Watts-per-person—95% of this energy is nonrenewable. One student, Sevde, noted the risk the country faces as it modernizes and imports more energy-intensive appliances and devices. Through a series of phases, her proposal transforms the refinery into a selfsufficient, mixed-use neighborhood producing renewable energy. By planting mangroves, portions of the refinery could be bioremediated and transformed into parkland. The deconstructed materials can be recycled into future streets and housing. The remaining industrial portions of the site are converted into biomass generators, providing a more reliable and renewable form of energy. This offers a model for transitioning other energy infrastructure in Cuba to greener alternatives. GROUND UP : ISSUE 06


DENSIFY TO THE CENTER During their site fieldwork, Marco and Jurek became fascinated by Virgen del Camino, a diverse neighborhood south of the port. As a landing spot for many Cubans moving from the countryside, Virgen del Camino is a place full of micro-economies sprouting up because of its relative location to the center of Havana. Newer residential construction, informal in its nature, is springing up here in response to internal migration in a country just waking up to the idea of private ownership. Channeling this entrepreneurial spirit, Marco and Jurek proposed a series of interventions that grow from the center of the neighborhood to the edge of the waterfront. Creating a central development corridor of commercial and cultural activities, their project activates underused mobility infrastructure such as train tracks, bus routes, and ferry terminals to strengthen Virgen del Camino’s relation to the city as a whole. They recommend that similar corridors be developed following this model in other neighborhoods surrounding the port. With each corridor ending in a ferry terminal, this proposal strengthens the overall functionality of the disjointed harbor and protects the unique islands of neighborhood identity.

tall space, unlike the barbacoa apartments inhabited by multiple families. Furthermore, the new construction favors locations heavy with tourism, contributing to gentrification. Dimitri and Andrea responded to this density challenge by creating new business models to finance a balance between tourism and social housing. The team’s designs for communal housing incorporate the country’s preAirBnb model of casas particulares into new cooperatively run businesses, regenerating private housing development. At the same time, their proposals protect the open spaces within the city to support a stronger cultural exchange between residents and tourists. Free market mechanisms, combined with Cuban communal spirit, offer alternative opportunities to confront growing demands on space.


ABOVE Sustainable Havana, Sevde Kircali RIGHT

Hotel Particular, Andrea Briccola

STABILIZE AND BUILD AFFORDABLE HOUSING Due to the economic situation in Cuba, few building materials arrive on the island, making the maintenance, renovation and construction of housing a challenge. Though Havana’s population has calmly hovered around two million for the past decade, the supply of housing has shrunk as buildings collapse. While exploring Habana Vieja, our class observed a number of state-run renovations of crumbling colonial-era buildings. The effort, though commendable in intent, results in the displacement of residents. The renovation returns buildings to their colonial density where one family occupied a four-meter

PRESERVE THE FUTURE In this design studio we engaged multiple perspectives in a collective, integrated design process, adopting an attitude of designing with, rather than for stakeholders. Our multidisciplinary team of architects, engineers, planning authorities, citizens, and various clients sought effective design strategies for an urban area in transition and innovative solutions for the transformation of Havana to the benefit of all.

URBAN-THINK TANK Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner are the founders of the interdisciplinary design firm Urban-Think Tank (U-TT), and hold a joint Chair of Architecture and Urban Design at ETH Zurich. As principals of U-TT, they have received the 2010 Ralph Erskine Award, the 2011 Holcim Gold Award for Latin America, and the 2012 Holcim Global Silver Award, and were part of the Golden Lion-winning team at the 2012 Venice Biennale of Architecture. They have edited and contributed to a number of books, including Informal City: Caracas Case (2005, Prestel), Torre David: Informal Vertical Communities (2012, Lars Müller), and Reactivate Athens: 101 Ideas (2017, Ruby Press). Danny Wills is an architect and researcher and has been a part of Urban-Think Tank since 2013. As a graduate of The Cooper Union, his work investigates rural and urban issues through ecological systems thinking in regards to food, landscape, and water. With U-TT, he has developed projects such as the Xarranca Pavilion, Swissnex Parklet, and Empower Shack. He also coordinates U-TT teaching activities at ETH Zurich. Hans-Christian Rufer is an architect and researcher at Urban-Think Tank. A graduate of ETH, his recent work investigated the use of local building materials and how to activate them for alternative construction systems. With U-TT, he is currently working as a teaching assistant in the design studio at ETH and coordinates a cooperative housing study in Zürich.






Landscapes are often reduced to static representations for ease of interpretation. However, our environment is composed of interacting kinetic fields. Some of these are harder to observe with the naked eye and even harder to isolate for study. Our objective was to render these fields visible. With the concept of the kinetic field in mind, we sought to engage the unique movements present at our local shoreline in a night installation of helium balloons and LED lights. We prepared a basic toolkit for the installation: 1983 VW van, helium tank, 36-inch balloons, LED lights, cotton string, 6-pack IPA, pen, paper, and camera.

ABOVE a composite of 50 static frames reveals the dynamic nature of a moving shoreline: The dynamic line of suspended spheres plays with the tension between land and water at the edge of the San Francisco Bay.

The relationship between tides and shorelines is abstracted to a planispheric water line. This in turn determines the location of buildings and infrastructure, jurisdiction boundaries and a long list of policies that affect the natural and built environment. Storm events and global changes in climate patterns have exposed the tension between dynamic landscapes

context, the installation of lighted spheres was an experiment of dynamic landscape visualization.



and their static representations. Given current projections for sea level rise, it will be ever more important to find new ways to visualize landscapes in different time scales. In this

Just as ecological systems are created by stochastic events, our installation became the lively result of both planned and spontaneous moments. The van served as a mobile prep station for the installation and allowed us the option to relocate our operation when necessary. Deployed under the Harvest Moon, the balloons quickly drew other wanderers of the night—skinny dippers and security guards—curious at the wonderment of balloons anchored along the shore. We set each balloon at the instantaneous boundary between land and water. The balloons served as a temporary field of light objects in motion, moved by the kinetic forces of wind, water, and the overlooking moon. The resulting kinetic field formed a swaying mass above us that moved with an animate rhythm.


The balloons served as a temporary field of light objects in motion, moved by the kinetic forces of wind, water, and the overlooking moon. As a literal projection of sea level rise, the installation allowed us to abstractly visualize and experience the shoreline in novel ways— as a surreal floating volume, a waving pulse, a collection of warm lights in the sky. What started off as a balloon flying free thirty feet in the air became a balloon pulled down into the water, its string overtaken and awash by the weight of seaweed, ten feet behind the new water line.





Once the helium tank was empty, we cut





Ground Up team members Logan Egan, Kate Lenahan, and Josh Gevertz led this conversation in 2017 as part of an effort to strengthen the ties between landscape designers and ecologists.

‘Science’ is a contested word in landscape architecture. A cornerstone of the discipline, it plays a key role in a profession that sees itself as a hinge between people and their environment (itself an increasingly ambiguous subject). How can designers meaningfully activate the technical knowledge of specialists such as geomorphologists, hydrologists, and oceanographers? And how does this collective expertise participate in a socially and ecologically volatile world? The following content derives from a conversation, hosted by the Ground Up editorial staff, exploring the historic, current, and future collaborative relationship between landscape architecture and the natural sciences. Our valued contributors include: UC Berkeley’s own Kristina Hill, an urban ecologist and designer; Laurel Larsen, a hydroecology and environmental restoration scientist; and John Largier, an oceanographer at UC Davis and the Bodega Marine Laboratory. Ground Up: Kristina, from your perspective as both a scientist and an environmental designer, how do you perceive the relationship between the natural sciences and landscape architecture, both from a historical vantage and in today’s society?

Kristina Hill: The field of public health, and American usage of the term, ‘ecology,’ were both initiated by a woman who was a contemporary of Frederick Law Olmsted, Ellen Swallow Richards. Separately but in parallel, Richards and Olmsted changed the American perception of cities and landscapes from sources of disease to places where people could expect to live healthy lives. Olmsted and other early landscape architects benefited from Richards’ work, to the extent that her research provided a basis for public policy that demanded functional landscapes to support health, maintain clean water, and prevent or contain the effects of flooding. However, Olmsted’s conflation of the pastoral landscape type and the aesthetic experience of psychological restoration set the pattern for a long-standing valorization in landscape architecture of forms over processes. Succeeding generations of landscape

designers have placed enormous emphasis on how landscapes look, over how they function—both in terms of supporting natural processes and in terms of the measurable social or engineering performance of built landscapes. And so the relationship between focusing on form and focusing on process has waffled back and forth over the last hundred years and longer, using the way things look to indicate whether they are healthy or not. The more landscape architecture has emphasized form over function, and concealed rather than revealed the dynamics of the larger environment, the more it has contributed to a ‘dumbing down’ of the American understanding of landscapes as systems.


GU: Laurel and John, does a broader cultural pattern of oscillation between form and process resonate with your professional experiences as research scientists?

In 1988, while still a student, Barbara Boardman produced a design for an artificial island in a shallow area of Boston Harbor that anticipated the contemporary focus on process-based design. Her proposal was to build a set of concrete ‘pathways’ in the harbor that, in a way that revealed the currents and sources of sediment in the harbor. While environmental art had enjoyed a certain recognizable formalism, as in Smithson’s Spiral Jetty or Johannsen’s plant forms built in concrete, Boardman insisted that it was not important whether people ever recognized the form of the fish skeleton in her island structure. By adopting an aesthetic position that allowed the ambiguities of process-driven project to co-exist with a fixed, referential form, Boardman became one of the first to propose forms that might be secondary to processes, becoming subversive palimpsests rather than commanding attention as ecosystem dynamics were revealed. GROUND UP : ISSUE 06


when viewed from above, resembled a fish skeleton. She thought it likely that sediment would accumulate on the concrete armature

WHAT DOES A RIVER LOOK LIKE TO YOU? LAUREL LARSEN Growing pressure on river systems from increased human demands and environmental changes requires an improved understanding of the resilience of rivers to disturbance. New light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology allows the beds, banks, and floodplains of rivers to be mapped at unprecedented resolution (1m2) and scale (one meter to thousands of km). The image(s) at right show a river, its floodplain and relevant geomorphic features, along with an inset cross-section. The lidar data is from the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping’s (NCALM) Titan, a multispectral lidar and imaging system, and was acquired through a student seed proposal awarded to Christopher Tennant, now a postdoc at UC Berkeley.


John Largier: When I think about interactions between [the built environment] and science, the first examples that come to mind are coastal defense systems. In the Netherlands, the practical response to flooding was to build walls. The same direction was taken in the design of our coasts, which are mostly hardscape harbors and seawalls. Now, we’re tending toward less maintenance, less machinery, less hard structure. Some of that is practical, and some of it is aspirational, because people want to make the system function more like it used to. KH: If you look back at coastal defenses, the northern Europeans didn’t actually use walls or levees until after they had begun to work with people in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean system used walls because they had a steeper, more rocky shoreline. That is part of the problem—that we’ve taken a vocabulary from the Mediterranean and then extended it to sandy coasts, where walls and barriers don’t make any sense. There is a wealth of literature that suggests people perceive neatness and order as positive; these formal qualities make us feel organized and in control, as with our coastal defenses. But neatness and order are not really appropriate for dynamic systems. People often find braiding in streams, or the presence of large woody debris, to indicate that the stream needs maintenance. On the coast, we used to say that ‘fill’ was bad, but now in New York City and other places where they

are trying to add material to the nearshore environment, they call it ‘shallowing.’ We need to rethink our terminology to deal with existing laws and policies. We need to have a dynamic relationship between what the world looks like and what people associate with it. GU: Landscape aesthetics—that is, the forms we typically design with, and the cultural pictures we have of healthy or functional ecosystems—have emerged out of this relationship between the natural sciences and design. But the built environment is also born of a larger framework of policy and regulation, particularly in the last several decades. How has management impacted our landscapes? LL: Our federal agencies have adopted quite a number of scientific views of outdated thinking about how rivers work. The federal policy toward restoration essentially involves holding channels in place and designing their geometry such that they only go ‘overbank’ once every two years or so, bottling the inertia in the system. That’s at odds with current scientific thinking that rivers and the ecological functions they sustain are dynamic. Furthermore, managers don’t always have the capacity to grapple with emergent effects of nonlinear processes, or with the synergistic effects of multiple variables in a system.


Choosing criteria such as thresholds—in the Everglades for instance, we use thresholds of phosphorous concentration and flow velocity for making water management decisions—we make a problem that might otherwise seem intractable, or incredibly location-specific, more tractable for large-scale management. JL: One can appreciate the need for simple metrics and standards for effective regulations, but there is so much talk also about biodiversity as the ultimate metric of ecosystem success. At the foundation of biodiversity is habitat diversity, so one-sizeGROUND UP : ISSUE 06


Laurel Larsen: Restoration is a relatively novel concept, beginning in the 1970s. Some of the early projects I worked on were focused on restoring a particular landscape form, or a particular morphology within streams and rivers. I think that in the most recent decade or two, the focus has shifted toward processes, and trying to understand what processes constitute a healthy ecosystem.

fits-all approaches may seem effective, but they undermine the very systems we hope to sustain. Not all systems are the same, and even the same system varies from year to year. This is especially true for many aquatic systems in California, where there are very wet years and very dry years. If so much is dumbed down to binary terms of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ measurements, you are not going to have habitat diversity in these places. LL: [Sometimes national policy has a direct impact on where management takes place.] In the Everglades, for instance, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has set some parameters on restoration planning in terms of restricting our ability to reintroduce historic flows and water levels into areas occupied by the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow.


