LA+ Interdisciplinary Journal of Landscape Architecture University of Pennsylvania stuart weitzman School of Design Editor in Chief Dr Tatum L. Hands Creative Direction Prof. Richard J. Weller Issue Editors Tatum Hands Richard Weller Production Coordinator Colin Curley Production Team Nikki Chang Yifan Cai Editorial Assistant Nikki Chang www.laplusjournal.com firstname.lastname@example.org ISSN (Online): 2689-2413 ISSN (Print): 2376-4171 Proofreading by Jake Anderson Back cover illustration by Laurie Olin All images appear courtesy of their authors under license granted pursuant to the terms of the LA+ ICONOCLAST design ideas competition.
Copyright ÂŠ 2019 University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design All rights reserved. No part of this journal may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic, mechanical, photocopying of microfilming, recording, or otherwise (except that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press) without written permission from the publisher.
LA+ Journal, the Weitzman School, and the University of Pennsylvania endeavor to respect copyright consistent with their nonprofit educational mission. The journal has attempted to trace and acknowledge all sources of images used in this publication and apologizes for any errors or omissions. If you believe any material has been included in this publication improperly, please bring it to our attention. Recommended citation: LA+ Interdisciplinary Journal of Landscape Architecture, no. 10 (2019).
CENTRAL PARK ATTACKED Eco-terrorists claim responsibility By NIKKI CHANG NEW YORK — An eco-terrorist organization calling themselves “the Gaians” has claimed responsibility for last week’s devastation of Central Park. Disguised as joggers, and entering the park at different points just prior to sunrise last Monday, the Gaians released an army of mechanical bees and beetles throughout the park. Park liation of trees and plants in the northern section of the park on Tuesday. By Saturday, the park was almost entirely denuded of living plant matter. Central Park chanical insects had self-destructed at midnight on Sunday. In a letter to The Times received on Earth Day, yesterday, the Gaians said that their actions were intended to draw attention to the fact that, since the year 2000, the world has lost more than 500,000 Central Parks worth of forest – most of it due to economic activity that can be traced back to Wall Street. The letter provided further details of the attack, stating that the mechanical insects had been engineered to deliver a newly synthesized toxin to trees and plants causing almost instant defoliation of buds and leaves, with plant death following in a matter of days. State scientists contacted matter, with no contamination discovered in the park’s soil or water bodies. Initial testing suggests that the toxin is not harmful to humans or animals, unless ingested in large quantities. Dave Form, the leader of the Wild Institute, which advocates for returning 50 per cent of the planet to wilderness, said the Ga“It’s about time all those rich people playing around in their pretty park realized what’s really going on in the world,” he said.
In an emotional media conference set against the backdrop of defoliated trees, Police Commissioner Will Brat said the eco-terrorists are to environmentalism what Al-Qaeda is to religion and vowed that law enforcement authorities would “hunt them down and bring them to justice.” Standing on the sidewalk of Fifth Avenue, New York Mayor Bill Di and pledged to rebuild “the greatest park on earth for future generations.” “We will make it more democratic, more ecological, and said. Manhattan real estate tycoon David Dennison this morning pledged to help raise the money needed to begin the project of reconstructing the park. Dennison said the park was “worth its weight in gold to New York,” but refused to speculate on whether some of to developers to pay for the reconstruction. The Central Park Authority will commence the clearance of all vegetation in the park in the coming experts that few trees had survived gun to relocate the park’s fauna to new habitats around New York been designated an environmental disaster site and is now closed to the public. Today, the University of Pennsylvania School of Design’s LA+ Journal announced that it would hold an international design ideas competition to reimagine and redesign the park. When The Times asked celebrated designer Larry Lin how anything could be better than the original, he said that although Central Park’s romantic imagery is unforgettable, “if Olmsted were alive today, he
Central Park, New York, lies devastated by last week’s eco-terrorist attack.
LA+ Journal Announces ICONOCLAST Design Competition $20,000 Prize Money In the wake of the eco-terrorist attack, LA+ Journal has launched an international design ideas competition to reimagine and redesign Central Park starting, as Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux did, from scratch. Asked why the competition was named ICONOCLAST, which is cherished beliefs or institutions,” LA+ Journal’s Editor in Chief said, “there’s no institution that has been more cherished in New York than Central Park, but the reality is that it is now destroyed. We are asking designers of all disciplines to reimagine New York’s Central Park for the 21st century.”
Competition Website Launch: June 1, 2018 Submission Deadline: October 10, 2018 Winners Announced: November 26, 2018
Competition Jury LOLA SHEPPARD
Associate Curator of Architecture & Design The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Author A Burglar’s Guide to the City; BLDGBLOG
JENNY OSULDSEN Partner & Director Snøhetta
with the deadline for entries being October 10, 2018. in $20,000 prize money and all awarded schemes will be published in LA+ Journal’s ICONOCLAST issue. For further detail, follow the COMPETITION link on:
The Brief Revealed
IMAGE: CLAIRE HOCH/PENN DESIGN
Partner LATERAL OFFICE
Harvard University Graduate School of Design
RICHARD WELLER Chair of Landscape Architecture The University of Pennsylvania
Frederick Law Olmsted
Central Park is arguably the canonical work of modern landscape architecture. Its aesthetic and socio-political ideals of health, beauty and democracy underpin the profession of landscape architecture, which Olmsting of the park in 1973, the artist Robert Smithson claimed that Olmsted “combined both art and reclamation in Central Park in a way that is truly in advance of his times.” But what would Olmsted do today? What will you do? This competition asks that you redesign Central Park, starting, as Olmsted and Calvert Vaux did, from scratch.
In doing so this competition tition asks how the new interprets seeks to explore the following the old, and how together, the new and the old anticipate the future? questions: 1) If in parks, no matter how collective aesthetic expression of our relationship with the “natural” world, then what, on the occasion of nature’s disappearance, is the aesthetic of that relationship today? 2) What is the role of a large urban park today? 3) How might issues of aesthetics on the one hand and performance on the other coalesce into what Olmsted described as “a single work of art”? 4) Given the extraordinary history of the Central Park site, the compe-
In short, the brief is to create the concept for a new, 21st century Central Park. The brief asks for a plan, a short explanatory text, and discretionary supporting imagery. The competition favors conceptual rigor and imagination, and places a premium on engagement with the questions outlined above. Basic issues of feasibility, materiality, circulation, and programming will also be taken into consideration by the jury.
In This Issue
Editorial RICHARD WELLER + tatum l. hands
jury q+a richard weller, LOLA SHEPPARD, GEOFF MANAUGH, JENNY B. OSULDSEN, CHARLES WALDHEIM, BEATRICE GALILEE
DAVID GIRALDEAU + ALEXANDRE GUILBEAULT
SUE CHOI, JAMES HALLIWELL + DUSTIN TOOTHMAN
JOSHUA GOWERS + BEN HARDY-CLEMENTS
IWAN BURGAUD + NADÈGE LACHASSAGNE
OPEN SYSTEMS/LANDSCAPE INFRASTRUCTURE LAB
joe rowling, nick mcleod + javier arcila
CHRIS BENNETT, CONOR O'SHEA + NILAY MISTRY
minzhi lin + song zhang
salon des refusÉS
jiaqi wang, huiwen shi + chuanfei yu
CENTRAL PARK AND LANDSCAPE'S ONGOING IMAGINARY JULIA CZERNIAK
john beckmann, hannah lasota + laeticia hervy
gandong cai + mingjie cai
FÉLIX DE ROSEN, MANOLO LARROSA + MARIANA MAÑÓN
MARTIN GARCIA PEREZ
Endpapers: "The Luncheon on the Grass" (1862) by Édouard Manet, public domain via Wikimedia Commons. Opposite: The "fake news" report detailing the eco-terrorist attack on Central Park and launching the LA+ ICONOCLAST competition.