The Clean Water Act (and recently passed Clean Water Rule) has been a bigger player in my work. In the Rapanos v. United States case regarding application of the Clean Water Act, Justice Kennedy clarified that protections under the Act apply to waters that exhibit a ‘significant nexus’ to traditional navigable water bodies, meaning that they significantly impact the chemical, physical, or biotic integrity of those waters. This opinion caused a surge of interest among hydrologists in defining methods of assessing functional hydrologic connectivity. The Clean Water Rule used the knowledge generated by this research to clarify the type of water bodies to which the Clean Water Act applies, thereby simplifying its enforcement. The trouble with thresholds, or very specific broad criteria [like the ESA or Clean Water Rule], is that they can stifle creativity. Thresholds are based on what we have seen already, and don’t always allow for new ways of envisioning how we manage these systems to bring about desirable ecosystem function. Their utility will falter as we move

into future scenarios where climate and other environmental factors are outside the realm of variability we have seen in the past, and where an entirely different regime of processes might control a system. GU: In our current and changing climate, how do you see the work of designers and ecologists such as yourselves evolving? KH: When I was working in Seattle between 1997 and 2006, we were trying to optimize healthy systems—healthy for people, healthy for salmon, healthy for all the species that were under the umbrella of salmon habitat. We were rethinking how cities could be shaped to produce better water quality. The goal was a kind of optimization—to find what Richard Foreman described as ‘the optimal spatial configuration of landscapes to produce multiple benefits.’ Around 2004 to 2006, people in the United States started taking climate change more seriously. We’re past the era of optimization; when Hurricane Katrina happened in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, everyone switched from thinking about disasters to talking about recovery and the term, resilience. As sea levels rise, the idea of optimization is out the window. We’re going to lose species, we’re going to lose land, we’re going to see social justice issues convalesce, and we’re not optimizing. It’s adaptation to a permanent, irreversible change. LL: Resilience and adaptation are big in my field as well. Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy highlighted the potential of extreme events to dominate geomorphic change and emphasized that the greatest threat of sea level rise is not necessarily the slow, continual encroachment of the ocean but rather storm surge events. This recognition has led to a renewed interest in studying extreme climaterelated events.

GU: Kristina, as a landscape architect, how do you think social objectives figure into a dialogue around landscape resiliency? KH: The rapid changes taking place today are not unlike Olmsted’s time, when American cities were growing at an unprecedented rate, and the corrupting influences of real estate speculators and private railway companies seemed overwhelming in political life. Then, voters were concerned about chaotic streets where horses and trains competed for space, a housing crisis, flooding, air and water pollution, immigration, waste disposal, health,

KRISTINA HILL The Carbon River Road in Mt. Rainier National Park washed out in 2006 from flooding that has become more frequent as Rainier’s glaciers melt and carry more sediment into the river channel, causing it to overflow—sometimes right onto the road bed itself, literally turning the Carbon River Road into the Carbon River. This is an important image because it shows the permanently closed road as a ruin that only hikers can access. When I look at this image, it reminds me that climate change will


bring an aesthetic of ruins, of poignancy, of loss that some may find romantic, or sublime, or painfully sad. How will designers respond to the proliferation of ruins, of Carbon River Roads?

and food systems. The confusion of what we’re living through now is immense unless you look at it through the lens of the fossil fuel industry, which has become a political entity. A very small number of people have again disrupted our politics and our economy; the former CEO of Exxon is the head of the Department of State. We might begin to see this era as the last gasp of an industry that has run everything behind the scenes for 100 years. This conflict poses a new question—what is justice in the landscape? Take, for instance, Standing Rock: it’s an environmental movement, an indigenous rights movement, a climate change prevention movement, and a water quality movement, but it’s GROUND UP : ISSUE 06


There has also been a notable surge in the number of papers, conferences, and focus groups (e.g., the Resilience Alliance, established in 1999) on the topic. A lot of my work centers on coastal systems, and a huge question has been the extent to which coastal marshes will be resilient in the face of sea level rise (through, for example, inland migration). We’re exploring what humans can do to enhance their resilience—perform restoration, or change upstream management actions to release more sediment to coastal systems. If local loss seems inevitable, to what extent will landscapes be resilient?

being suppressed as if it’s an invasion by a foreign country. Ecological design in this context has to be allied with native people’s self-determination rights. We have to find a way to adapt that protects lower-income properties and buys us time to figure out how we’re going to coexist in our social and economic groups. Adaptation cannot be a white, urban, educated people’s movement—and landscape architects are generally pretty white. We have to figure out how to open the boundaries of our professional box so that we can authentically partner with other people.

GU: There is potential to enrich our relationships with natural scientists as part of an expansion of professional boundaries and collaboration, both socially and scientifically. John, Laurel, have you had any professional experience working with designers, and can you see any promising future avenues for new interdisciplinary partnerships? JL: If I interact at all with designers or planners, it usually isn’t a dialogue. It’s typically a concern with how their proposal will impact the natural system, with the design presented in a near-final form. It’s not an iterative relationship, where there is co-production of

JOHN L ARGIER Ea rlie r this w in te r, a la rg e rain - ind u ce d f low scou re d ou t a n op e n c ha n n el in a s traig h t lin e a s i t je t te d ou t from u nd e r th e na rrow c ulve r t- b rid g e u nd e r Hig hway-1, a t th e mou th of Scot t Cre e k n ea r Sa n ta Cruz. In th e follow ing we e k s, th e c ha n n el is f illing ba c k in wi th th e sc ulp tu re d a rc s of na tu re.

LL: One impetus for productive collaborations might come from the funding agencies. The National Science Foundation (NSF), for instance, requires investigators that receive grants to engage in broader impacts, which may include outreach and work of high societal relevance. I am currently collaborating with the Exploratorium to develop a public exhibit on marsh-sediment interactions and relevance to marsh restoration projects, funded through an NSF grant. One option on the table is to integrate the exhibit into new parkland that is being developed out of a formerly industrial area around India Basin. I can definitely see the need to collaborate with designers in projects such as these. In reviewing research proposals, however, I haven’t seen any outreach that specifically targeted bringing landscape architects together with scientists, but we may need more of that kind of work. Another impetus might be academic institutions; at Berkeley, I talk to landscape architects more than I did before. Much of this dialogue happens at the university level, in programs that are cross-cutting through disciplines. Often students drive these conversations because they have interdisciplinary interests and want to form

interdisciplinary committees. For example, a former ERG student working with me, Cleo Woelfle-Erskine, conducted a dissertation focused on interactions between humans, water, and salmon in Sonoma County. His work had a huge citizen science component and involved public meetings with the watershed council and others living in the area. Much of the time, students like him are the ones who are talking. KH: Landscape architecture has often been the face of what urban ecosystems are like, or rural park ecosystems for that matter. We need to understand what we’re saying to the public, and what we want people to understand. That requires a dialogue with scientists to help us update our knowledge of what these systems are like, based on what they have learned. In return, we could help the natural science community understand what is going on in development, and the new trends that are going to have an effect on our ability to restore habitats or manage coastal systems in different ways.


I’m not working on endangered species anymore. I think humans are becoming the endangered species, at least poor humans. Even though I know that biodiversity provides us with life, health, and ecosystem services, under climate change our system is spiraling into a new biological state. We have to focus on underlying processes and work with flow regimes of all kinds as we think about changes in these systems. It’s a huge challenge for landscape architecture; it’s not optimization, it’s reinvention. We have to live with a world that’s changing fast, and to do so we have to make alliances. HILL, LARGIER, + LARSEN

knowledge, but that is what we need to do. Design within natural systems could be done more collaboratively from the start, drawing not only on the general principles of natural science that already are found in design, but also the specific expression of those principles in the context of place and time. Local knowledge and interpretation of the natural function of the specific environment, drawn from site-specific scientists and communities, can inform both the aesthetics and functionality of the design—revealing opportunities for nature-mimicking processes as well as nature-juxtaposing structures in the final design.






+ CO2


O2 CH4



ABOVE Transforming imperviousness to permeability: Asphalt has disengaged the relationship between atmosphere and the rhizosphere to such an extent that it is not easy for water, soil, vegetation and heat systems to function naturally. The approach towards transformation is through a choreographed attenuation where beneficial spontaneous vegetation, instigated microbes, accelerator biosolids and compaction breaker roots are at work.

Transform Asphalt investigates the past and present complexities of asphalt, the urban surface, and specifically explores the in-situ regeneration of abandoned blackfields. The Great Lakes, the world’s largest fresh water lakes, are under constant pressure due to urban growth. Since 1972, Canada and the United States have been working towards improving the water quality and environmental conditions of the lakes. Of the 43 identified areas of concern around the lakes, many sites fall in the Rust Belt cities. One-third of the land area in these cities is covered by asphalt, disrupting the cultural, social, and ecological systems of the region. There is strong potential to transform and adapt this material condition into a robust and emergent urban ecology, particularly focusing on sites along their associated waterways and other hindered hydrological networks. An approximately 122-acre asphalt surface in the Chicago Calumet Industrial Zone serves as this study’s test plot for restoring the ecological functions and hydrological systems through transformation. Asphalt, also known as bitumen, is formed over millions of years when organic matter, in the form of plant plankton, remains burried under intense heat and pressure. Asphalt exists in tar pits, sand pits and lakes. Alberta, Canada has the world’s largest reserve of natural bitumen in the form of oil sands.1 Pitch Lake in Trinidad and Tobago is one of the oldest active bitumen lakes that is used to export asphalt around the world. From 1907 onwards, refined petroleum asphalt replaced most natural asphalt.2 Bitumen has come a long way from being used as a waterproofing chemical on boats to covering large areas of urban surfaces. Asphalt as a material has a long history of political and economic influences that spurred its rapid urban presence in our cities and regional and national transportation networks. Asphalt’s regional adaptability allowed it to replace all other forms of road construction material.3 Its surfaces are dark, impermeable layers that trap urban heat and adversely affect


Solar + Seasons


Temperature Fluctuations




Snow & Rain



Bacteria + Biosolid/ Compost



High pH in soil




Wild + Native

C O2


NH4 PO4 SO4 Fe3



O2 ic rob







Cracks Fractures Exposure to elements

Dust Oxidation Freeze/ Thaw cycle



b ar tion o hydroc f

ar bo

So n lua ble Carbo


n tio n Sequestra




Biosolids/ waste Bacteria - soil Biosynthesis

Biodegradation Root penetration Bacteria - roots

Plants dying in winter Bacteria break up carbons Nutrient rich soil

Root penetration Bacteria - soil + roots Water + air exchange





Sub-Base Earth





Reference - Microbial Community Structure and Activity under Various Pervious Pavements, 2013 - American Society of Civil Engineers Biodegradation of Asphalt Cement-20 by Aerobic Bacteria, 1989 - American Society for Microbiology

ABOVE Penetrating blackfields for nourishing the ground through: Weathering and asphalt breakdown, bacterial and plant roots processes, and soil building and tree roots processes.

urban micro-climates. The 1995 heat wave in Chicago resulted in a high number of human causalities with over 700 deaths.4 The ease of using asphalt at a smaller scale has collectively resulted in large-scale environmental impacts. Projections for Chicago suggest that the average number of deaths due to heat waves could more than double by 2050 under a low greenhouse gas emissions scenario and quadruple under a high emissions scenario.4 With the understanding of large negative impacts of asphalt, various researchers at the National Asphalt Pavement Association are working towards developing a new form of ‘porous’ asphalt. However, there is no plan of action for the amount of asphalt that is present in our urban areas today.

The asphalt ‘afterlife’ is also an important part of Transform Asphalt. Present day strategies suggest that asphalt can either be dumped in landfills, where it will live forever, or it can be recycled to create new asphalt surfaces in the urban system to potentially end up in a landfill anyway. Furthermore, the methods leading towards land-filling or recycling are highly resource intensive. Until now, there has not been a solution to a treatable in-situ process. The amount of abandoned asphalt surfaces in Rust Belt cities has vastly surpassed the demand for recycling. Through Transform Asphalt we propose a process-based in-situ approach to manipulate the material on-site by accelerating the degradation process and transforming the newly degraded site to have productive functionality. The GROUND UP : ISSUE 06






es cause


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The site is located in the historic ChicagoCalumet area along the Calumet River and is currently owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Presently being used as a parking lot by Ford, the site sits in an active industrial and shipping area surrounded by the remains of the historic marshlands and wetlands protected by the Chicago Natural Area Reserve. It was previously developed to dry the biosolids by the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant close by. The site has a dynamic hydrological history, and was formerly a marshland covered with various native grasses. A James H. Rees map from 1851 shows the site as an integral system of marshland and wetlands. Over time, it





122 acres of Asphalt

Low points


Spontaneous Vegetation

Bacillus Pseudomonas Acinetobacter



Biosolid compost





High points


Building topography

is formed though cut and fill to reintegrate the site as part of the larger hydrological system of marshes and wetlands. Each strategy is combined with natural forces to become an integrated system where one process builds on the other.


Cracking Patterns

ABOVE Process based transformation strategy: After the cracks are initiated, a new topography











approach towards transformation is through a choreographed attenuation where beneficial spontaneous vegetation, instigated microbes, accelerator biosolids and compaction breaker roots are at work. Designers, either act as conductors—to slow down the effects of change, or as agents—to speed up the effects of change.5 Here, we demonstrate the acceleration of abandoned asphalt surface decay by intervening as agents of change. Such abandoned asphalt surfaces, especially those adjacent to the urban water system, should be realized for their ecological function. These surfaces can act as social catalysts to transform the negative perception of “abandoned” sites in cities.





TRANSFORMATION PROCESS Stage 1: The Weathering and Asphalt Breakdown Processes The transformation strategy is driven by mechanical, chemical, and biological weathering processes that accelerate the breakdown of asphalt. Asphalt is a long chain of hydro-carbon molecules.1 It acts as a binding agent that constitutes 5-10% of an aggregate mixture.2 Thus, the key is to initiate decay of asphalt. Fractures in the material are initiated when thermal fluctuations in the ground occur as a result of changing seasonal temperatures. As the hydrogen molecule from the hydrocarbon chain of asphalt combines with oxygen to create water, the remaining carbon chain degrades through further oxidation. The outcome of oxidation is an increase in stiffness, which results in crack formations.7 The freeze and thaw cycles help widen the cracks and support carbon decay through oxidation. Solar radiation and processes of the water cycle are the key transformers of this phase.