LA+ ICONOCLAST/FALL 2019 5
ICONOCLAST editorial This issue is devoted entirely to the results of the LA+ ICONOCLAST competition conducted in late 2018. Literally defined, iconoclasm means “the action of attacking or assertively rejecting cherished beliefs and institutions or established values and practices.” The iconoclast is then someone who becomes a catalyst for theological or socio-political revolution or, in the case of the arts, the birth of new iconography. In this respect, art history can be understood as a tension between long periods during which the hegemony of certain icons are consolidated, and short revolutionary phases where icons are overturned and replaced. From the late 19th century onwards, this simple pattern is significantly complicated by the fact that under the aegis of modernism, iconoclasm itself was institutionalized as a form of orthodoxy, something postmodernity wrestles with to this day. But if we have come to expect the iconoclastic in art, in landscape architecture it is the very opposite. While landscape architecture did have its own relatively gentle form of modernism in the mid-20th century, its most “cherished beliefs, institutions, values, and practices” have—at least since Alexander Pope’s epistle to Lord Burlington in 1731— remained remarkably consistent. Over this time, landscape architecture has consistently reaffirmed nature as good, sought its beatification through genius loci, and represented this in picturesque form. So, what this competition effectively asked is whether this venerable tradition should now be attacked or assertively rejected? And, if so, why?
today and how might issues of aesthetics on the one hand and performance on the other coalesce into what Olmsted described as “a single work of art”? Our rationale for facilitating this iconoclastic moment was to see what would happen when the paradisiacal, pastoral, and ecological aesthetic baggage that landscape architecture is otherwise so heavily burdened with, were momentarily relinquished. While we wanted to make the competition easy to enter, it was not our intention to make iconoclasm look easy. For, while there might necessarily be some violence in the iconoclastic act, mere histrionics is not good enough; iconoclasm requires an unpacking and an expose of the icon in question – in a word deconstruction, not just destruction. The competition received 193 entries (382 entrants) from over 30 countries. Chaired by Richard Weller, the jury comprised Charles Waldheim (Harvard GSD), Beatrice Galilee (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Lola Sheppard (Lateral Office), Jenny Osuldsen (Snøhetta), Geoff Manaugh (BLDBLOG), and Richard Weller (PennDesign). In this issue we try to do justice to the rich array of entries by documenting the awarded entries, as well as, in the Salon des Refusés, almost all the work which for one reason or another piqued the jury’s interest. We also try to avoid the usual mysteries of adjudication surrounding competitions by publishing interviews with several of the judges. Finally, to critically interpret the results and what they might mean for contemporary landscape architecture we have solicited a review essay by the co-author of Large Parks, Julia Czerniak.
Which of course brings us to Central Park. No designed landscape is more iconic than Central Park. It is lodged in the public imagination as a preferred image of nature, and upheld by the profession as an enduring masterpiece, in equal measure art and instrument. Its co-author, Frederick Law Olmsted, sits atop the landscape architectural pantheon: rarefied as a visionary and upheld as a model of everything the good landscape architect should be.
Ultimately, this issue of LA+ raises the question of whether a new aesthetic of landscape will emerge at the dawn of the Anthropocene, and asks to what degree iconoclasm is a prerequisite for that emergence to occur.
The attack we launched on all this is described in the fake news report previous page, which in part constituted the competition brief. In short, as the story goes, eco-terrorists destroyed the Park as a protest about global deforestation, making way for a competition concerning its reconstruction. This placed contemporary designers in the interesting position of having to decide just how iconoclastic to be. More specifically, entrants were asked to convey a contemporary aesthetic of nature: what is the role of a large urban park
Tatum L. Hands + Richard Weller Issue Editors
Opposite: An homage to Banksy's "Girl with Balloon," iconoclastically shredded by the artist immediately following its sale at auction for $1.4 m.
You be the judge.
Jenny B. Osuldsen
Richard Weller is professor and chair of landscape architecture and Meyerson Chair of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania. His design work has been exhibited at Australia’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and is collected in Room 4.1.3: Innovations in Landscape Architecture (2005). Weller is author of a number of books on design and scenario planning including Boomtown 2050: Scenarios for a Rapidly Growing City (2009) and Made in Australia: The Future of Australian Cities (2014). His award-winning Atlas for the End of the World (2017) maps global flashpoints of urbanization and biodiversity.
Lola Sheppard is a founding partner of Lateral Office, an architecture practice that operates at the intersection of architecture, landscape, and urbanism, and associate professor at the University of Waterloo, Canada. Lateral Office was awarded a Special Mention at the 2014 Venice Biennale for Architecture, a PA award in 2013, and the 2012 Holcim Gold for Sustainable Construction for North America. Sheppard is co-author (with Mason White) of Many Norths: Spatial Practice in a Polar Territory (2017) and is a co-editor of the journal Bracket.
Geoff Manaugh is a freelance writer, author of The New York Times-bestselling book A Burglar’s Guide to the City (2016), and former director of Studio-X NYC, an off-campus event space and urban futures think tank run by Columbia GSAPP. He is well known for his architecture blog BLDGBLOG and regularly covers issues related to cities, technology, and design for publications ranging from The New York Times Magazine to The Atlantic.
Jenny B. Osuldsen is a partner and director of Snøhetta, a professor of landscape architecture at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and an Ax:son Johnson Guest Professor at the SUDes Master’s Program at Lund University in Sweden. Her recent projects include the 7th Room Tree Hotel in Harads, Sweden; the urban design of Stureplan in Stockholm, Sweden; the masterplan for the Annecy Congress Center in France; the Times Square reconstruction in New York City, the Under restaurant in southern Norway; and a 19-hectare park surrounding the Max Lab IV synchrotron radiation facility in Lund, Sweden.
Charles Waldheim is the John E. Irving Professor and director of the Office for Urbanization at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He is author of Landscape as Urbanism: A General Theory (2016) and editor of The Landscape Urbanism Reader (2006). Waldheim is recipient of the Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, the Visiting Scholar Research Fellowship at the Study Centre of the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Cullinan Chair at Rice University, and the Sanders Fellowship at the University of Michigan.
Beatrice Galilee is the Daniel Brodsky Associate Curator of Architecture and Design at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Galilee was chief curator of the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale and has curated exhibitions and events around the world including 2013 and 2012 Milan Design Weeks, 2011 Gwangju Design Biennale, and 2009 Shenzhen Hong Kong Biennale. Galilee was architecture editor of Icon Magazine from 2006 to 2009.
jury q+a 8
+ Taking the entries as an indicative sample, what do they tell you about contemporary design culture?
Richard Weller: Three things: first, I was struck by the disregard for the picturesque and the prevalence of a new sublime – an anxiety, melancholy, and in some cases even a masochistic post-human fascination with the dawn of the Anthropocene. This seemed to translate into frightening monumental gestures on the one hand, and highly indeterminist, yet curated, micro-ecologies on the other. Second, this generation of designers (mainly landscape architects and some architects) are not naively utopian or sentimental, but they do have a remarkable faith in, and enthusiasm for, technology. In fact, more than a few entries capitulated to virtual reality entirely, but provided few details as to why or how. And thirdly, the visualization tricks and tools designers are using to communicate their ideas are in many cases more powerful than the actual ideas. Lola Sheppard: The entries seemed to represent a broad range of concerns and discourses permeating the discipline of landscape architecture. These include preoccupations with post-humanism and the manufacturing of artificial environments, the ambition to reintroduce wilderness into the urban landscape, and resistance to design’s aestheticizing tendencies. Another recurring subject was the imbrication of design and capital, and a desire to destabilize these relationships. In this light, one recurring position in the proposals, rather surprisingly, was the acceptance or indeed suggestion that a portion of the Central Park site be given over to development in a kind of transactional exchange for preserving or rehabilitating other parts of the landscape. This reflects the extent to which the idea that all civic projects require trade-off has permeated the minds of designers, even in the most provocative of design competitions. That Olmsted, in a sense, was able to be more radical and uncompromising in a vision of large-scale civic infrastructure is telling of our times. Conversely, several projects challenged top-down approaches to design, and imagined strategies for a more diverse set of stakeholders to be involved in the visioning of the park. Geoff Manaugh: Many of the entries suggest a strong undercurrent of critique and subversion, even frustration, that seemed to manifest itself in an equal mix of effective, pointed critique and ironically self-defeating cleverness. For example, a handful of responses sought to invert the brief by designing parkland everywhere but Central Park, but this merely recreated our most prevalent, already existing urban condition today, of towers surrounded by greenery, as if accidentally reinventing Le Corbusier in a moment of rebellion. On the other hand, some very impressive—and more patient—re-thinkings of the brief helped produce work that sought to redefine beauty and ugliness in the landscape, to question the divide not just between the artificial and the natural but between the synthetic and the biological, and, of course, to promote the agency of other species, such as beavers, in helping to shape a parklike environment. These latter examples, I think, show a real interest in expanding the bounds of landscape architecture, bringing not just new material sciences, such as genetic modification, into the design conversation—not despite, but because of, their controversy—but also taking other disciplines, such as philosophy and art history, further along, deeper into the design process. Jenny B. Osuldsen: I think the competition, in itself, defines a type of design culture. Just by participating in the competition, these designers have shown that they are engaged with social and ecological concerns. It is interesting to me that the designs are not like a 1970s version of “saving the world,” but seem to recognize that the world is now more complex. Even though Central Park is largely symbolic, you can see in the entries that designers are connecting their work to larger issues. This is an important direction for today’s design culture. Charles Waldheim: I was impressed by the volume of entries, and the breadth of concerns they surface. As a sample of contemporary design culture in landscape architecture, the entries reinforce my perception that we seem most comfortable
LA+ ICONOCLAST/FALL 2019 9
foregrounding environmental, societal, or political themes. This is, on the one hand, a refreshing return to the pressing challenges of our day. On the other hand, it is further evidence of landscape architecture’s capacity for conveying meaningful cultural content on what has historically been too often viewed as externalities in the design disciplines more generally. It was heartening to see such a range of commitments expressed through design projects, to varying degrees of probity or persuasiveness. + What did you find most compelling and most disappointing about the proposals?