Stage 2: Bacterial and Plant Roots Processes The next step in the transformation process is the emulsification of various fractions of asphalt and its base layers. Microbial action from Bacillus, Pseudomonas and Acinetobacter genera instigate a major role in asphalt degradation.8,9 These microbes metabolize carbon in the bitumen for energy facilitating further oxidation of hydrocarbons and therefore, bitumen degradation.10 Apart from drawing nutrition from the pollutant metals underneath the site, a layer of biosolids containing macronutrients, nitrogen, potassium, sulphur, phosphorous and iron, applied over the asphalt surface provide nourishment to pioneer vegetation. These primary species take advantage of an anthropogenically damaged ecosystem and act as nature’s regenerator.11 In ecological terms, these plants are exploring an “open niche” and have become the de facto native vegetation of our cities today.12 Microbes and spontaneous plants are the key transformers of this phase. Stage 3: Soil Building and Tree Roots Processes As the terra firma begins to awaken, our next focus is to dig deep and reconnect various cycles between the atmosphere and the rhizosphere. Vegetation decay from the winter adds organic nutrients to enrich the soils. Microbes in the soils contribute to the decomposition process by breaking up carbon from decaying plants. Due to the high pH of the soil in and around the site, many trees suffer from micro-nutrition deficiency (B, Cu, Fe, Mn and Zn) due to nutrient insolubility.13 Thus, the added biosolids provide the necessary nutrition for healthy vegetation. Soil microbes are critical drivers of nutrient cycle, fixing nitrogen for abundant vegetation growth. Trees with the ability to penetrate the compacted ground help improve the soil structure through macropore formation, which facilitates soil aeration, water percolation, GROUND UP : ISSUE 06



was drained and utilized as a landfill site for dumping waste from the Chicago fire as well as slag from nearby industries. The high pH of the resulting soils has hindered the survival of native vegetation. The site is amidst the study area of the Calumet Area Ecological Management Strategy, which focuses on preserving and improving existing plant and animal habitat with high biological value while also creating new habitats wherever feasible. Despite fragmentation and pollution, the historic marshlands and wetlands in the Calumet area are among the most ecologically significant zones in Illinois as a popular birding spot in the Upper Midwest.6 Rather than controlling the restoration process, we aim to instigate the natural processes that can initiate self-evolving ecologies on site, assisting its reconnection with the existing surrounding ecology.

Indian Ridge Marshlands


Natural Trails Heron Pond Park

Existing condition of 122-acre asphalt site

water storage, and heat absorption.13 Thus, the ground is open to a larger exchange of air, water and heat cycles. After which the ground will have the potential to store large amounts of soil organic carbon, helping in mitigation of increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations.13 Tree selection is based on the the ability to build soil, absorb nutrients, provide food and habitat for wildlife, break compact ground, and reduce heat island effect. Organic matter asphalt andsite tree roots are the key transformers of this 66 phase. The transformational landform is informed by the historic topography to reintegrate the site as part of the prevailing hydrological system of marshes and wetlands. Studies of the history of site usage as well as subtle grade changes across the site, inform the application of the various strategies listed above. In the design of a process-based strategy, there is no end product, but constantly ongoing phenomena. Transform Asphalt will introduce people to the refreshing diversities of a living and breathing landscape, which was formerly perceived as a dead and decaying monotonous blackfield.

Forest Islands Forest Islands


Natural Trails Marshlands

Forest Islands Marshlands

Heron Pond P

Natural Trails Wetlands Wetlands

Deadstick Pond

Forest Islands Forest Islands


Natural Trails




Forest Islands


Wetlands Wetlands

ABOVE Existing conditions of the 122-acre asphalt site. RIGHT Transformed: Reclaimed urban surface for its ecological function. In the design of this process-based strategy, there

Deadstick Pond

is no end product. The dynamic process is always an ongoing

Forest Islands

phenomena which leads to ecological, social and psychological change.

Natural Trails

n Ridge Marshlands



t Islands



Natural Trails

Calumet River GROUND UP : ISSUE 06


ABOVE Timeline of Transformation: Curbing the urge to control while facilitating, we step back to allow natural processes to take its shape. The timeline reflects the species and their ever-shifting relationship with each other as well as their environment. This is a speculative timeline to understand the transformation strategies and its outcome over time.

It would provide the urban residents with a live demonstration of the transformational processes in action with minimal human interventions. Such process-based design would educate people about evolving ecological processes in ways that correct the misconceptions of nature as a static system. Evolution is the norm here. Instead of perceiving the Rust Belt as an area of economic struggle, this project explores a process of creative transformation of the unproductive blackfields into working landscapes offering educational opportunities, cultural identity, and ecological health. With

the renewed interpretation of such processbased landscape strategies enriching the cycles of life, the very physiology of the term ‘abandonment’ starts to unfold into a new meaning. The genesis of this project was a studio taught by Professor Mary Pat Macguire, ‘Depave Chicago,’ in spring 2015 at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, followed by two independent studies: ‘Material Design Research: Asphalt Breakdown,’ also with Professor Macguire, and ‘Urban Trees Research: Reclaiming the Urban Rhizosphere’ with Professor Gary Kling.

ABOVE Transforming the topography: Through physical, topographical and biodegrading actions the topography of the site is transformed to facilitate various ecological processes to resume and take over the landscape. Transform Asphalt represents not only the visible changes above the ground but also includes sublime organic processes of the underlying layers that is often overlooked.


2 NAPA – National Pavement Association ( 3 Belanger, Pierre. “Synthetic surfaces.”The Landscape Urbanism Reader. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006. 240-65. 4 Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, Thomas R. Karl, Jerry M. Melillo, and Thomas C. Peterson, (eds.). Cambridge University Press, 2009. accessed April 18, 2015 5 Orff, Kate. Toward an urban ecology. NY: The Monacelli Press, 2016. 6 The Calumet Area Ecological Management Strategy. Report. City of Chicago Department of Environment. 2002. urban/calumet/local-resources/downloads/Calumet_Area_EMS_full_report. pdf. Accessed March 3, 2015 7 Kanabar, Amit. “Physical and Chemical Aging Behavior of Asphalt Cements from Two Northern Ontario Pavement Trials.” PhD diss., 2010.

8 Pendrys, John P. “Biodegradation of asphalt cement-20 by aerobic bacteria.”Applied and environmental microbiology 55, no. 6 (1989): 1357- 1362. 9 Fan, Lan-Feng, Sih-Fu Wang, Chang-Po Chen, Hwey-Lian Hsieh, Jui-Wen Chen, Ting-Hao Chen, and Wei-Liang Chao. “Microbial community structure and activity under various pervious pavements.”Journal of Environmental Engineering140, no. 3 (2013): 04013012. 10 Olajire, A. A., and J. P. Essien. “Aerobic degradation of petroleum components by microbial consortia.”Journal of Petroleum & Environmental Biotechnology 5, no. 5 (2014): 1. 11 Pearce, Fred. The new wild: Why invasive species will be nature’s salvation. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2015. 12 Tredici, Peter Del. Wild urban plants of the Northeast: a field guide. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2010. 13 Day, Susan D., P. Eric Wiseman, Sarah B. Dickinson, and J. Roger Harris. “Tree root ecology in the urban environment and implications for a sustainable rhizosphere.”Journal of Arboriculture 36, no. 5 (2010): 193.



1 Meyer, Richard F., and Wallace De Witt.Definition and world resources of natural bitumens. US Government Printing Office, 1990.



In the 1960s and 70s, a group of artists took their work outside of the gallery and into the landscape, “digging holes or talking about digging holes, making performances out of process.”1 While some of these artists have moved to different scales or mediums, some of their early work remains in the American Southwest—the base for many of these formative and influential experiments. While on a journey through, we recorded our interactions with four of them—Michael Heizer’s Double Negative, Robert Smithson’s Amarillo Ramp and Spiral Jetty, and Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels.


Our tool of engagement was a roll of butcher paper, salvaged from an Oakland sidewalk. It was transported in the winter across deserts, valleys, grasslands, mountains, and all the spaces in between. In every instance, the interaction between the paper and the landscape made visible some experiential or otherwise unperceived environmental quality. At Double Negative, the rustling paper fluttered in and out of the canyon’s shadow, cracking like thunder as it caught the light. At Amarillo Ramp, wind and gravity sent the roll tumbling and ripping down the slope, but the paper was quickly caught by surrounding rocks and brush. At Spiral Jetty, snowflakes falling and melting onto the paper were reminiscent of the lichen on adjacent rocks. At Sun Tunnels, the paper pulsed with the gusts of winter air moving through the concrete tubes.

ENDNOTES 1 Kimmelman, Michael. “Art’s Last, Lonely Cowboy.” The New York Times Magazine. 6 February 2005. Print.






Mormon Mesa, NV - Michael Heizer


fog shadow sunrise monstrous rock removal paper passes by

man-made earth cut deep mesa debris washes down time frame involved change

clay slope spun southward rugged path rises among grasslands tufts and brush


wrinkly crinkle slipping, twisting, shaken cold rug folded, smudged red




Amarillo, TX - Robert Smithson GROUND UP : ISSUE 06


curly cue rock route salt surrounds ice around path stranded and frozen


over slippery surface melted snow stains canvas fold center of a spin




Great Salt Lake, UT - Robert Smithson






N Wendover, UT - Nancy Holt

perspectival shift carpet cascading calmly caught, sinking, and soaked

bumps and blurry roads tire tracks scraping ice tracks sunset shifting circles






The American West is an unusual landscape and a conflicting vision of Wilderness and Wasteland. Arizona specifically includes some of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in America. The areas of Phoenix and Tucson combine to create the Arizona Sun Corridor, a conurbation that is speculated to more than double its population by 2050 to over 12 million.1 The region’s populace is nestled in the most environmentally diverse areas of the Sonoran Desert and is planning future development in some of its most delicate and uninhabitable zones. Due to its situation in the No_Place, this environment is categorized mostly as Wasteland, bleak landscape without any value for the sightseeing wanderer. The “Human Biomes” are planned to extend further in the near future, and have already begun to encroach on the Arizona Upland Desert Scrub biome, which overlaps most with the edge of the developed land and is the environment most affected.2


Saguaro National Park, 2013

Asarco Mission Mine, 2013

Exploring Natural Landmarks with the KALOSscope


While society tends to think of Wilderness and Wasteland as separate entities, they are one and the same. The issue arises with the perspective from which one is viewing. In the cultural context of this region, Wilderness spaces are natural areas thought to have some exemplary quality of nature. Often distinguished by their abundance of green flora and forest like appearance, they exude an image that matches our ideal natural landscape. In park-like settings, the preservation of natural qualities is priority.

The KALOSscope


Wasteland is more difficult to define. It is both wilderness minus any obvious extraordinary qualities and remnant land, misused and discarded. Wasteland can be found within and around spaces of the built environment, from urban and suburban spaces, to production fields and facilities. These spaces exhibit varying degrees of degradation, from grazing


lands to open pit mining. In many of these spaces, the preservation of the human ecosystem was at one point prioritized over all else. As William L. Fox suggested, “We turn wilderness into parks and wastelands into nuclear dumps.”3 The No_Place is the currently unrecognized zone that is perceived as a space without any specific cultural designation, program, or value. In contrast, “Place” can be defined as any spaces with a specific use and cultural value. The No_Place is the wasteland, the seemingly empty space that is underappreciated and misused. However, it is important to note that this space possesses qualities indistinguishable from the natural landscape, as the natural environments of the desert are not ones that fall in line with our cultural understanding of nature. 78

Wilderness is a place, while Wasteland is a No_Place. “No place is a place until things that have happened in it are remembered in history, ballads, yarns, legends, or monuments.”4 - Wallace Stegner, “The Sense of Place”

Using the words of Wallace Stegner as inspiration for a solution to the value placed on space, the goal of this work is to create such legends in the No_Place of the Sonoran Sun Corridor in order to both alter the perception of this magnificent landscape and create a sense of fascination. The specific solution is to promote the exploration of this landscape by individuals and to equip them with the proper devices with which they will begin to see the landscape from new angles and in a new light, ultimately shifting the perception from a Wasteland to a place with a cultural value. It is through the act of exploration and interaction that the explorer becomes acquainted with the landforms of this No_Place: the Fluvial Landscape, Bee Habitat, Human Artifacts, and Natural Landmarks. The Fluvial Landscape is a collection of landforms including alluvial fans, arroyos, pediment, and inselbergs. These geological forms make up the system that carries water through the desert landscape.5 The Bee Habitat is found within a 30-mile radius of Tucson, where the diversity of the bee population is estimated to be the highest in the world. Of the approximately 4,000 to 5,000 bee species found in North America, over 1,000 can be found in this tiny bee haven.6 Human Artifacts are the physical marks on the desert landscape that remain from infrastructure and industry. The large-scale machinery and permanent cuts in the land are left visible but are culturally accepted.

Legends: The Human Artifacts

Natural Landmarks circle the southern territory of the No_Place, an archipelago of twenty-seven mountains that have developed into diverse micro ecosystems. These are biological phenomena known as the “Sky


No_Place Map

Islands.� The ecological diversity found here is due in part to the drastic elevation change between the desert floor and the mountain peak, a rise of approximately 9000 feet.7

Functional Diagram of a Fluvial Landscape

LEGENDS: STORY OF THE NO_PLACE The story of the No_Place is told as a legend of the beyond, the vast space that lies at the edge of the city. These legends describe the magnificent places and fantastic phenomena GROUND UP : ISSUE 06


Through exploration and the discovery of phenomena hidden within the No_Place the explorer becomes evermore familiar with and intrigued by their environments. The solution is then implemented through the use of four elements of exploration: Legends, Collections, Maps, and Devices.

The MACROscope

Model: The MACROscope


Recordings from the Natural Landmarks

Model: The PERIscope

Model: The AUDIOscope

The PERIscope

The AUDIOscope

Recordings from the Fluvial Landscape

Recordings from the Bee Habitat




that exist outside of the realm of the city. Their words harken back to the campfire tales and legends of the West passed down from generation to generation. COLLECTIONS: FINDINGS FROM THE ENVIRONMENT This is a collection of elements, large and small, that makes up the No_Place. A set of real things that border on embellished reality, the collection will begin to catalogue the fantastic and mundane phenomena. As perceivers of the landscape, people have a difficult time relating to vast spaces and shifting environments. The unseen elements that collectively create these spaces will begin to be noticed as the explorer’s eyes and ears are opened to the immense array of sensory mechanisms within the landscape. It is these details that are the most relatable elements within the landscape, allowing the explorer

to see the space at all scales, simultaneously understanding its vastness and minutiae. MAPS: GUIDING THE CONTEMPORARY EXPLORER The map is created to lead the explorer through the No_Place and into the reaches of the beyond. It is intended to reveal the mostly invisible phenomena and assist the explorer in engaging with the landscape. Through this interaction with the map, and therefore the landscape, the explorer begins to discover the No_Place and create their own legends. DEVICES: ENABLING THE EXPLORER Four devices, the PERIscope, AUDIOscope, MACROscope, and KALOSscope, have been developed in order to allow the explorer to engage with the landscape at differing scales and in various environments through the use of different senses. These portals to the No_ Place open specific views both at macro and


Collection of Human Artifacts

Recordings from the Human Artifacts


Collection of Natural Landmarks

It is through the use of these four elements and the interaction with the No_Place that perceptions are altered. A subjective and individual experience is created and new data and knowledge of the No_Place is generated. Just as Alan Berger describes three types of imagery related to the reclaimed landscape,8 the explorer of the No_Place will begin to experience similar blended and hybrid visions. Through these new perspectives value and understanding are developed, and the future approach to urban development is in turn shifted. Contemporary explorers are now empowered to produce their own recordings of the landscape thus, creating ballads, yarns and legends to enrich the value placed on this underestimated territory.

ENDNOTES 1 America 2050, Arizona Sun Corridor. Regional Plan Association. 2/17/2016. Web. <>. 2 Philips, Steven J and Patricia Wentworth Comus. A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. 3 Fox, William L. The Void, the Grid and the Sign: Traversing the Great Basin. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2000. 4 Stegner, Wallace. “The Sense of Place.” Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs: Living and Writing in the West. New York: Random House, 1992. 5-7 Philips, Steven J and Patricia Wentworth Comus. A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. 8 Berger, Alan. “Representation and Reclaiming: Cartographies, Mappings, and Images of Altered American Western Landscapes.” Landscape Journal. 21.1 (2002): 1-22. ADDITIONAL REFERENCES Cronon, William (Ed.) Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1995. Meinig, Donald W. “Introduction.” The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes. Donald W Meinig, Ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. Meinig, Donald W. “The Beholding Eye: Ten Versions of the Same Scene.” The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes. Donald W Meinig, Ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. Stringfellow, Kim. “John C. Van Dyke and the Desert Wasteland.” Mojave Project. 10/15/2015. Web. <>. Tuan, Yi-Fu. “The Eye and the Mind’s Eye.” The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes. Donald W Meinig, Ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. GROUND UP : ISSUE 06


micro scales, allowing the explorer to imagine the whole as well as the parts.



As landscape designers and planners, we increasingly face complex scenarios where the platonic model of designer and client doesn’t apply. This is especially true when landscape architects take on the mantle of environmental activist, a role in which the process of translating community needs must begin by understanding local structures of power and interest. Though opportunities for tactical design responses may not be initially apparent, power structures in even the most consolidated local contexts are often far from fixed. A stakeholder analysis can be developed to reveal these moments of opportunity.


Working with SAVE International, we implemented a stakeholder analysis1 in response to the 2015-2030 Fuzhou New Area Plan, a plan for an industrial park in Xinghua Bay, China. Located in Fujian Province, Xinghua Bay is a large tidal flat that has historically served as critical habitat for the endangered Black Faced Spoonbill. An analysis of legal precedents offered a grim outlook in regards to the legal likelihood of habitat protection winning out over industrial development, despite the passage of a series of strengthened environmental protection laws.2 The stakeholder analysis was first employed as a means of deciphering the local political structure. It must be noted that a stakeholder analysis is qualitative. Given its subjectivity, it should be viewed as a hypothesis. In this case, the sources that informed this analysis were scholarly and grey literature, including institutional websites and social media sources. This process began by identifying stakeholders across many degrees of power and influence—from locals that practiced traditional farming methods, to regional bureaucrats, university professors, national party






1 -3



Negatively impacted by the project





Benefitted by the project







Axes of power and interest offered a basis for mapping

1 -3



Negatively impacted by the project





diverse stakeholders and discerning opportunities for

Benefitted by the project




Actors were then spatially arranged across axes of power and interest. Interest was defined across a scale related to the project impacts on the actor, from ‘negatively impacted’ to ‘neutral’ to ‘benefitted.’ Stakeholders that were negatively impacted by the project generally possessed little power; those benefitted by the project ranged from local bureaucrats to multinational industrial corporations.

Visualizing these relationships revealed the potential to find fractures in existing power structures and provided targeted guidance in modifying the status quo, though questions about the implementation of our findings remained. Which tactics might allow those with low power and high interest to increase in power? Can relatively neutral but powerful actors be swayed to align their interests more closely with local residents that are likely to be harmed by industrial development? We identified two possible methods of structural modification: awareness and empowerment. Awareness is an educational strategy—by increasing the visibility of the potential risks of the development plan, this approach attempted to draw support GROUND UP : ISSUE 06


members, and international environmental organizations. As environmental planning students, we also situated ourselves within this matrix as subjective participants whose actions and proposals have the potential to trigger processes of change.

10 NPC Development & Reform Commission Environmental Protection CPPCC Ministry Min. Land & Resources State Oceanic Admin Environmental Protection Dept.



Forestry Dept.

Ramsar Convention

Wetland Protection Association China


The Nature Conservancy Env. Protection Bureau

Agriculture Dept.

CPPCC Min. Water & Resources

Dept. Land & Resources


Bureau of Land & Resources

Forestry Institute Water Resources Chinese Bureau Public Opinion

Local Aquaculture Industry & Farmers


Ministry of Housing & Planning

Dept. of Transport

Forestry Admin.

Tourist Agencies/ enterpreneurs

UC Berkeley

1 -3


Ocean & Fishery Bureau

Agriculture Bureau


Universities Ministry of Agriculture Dept. Ocean & Fisheries

Friends of Nature

Min. Forestry


Fuzhou residents 0



from powerful stakeholders that may have previously not been invested in the issue. Awareness also seeks to publically problematize the interests of other actors. In most cases, these strategies would be deployed through social media. Empowerment occurs through collaboration. The stakeholder analysis revealed the potential for connections between actors across a range of power scales with shared interests. In one potential scenario, collaboration between local residents,

media outlets, academic organizations, and a national environmental group resulted in the formation of a strategic coalition that collectively possessed greater power. This approach is radically different from traditional client-consultant models, where designers and planners receive a commission from authorities and respond with a physical plan and/or set of policy recommendations. In this case, our deliverables included the analysis described, an official draft letter to be sent to key stakeholders by SAVE


State Council


Industrial Companies




Development & Reform Commission Dept. Housing Fuzhou Government & UrbanRural Development

Ministry of Transport Dept. Water Resources

Transport Admin

Local Populations Corporate Entities

Development & Reform Commission


Urban & Rural Planning Bureau


Fuqing Government

Public Research Ins titutes Municipal Government

Institute of Urban Planning

Province Government

Institute of Environmental Protection

National Government 87



One potential scenario offered by the stakeholder analysis: the formation of a ‘strategic coalition’ via empowerment and awareness.

International, and a series of pilot social media posts that incorporated text and graphics. The ability to clearly demonstrate and distribute such information is key to its efficacy. By spatializing these dynamics across axes of interest and power, concerned parties were able to more readily interpret the social landscape and envision potential avenues for achieving goals related to environmental and community preservation. The most important function of the stakeholder analysis may be its ability to reveal the possibility for change.

In this way, a stakeholder analysis can at once operate as a crucial stage in the process of determining designed form and as a tactic to move towards the implementation of a strategy, plan, or social movement.

ENDNOTES 1 Chevalier, Jacques. (2001). Stakeholder Analysis and Natural Resource Management. Carleton University, Ottawa. publicsector/politicaleconomy/November3Seminar/Stakehlder%20Readings/ SA-Chevalier.pdf. Accessed 10 April, 2016. 2 Zhang, Bo & Cao, Cong, “Policy: Four Gaps in China’s New Environmental Law,” Nature, Accessed 21 January, 2015.







Have you tried to follow someone recently? When we work with large-scale public space, we as designers spend a lot of time thinking about the origins, destinations, and paths of others. An anonymous, often multitudinous public. Do we expect them to want to know where they are? Should we tell them how to get somewhere? Do we want them to get lost, to be intrigued by a path that leads to an opening in a wall that leads to … ? We orient people, disorient people, give them direct or circuitous ways to get places. When we’re feeling playful, we give people places to go that reward them with something ephemeral: a view, a sense of accomplishment, a piece of information or an educational experience, a dead end, a slide. Either way, as designers, our view is mostly bounded by the edges of our site, or the edges of our sheet of paper, or both. We’re concerned in the abstract with how and why people might find themselves somewhere on the page. (They took a bus; there’s the bus stop! They wandered in by happenstance, really they meant to visit a nearby landmark.)

But what happens when people step off the page? As a designer I sense liminal boundaries of public spaces. I mostly know it when I walk into a designed space. I know where the street ends and the plaza begins. But I also know that I mostly navigate spaces as I wish to navigate them, neither as the designer wants me to, nor as a friend, walking beside me, wants me to.

are her own, but are governed by her search for another. She visits or telephones 125 hotels and pensiones in Venice, essentially creating for herself an alternate Venice in which the major landmarks cease to exist, and all that remain are lodgings. Once she finds the pensione in which Henri B. is staying, her map of Venice again shifts dramatically, as the center of her city is now the Calle del Traghetto, the street outside his lodging. She rearranges the city, and her crossing of it, to optimize her chances of contacting the stranger—toward whom, it should be emphasized, she feels no romantic connection. As she follows Henri B. and his wife around Venice, Calle’s Venice is now his. She photographs the pair as they walk the streets. When he takes a photograph of something, Calle, too, attempts to photograph the same scene from the same angle. Interspersed in the book are three maps, showing in thick, black line the path taken by Henri B. and Calle through the city. The line is not the dérive of Guy Debord, nor is it the stroll of the flâneur. It is a surveillance record, made by the conscious stalking of two unwitting subjects by a deeply committed artist.

I was recently reminded of the highly personal specificity of urban navigation while reading Sophie Calle’s brief but rich art book, Suite Vénitienne, which is sometimes labeled a travelogue, sometimes a book of photography, and which fully defies either category.“ At the end of January 1980,” she writes, “I followed a man whom I lost sight of a few minutes later in the crowd. That evening, quite by chance, he was introduced to me at an opening. During the course of our conversation, he told me he was planning an imminent trip to Venice. I decided to follow him.”1

The more deeply we commit to attempting to know the desires of others, the less likely we may be to be able to read them.

Equipped with disguises, a camera, and steadfast determination, Calle heads to Venice, not knowing in what hotel the man will be staying. The movements of her first few days are largely concerned with attempting to find the man, whom she calls Henri B. She visits police stations, tourist bureaus. She spends a lot of time on the (landline) telephone. Her movements map a network of locations and connections related to her search. She often eats alone. Disguised as a blonde, she herself is briefly followed. Her movements through Venice

What do Calle’s actions tell us as designers? Certainly not that everyone should tail a stranger for a few days in a foreign country. I know I don’t have the guts for that. And Calle’s project certainly strikes some people as at least amoral, if not reprehensible. And yet, I think that her work can remind us that in some ways, we as designers of public space are ill-equipped to understand the motivations of individuals. It’s morally problematic to subsume your movements into someone else’s; it is an invasion of their privacy. And, equally, one might GROUND UP : ISSUE 06



Since our interest is abstract, our concepts and our ways of talking about public movement in our built landscapes are also abstract. We make generalizations, we draw desire lines, we do research on visitor needs or narratives, and in the absence of research, we invent our visitors’ desires from scratch. Within the bounds of our design, these people are direct, directed, happy, two-dimensional, malleable, and subtly but keenly influenced by the world around them.

argue that even though Calle painstakingly follows Henri B. around the city, she never actually comes to understand the navigational decisions made by her subject. Her city makes sense, but only insofar as Henri B. exists within it. When she hears that he is leaving Venice, she hastily leaves too. For all that close surveillance, Calle can only ever know the discrete, visible facts of Henri B.’s trip to Venice. These facts make up her narrative, and the more specific she is in relating its details, the more painfully obvious the unbridgeable gulf between her and her subject becomes. Lawrence Rinder writes that Calle’s “almost beatific detachment suggests a parallel between her art and the philosophy of Skepticism. … The basis of the Skeptic’s quest lies not in the belief that knowledge can ultimately be found, but rather in an ongoing effort to undermine the finality of dogmatic knowing.”2


For designers, perhaps, the lessons of Suite Vénitienne are multiple and contradictory. It is a reminder that anyone’s life stretches across a plethora of constructed spaces, and that we each conduct our life in all its minute actions with an individualized logic or meaning opaque even to intimates. It calls on us to watch more closely, to be less objective, to not be afraid to tap into our inner indomitability. At the same time, it warns that the more deeply we commit to attempting to know the desires of others, the less likely we may be to be able to read them. Even when we try to be close, we’re still distant. If that thick line of Henri B. and his wife, followed surreptitiously by Sophie Calle, should stroll across the page of some new design of ours, their presence would hold no more weight nor be any more real than anyone else’s. Our proposed built environment would be as insignificant to Calle’s Venice of Henri B. as the very real-life landmark of the Piazza San Marco which serves as the backdrop to what Calle calls “the banal ending of this banal story.” And I, for one, find this oddly comforting.