Richard Weller: I think it’s really compelling that designers are trying to engage with whatever might be meant by the new natures of the Anthropocene. This manifested in metaphors and narratives that played along with the brief and, at best, translated into spatial forms and temporal strategies for activating new socio-ecological processes for the park. The efforts in this regard are prototypical and important. But not many entrants could explain, in simple language, exactly what the idea is, how it applies to the site, and why it is relevant. This inability to articulate an idea in concise no bullshit writing, is, I think connected to the general lack of resolution of many of the ideas that were presented. An ideas competition doesn’t mean anything goes, it means the construction of the idea is the focus of attention. And unless an idea explicitly separates itself from external reality as a form of pure commentary, it should, I think, translate into space (plan and section) and be more or less buildable. In the wake of landscape urbanism, I liked the fact that some entries actively put the park to work in relation to the broader metabolism of New York, but often these were somewhat one-dimensional and in one way or another compromised the park. I was surprised that not more schemes worked with more precision at the edge where the grid and the park meet. I think that interface is a critical threshold where a lot could have been done to imagine the new, but respect the old. Following that, I was also surprised how little Olmsted’s original came into play. I know iconoclasm is a license to “attack” things, but I was looking for reconstruction of the park as a form of more careful deconstruction of the park, if you know what I mean. Deconstruction is not just smashing stuff and ignoring precedent, it’s picking apart and opening up the contradictions in the original. Lola Sheppard: The most compelling aspect of the proposals was the range of positions and the degree to which they served a larger social and political agenda. The recognition that landscape, like architecture, has become a force of gentrification resonated in many projects, and these proposals problematized the very core of the design professions today. Several projects also recognized issues of environmental change in subtle ways, foregoing apocalyptic scenarios in favor of proposals which included park as archive, as conservancy of ecologies, and as environmental laboratory. Geoff Manaugh: As mentioned earlier, some of the projects that clearly positioned themselves as most radical—that seemed to think of themselves as thinking outside the box and cleverly subverting the brief—simply reproduced the same broken model of urban parks we see today. Surrounding Manhattan with green space and moving all of the towers into what is now Central Park is just a cynical way of reinventing urban mediocrity. Having said that, a few projects that simply sought to make Central Park better—which is to say, improving its accessibility to the public and expanding its geographic reach—were impressive for their sheer earnestness. For example, “De(Central)ised Park” [by Joe Rowling, Nick McLeod, and Javier Arcila – Winner] is something I would actually love to see realized. Another proposal, “Central Cloud of Breath” [by Chuanfei Yu, Jiaqi Wang, and Huiwen Shi – Winner], cleverly suggested using artificial fogbanks of recaptured air-conditioning condensate both as a metaphoric mist and as a literal new atmosphere for helping a new landscape took root. “Hollow Land” [by Taokai Ma and Shuying Wu – Salon des
jury q+a 10
Refusés] proposed a massive tubular park space that I found both technically and architecturally compelling, even if it did not reinvent ecology in the process. It included an image I find oddly soothing, in which a New Yorker is seen gazing through their apartment window at this enormous and strange roll of vegetation that vies with the skyscrapers outside. It was these sorts of projects that caught my eye, primarily because, if I woke up tomorrow and actually saw one of these projects standing in the place where Central Park is today, I’m not sure I’d find it upsetting. Jenny B. Osuldsen: Compelling, yes for sure. I think the diversity and the energy in many of the entries was engaging and refreshing. This was seen in design ideas, graphic presentation, storytelling, and strong concepts. Disappointing, not really, but totally new ideas were missing. It’s amazingly hard to get an idea that nobody has had before you, so I did not expect it. I did hope for it, but did not get it. Charles Waldheim: Most compelling for me was the number of well-represented and well-argued propositions that offered clear critiques. These critiques, at their best, presented nuanced revisions of both the historic status of Central Park in our field, as well as the cultural context for contemporary landscape practice. I was impressed by the number of high quality design propositions that felt comfortable with the rhetorical role of playing against Central Park’s canonical status as foundational to our field, while not mistaking that rhetoric for an earnest renovation of the actual park. Generally, I found underwhelming the number of entries that misread this distinction, and proposed a more earnest realism on the one hand, or those that simply articulated their positions through text, rather than through the medium of landscape design. + A subtext of this ideas competition was to question the hegemonic image of landscape as picturesque and pastoral (which generally stands in for “nature” in the popular imagination). Did you get a sense from any of the entries that in the 21st century a new image of landscape is emerging or will yet emerge?
Richard Weller: The whole competition was predicated on the argument that whilst the 18th-century picturesque was a revolutionary aesthetic, since then landscape architectural aesthetics have languished. Central Park is a touchstone for the profession, but it’s also an albatross around its neck. Unlike the profession doing its day-to-day commercial work, almost no entrants offered picturesque or pastoral scenery, so that tells you something. As to what is emerging in its stead, that is not yet clear but certainly instead of scenery there is attention to curating weird admixtures of people, technology, and ecology with a willingness to accept and even encourage the grotesque. Lola Sheppard: I would say that designers avidly took up the call to challenge the hegemonic image of landscape as picturesque and pastoral. There were strikingly few submissions whose foundational premise was one of aesthetic experience or simulation of nature, and indeed many projects resisted aesthetics, advocating for a return to wilderness or even a geological understanding of the physical and temporal scales of landscape architecture. Several projects examined a deep history of the Park, challenging its colonial history. Cultural decolonization is understood more literally in a project such as the “Below the Park…A Territory” proposal [by OPSYS/Landscape Infrastructure Lab – Honorable Mention], but the ambition to decouple Central Park from economic forces, which recurs in several projects, can also be understood as an attempt to decolonize. Several proposals took on issues of post-humanism and techno-ecology, offering a range of landscapes from mediated interface of images to atmospheric and environmental machine to mobile research laboratories which seed biological species via robotic agents. Overall, the range of submissions offered a call to arms for landscape architecture—and design more broadly—to take on imminent technological and environmental transformation, to challenge shifting economic realities, and to imagine more complex urban narratives.
LA+ ICONOCLAST/FALL 2019 11
Geoff Manaugh: I certainly got the feeling that something is trying to emerge, and is in the early stages of beginning to. Speaking only for myself, however, I thought that where this was most successful was when a project used landscape almost as a tool for graphic design, where different species and their associated seasonal colors were employed not simply for their poetic effects but for purposes of visual communication. One example of this would be “Central Park Nursery” [by Sebastian Sowa, Gianluca Torini, and Meike Schröder – Salon des Refusés], in which Central Park was reimagined as a massive nursery for “new species and varieties” of trees. The visual effect, though, was almost like a bar graph or other large-scale infographic, the meaning or purpose of which seemed to be to communicate greater landscape health. Another, similar entry [by Robert Alexander – Salon des Refusés] used what I might call “landscape infographics” to display and communicate the gradual, planned regrowth of Central Park. Transitional bands of new plantings turned the entire park into a graph of its own progress. The projects that simply swapped an “ugly” landscape for a “beautiful” one seemed far less convincing to me, however, for similar reasons as discussed earlier. In other words, by replacing Central Park with a scarred, haphazardly planted, sodden, or mirelike landscape, those projects merely recreated the existing post-industrial blight we already find on the peripheries of most modern metropolises. One need only go to an abandoned lot in East New York or even simply to the Gowanus Canal to find this sort of landscape, and deliberately cultivating those conditions—that is, reproducing or simulating them—in Central Park comes off as strangely Disneyesque. Creating a landscape that simply represents ugliness—that is a sign for ugliness—is a kind of punk postmodernism, and I don’t mean that in a positive way. Pursuing genuine abomination in the field of landscape architecture would be far more interesting, and more challenging. “Central Park Canyon” [by Nadège Lachassagne and Iwan Burgaud – Honorable Mention] suggests one possible way forward here, by using Central Park as a kind of immersive theater of geological ruin, populated by landslides and digging machines, or what the designers call “abyssal entropy.” Jenny B. Osuldsen: Picturesque and pastoral as “nature” is for me almost an oxymoron. Most landscapes are cultivated, which means that humans have been taking part in the planning, design, and management of the landscape to execute it into a “forced” look of mimicking “nature.” Trends in landscape architecture are usually slower to move forward compared to the speed in other design areas. Luckily, we work with much slower processes that also need to be designed and planned to last for decades and centuries. I’m actually happy that we do not shift trends that fast and it is usually hard to see in our own time that a new trend is emerging. I think trends we saw in the 1960s and 1970s are seen as revamped – like urban farming, participatory trends, and bottom up projects. The words “sustainability” and “resilience” were less used in the entries than I expected in light of this “trend” for the last 10–15 years. The large park area asks for long-term solutions and planning for decades and centuries, and that was a base in many of the entries. I really appreciated that. Charles Waldheim: On this subject, my feeling is that our field has beaten this particular horse (the hegemonic pastoral) to death. Over the past two decades we have witnessed the performative turn, as landscape design has shifted from concerns for appearance to concerns for performance. This shift has been so thoroughly embedded in contemporary design culture, that it is no longer remarkable. This shift has been so deeply absorbed in our field globally that it has also become evident in the popular reception of works of landscape architecture around the world. Given this recent history, and the fact that Central Park’s history has itself been revised, I am less concerned than the competition brief seemed to be in making a statement vis-à-vis the cultural politics of the pastoral or picturesque.
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+ Are there any designs that didn’t receive awards that you would like to acknowledge?
Richard Weller: Yes, several proposed the unthinkable and urbanized the entire park. Of course, no one would agree to this, until you consider, as one entry [by Anton James – Salon des Refusés] asked us, that the revenue be used to make a new linear park around the entire island of Manhattan to protect against sea level rise and provide public space. Flipping Manhattan inside-out is a timely idea unless you happen to be the politician trying to advance it! Many entries proposed letting the park selfdetermine with some degree of curation but without an overarching design. I think this an interesting line of inquiry. There were also some protest entries variously asserting the land as an autonomous being, or reclaiming it for the Lenape, which I wished had been taken beyond the protestation. Lola Sheppard: The project “Labor of Love” [by Rod Barnett, Jacqueline Margetts, Nona Davitaia – Salon des Refusés] raises questions regarding the reclaiming of indigenous rights on public land. The topic is timely and important and the presentation of the entry as the “reconstruction” of an exhibition yet to happen is clever. The artifacts presented in the “exhibition” reminds us how much western culture relies— problematically so—on artifacts, documents, and images to construct “proof” and legitimize accounts. The proposal reminds me Carol Burns’ provocative essay “On Site: Architecture Preoccupations,” in which she distinguishes two readings of site, the first being the “cleared site,” which is plan-based, mathematical, and erases all history, and the second being the “constructed site,” understood in section as historical and biophysical layers, which retain traces of the past. Geoff Manaugh: I’ve described many of my favorites already, but I will do my best to recall one that is no longer even on the long-list. There was a project, I believe, that touched on many of the problems I have mentioned, but I seem to remember that it suggested emptying Central Park of its human presence entirely and plunging the whole thing into darkness. The park would then be given over to corpse beetles, transforming Central Park into an insectile hell of infestation and rot [“Et in Arcadia Ego” by Jacky Bowring – Salon des Refusés]. Whether or not I’ve remembered that project correctly—and it would be interesting, at my age, to check this description against reality—that project suggested that landscape horror was an effective way to critique our contemporary beliefs about natural beauty and ecological utility. It had a dark comedy and an edge to it. Jenny B. Osuldsen: In the first round of selection, I had also picked two entries that I found interesting but which did not get to the final top 15. They were chosen because I thought they asked interesting questions in their design. “Central Park 2032” [by Chrili Car and Michael Car – Salon des Refusés] had a different take and storytelling. The inhabitants of Manhattan got active themselves and brought in seeds secretly from all over North America to make a new park that was entirely self-managing and did not depend on “corrupt” governments. The graphics used a comic-strip approach and reflected on more things that could go wrong in the years after the attack. Another entry I liked, which had a more optimistic attitude and a plan for a “hopeful landscape,” was called “Central Park Nursery” [by Sebastian Sowa, Gianluca Torini, and Meike Schröder – Salon des Refusés]. It focused on bringing trees back to the park, which I enjoyed as a straightforward and productive response to the competition brief. Charles Waldheim: No, I feel that the finalists are an excellent representation of my current interests and concerns in relation to the field.
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+ What would you have done had you entered this competition?
Richard Weller: As a space, Central Park is a trap for one-liners and megastructures so I would have tried to avoid the temptation to go big and bold. In other words, as per the title of the competition, avoid the iconic! That said, some entries did successfully deploy this approach. I think I would have tried to work carefully to do a series of “before and after” images, à la Humphrey Repton, through which I would aim to expose the impossibility of arcadia while reinforcing landscape as a romantic, theatrical medium. It’s easier to say than do, but it would be a start. Lola Sheppard: The projects that were recognized, either as winners or honorable mentions embody many of the preoccupations that would have motivated my design response, so this is a challenging question. One issue that I would likely have engaged is a greater reconnection with Olmsted’s original idea that Central Park be a radically open, collective space of representation and gathering. Undoubtedly, Olmsted’s specific understanding of a diverse society might be challenged today, but the ambition remains admirable. Many projects that engaged the challenge of a diversifying public proposed an atomization of the landscape experience, which perhaps reflects a more fractured vision of North American society today (certainly, reflected in current political discourse). It begs the question: can one still imagine the vast open, democratic spaces that embrace Arendt’s “space of appearance”? Does such a society exist, and how might design make this manifest? Having said this, several projects engaged the Park as a “space of action,” which I found interesting, suggesting action is inherently political and a tool for construction of society, both spatially and culturally. Geoff Manaugh: If I had submitted a design, it would undoubtedly have been halfbaked, presumably involving something with underground tunnels, genetically modified trees, synthetic mineral forms, or some combination of the above. It’s a good thing I didn’t enter, in other words! If you’ll excuse an unsolicited moment of selfassessment, I often find that the thing I first propose—the design, the text, the answer to some question—is not, in fact, what I hope to see in the work of others, and there is something strangely tragicomic in that. We rarely make the very thing we most want. Put another way: I was thrilled to be on the jury for this and genuinely enjoyed sorting through the entries. Jenny B. Osuldsen: It is easy to be a critic on the side when you did not have to produce anything yourself. I think the scope for the competition was very inspiring and hard at the same time. It is daring to make a whole new design for a world classic and redesign one of the most important landscape architectural moves that are made in time. The eco-terrorist story is a bold story with many layers of history, but I found it strange that it was only Central Park, the one rectangular surface, that was attacked – so maybe that could have been a starting point. I always try to look for the hidden layers that are not so visible on the first glimpse. Maybe a drive for the new design could have been to make “siblings,” to break the park’s boundary and add more than the one project (some entries did suggest that). Another driver could have been to dig into the research of what type of vegetation will establish on its own, and really look for vegetation as healing methods. Alternatively, maybe a park should be something very different in the future. I’m looking forward to the future of landscape architecture with so many talented people around. Let’s move the world forward with landscape architecture and thanks for participating! Charles Waldheim: It is unlikely that I would have entered, but if I had, I would have most likely missed the deadline, and remained unrepresented in the work at hand.
winning entries 16
Tiago Torres-Campos THE GEOSCRAPER OF THE CAPTIVE BIOMES New York: April 23, 2118
n this day, one hundred years ago, Central Park’s vegetation was suddenly wiped out. In a few days, one of the world’s most cherished landscapes disappeared without a trace. The Gaians were extremely violent in drawing attention to the planetary destruction we were causing. Periods of mourning following brutal attacks are often pivotal in the collective lives of cities. They are times of grief, sorrow, and absence, just as they are times of rebirth, hope, and reconstruction. Above all, they bring about great, meaningful transformation. Soon after the incident, the temptation to grid over the park was tremendous. The temptation to relocate the green lung elsewhere was even bigger. Yet we resisted. Looking back, we can proudly say that the “Geoscraper” – the Park’s affectionate nickname has remained what it had been since its inception on the city grid. Or has it? Instead of acting like a drawing master, the appointed landscape architect diverged from the designs of the Park’s founding fathers. While they restaged a state of virgin nature in the form of a 19th-century picturesque park, the landscape curator reignited a 40-year-old idea of that landscape as a giant horizontal skyscraper. From an Arcadian synthetic carpet, the Geoscraper evolved into a performative landscape machine whose first function was to capture the Earth’s biomes. These were then converted into a landscape program where alternative social and ecological values and
functions were forced to coexist. Building upon the Park’s previous role as the center of one of the world’s centers, the Geoscraper also became an active place for geo-eco-bio-social experimentation. On this day, 70 years ago, I was born in one of the Park’s temporary housing pods. My family shared a plot where we produced our food. On festive days, we all gathered in the big collective kitchen. I learned how to swim in the summer and ice skate in the winter. The Geoscraper taught me about biology, ecology, science, and the arts. It taught me about people. A forest-city in the center of New York where I found my way to becoming an advocate for Earth. Every day I stand up for biomes, ecosystems, species, and individuals in the Earth Parliament. I’m fierce with the critics who question whether we are asking too much of this park. I don’t think they see that this is also a landscape that slows us down and attunes us to gentle practices of noticing and making sense of the world. On this day, 100 years ago, the brutal eco-massacre also opened up a crucial door into rethinking our human relations with other entities with whom we share our home planet. Maybe now we will be able to carry this lesson forward as part of the human project into the other rocky planets.