ENDNOTES 1 It should perhaps be noted that prior to following this man, Calle had been following strangers in the street “for months.” Sophie Calle, Suite Vénitienne (Los Angeles: Silgio Press, 2015), unpaginated. 2 Lawrence Rinder, “Sophie Calle and the Practice of Doubt” in Art Life: Selected Writings 19912005 (New York: Gregory R. Miller & Co., 2005), 13.






A diagram relaying, through differential media, the design process undertaken for a competition project by Mark Dorrian and Adrian Hawker of METIS, assisted by Aikaterini Antonopoulou, and Richard Collins. It conveys the complexity and multiplicity of the thinking-throughmaterial-things in which the project is enmeshed. The competition called for the design of a commercial space to act as a connector between two adjacent museums in Jyväskylä, Finland—the Alvar Aalto Museum and the Museum of Central Finland. The proposal takes the form of an interior landscape that negotiates the zone between the offset floor levels of the two museums.








Push. I believe the push is the first element in a process—the push to make, say, and to stop; the push to invent, to experiment, to fail, or to fight. There are mornings (most mornings) when I wake up a little afraid. It’s an inexplicable feeling because I have nothing physically immediate to fear. But it’s there­: that anxious feeling that maybe reverberates through dreams, or perhaps it’s a remnant of politically induced anxieties, or just the mysterious jumble that is nighttime processing. This fear is one of the primary hurdles to push past, first thing, eyes open.

ABOVE Working drawings RIGHT Driftwood No.3 Sumi ink, acrylic, graphite, and 22K gold leaf on watercolor paper 10.25” x 12.25” 2016

I wake up, get up, dress, and get out. It’s the routine, the route, that clears my mind, and walking is the vehicle. It’s part of how I make art. It’s the beginning of a practice based on an awareness of place. These days my dog and I follow the trails that surround the cabin where I live. The path often changes, sometimes winding down the curves of a former logging road, now overgrown with invasive and

native plants alike, to a creek that feeds the Pacific; a park trail with deep, muddy ruts from years of rain and neglect, that opens up onto a grey sand beach strewn with tidal debris, and the remains of industry remembered now by old railroad ties and ambiguous pieces

of corroded metal; into the forest, as the crow flies, soft with shadows and redwood needles and alive with the damp smell of decomposition and fungus.




My practice of making art is an undertaking not dissimilar to taking a walk. It is measured and deliberate, but its fruitfulness is equally contingent on chance and serendipity. The formal elements that I draw or photograph are often the shapes of objects or environmental features I find while walking. I look for a union, in art as in life, of self with place. And so, my search yields a union of forms. Walking, I begin to work on a piece. I begin with an action that delivers something tacit about my experience, that I can later reference in my studio. Wandering is making; a framework is in place but the outcome is unknown. Eventually a drawing emerges from a play, back and forth, between found forms and my own gestures. It is from this exchange that I tease out an image that remembers its origin in my environment.


1&2 Sumi and walnut ink on washi paper 5” x 7” 2016

Perspective is everything, but despite how it varies we are all grounded in the same world. Consider the view point of the absurdist philosopher, Albert Camus: “the world is neither (totally) rational, nor so irrational.”1 In a cultural climate that loves to polarize, this reads as particularly poignant. I regard imagemaking and subject matter in this way, trying— again, in art as in life—to highlight difference and ambiguity. To draw out the beauty in searching. So, I continue to push. ENDNOTES 1 Sartre, Jean-Paul. Existentialism is a Humanism, ed. John Kulka. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007. Print.



Dendroscape 1 (Drawing with reference photograph) Sumi ink, acrylic, graphite, and 21K moon gold leaf on watercolor paper 2016 GROUND UP : ISSUE 06


Driftwood No.4 Sumi ink, acrylic, graphite, and 22K gold leaf on watercolor paper 10.25” x 12.25” 2016


Tree Sight 3 Sumi ink, acrylic, graphite, and 22K gold leaf on watercolor paper 10.25” x 12.25”










A Planting Paradigm in Four Acts BASE Landscape Architecture


NATURE AS MUSE Photographs of famous contemporary monocultures in landscape architecture, may lead you to believe that plants are valued principally for their glam photogenic qualities. While this certainly does not reflect a ubiquitous perspective on planting from within the profession, it does in part reflect a desire to parse and sanitize planting design so that it is palatable and digestible to the general public. Planting areas which photograph to meet the stylistic requirements of Dwell Magazine or Architectural Digest are not frequently diverse or complex.


The plantscapes that BASE designs seek to rebuff the uniformity of ‘contemporary’ planting design and restore plants to their rightful fundamental place in our professional process. We do not lay out plants with straight lines, and we do not use monocultures for the sake of ‘modernity.’ We seek a structured messiness in our planting designs – the same kind of structured messiness and complexity that keeps us intrigued by places like Point Reyes, Muir Woods, or Big Sur. With nature as our muse, in the following acts, we’ll share some of the challenges, triumphs, and pitfalls of working with landscape architecture’s most misunderstood media. Come with us, and see how entirely new worlds and questions are revealed when you dig deep into any aspect of planting design. Our practice aims to push beyond conventional discussions of ‘native,’ ‘pollinator-friendly,’ or ‘productive’ landscapes. Here, we reveal our process of inquiry toward the goal of educating our clients and colleagues, while maintaining an aesthetic that tends toward ‘structured messiness.’ Each step of this process reveals new insight that we share and apply.

PLANT THER APY & SHIFTING PERCEPTIONS Many clients come to BASE with a set of criteria and expectations around planting that has the potential for disappointment. Below, you might see a typical list of client-generated adjectives related to planting design on their project: LOW M AINTENA NCE TIDY DROUGHT TOLER A NT LUSH EDIBLE BEE FRIENDLY NO BEE STINGS --> 100% GUA R A NTEED


On first glance, it may seem possible that, with a tight selection criteria, you could develop a plant palette to meet these aspirations. Upon further review, however, you’ll realize that some of these desires are mutually exclusive, and cannot all be met at once. 103

Our job is to educate our clients about the realities of reconciling this list of adjectives to create a landscape. Most people want the low maintenance of a gas station but want the lush look of ‘Planthunter.’ It takes patience and an articulate plant ambassador to truly engage them in the long and evolving relationship they will have with the trees and plants around them. From our standpoint, we want the client to understand that they are entering into a dynamic dialogue with their landscape. Like all relationships, it will not emerge fully formed, and its evolution over time will reflect the level of care put into it. Another common conversation is related to habitat. While many of our clients seek our expertise in creating habitat and pollinator-friendly plantscapes, we hear a frequent refrain of “oh, but I’m really nervous about bee stings” on the tail end of commending our work and decrying the decline of bee populations. This is usually a cue to discuss the birds and the bees as they relate to a project, and to try to convert the clients from bee NIMBYs (not in my backyard) to bee SIMBYs (somewhere in my backyard) or ideally bee EIMBYs (everywhere in my backyard).





ALL PLANTS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL With the client now introduced to our ideas and invested in a burgeoning dialogue with their landscape,

we then dive into

the work of curating a plant list that is specific to their project site. Our work doesn’t end in the handoff of that list to a contractor, though. We have observed that much of the real work is in the sourcing of plants themselves. Even a master contractor may not have experience sourcing the types of plants that we specify, and we remain ever attentive to the predictable scenario that a contractor will simply provide unvetted substitutions for whatever they cannot pronounce or procure. Aside from the obvious variations in nursery care and attention, there are other more significant and dangerous differences amongst nursery plants – specifically, whether they have been cultivated with or without the use of systemic pesticides. A systemic pesticide is distinct from a nonsystemic pesticide in its ability to remain in a plant’s 104

vascular system for an extended period - sometimes the plant’s entire lifetime. It acts as would a pervasive and permanent blood disease, which albeit not lethal to the plant itself, can be fatal for a number of beneficial organisms. The most common and widespread class of systemic pesticides is known as neonicotinoids, which is largely credited for decimating honeybee populations in the U.S. Neonicotinoids, or ‘neonics,’ are transmitted to the bee via nectar and pollen during the act of pollination. When the pollen and nectar are delivered to the hive and used to feed the queen and her brood, a gradual, and often lethal, downward spiral ensues for the entire hive.

In our experience, a clean chain of custody for nursery stock is often difficult to obtain. Nursery stock often begins in vast regional grow operations and is then transported to smaller and/or more specialized nurseries for continued growth and eventual distribution to contractors or retail. Over the course of this shuffling around it is challenging for growers to maintain accurate records of plant provenance. This problem is compounded when nurseries fail to train their workers on the varied needs of different plants and apply a one-size-fits all protocol to pesticide application for all the plants on their property. On a particular project using “bee friendly” plants, we were unsatisfied with the documentation of plant origin and pesticide history. When we investigated this instance, we discovered that, on numerous occasions, nurseries were unwittingly selling plants labeled as ‘bee safe’ that had been treated with systemic pesticides. In unknowingly using those plants and trusting their provenance and labeling, we


were inadvertently playing a role in bee colony collapse. In response to this, we developed and shared what we believe to be a pioneering set of specifications that allow a landscape architect to explicitly call for pesticide-free or neonicotinoid-free plants. We also developed a vendor’s list for compliant plant suppliers in Northern California and distributed this as widely as possible in our professional community.


Seasonal bloom color diagram Dolores Street Pollinator Boulevard GROUND UP : ISSUE 06


PLANTING FOR ALL ‘‘BEE-INGS’’ One of BASE’s founders, Patricia Algara, has been instrumental in working with the City and County of San Francisco to earn the official designation of a Bee City USA. BASE has created a companion nonprofit organization called “With Honey in the Heart” that allows us to accept donations toward creating bee habitat in the urban environment. Our inaugural project was to convert a block of the historic Dolores Street median into a pollinator habitat. Naturally, a project of this prominence required a tremendous amount of organization, dialogue and community approval. Specifically, the steps involved included:



Creating a non-profit called

“With Honey in the Heart,” allowing us to receive

charitable donations to fund the project


Developing together a project proposal and

distributing to stakeholders including:

Mission Dolores Neighborhood Association,

neighboring condo development, Whole Foods Market

on Market Street, San Francisco Department of

Public Works, San Francisco Park Alliance


Applying for grants from the City and other

entities to offset costs


Organizing a community ‘sheet mulching’ kickoff

event 5.

Organizing a community planting event


Organizing an ongoing caretaking schedule for the Pollinator Boulevard

The emerging result is a splendid, structured mess of pollinator plants that is teeming with pollinators and represents the culmination of many of our core values at BASE. To visit, start your walk at the foot of the Castro flag. Point yourself to the Embarcadero and walk along Market Street for a few blocks. When you pass Whole Foods, look to your right. Dolores Street swoops down like a Wayne Thiebaud painting, its median studded with Canary Island Palms rising out of brown, trampled turf. At the last block, the brown turf transforms into an extravaganza of healthy and happy plants. It is more than as interstitial space, it is the center of attention. 107

The project just received a San Francisco Beautiful Award and has become a demonstration project for the San Francisco Department of the Environment.


Planting plan - Dolores Street Pollinator Boulevard




Ever y year, SWA’s Sausalito studio goes t hrough approximately 27,600 feet of t race paper, t he lengt h of t hree Golden Gate Bridges end-to - end.


“Traces” is a research project that investigates introspection as a necessary step in design innovation. Given the iterative and chaotic nature of design, most process work eventually disappears, never to be reexamined again. This project exhumes those drawings and explores the potential of de-archiving, the unearthing of ideas that never make it past the drawing board. It concentrates on the transitory moments of inspiration, the rough sketches, and the process, adhering to the notion that there is something insightful about unfinished raw ideas that never make it to reality.




The goal of the project is to present an honest compilation of internal snapshots, documenting the day-to-day design processes that form the foundation of the work at SWA. In a small way, “Traces” aims to serve as a platform for discussion on how to design the design process itself. To aid in this discussion, the project offers three tools: one for aggregation, one for categorization, and one for evolution.

CATEGORIZATION Following aggregation is the tool of categorization. The traces are randomly pared down to 52 samples per office and formatted into a deck of cards. One side of the card features a trace and on the other side a color, indicating the studio in which the trace originated. A unique name is then given to each card linking it to a specific project. With all seven decks, the studios organize and sort the cards according to common threads found throughout the firm-wide inventory.




AGGREGATION Conceptualized as a “core sample” of SWA’s seven studios, the first tool aggregates one year of firm-wide traces. This process of aggregation is intentionally anonymous, with no direct connection to employees or projects. Anonymity ensures a diversity of designers, drawing typologies, and project phasing, providing a wide range of content, from highly analytical diagrams to conceptual perspectives. Once collected, the traces are publicly exhibited, revealing candid snapshots of a daily design process, regardless of employee position or stage in project development.

LEFT A random collection of traces from across the firm. ABOVE Double-sided cards link traces to studios. BELOW Seven decks of cards for categorization.

LEFT An early concept plan. ABOVE Perspective evolution.

EVOLUTION The last tool tracks and records the evolution of these traces. Envisioned as a deconstructed monograph, the publication is not focused on showing beautiful images of built work. Rather, it departs from the world of brick and mortar and enters into a discursive world of ideas that would otherwise disappear. Individual traces are linked back to their associated projects and contextualized. The collection is then dissected to understand the evolution of a project through the lens of process. The deconstructed monograph can be read in any way and is intended

to serve multiple functions; not only as a point of inspiration, revealing the many ways one can approach the design process, but also as a point of departure, allowing the studios to look inward while speculating about the future.


RIGHT Traces capture


fleeting design ideas.