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Joe Rowling Nick McLeod Javier Arcila F
ollowing the 2018 eco-terrorist attack on Central Park, New York City authorities—acknowledging the public’s concern about the depletion of global resources—embarked on a radical program to reduce the city’s environmental footprint. It was decreed that Central Park would be encouraged to rewild naturally within the existing structure of Olmsted’s Central Park masterplan. Furthermore, it was decreed that by 2033 all vehicles within Manhattan would be electric with ride-sharing incentivized. This bold move had the result of freeing up a vast area of formerly car-dominated public space, namely vehicle carriageways, which the city converted into new urban parklands with an area twice the size of the original Central Park – a new de(Central)ized Park. This ambitious plan implemented over a 25-year period saw almost 75% of the streets within Manhattan replanned with vastly reduced roadways, dedicated cycleways, and new diverse open-space ribbons and dwelling spaces radiating out across New York City. Recreational activities that were once isolated to Central Park have been distributed to the new expanded green links designed into the streets. Through the de(Central)ized Park framework over half a million new street trees have been planted across New York City, extending the urban canopy and contributing to climatic cooling of the city. Sports and fitness loops and stations wind around city streets and new cycle routes mean that now
e8urban over 80% of city school students cycle to class every day! The new urban canopy has created ecological corridors through the city, and a comprehensive water collection and treatment system means that all urban stormwater run-off is cleaned, then either reused or diverted into the Hudson River. At the heart of this grand plan has been a wider social initiative, democratizing Manhattan’s open space areas. Where once only a handful enjoyed a view over Central Park, now from Washington Heights to Tribeca almost every resident in New York City can look out of their window onto a little piece of the new de(Central)ized Park.
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MinzhI Lin Song Zhang N
ew York is the largest city in the United States and its problem of gentrification is particularly serious. When a community environment which is relatively poor needs to be updated, it will have to introduce external funds to do so. Following improvement, house prices and rental incomes generally increase, but not all of the original community are able to afford to live there and they may ultimately be displaced. A typical example of this phenomenon is the High Line park. On the other hand, many urban parks in rich areas receive large social donations for improvement of green spaces. In summary, there is an uneven distribution of green space construction funds and a mismatch between residentsâ€™ income and expenditure on public space. We believe that eco-gentrification is caused by environmental inequities. Low-income communities need fair access to green spaces, but they are also afraid of the adverse effects of eco-gentrification. In addition, communities may lack autonomy in the construction of community parks, and lack the ability to resist eco-gentrification. As a typical representative of high-end parks, Central Park has enough influence to respond to these issues. The concept we propose is to link Central Park with 59 communities in New York as the main force in the construction of Central Park, giving them access to funds raised through their Central Park activities that will allow them to improve green spaces in their own communities.
Song + Minzhi
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Jiaqi Wang Huiwen Shi Chuanfei Yu T
he disenchantment of weather/cloud is a result of the rationalization project of nature since the 19th century, Central Park being one of its prime achievements. As the terrorist attack broke the old narrative of an everlasting Arcadian park, the best way of reconstruction is to restore a place of uncertainty – cloud space. After the terrorist attack, Central Park lost all of its trees, causing the microclimate to change dramatically. The increase in evaporation due to the loss of the tree cover poses a problem for any reconstruction idea. Our short-term plan proposes creating a layer of cloud over the Park. The layer—meant to decrease the evaporation of water and protect the reconstruction of the ecosystem—will be created and maintained by artificial-cloud infrastructure. Water used in the plan will come from the AC condensate of Manhattan office buildings – essentially the water vapor exhaled by people. In this way, every New Yorker is part of the great “Breathe to Save Central Park” plan. In the meantime, the cloud layer challenges the myth of a tamed nature, creating new landscape narratives. The illusory nature of the clouds differs from the classic view of Central Park, picturesque and everlasting. The fixed boundaries and subdivisions are gone, and so too is the narrative of occupying and capitalizing the landscape via vision. Visibility now
defines the boundary between the city and nature, subject to the overall weather system. Public nostalgia for the past is appeased by a proposed greenhouse garden, which preserves examples of the original plants and serves as a museum for visitors. After reconstruction, the clouds will dissipate but the infrastructure will remain as a legacy of the New Central Park, serving occasionally for recreation or maintenance. Cloud production will be reactivated on the anniversary of the attack to awaken the memories of reconstruction. In those moments, weather handles landscape narrative again, in an illusory, ephemeral park of cloud.
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John Beckmann Hannah LaSota Laeticia Hervy t
he MANNAHATTA PLATEAU presents a dynamic ecological vision of nature integrated with urbanism. The ravaged original surface of Central Park is left as a regenerating wilderness, a temple to the raw power of nature. Built over it is a green mega-structure, a plateau that supports a raised parkland consisting of a patchwork of abundantly diverse interconnecting environmental zones. The bold, linear aesthetic of the plateau offers a new perspective upon the wilderness that lies partially revealed beneath its cut-out surface. The 200-foothigh structure is inscribed by the lines and scale of the city itself – the typical Manhattan building lot (25 x 100 ft) serves as the basic modular. The street grid is celebrated by being projected across the park’s surface, yet the rigid geometry of urban forms is broken down into subsections defined by the flowing lines of nature. In addition, supporting structures containing vertical circulation are clad in glass that directs light back onto the dystopic landscape below, whilst optically blurring the distinction between nature and architecture. The plateau is infused with plants native to the region to re-establish the island of “Mannahatta” prior to the Dutch colonization. These plants form the basis of wild meadows, wetlands, wildlife refuges, and insect habitats.
Axis Mundi Design
Sustainable agricultural zones—including hydroponic farming enabled by rainwater harvesting—feature hanging gardens of local species of fruits and vegetables pollinated by nearby bee colonies. The plateau also foregrounds renewable energy sources, such as solar tiles, Wattway pathways (solar roads), and windmills oriented toward the prevailing wind. The aesthetic of the plateau manifests an underlying conceptual scheme. As with Gilles Deleuze’s A Thousand Plateaus, this structure allows us to envision the conception of the plateau as a patchwork of dynamic juxtapositions that foster endless new connections. Unexpected juxtapositions and extensive circulation pathways are created between diverse zones for theater, cinema, music, visual arts, and local history, as well as activities such as hiking, swimming, and ice skating. The MANNAHATTA PLATEAU uses its aesthetic to bring the diverse elements of nature and urban design into dynamic coexistence. As this project matures, new organic connections and cross-pollinations will occur between the revived Mannahatta plateau and the unplanned wilderness of Central Park beneath, creating a new ecological future from two versions of the past.