Nikola Bašić, Sun Salutation, Zadar Waterfront, Croatia, 2008 (photograph by the author)


If I were to draw up my personal shortlist of projects from around the world that I find most compelling, the list would include Maya Lin’s Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C.; Latz & Partner’s Volkspark und Bundesgartenschau in Potsdam, Germany; Nikola Bašić’s Sun Salutation and Sea Organ in Zadar, Croatia; and Syrinx’s Point Fraser Demonstration Wetland in Perth, Australia. In terms of procurement, the designs for the first two projects were selected on the basis of a design supplied up front—the first by open international competition and the second by invited competition. The designers for the latter two projects were commissioned by requests for qualifications, with the designs produced after the design firms were signed on. Even taking into consideration the geographical and programmatic diversity of the four projects sampled above, it raises the question: if designs that are produced after a designer is commissioned also routinely produce excellent projects, what is the unique value of design competitions? Are they as an effective and useful mechanism for selfselecting quality landscape architectural design as assumed? Can a commission do everything a competition does but with less theater? For a designer, competitions promise an addictive mix of skill and chance, where contestants hope to be judged on pure design rather than all the other criteria that normally weigh on everyday practice—even though they know that

While designers tend to canonize the open international ideas competition as the ultimate design forum, many of the most celebrated design products that have set the agenda for years to come have actually emerged from closed competitions and commissions. There is no doubt that soliciting competing designs is an effective mechanism in the case of procuring ideas for difficult sites, broadly applicable themes, or culturally laden projects such as memorials. The analogy is akin to placing a unique and difficult to evaluate item up for auction to let the market establish its appropriate price at that moment in time. Open competitions play an important role in enabling innovative ‘hive’ thinking by generating walls of concepts which subsequently give nascent projects discursive depth, identity, and momentum. The first stage of the World Trade Centre Site Memorial competition with over five thousand submissions or the High Line ideas

competition with over seven hundred entries epitomize this effect. Open competitions also allow lesser-known designers to spar on a more level playing field to which as non A-listers they would not normally be privy. Indeed, competitions of this nature have famously jump-started significant careers.

In Europe competitions are embedded into EU law as the primary mechanism for procuring government and many private projects. Conversely, in the US the majority of work is typically solicited by existing qualifications built on past performance and competitive fee structures (which unlike Europe are deregulated)2 rather than future intentions in the form of competitions. Design competitions are reserved for ‘special occasions’ for some persuasive reasons. They are enormously resource intensive for participants and arguably undermine the designer’s relationship with the client, the community, and the site.3 Competitions have also been understandably charged with reducing the serious and sometimes uncomely job of environmental design to a beauty contest where each drawing strives to be prettier than the next, often at the cost of substance. There are ethical concerns also, such as the case of realization competitions in which the winner’s prize is paid in lieu of design fees with no compensation included for offsetting the high degree of financial risk that a design office takes on when preparing an entry. There also exists the probability that some of the proliferating private-run web-advertised competitions turn a profit by exploiting the genial willingness of designers to pay to give away their designs. In this regard, I’m not aware of another comparable industry that divulges so much up front for so little potential return.



in reality politics and special agendas are as much a part of competitions as any other facet of practice. The preparation of a competition entry grants designers all the consent they need to heroically burn the midnight oil, worn as it is like a badge of honor. Fellow designers typically greet a declaration of “we are doing a competition” with conflicted reverence: “I wonder what their concept is? What if they win? We should have entered.” But there are also rewards beyond peer-based reverence. As regular design competition entrant Marcel Wilson (principal of San Francisco firm Bionic) observes, even if non-victorious, at the end of the day with competitions there is something tangible to keep; a design, some experiments, some testing of ideas, and methods in a particular context. The design competition is guaranteed to move a designer forward, whereas an unsuccessful request for qualifications leaves them more or less at the same place they started.1



A further apprehension is specific to landscape architecture. Unlike architecture competitions which are often implicitly or explicitly either only for architects or for multidisciplinary teams led by architects, competitions with landscape architectural themes are rarely restricted to, or only attractive to, landscape architects. Indeed, whether for ideas or for realization, by invitation or open, design competitions set with briefs focused on landscape tend to attract one of the most varied pools of entrants from both allied design disciplines and from elsewhere. To be certain, this diversity is part of the identity and richness of the field of landscape architecture, which as the most ‘grounded’ of the design disciplines,4 has served as a melting pot and clearing house for other disciplines. Yet it also has a down side. On balance landscape architects have not fared well in major design competitions that are ostensibly about landscape architecture. This phenomenon is not restricted to competitions as it is mirrored in other modes of practice as well; indeed it speaks to a much larger issue of landscape architecture’s insecure position within the shifting, overlapping territory of the design disciplines.5 Competitions have tended to amplify the discrepancy. That said, the ‘trade deficit’ of landscape architecture outsourcing its noteworthy innovations to architecture has diminished over the past decade, in part because developments in design theory have been oriented toward landscape. It is also due to landscape architects getting better at playing the game of graphic and conceptual branding.

Maintaining momentum from one design competition to the next on account of the ‘reset’ that occurs at the start of each contest can make the European competition-based practice model more difficult to sustain than the commission model more common in the

US. On the surface of it each new competition places the designer at ‘square one,’ with previous form in the terms of successes or failures being of little consequence. That said, there are actually repeated examples over the years of designers hitting rich veins of form and winning or placing in a string of competitions against the odds. I was once involved in such a seam of good form with a firm in continental Europe. I would like to think that it was the brilliance of our conceptual acuities that crystallized irrefutable solutions to the design briefs. However, on reflection I came to suspect that it was more likely a result of our graphic product which, although a little blunt by today’s standards, was at the time more visible and verdant than our competitors. It became our ‘brand.’ We refined it and became more confident in it with each contest. It was not so much that competition juries came to recognize and reward this aesthetic brand outright, but rather that it started to form a small culture via press and media, which in turn stoked a feedback loop of fashion—which others eventually usurped.

Drawing graphics become a device for their own ongoing propagation, manipulating the viewers’ perception of the design to such an extent that the competition boards become the scheme. A glance across the recent history of design firms who boast significant success at competitions confirms this. The importance of seductive imagery to the marketability of a competition entry amplifies a relationship that landscape architecture already has with drawing. That is, unless in a craft based practice, landscape architects do not build landscapes per se. Rather they construct drawings which often take on a life of their

Schemes exhibiting the nuances and indulgences that often make great design are often also ushered out of contention. The net effect, even if unintentional, is to play it safer, since winning second prizes for being interesting does not sustain an office. Taken to its logical conclusion, competition graphics actuate conceptual reductivism to the point of evasiveness. When combined with the cover of ‘design indeterminacy’ or future ‘client/community consultation/collaboration,’ the design competition mechanism is subverted from a competition to commission. That is, the goal becomes to get the job without committing to a design position up front. One of the most cunning examples of this remains OMA/Bruce Mau’s winning non-design for Downsview Park. If Koolhaas’s longstanding collaboration with an esteemed brand designer was not evidence enough, the scheme infamously subverted the long history of landscape representation, repacking the picturesque as a hyper-real veil of possibilities. The wording of the text accompanying the imagery was also rediscovered as a powerful medium. Who could forget the bold headline on the first board: “Toronto Suffers from Neglect”?7 And of course OMA, like a Y2K

door-to-door salesman, happened to have the antidote to a predicament the city didn’t know it had. These examples illuminate something most designers know intuitively: competitions are not objective delineators of design skill but are as manipulable as other modes of doing business.

Interestingly, three major impulses have driven the surge in competitions which parallel the resurgence in memorial building over the past couple of decades: (1) the urgency to secure collective memory from generational amnesia in the case of the two world wars; (2) the “post-” era of re-vocalizing historical silences; and (3) the traumatic beginning to the new millennium, with so many cultural and natural disasters also requiring individual memorialization. The first category includes examples such as the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and the ongoing Gallipoli Peace Park in Turkey, while the second encompasses the Vietnam Memorial in DC and the Berlin Wall Memorial also in Berlin. Along with sites in the US commemorating victims of the 9/11 attacks, the final category includes the Bali Bombing Memorial in Australia and the as yet unrealized Tsunami Memorial Thailand. In each instance, the designer’s clients become everyone who was affected by, or stands to learn from, the event that precipitated the memorial. When attempting to represent or capture the mood of a society in this manner, the open competition is undoubtedly a highly effective mechanism for soliciting memorial designs. But what of more routine practice such as public parks and squares? As noted earlier, in the US this kind of work is typically solicited through fees and existing qualifications built on past performance. However, across the Atlantic, under the codified European competition system, virtually all government GROUND UP : ISSUE 06



own without their authors to chaperone them. The competition environment merely magnifies this condition to the point where the drawing graphics become a device for their own ongoing propagation, manipulating the viewers’ perception of the design to such an extent that the competition boards become the scheme. As Donald Appleyard cynically notes, a designer “only has to use dramatic shadows, beautiful textures, and fine trees for most people to like any scheme he portrays. Competitions are won on the basis of such simulations.”6

and a great deal of private work is awarded under the anonymous competition system, albeit mostly in closed format with a discreet number of invitees. The firm that gets the job is ostensibly chosen on the basis of their concept design for the given brief rather than on their professional profile or fee structure. On the face of it, with good briefs and learned juries, this system is very effective in the Darwinian manner in which the most lucid design is self-selected and the extraneous or inefficient is dismissed. Yet in the process, schemes exhibiting the nuances and indulgences that often make great design are often also ushered out of contention. The net effect, even if unintentional, is to play it safer, since winning second prizes for being interesting does not sustain an office.


This leads me to begin to question the degree to which the competition mechanism in this context actually stymies—rather than promotes—design innovation. For example, when comparing my experience of practice in Europe with that of Australia (a country in which design competitions are even rarer than the US, and new work is garnished via qualifications, low fees, collegial reputation, and/or networking) I was struck by how much more daring the design work tended to be, even at the risk of failure. The surging China-fueled economy certainly explains part of this phenomenon, where projects were fast-tracked and as a consequence not rigorously audited and refined. In this context design competitions almost seem like a progress-hindering indulgence. It is also a consequence of the tendency for peripheral and emerging economies that seek global visibility to overcompensate with extroverted design statements when compared with the apparently more understated self-assuredness of the North Atlantic, although this remains far more of an architectural phenomenon than a landscape architectural one.

I contend that there is a place for rediscovering the truly regional design competition, metaphorically advertised on street corners rather than rolling around the web like tumbleweed, collecting flotsam in the form of design products that end up with an evasive global-green-washed patina and look like everything else. Still, beneath the differentials between positions in the world economy there appeared a strong correlation between the job being already secured and the designers feeling freer to explore innovative concepts. Far more so, that is, than with the reverse scenario of having to get the job first based on the design via a competition. The key is to compare apples with apples; to compare innovation and experimentation between commission projects with that of first prizes in realization competitions. That is, between design projects that are intended in both instances to be carried through to construction and not those that are destined to remain on paper by virtue of a second or lower place in a realization competition. The Point Fraser Demonstration Wetland mentioned at the start of this article falls into this category, where the real design freedom to innovate began once the designers satisfied the bureaucracy and locked in the project.

It would be simplistic to conclude that competitions are best for projects of major collective cultural significance while commissions suit more modest endeavors. There are instances where a designer’s reputation should count for something in the context of culturally important projects. Who for example would begrudge the unilateral

To be sure, a well-focused and resourced competition with quality site information— combined with contemporary digital techniques and datasets that allow designers to virtually simulate a place from the other side of the world—may mitigate this loss of site tactility. However, being ‘on the ground’ should still provide a ‘home advantage,’ while the history of international design competitions indicates that it does not: competitions rarely reward those with local knowledge. At the risk of sounding nostalgic and parochial, I contend that there is a place for rediscovering the truly regional design competition, metaphorically advertised on street corners rather than rolling around the web like tumbleweed collecting flotsam in the form of design products that end up with an evasive global-green-washed patina and look like everything else.

Poignantly, Europe, whose institutionalized competition model so many North American and Antipodean designers covet, does not actually run an open system. While not resorting to posting flyers on telegraph poles to localize exposure, the EU does tend to enforce strict eligibility criteria, the most crucial of which is the necessity of residing within its borders. While emulating these protectionist policies may seem to contradict the egalitarian spirit of the international search for ideas—and deny the reality of global media-based practice—it may, in certain instances, catalyze the re-emergence of more contrasting regionalist conceptual approaches. In the meantime, despite their shortcomings, if deployed strategically competitions in any form remain the spark that can periodically reinvigorate the design culture of the discipline; a place for the ‘cloud’ of ideas to be precipitated onto a site or a problem, and that should not be diminished. 117

ENDNOTES 1 Marcel Wilson, “Beta Testing,” Department of Landscape Architecture Guest Lecture Series (Berkeley: College of Environmental Design, University of California, November 9 2010). 2 Robert Gutman, Architectural Practice: A Critical View (New York, Princeton Architectural Press, 1998), 75-76. As referenced by, Dan Willis, “Are Charrettes Old School?” in Harvard Design Magazine 33, 2010–11, 25-31. p26. 3 Marc Kristal, “Measuring the Competition,” in Metropolis 22 (3), 2002, 96–99,128–129,131. 4 See: Christophe Girot, “Towards a General Theory of Landscape,” in Topos 28, 1999, 33–41. 5 See: Patrick A. Miller, “A Profession in Peril?” in Landscape Architecture 87 (8), 1997, 66-71, 85–87. 6 Appleyard, Donald. 1977. Understanding Professional Media: Issues, Theory, and a Research Agenda. In Human Behavior and Environment: Advances in Theory and Research, eds. Irwin Altman & Joachim F. Wohlwill. New York: Plenum Press, 74. 7 Quoted from the OMA Downsview Design Competition boards. Reproduced in: Downsview Park Toronto, ed. Julia Czerniak (Cambridge & Munich: Harvard Design School & Prestel, 2001).



commissioning of Dani Karavan, whose memorial designs at sites such as Portbou in Spain and the Negev Desert in Israel refine a celebrated body of work. From the other side there are also many instances where competitions can be more effective at the local community level than commissioning a local firm. However, the disconnection emerges from the global dispersion of the web, wherein an influx of international entries inevitably saturates a local or regional competition. On the one hand this can be invigorating, especially for a small community that suddenly finds itself in the spotlight as its design competition is flooded with 500 entries from designers from all corners of the globe who, like venture capitalists, are desperate to invest excess ‘design liquidity’ wherever it may stick. On the other hand it contributes to the loss of local nuances and identity, where the spectacle of alluring but ubiquitous imagery smothers actual grounded knowledge of a place, which is after all one of the enduring parameters of good landscape architecture.