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honorable mentions 46
Fionn Byrne A
tree is utterly indifferent to standing or being cut down.1 The very last tree on Earth will give way to an axe just as easily as any other. Advocacy on behalf of a tree must recognize that nature does not pass moral judgment. Murder, destruction, and vandalism are neither supported nor discouraged, nor are there any punishments or acts of revenge. If every tree in Central Park was cut down, only we would mourn their passing. And as with ethics, so too with aesthetics. Only we judge the smooth young beech against the rugged old oak.2 The beautiful, sublime, or picturesque may be qualities of nature, but they are not known to it. How hard this is to accept when the first garden confuses both. Eden is said to be a place of moral purity and absolute beauty. There, without death or decay we would find no maggots, no fungi, no fallen leaves, and no seasons. The energy of nature that constitutes the sublime and the temporality of nature most important to the picturesque, had no relevance until the first apple seeds were released. Similarly, there would be no need for moral standards and legal protection of nature unless its destruction constituted a challenge to our well-being. We know the association between beauty and moral superiority is false. What is worse is that the beautiful, as a finished absolute ideal, will always negate a processes-based understanding of nature embedded in place and time.3 Death and decay, energy and time, are necessary to make sense of, and design for, a changing environment. Perhaps the ugly will be more useful than the beautiful, specifically in its property for “that which is not there and should be.”4 Here, then, is a proposal that challenges the notion that the ugly is environmentally inferior. The fixed site plan is rejected in favor of a grounded perspective, where the nonexistence of the cut trees is preserved, but the stumps are trained to sucker profusely. In addition, an argument is made that it is time to rethink the goals of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Recreational leisure is surpassed by the need for a fully comprehensive attitude towards parks as collaborative components in a functional dynamic ecological unit, in which Central Park will be the first true addition. There is no return to Eden. Death and decay, energy and time, are necessary allies in any realistic response to environmental degradation. We cannot save nature, but it still might save us. Christopher Stone, Should Trees Have Standing? (New York: Oceana Publications, 1996), 53. Uvedale Price, On the Picturesque (Edinburgh: Caldwell, 1842), 84. Robert Smithson, “Frederick Law Olmsted and the Dialectical Landscape,” Artforum 11 (1973): 124. 4 Mark Cousins, “The Ugly,” AA Files 29 (1995): 4. 1
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Gandong Cai Mingjie Cai I
f the world’s landscape is an interconnected network and the new Central Park is the hub, then it should act as the control and surveillance center of the system rather than an isolated piece of great artwork. The reconstruction of the “wealth’s backyard” will result in nothing but another attack by the eco-terrorists, who advocated for the awareness of environmental crises related to economic activities. Thus, we pretend to be the leaders of the Gaians and propose a Central Park Action Plan containing three strategies. Forest Trade: In the past 18 years, 500,000 Central Parks worth of forest have been lost – we are losing the equivalent of 76 Central Parks every day somewhere in the world. According to the Forest Trade strategy, when a new tree is planted in the Park, synchronously 25,000 trees (the total number of trees the old Central Park contained) must be planted in one of the deforested areas of the world. The Gaians’ bees, which destroyed the Park, will become the new pollinators and activator carriers in the robotic era to help new trees grow faster and healthier. Occupation: The old Central Park was too big and the Manhattan Island was too tight. The Occupation strategy suggests that the Manhattan grid extends into the new Park gradually, providing new developable space for the city. The developments are limited to affordable housing and public facilities, and the open space is designed to be shared with the returning local wildlife. The new Central Park doesn’t need a zoo and the exotic animals that lived in the zoo should be sent back to their original habitats. The Occupation strategy will raise funds for operating the Park and planting trees in the world, as well as sending the exotic animals back. Central (Control) Valley: The old Central Park is gone and the new one is not a replica. However, the collective memories are brought back to the space through art installations and visual infrastructure in several important historical spots, linked by a south–north trail called the Central Valley. Here, live data of the shrinking forest areas of the world, the new trees planted under the action plan, and so on, are shown on digital screens and visitors’ mobile devices. Walking through the Central Valley is a dual sensory experience of reviewing the “good old days” of Central Park, as well as understanding the Park’s new character as a global surveillance center.
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CENTRAL PARK ACTION PLAN To
LA+, Mayor Blastoff and the Central Park Authority,
We are the GAIANS. Now that the world is mourning its precious landscape and you are holding a competition for a new Central Park proposal, it’s time for us to reaffirm our idealism: emancipate nature from the rich people and bring it back to the wildlife and common people.
We ransacked the old Central Park to urge politicians, millionaires, planners and designers to: UPDATE YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF CENTRAL. In a globalizing and digitalizing era, central means the power of control and surveillance, the responsibility of a leadership, and the information hub connects to everything else. Thus, the new Central Park is not for those sitting in the skyscrapers and looking out, but for EVERYONE in the world — human beings, all other living creatures, and the earth.
LIBERATE PEOPLE AND ANIMALS. Rich people could enjoy the park views in the past, but the common people can live in the park of the future! You should provide housing for those hard-working New Yorkers with low price and good environment. Also, send animals that should not have been there back to their original habitats. Let the others — the local animals and wildlife — come back to the park and share the landscape with the new residents.
MOVE YOUR EYES AWAY FROM CENTRAL PARK. Look around at the disappearing landscape in other parts of the world and you will understand how small and unimportant Central Park is in terms of scale and ecological function. The new Central Park should not be an icon but a lens through which people can learn what is happening in other parts of the world.
Please read our proposal which is a combination of our manifesto and a guideline to rebuild the Central Park, and ACCEPT it! Otherwise, we will take action anyway and destroy whatever opposes our ideals. All the best, The Gaians Oct 10th, 2018
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Félix de Rosen Manolo Larrosa Mariana Mañón
tars, cities, molecules. A sunrise, construction sounds, spores spreading. Our world consists of beings and entities existing at radically different scales of time and space, all gathering together into this one time we call now and this one space we call here. In this gathering, different modalities of being—different ways of sensing the world—encounter each other. Deep Peak is a mirroring landscape: Manhattan bedrock is overturned to construct a mountain, exposing the geological substrata on which New York City and its predecessors have grown. Groundwater, pushed up by rising sea levels, seeps into the gap and forms a liquid body. Lake and mountain mirror each other – a global water level index and an inverted archaeological index. What was once deepest underground, now stands highest. Are those stars in the sky or subway constellations? The destabilized ground opens four spheres of dialogue: 1) the atmosphere for our increasingly polluted skies and the distant stars; 2) the hydrosphere for the rapid rise of our sea levels; 3) the geosphere, for immersion in the chthonic darkness that is the counterpart to daylight; and 4) the agnostosphere, a zone where humans cannot enter, for the unknown and unknowable. Four spheres activating elemental ways of relating to the world. Playfully untouched by humans, the winds blow and swirl around the mountain; its currents descend into the cave. There, in the soft, shadowy silence, far away from the always-lit city machine, a pool of water waits for the winter solstice sun, surrounded by fungi and bacteria, ferns and mosses, and all the photophobic creatures that grow in the moist shadows. Deep Peak manifests that we do not stand alone but in the presence of beings and entities existing at radically different scales of time and space. Human, plastic bag, virus.
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Martin Garcia Perez N
ew York is a geologic, atmospheric, and ecologic force increasing in volatility. Singularities are becoming the rule and will continue to shape Manhattan in shorter cycles. But what if the locus of the project is not geographical but the phenomenon? What does it mean, then, to inhabit change? The proposal defines the park as an investigative lapse and explores the possibility of generating a reprogrammable bioinfrastructure capable of catalyzing new ecologies. To do so, a force vector is defined on a new coordinate system. This elementary unit is initially conceived as a mobile selfsufficient laboratory composed of aerial, terrestrial, and underground research units. The structure evolves throughout four main phases: initialization, experimentation, hybridization, and consolidation. The first consists of setting up the technological systems. During the experimentation phase, with restricted public access, the robotic agents weave a biosynthetic mesh that serves as a support for bacterial harvesting and other colonizing ecosystems. When these structures obtain a sufficient resilience, hybridization with human agents occurs, generating new uses. Finally, the structure consolidates and decays producing new topographies and biodiversity nodes. However, these processes are not linear. A finite number of vectors are placed on a system of isolines centered, in this first iteration, on the park imaginary centers. The model evolves from a compact mono-functional system oriented towards ecological succession processes to a set of microclimates resulting from the local interaction of the structures to, finally, isolated systems. Thus, new topographies, paths, centralities, and imaginaries are generated. The evolution of the park depends on numerous anthropogenic factors (e.g., concentrations, uses) and non-anthropogenic factors (e.g., winds, topography, air quality). There will be areas that, due to these variables, will remain crystallized, which means they will enter into longer decay processes, creating new lasting centralities within the park. The expansion of the model will continue according to these patterns, generating new singularities when encountering new urban and rural agents until a new change generates a critical instability that requires a new beginning which will redefine the modelâ€™s inputs, outputs, and assets. To sum up, the park of the 21st century is a temporary complex system (complex as understood by French philosopher Edgar Morin), which inhabits the processes of emergency, interdependence, impressibility, self-organization, and instability. A park generated by the hybridization of human and nonhuman agents in which reside the processes of change that will continue to shape this century.
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III. PARK EXPANSION
II. LOCAL BEHAVIOR
I. ECOLOGICAL SUCCESSION
WEAVING / EXPERIMENTATION
ANALYSIS / HUMAN RELATED ACTIVITIES
BACTERIA / FUNGUS / INSECTS
BIOMARKERS / BIO-ART / SEED DISPERSAL /
BIO-MAKERS / BIO-ARTISTS
CITIZENS / VISITORS / EDUCATION / SPORTS / NEW HUMAN USES
SMALL BIRDS / GRASS
ISOLATED BEHAVIOR VECTOR [DETAIL 1] PARK TIME AXIS
SOCIAL / ECOLOGICAL MICROCLIMATES
NEW PATH DECAY [DETAIL 3]
NEW ROBOTIC AGENTS
NEW ROBOTIC AGENTS
SMALL BIRDS / GRASSES
SMALL MAMMALS / HUNTING BIRDS / MIGRATION BIRDS / COMPLEX VEGETATION / AQUATIC ECOSYSTEMS
SMALL BIRDS / GRASSES
SMALL MAMMALS / HUNTING BIRDS / MIGRATION BIRDS / COMPLEX VEGETATION / AQUATIC ECOSYSTEMS
0 100 200
0 100 200
LOCAL RELATIONSHIPS LOCAL RELATIONSHIPS BORDER EFFECTS BORDER EFFECTS
COMPLEXIFICATION COMPLEXIFICATION OF HUMANOF AND HUMAN NON-HUMAN AND NON-HUMAN AGENTS AGENTS
N/ S / NEW HUMAN USES
N/ S / NEW HUMAN USES
INHABITING INHABITING CHANGE CHANGE EXPANSION, EXPANSION, ACTIVATION ACTIVATION OF EXISTING OF EXISTING INFRASTRUCTURE INFRASTRUCTURE
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NEW PATHS DECAY [DETAIL 3]
10 20 AXIS m VECTOR TIME
NEW PATHS DECAY [DETAIL 3]
VECTOR TIME AXIS
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Atmospheric layer Bio-air handler WEATHER POLLUTION AIR COMPOSITION FLYING ANIMALS INSECTS SOLAR ENERGY HUMIDITY
Transformed d microclimate e
Geological layer Deep time Transformed geology UNDERGROUND CITY INFRASTRUCTURE
Inputs (electricity, bio-ink...) Outputs (bio-fuels, electricity...)
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David Giraldeau Alexandre Guilbeault A
mbiversion is a state intermediate between introversion and extroversion, encompassing qualities from both sides. While an extroverted nature can be associated to the vitality coming from people’s presence, an introverted one tends to recharge alone, in an autonomous fashion. This duality is somehow the starting point of this new design proposal for the New York Central Park. On this very wide spectrum, three different types of environments have been imagined with complementary relationships to nature. The City Park: This zone is a reinterpretation of Olmsted’s Central Park as we know it today. It is an organized space, located on the perimeter of the Park. It interacts with the surrounding urban environment. Its design is linked to history, evoking an idea of the “old.” It has a landscaping role, displaying nature in a way that smoothens harsher urban life. It is extroverted. The State Park: This zone is the heart of the Park and is defined by a raw nature. Machinery interventions are prohibited after year one. The nature of this area is unpredictable but will be defined, through time, by its local geography. It is an ecological landscape that fosters biodiversity. For the New Yorkers, this area is like a state park territory in their backyard, a great escape. Hikers are welcomed, trails are to be made and nature is there to be observed and studied. This place is introverted. The Architectural Belt: This third zone can be understood as a green space contained in an object whose position happens to separate the City Park from the State Park. It is a 65-foot-wide and 6.5-milelong looping linear park with a sinuous shape mimicking the exact route of the existing Central Park’s Park Drive. The interior climate is controlled thanks to a greenhouse-type of infrastructure and so is the indoor vegetation. It is the ultimate manmade landscape. It is a technical answer to the undesirable effects of global warming, providing the citizens a leisure-oriented environment with perfect weather all year. Its architecture embodies the idea of the “new.” This place feels remote, but is, at the same time, fully accessible, fluid, and based upon optimization. It is the ambiversion. While Olmsted’s original concept for Central Park coalesces into a “single work of art,” this proposal displays a simple threeway system defined by a complementarity that addresses a contemporary society with increasingly complex needs.
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honorable mentions 74
Sue Choi James Halliwell Dustin Toothman
he disappearance of Central Park forced me to confront its integrated existence in Manhattan. In the presence of the void, the United States government introduced the Digital Representation Preservation Corps (DRPC) and revealed its ongoing project: digital catalogues of physical artifacts and spaces. The DRPC was created in response to threats against monumental spaces of identity. In that year alone, humanity lost the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro and most of Yellowstone National Park, but the cataloging had started long before. The extinction of heritage posed a permanent threat in the 21st century. The loss of artifacts meant a loss to heritage, and for an entire population to cope with that loss, event after event, was enough to trigger a federal strategy: the defense of memory. “Better than the real thing?” Signs plastered with this slogan surrounded the perimeter of the Central Park site. Sorrow and anger motivated protesters against the mysterious project. As the project neared completion, a line formed throughout New York City, with people longing to re-experience the new Central Park. Soon, a visitors’ center opened and equipped people, one-by-one, with headsets. “Better than the real thing,” it promised, and by putting the headset on visitors stepped into Central Park once more. In that moment, every plant species, wildlife, and even artifacts of human life that took the place of the void were re-presented to us. The protests faded and everyone applauded the monumental effort of the architects who created the new virtual-physical experience. It has been three decades since the eco-terrorist attack. The new Central Park has become synonymous with New York’s identity once again. Almost all residents and visitors have chosen a discreet way—implants—to enter Central Park at the blink of an eye. The DRPC has expanded its collections of digital memories and deployed them throughout the globe. Physical spaces that I had only experienced through history books and sci-fi flicks have become accessible in my backyard. We no longer worry about the loss of physical space, historic buildings, or extinct species. Imaginations and dreamers have replaced the breathing infrastructure of New York. It has never looked more natural.
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honorable mentions 76
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honorable mentions 78
Joshua Gowers Ben Hardy-Clements N
ew York’s Central Park retains evidence of glacial retreat. The park itself is an icon of a tamed and designed “wilderness” in contrast and subservience to the image of culture and human progress represented by the New York City skyline. In this new icon, the frozen mass of 2.6 million years’ past is returned in glacial meltwaters, now saline in anticipation of what is to come. Oceans and currents retrace the schists and vales that have imprinted and seeded ongoing identities of Mannahatta, influencing New York City’s climate and urban heat topographies as a gargantuan liquid thermal mass and elevated marine habitat. Oyster reefs, kelp forests, phytoplankton currents, and other foundational marine communities are introduced as a concentrated mass. Within the intense urban heat island of New York and fed by concentrated carbon emissions, this waterbody will be emblematic of the change the world is undergoing.
honorable mentions 80
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honorable mentions 82
Iwan Burgaud Nadège Lachassagne
n New York City, shortly after the biomechanical attack on Central Park and the total destruction of its vegetation, diggers are activated. Thousands of trees arrive in containers. The city suffocates without its lung – everything containing chlorophyll is sown or transplanted. Like Olmsted in his time, New Yorkers yearn for the color green as “nature’s universal robe.” The ground is cleared, turned, and infused with all possible growth promoters, but in vain. Excavators dig deeper in search of non-toxic soil, causing landslides, rock falls, and ripping movement – an exogenous topography appears. The Park fractures into a gigantic telluric fault, as if the Pleistocene glacial plates were resurfacing. Faced with this geological metamorphosis—this earthwork, as Robert Smithson would describe it—radical measures are taken. The heart of this revealed underground world is placed under a hermetic bell. It has now been several weeks since the Park reopened. Everything is completely secure. Karen and Tallis decide to go. The basket is ready, the tablecloth, the French red wine. The fear of deep psychopathological consequences is less great than the desire to see this abyssal entropy. After crossing Madison Avenue, they reach 101st Street. Framed by the mass of the buildings, the desert area sparkles under the polychrome reflections of the sun. Tallis feels the sporadic trembling of his ribcage like an inner earthquake. Upon arrival, they must first walk through a large empty expanse of rocks and sand littered with petrified tree debris, the remains of the last attempts at replanting. This lunar landscape calms the compulsive pulsations of the two visitors who find again the primary excitement of the discovery. The canyon is there, at their feet. The huge technical grid covers this inverted cathedral. The descendants of [robot drones] Huey and Dewey from the film Silent Running have the task of watching over all these plantations protected by their thick glass ceilings. Machines control the recreated ecosystems. The spectacle fascinates Karen and Tallis; but suddenly they are frightened. CinemaScope images of The Day the Earth Stood Still interrupting the flow of their childish thoughts. They then become aware that their toxic bodies are formally prohibited in this revegetated basement.