Discourse from the winning entry to the Memorials for the Future Competition, put on by the Van Alen Institute, the National Park Service, and the National Capital Planning Commission. Diverging from the norm, this competition’s initial selection round limited all submissions to just one image. A wonderful idea for any competition that prioritizes clear concepts over spectacle overload and encourages risk-taking while equalizing the field against larger offices. Consequently, the drawing had to convey the philosophical agenda of the proposed memorial in every aspect, which was carefully developed accordingly. The style selected for the drawing riffs on old photochrome imagery, which blends the precision of photograph against a painterly reduction of color palette. More importantly though, there is a cultural memory that loosely connotes the era of these images with the optimism of the early moderns. Because the project deconstructs this blind optimism through the manifestation of its result, the style becomes a carrier for the emotional weight of the work.


Climate Chronograph, Memorials for the Future design competition winner, Van Alen Institute, 2016. Erik Jensen with Rebecca Sunter.

From concept, I began sketching rough layouts until I found a cinematographic frame that seemed to carry the most weight. This drawing is one part Kubric-inspired futurist one-point symmetry, one part Tufte-inspired technical line drawing, and one part existential meditation on difference and repetition. The centered open vanishing point is intentional, representing this indeterminate yet known future of climate change. Since this project is quite simply a grove of trees, it becomes very important to pick and choose specific differences and repetitions, with the intended effect to guide the pace and rhythm of contemplation of concept. Hence, the unique feature of the grove–its ultimate death–is contained in the rows of rampikes and this portion is delicately attended to. The living section of the orchard is allowed to repeat and direct toward the vanishing point.


absurdly large and time-consuming drawing, but we ended up with the shortlist and a worthy singular representation of the idea. Over five months, the concept matured, but the original drawing continued to hold the most weight for us with only slight revisions needed. JENSEN

Drawing row upon row of unique trees is a trade secret, but a few cad lisp routines and grasshopper help with this sort of thing. Picking people for scale seemingly takes forever if one wants to carefully convey intended politics and emotions. Most tone in the image is painted and overlaid, digitally mimicking the original process of a photochrome print. All this resulted in an


21 SAND ( T YP.)



global climate change has laid bare resource scarcity, and territory as land is a fundamental resource, and resources are no longer static, independent, or exclusive, and architecture needs land to take shape,


what does architecture have to say about land?

As architecture has yet to evolve intro an extra-terrestrial discipline, convention would hold that the practice is enmeshed in the land (i.e., ground, soil, earth). Mohsen Mostafavi writes, “The work of an architect or a landscape architect is always situational…The drawing of these places refers at once to a condition of typicality as well as uniqueness.”1 While the representation of the site has been privileged to a greater or lesser degree over time, its presence is relentless. In drawing, the discipline of architecture might proclaim its authority as an engine of imagination. What does architecture have to say about the land it sits upon, between, and beneath? Everything. However, the dominant mode of figure-ground is reductive. As Amale Andraos explains, our epoch is anything but static:


…as time is stretched to that of geological transformation, and as seemingly endless flows of information recast our concept of context, there is an urgency to move beyond the stability and certainty offered by oppositions…[and] engage in mad alchemy as we rewrite architecture as the art and science of the unknown.2

RIGHT Land, typical (typ.) Diagrams by author, 2017.

Land is a particularly fertile material lens for an exploration of an “alchemical” architecture of the Anthropocene. Given the nature of land as unstable vis-à-vis natural disaster, indeterminate with respect to territorial adjustments, and commercially transferrable, architecture today must meet the challenge posed by shifting identities.





















Sand is a worthy analog for the general condition of land in the Anthropocene: ubiquitous, liminal, and tertiary. By some accounts, it is the most widely consumed resource in the world after air and water, but unlike those resources it has gone unregulated and unnoticed as an asset worthy of attention. This work challenges a typical (typ.) architectural imagination of sand in the Anthropocene, highlighting the resulting representational deficiencies present in four prevalent perspectives.

First, sand as territory has potent geopolitical implications with respect to the delineation of boundaries. It is routinely apportioned, governed, and transferred as a primary building block of land. But as Keller Easterling writes, “We often believe boundary to be most clearly made in relation to this static turf…Landscape is so often finally not static, but kinetic—the areas of animals, waters, sands, and atmosphere.”3 MERRIS










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Coastal sand is a liminal zone of contention that proves difficult to demarcate due to deposition and erosion, but relatively easy to shape and transport via mining and land reclamation. For instance, Singapore has deployed sand as a tool for nation-building over the last 40 years, expanding its land area by 20% via the production of artificial ground.4 This perspective invokes the architectural convention of plan(s) drawn at multiple scales, but in particular calls attention to the shortcomings of the site plan as a device for describing shifting territorial boundaries. While hard-line drawings are efficient and legible in their austerity, sand’s material properties preclude an obedience to the dash-dot-dash of a property boundary.


As a conceit in the lineage of the now-deficient plan, section, and parti, the project depicts the failure of conventional site representations to consider ground in flux. Secondly, sand operates stratigraphically in tandem with and in isolation from the physical detritus of civilization. Geology and archaeology have already mastered sand in this regard, as the medium to be cut through or brushed off. A literacy in layers breeds appreciation for the prevalence of constructed land in the Anthropocene. As Stephen Graham describes, Modern humans tend to naturalize the ground…Yet this perspective underplays the importance of the vertical composition of ground. For the terrestrial material of our rapidly urbanizing species is increasingly anything but “natural”: it is the vertical accumulation of manufactured ground.5 Architecture is familiar with layered assemblies and the section as a descriptive tool, yet practitioners tend to focus

their representational efforts on surficial strata, flattening substrate to generic and indeterminate hatch. The third perspective highlights the “highvolume, low-value” paradox of sand mining, situating the substrate within a larger context of material processing. Worth billions of dollars, the global sand trade has gone largely unregulated, spawning a lucrative black market, shifting mining operations to coastal sites, and depleting many land-based sources.6,7 Still, the resource is widely regarded as cheap and plentiful. To describe this phenomenon, architectural convention would favor the diagram for its attention to process and systems. But the necessarily narrow extent of a given drawing, and the reduction of complexity for the sake of clarity, undermine the power of the parti. Sand’s vast volume, breadth of uses, and multi-scalar character prove to be particularly challenging to image. Finally, the fourth perspective operates within the more overtly architectural realm of the speculative site-specific proposition. Constructed as a conceit in the lineage of the now-deficient plan, section, and parti, the following project uses perspectival collage to depict the failure of conventional site representations to consider ground in flux. The CEMEX Lapis Plant in Marina, CA, lies 100 miles south of San Francisco, one of the last coastal sand mining operations in the U.S. Twelve miles of beach between the mine and the town of Monterey have recently lost four feet per year on average. CEMEX is not required to disclose complete accounts of its productivity, but estimates put the extraction at roughly 200,000 tons of sand a year. Studies show that with natural sediment deposits from the Salinas River, the coastline should be growing at a rate of three feet a year on average.8

Although natural processes of sedimentation have been interrupted, the prevailing logic of plan, section, and parti might lead architects to deduce their own process of depositing particulate matter. The proposed Sand Memorial at Monterey traces a line marking the top of the beach as of 2016. Built of concrete mixed with sand mined from the CEMEX plant at Marina, the monument grows with concrete pours (strata). Assuming current rates of production continue, 170,000 CY of sand yield 680,000 CY of concrete per year— each stratum is 60 feet wide by 5 feet tall and 12 miles in length. By 2054, the ocean will reach the base of the wall. Existing industry is harnessed to return sand that would have been naturally deposited back to the beach, while simultaneously accelerating the same processes of erosion.

Ultimately, the memorial itself will render sand mining at Monterey impossible, becoming a datum for the persistence of environmental process and proof that an architecture of stasis is obsolete in the Anthropocene.

ENDNOTES 1 Mostavi, Mohsen. “The Cartographic Imagination.” In Cartographic Grounds, eds. Charles Waldheim, J. Desimini, 6. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2016. Print. 2 Andraos, Amale. “What Does Climate Change (For Architecture)?” In Climates: Architecture and the Planetary Imaginary, ed. J. Graham, 301. New York: Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, Lars Müller Publishers, 2016. Print. 3 Easterling, Keller. Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and Its Political Masquerades. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005. Print. 4 “Sand, rarer than one thinks.” UNEP, report, Global Environmental Alert Service, 8. 03/2014. Web. Fall 2016. < March_2014.pdf> 5 Graham, Stephen. “City Ground.” Places Journal (Nov. 2016). Web. <www.> 6 “Sand Mining- the ‘High Volume—Low Value’ Paradox.” Aquaknow. 04/11/ 2012. Web. 12/13/2016. <> 7 “Sand, rarer than one thinks.” 8 Schmalz, David. “CEMEX Mine Reflects Human Hunger for Sand.” Monterey County Weekly 14 January 2016. Print.

Sand Memorial in situ, southern Monterey Bay, 2017.



RIGHT Postcard from the future: 124

Megalopolis 2050, Lake BELOW A multi-layered landscape

Megalopolis is a provincial city in the center of Peloponnese, Greece with approximately 11,000 inhabitants. It is a place where ancient ruins and paleontological findings meet the continuous appropriation of forest and mountains, agricultural and pasture lands, and contemporary urban tissue and intensive mining activity. Megalopolis is known as the second largest lignite center in the country, and the basin of the city hosts a vast area of 5,000 ha containing lignite extraction and combustion facilities. Lignite, however, is a non-renewable energy resource and the reserves will soon come to an end. After a period of prosperity, decline is slowly coming to the foreground of Megalopolis’s future. The closure of the mines in Megalopolis is projected for approximately 2040—so, what are the potential dynamics of the productive territory? As other former industrial territories

in Europe, Megalopolis, without alternative productive economies, faces the threat of becoming a ghost town. The post-mining, post-industrial landscapes of coal extraction areas are often considered in a static condition. Landscape is thus a by-product, an indirect result of the former activity.1 Exhausted extraction holes that remain open craters are reminders of a lunar landscape with injured, open-wounded ecologies—a ruptured landscape.

existence with all the different elements or traces, composes the identity of the place, called a “genius loci.” Landscape seen as an instant of topography captures the essence of all the daily transformations of the mines, and the various processes leave traces on the irreplaceable surface of the soil. The composition of these elements in time and space reveals each contemporary image of the landscape.



At Megalopolis, machines transfigure the ground by excavating, evolving, and depositing materials. The processes of lignite extraction and soil deposit are supported by a huge infrastructure of conveyor belts, which transfer the materials among a series of heavy machinery. James Corner describes such transfiguration as “terra fluxus.” In contrast with terra firma (a fixed landscape), the landscape is comprised of “the shifting processes crossing through and across the urban field: terra fluxus."2 Evolving landscapes have a dynamic character inscribed in the way they are domesticated. Extraction, therefore, as a process of material movement in co-





















10 km


10 km

STORE TOP SOIL: Top soil storage area Low vegetation is used to keep top soil fertile

ENRICH: Enrich the organic matter of soil with specific crops to be used for fodder

STORE TOP SOIL: Top soil storage area Low vegetation is used to keep top soil fertile

ENRICH: Enrich the organic matter of soil with specific crops to be used for fodder

INCREASE BIODIVERSITY: Introduce a variety of species in the reforested areas


Pedestrian and cyclic routes on the two main axes of the city


K-f fly ash as ertilizer K-f fly ash as ertilizer

STORE: Temporal storage of findings

INCREASE BIODIVERSITY: Introduce a variety of species in the reforested areas

Pedestrian and cyclic routes on the two main axes of the city

STORE: Temporal storage of findings

TOP Postcard from the future: Crater. The inactive open pit attracts hikers, travellers, tourists, and locals as multiple diverse landscapes converge. Visitors have the opportunity to experience the new landscape that

gs Findin


resulted from the extraction process.


extraction area

shape the current topography—in particular, slopes and plateaus—are used to organize the proposal. Material movements continue to reconfigure the territory as the exchange between different areas continues over time.

extraction area

SLOW DOWNR: ELOCATE: Enlarge the riverbed of Alpheus Relocate Tripotamos village River to slow down the speed: due sediments to the new expansion collect lignite RELOCATE: Relocate Tripotamos village due to the new expansion


Slope reforestation to stabilize the ground and establish the structure of the agricultural plots


Slope reforestation to stabilize the ground and establish the structure of the agricultural plots


geometries of the topography. The same machinery that

SLOW DOWN: Enlarge the riverbed of Alpheus River to slow down the speed: collect lignite sediments


the complementary and juxtaposing sharp and soft

gs Findin


RIGHT Phasing 2017-2020. The design articulates



The perspective in this landscape changes fundamentally when thinking in terms of transitional land uses and programs. It is these transformations that are also the ground for postmining productivity. “The site acts as a mnemonic device for the making of the new,”3 which creates the conditions for the next development cycle of the city. Its environmental recovery—the necessary healing of the mining landscape—parallels the energy efficiency at a local level and the establishment of new economies related to the productive landscape. Starting from the operational phase of the mines, reclaiming the landscape means purifying polluted water and remediating contaminated soil while also reconsidering the appropriation of the landscape and introducing new economies to replace the preceding. These new appropriations will “become soft design processes that eventually lead to the formation of new spatial morphologies and performative ecologies.”4

A series of design strategies proposes the re-configuration of the productive territory in this constantly transforming landscape, thus uncovering new emerging opportunities for the local populations. Modifying the systems of energy, water, and soil in a series of processes begins from the current condition and gradually evolves in phases, until and eventually after the closure of the mines in a dynamic choreography. The overlap among these different elements and systems working in the same space interweaves the complexities of the site. This process of modifying the systems has a spatial footprint where productive, cultural, ecological, and urban elements coexist in homeostasis. Nevertheless, this project does not attempt to return the landscape to a previous stage, but instead reclaims the diverse productivities of a manipulated territory. Following the dynamic processes of topographic reconfigurations until the closure of the mines, the phasing directs the creation of a new ground. Part by part, the re-composition of the landscape takes place in fine-grain movements and strategies

ABOVE Postcard from the future: Megalopolis 2050, Leisure Events BELOW Landscape in motion

applied in different places and in different times. The future landscape is projected in phases, illustrated by a series of diagrams that anticipate the transition towards a post-mining era. The history and the future of a post-mining territory has been inscribed into the phasing


RIGHT Postcard from the future: Megalopolis 2050, An

and the systemic character of this project, and elements of different phases structure a multilayered landscape that shapes the future of the region. As Alan Berger writes, “[r]eclaimed natures may be technologically constructed and evolve organically….[n]ature is a curious union of the machine and the organism in reclamation.”5 The continuous relationship between the city and its productive territory will be reformed in the coming years, but not interrupted.

Imaginary Post-mining Landscape: An Ecological Park. Different elements and ecologies form a complex organism in homeostatis—local energy produced from biomass, new agricultural land, bee-keeping operations, and livestock co-exist in a balanced relationship. Recomposed wetlands simultaneously host migratory species and serve as a rich biotope and biodiversity hub, and archaeological sites participate in this choreography. BELOW Operational Section 2025. The proposed strategies explore the dynamics of recycle and reuse of the existing waste of the systems of energy, soil, and water. Circular economies are introduced to complete the chain of production, processing, and market in a collective system that collaborates with the local

This article is based on our thesis to obtain the Advanced Master’s

producers, while remediation processes prepare the ground for

degree in Urbanism and Strategic Planning from KU Leuven,

future agriculture.

participating in the European Master in Urbanism. We would like to thank the promoter of this thesis, Bruno De Meulder, and the tutor of the spring semester studio 2016, Racha Daher.


E NRICH T HE O RGANIC M AT TER cultivation of leguminous crops (roots enabling storage of nitrogen-rich material)



recycle the evaporated “harvesting the

vegetation - remediation (contaminated soil - fly ash deposit)

collect biomass (forest maintenance fire protection zones)

biomass combustion

biomass as raw material



B IOMASS - E LEC TRICIT Y S UPPLY electricity supply for public space & buildings





purification and collection

enlarge the riverbed - slow down the flow of water & collect the lignite sediments

mixed herbs & low vegetation to keep the soil fertile

canal (current)

pumping surface water top soil


cosmetics & medicines

infertile soil


flow of energy


enriched organic matter on external deposits

material movement with trucks

flow of materials

internal deposit

reforested external deposits

lignite movement with conveyor belt

flow of water

fly ash deposit


soil movement with conveyor belt


FUELS / ENERGY fertilizer SO2

plaster boards NOx


cement industry


bioswale - purification


C OLLEC TION O F S TORM W ATER retention ponds

corals - livestock (water for the animals)


solar panels - agriculture

d water e fog�


generate energy for machineries

olive kernels - complementary to the lignite combustion)

electricity supply for households

collective unit



& shrubs

manure fertilizer

collect storm water

abandoned train station turns to P UBLIC S PACE

existing olive groves (olive oil production)


collection & purification of S TORM W ATER

district heating

industrial process new economies local farmers


Phasing 2030 In this phase, reforestation stabilizes slopes, establishes the structure of the new agricultural land, and increases biodiversity in the already reforested areas. The cultivation of cereal crops and leguminous plants enriches the soil, the addition of topsoil enhances infertile deposits, and local plant nurseries provide cultivable land. Artificial wetlands purify urban waste water and a retention pond stores the treated water in order to irrigate non-edible crops. Reactivated existing public spaces and bird incubators program re-cultivated areas.


Phasing 2050 A natural biotope gradually forms at the ground level of the former mines as the groundwater reclaims its preextraction level. A dynamic landscape of energy crops and reforested areas creates new public spaces.

ENDNOTES 1 Berger, Alan. Drosscape: Wasting Land in Urban America. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006. Print. 2 Corner, James. “Terra fluxus,” The Landscape Urbanism Reader (ed. Charles Waldheim). New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006. Print.

4 Bélanger, Pierre. “Landscape infrastructures: urbanism beyond engineering,” Infrastructure Sustainability and Design (eds. S. N. Pollalis et al.). New York: Routledge, 2012. Print. 5 Berger, Alan. Reclaiming the American West. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002. Print.

3 Mostafavi, Mohsen. “Why ecological urbanism? Why now?,” Ecological Urbanism (eds. M. Mostafavi and Gareth Doherty). Baden, Switzerland: Lars Müller Publishers). Print. GROUND UP : ISSUE 06


















BASE Landscape Architecture is a multi-talented and omnicurious design firm with expertise from concept to construction, with offices in Portland and San Francisco. BASE was co-founded by principal designers Patricia Algara (MLA UC Berkeley) and Andreas Stavropoulos (MLA UC Berkeley). Other members of the BASE team include principal Sutter Wehmeier (MLA UC Berkeley) and designer Natalie Martell (MLA Kansas State University).


11 Sylvia Baumgartner received her master’s of architecture degree from the University of Innsbruck, Austria, where she currently teaches as a visiting lecturer. Her work aims to understand and represent the multifaceted relationship between the built and natural environments, and the moments where these territories overlap. Sylvia is cofounder of the research collaborative Exploratory Notions, and the design collective /SCOPE.

Michael Beggs is a candidate in the M.Arch. degree at UC Berkeley. A former member of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation​, he has contributed to exhibitions and publications on Josef Albers, the Bauhaus, and Black Mountain College.​He maintains a multimedia artistic practice that includes photography and collage.


01 Kofi Boone is an associate professor of landscape architecture at North Carolina State University College of Design. Professor Boone focuses on the changing nature of communities and developing tools for enhanced community engagement and design. Through scholarship, teaching, and extension service, Professor Boone works in the landscape context of environmental justice and explores new media as a means of increasing community input in design and planning processes.

Tiago Torres Campos is a Portuguese landscape architect and assistant professor at the University of Edinburgh. He has published internationally and founded CNTXT Studio, a researchby-design platform focusing on the study of landscape and its intersections with architecture, art, design, and digital media. He is currently completing a Ph.D. in Architecture by Design.


METIS is an atelier for art, architecture, and urbanism, founded by Mark Dorrian and Adrian Hawker at the University of Edinburgh in 1997. They aim to connect architectural teaching, research, and practice in the production of rich, multi-layered works that resist immediate consumption. Their book Urban Cartographies was published in 2002, and their work has been presented worldwide in exhibitions, lectures, and discussions. http://www.metisarchitecture.comhis sculptures and installations in Brooklyn, Japan, France and California, and will be featured in the 2016 deCordova Biennial.









Heena Gajjar is a landscape designer at Sasaki Associates in Watertown, MA. She earned her MLA from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and was a University Olmsted Scholar in 2015. Heena is interested in the study of emerging ecologies resulting from current urbanization trends.


16 Bobby Glass completed his MLA from UC Berkeley in 2011, soon after which he began to host Space Open gatherings intended as a space for art making and group. His artwork is sparked by excursions into the broader landscape that evoke outdoor multi-media experimentation and poetry to catalogue these sensory experiences. He teaches at UC Berkeley and practices ecological design and engineering at Hyphae Design Lab.

Kristina Hill is an associate professor of landscape architecture, environmental planning, and urban design at UC Berkeley. She teaches and lectures internationally on the intersections between ecology and social justice in urban design. Laurel Larsen is an Assistant Professor of Earth Systems Science at UC Berkeley, where she runs the Environmental Systems Dynamics Laboratory. Her research studies the influence of water flows on landscapes and ecosystems. Her work has impacted restoration efforts in in the Everglades, with ongoing work focusing on the Chesapeake Bay and the Wax Lake Delta in the greater Mississippi River delta complex. John Largier is Professor of Coastal Oceanography at UC Davis and resident at Bodega Marine Laboratory.


2 0 Erik Jensen is a Bay Area-based landscape architect and 2014 MLA graduate of UC Berkeley. Working with Rebecca Sunter, he produced the winning submission for the National Park Service and Van Alen Institute-sponsored competition, Memorials for the Future.

Elena Kasselouri and Gabriella Georgakaki jointly completed their Master’s thesis at KU Leuven. Subsequently they organized a workshop and series of events in the area, collaborating with the municipality in order to mobilize the inhabitants and local stakeholders to get involved in a new vision for the future of the mining area. Elena’s current research interests focus on landscape urbanism, particularly systemic thinking and design for cities and territories. Gabriella interns in the Rotterdam design studio MAXWAN, focusing on landscape and urban design projects.


Nate Kauffman is a landscape architect from Northern California, and a project director for OWLIZED, a tech startup working to visualize the challenges and opportunities of a changing world. His work has been utilized by the San Francisco Estuary Institute, the California State Coastal Conservatory, the OroLoma Sanitary District’s Horizontal Levee proof-of- concept project, local design firms, and others. Nate is also a studio instructor at UC Berkeley and teaches a youth-centered design/ build studio, URBANFRAME, at MIT’s School of Architecture.


Gita Khandagle is a designer and artist who represents the revelations of our environment. Her work consists of assemblages of videography, prints, recordings, and found objects. Following her studies of architecture and sustainable design at UC Berkeley, she was drawn to landscape architecture for its ability to create distinctive spaces that act as frameworks for activity and memory. She currently practices design at Surfacedesign, Inc.


19 Karl Kullmann is an associate professor of landscape architecture and urban design at the UC Berkeley. Karl’s scholarship, creative work, and design practice explore the urban agency of the designed and discovered landscape. Karl explores this subject through diverse lenses, including urban topography, green infrastructure, urban wastelands, public gardens, urban decline, spatial orientation and disorientation, design modeling and visualization, mapping, and datascaping.

07 Micaela Bazo and Stephanie Lin are practicing landscape architects in the Bay Area. Both are graduates of the College of Environmental Design, Micaela originally from Lima, Peru, and Stephanie from Los Angeles County. Together they co-founded Kinetic Fields, a collaborative design and research team focused on issues of urban ecology and culture in the 21st century. Their work explores spatial concepts through modes of play, movement, and ephemeral phenomena with an emphasis on unusual programming for remnant and problematic edge conditions in the urban landscape.

Jonah Merris is an M.Arch. student at UC Berkeley. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Architectural Studies and Political Science from Middlebury College, and is currently researching the architectural figuration of dynamic ground conditions as a 20172018 Branner Fellow.


12 Angela Mimica, Min Yuan, and Lauren Bergenholtz are students in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at UC Berkeley. In the spring of 2016, they collaborated with SAVE International to propose strategies for sustainable development in Fuzhou Province, China.

0 3 Piet Oudolf is a plantsman and designer recognized for his deep knowledge of perennials and their use in compositions that dynamically change through time. He has designed gardens and parks across Europe and North America, including the High Line and Battery Park Gardens in New York City, and Lurie Garden in Chicago’s Millenium Park.

15 Solange Roberdeau is an artist and graphic designer living in northern California. She holds a BFA in printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA in Studio Art from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Emily Schlickman is a designer interested in the intersection of urban systems, social practice, and art. She works at SWA, where she is a co-lead of the XL innovation lab. Prior to joining the firm in 2014, she was an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Human Ecology at UC Davis.


133 16 Chip Sullivan is an artist and professor of Landscape Architecture at the College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley. Chip received the 2016 Jot D. Carpenter Teaching Medal from the American Society of Landscape Architects which recognized significant excellence in landscape architecture education. His latest book, Cartooning the Landscape, concerns the metaphysics of drawing and learning how to ‘see.’ The Foundation for Landscape Studies selected Cartooning the Landscape for the 2017 John Brinckerhoff Jackson prize for accomplishment in the field of garden history and landscape studies.

Hyunch Sung is a designer at Rios Clementi Hale Studios. Previously, she designed for NYC’s Community Parks Initiative and has worked for land artists. She was a visiting critic at Cal Poly Pomona and Rhode Island School of Design. She received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MLA from the Rhode Island School of Design.​


Urban-Think Tank (U-TT) is an interdisciplinary design practice dedicated to high-level research and design. Working in global contexts by creating bridges between first world industry and third world informal urban areas, they focus on the education and development of a new generation of professionals. Prof. Alfredo Brillembourg, Prof. Hubert Klumpner, Danny Wills, and HansChristian Rufer led the 2016 Port of Havana Studio with students from ETH Zurich.



GROUND UP IS the student journal of the Department of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. IS an annual print and web publication intended to stimulate thought, discussion, visual exploration and substantive speculation about emerging landscape issues affecting contemporary praxis. 134

IS an examination of a critical theme arising from the tension between contemporary landscape architecture, ecology and pressing cultural issues. IS intended as a discursive platform to explore concepts grounded in local issues with global relevance. WILL be guided by the interests of our readers and collaborators. We operate on an open call with invited entries from academics, practitioners, students, designers, scientists and activists.



Justyn took naps Josh had a snowball fight on the retreat Ben’s granddad turned 92 Stan celebrated his dad’s 90th birthday and finished his memoirs Serena graduated and walked her bachelor’s Cynthia saw a giant Buddha statue Daniel met a dog David went back to New Orleans Lauren walked on Portland ice Can’t hear Linda Yue got married Rafael rode a scooter in Thailand Derek went to Rio Myra cross country skied Grace ate well in Japan Kate chased waterfalls Faranak went home to Iran Natali was everywhere Cristina presented a paper in Hong Kong on spoonbills Gene practiced Spanish in Ecuador Karl wind-surfed





THE HOOK (dictionary definition, etymology) THE MEAT (social/ecological/creative) NUTS & BOLTS (we need food and beer)











Ideas get loose When you think you have it condensed, new inputs mess it up again End product is the tip of the iceberg Cycles‌how do landscapes derive meaning (inspiration/film/design)? Spatial directing Delineating design thought, history, documentation Loops. TIME TRAVEL. Clouds roll in, inversion.