LA+ LA+ICONOCLAST/FALL GUIDELINES/fall 2018 2019 83
honorable mentions 84
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honorable mentions 86
OPEN SYSTEMS/Landscape Infrastructure Lab B
eyond the act of meaningless reconciliation through which a contemporary design could be fashioned for the Park, or short-term thinking of coastal resilience strategies of the impending mass migration from the coast that are currently being fought over, how can the site, space, and settler colonial domination of Central Park— and all the Imperial-era territories of the National Parks it has come to represent—be redressed and retroactively transformed? Here, we present—for the first time in the history of professional design—one of the most neglected and vilified rodents of the past five centuries, Castor canadensis, as landscape architect par excellence to reclaim, refashion, and reconnect the fresh, sweet waters of the principal streams of Central Park and central New York City by naturally damming and rejuvenating the wet meadows of the Park’s herbivory from the Strawberry Fields of the Great Meadow and The Ramble to the upper woodlands of The Upper Woods and Harlem Meer. By impounding parts of Harlem Creek at the north end, and the Pond at the south end, at the precise location where John Randel Jr pinned down and planted the first survey monument for Manhattan’s grid and the engineered reservoir, a living infrastructure of life-size rodents takes over the upstream freshwater reaches of Central Park, hijacking its headwaters and naturally descending to the lower reaches of the city, dismantling and disfiguring the 18th-century grid of Manhattan’s streets. In the wake of alarming regional sea level rise and climate change, the project strategy and parametrics of beaver ecology leave not more preserves, reserves, or reservations, but rather territorial retrocessions and reclamations, lands that stand in and amidst current rights of way built on the economies of petro-capitalism and accumulated through ongoing settler-colonialism, while serving as reclaimed and regenerated territories maintained and managed by communities of Indigenous Peoples and First Nations with an alliance of urban settlers to confront and challenge fossil-fuel futures towards the self-determination and freedoms of unborn generations.
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honorable mentions 88
LA+ GUIDELINES/fall 2018 64 03
1910 Roosevelt: Father of Preservation
conservation, picturesque beauty, and historical preservation collide and confront legacies of land dispossession,
r at the center of NY Coat of Arms
1859 Delusions of Grandeur
1972 Landscape of Captive Colonialism
2015 The beaverâ€™s 200-year comeback
2016 UNESCO World Heritage?
2018 Confronting the Christian Church @ the MET
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1963 Monumentalizing Western Frontier
2013 Wolf Comeback
Central Park as Settler-Colonial Boneyard in the Ramble of Shame
2017 Taking Down the General Lee
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Sinking Columbus in the Pond
Indigenous erasure, & environmental racism of settler-colonialism.
Figuring Frederick Douglass on the Rock
2046 Beaver as Decolonial Agent
Night Life Wet forests of aspens, willows, and maples invade the grid iron streets of mid-Manhattan
The Park, Be Damned!
The impoundment waters of the former Central Reservoir at the new Beaver Pond where former venerated monuments of colonialism (Columbus, Lee, Roosevelt,...) are slowly submerged over time by micro-strategies of freshwater impoundment, serving as a double measure of protection against salt water intrusion from the East River and Hudson River. Over a period of 20 to 24 years (the lifetime of a beaver), the new colony of beavers instigate a radically new program of uses that transform the Victorian vestiges and colonial monuments of the park into contemporary spaces of territorial self-determination; retroceded lands of aspens, willows, maples subsequently challenge current engineered forms of coastal adaptation through radical, living systems.
01:37 Nocturnal Operations
Counter-Colonial Terrain of the Beaver Colony & Hydrologies
+ Former Reservoir
2019 Carbon Maintenance Procedures
2018 Confronting the Christian Church @ the MET
2019 Rooseveltâ€™s Fall
2037 Decentralized Headwaters of Beaver Pond
2037 Beaver Urbanism: Streets as Streams & the Transverse Hydrologies
honorable mentions 90
1832 Inventing the Western Wilderness Frontier
1872 Mythologizing Manifest Destiny
1872 Adams’ Photography as E
Landscape of Captive Colonization & Territorial Anti-Colonization: 500-year timeline & parallel histories of New York‘s Central Park (below AMN MNH M N > NMAI Invertin ing g the colonizing history of anth hrop opolog opo p log ogy, tthe ogy he National Museum of the he Amerrica c n Indi ca ndian an tak ta es over the American Muse u eum use um u m of of Natu ural al Hiisstory and reclaimss Roose evelt elt lltt Parrk as as a LLiingu ng istic istticc Educ ist ducaatorium fo orr Lenape-Delaw ware LLang ang an ng nguag guag uages ges es
Beaver Mating Season as Cyclical Regeneration Space (January–March, 105-107 Gestation Pe-
Co ou unter-Monu o m The he h hid dden de e b be encc down wn by Su Surveyo serve se ess aass a remi emin em min grid d iro on n but bu ut as a t tlle colo tler-c tle onia nialism, ni ia m
(former Central Reservoir)
+ Counter-Colonial Territory: Castor canadensis [ 0.5 mile radius of the beaver’s territory ] + dam
+ impoundment ponds
/// Tranverse Stream Courses
as Transgressive Wild Life Corridors (During peak periods of thawing during the Spring and precipitation during the Summer, such as the Atlantic Sturgeon from My to July...”streets becomes streams”)
Curbss & Rest esst strictio tiions nss Ban annin an i g the practi ing in tice of mo mowin ing go off mead me mea m dows and cu c rbi bin ing the the he sal sa tin i g of road oads oad ds coup oupled pled le wi w th th the he us h use land an nd us use s bac se set acks cks ks & de ks deterren en nce of fuel-inten-sivve mai si maaiinten ena e n nce
Between Sweet & Salt Waters: Beaver Ecologies
The newly reclaimed streamscapes and marshlands in the headwaters of the mid-Manhattan region (former location of the Central Park Reservoir) where impoundment pools, plunging pools, and meandering creeks, provide complex, intermingling
the neoliberal elite of Manhattan. 1810
1768 Oppression of the Picturesque
1855 Stealing Manahatta from the Lenape Peoples
1865 Birkenhead’s Surrogate: Central Park conceived by Olmstead & Vaux
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1872 Adams’ Photography as Erasure
w York‘s Central Park (below) and U.S. National Parks (above) where the myth of Western frontier, resource conservation, picturesque 1889
T Co ou unter-Monu o me ent The he h hid dden de e b be ench ncc markk & steel su urvey e pin bollted d down wn by Su Surveyor or JJoh Jo o n Rand nd n del e Jr. in 1881 81 1 no o lo onge nge ng er serve se ess aass a remi eminde em minde er of of the he heg hegemo egem emo mo m ony of Manh anhaatta tttan’s grid d iro on n but bu ut as a th the e subm bmerged ma marker ke of of pa p st se settlle colo tler-c tle onia nialism, ni ia m bel belo be e ow water, in the th he e Beave err Pon o d.
* + dam
alo l ng g the he ne new w Wick c que ck queasq asq asqeck sqeck Avenu en e Street ee liights ts alo along ng the e “ The Great Whi hitte Way” (fforme merrlyy Broad me oadw way, Brode Weg) are permamaarein nforce tthe he nig nigh htti ttime me ope operratio tions ns of the be beaaver ass no nocctu turrnaal, sec sec e re eti et tive anim nimal al who be best st pe perrforms ms dam bu build ding in n the e da dark.
Un--Illlll um Un umin in nati t on n
+ 146.88 ASL GREAT
LLiv Li ive tr traces es & tr track ackss of Cas asttor ca canade can adensi ade nsiss, nsi the pa p rk’s ne new, livi livi v ng mon monume uments.
Beaver er Mar arsh shla hland laand ds as a Coaast stal al Ada al dapt ptaati pt tio on n forr Muh hhe heaakantu tuck ck Riverr Wate errsh hed ed
be etwee e n swee eet an eet nd sa salt water erss”))
(After 3 years, beavers—male & female—leave the colony to form their own in adjacent territory)
1869 The Technocrats of the Empire State
eived by Olmstead & Vaux
1865 The Colonizing Grid of Manhattan
1876 Grid Survey Bolt
honorable mentions 92
Chris Bennett Conor O’Shea Nilay Mistry
RESS RELEASE | City of New York | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Saturday, April 22, 2028 The restoration of Central Park is finally complete after nearly 10 years’ work. APPLEGAM won the public competition to restore Central Park after an eco-terrorist group, the Gaians, destroyed the Park’s natural systems in 2018. Unique to the submission, titled “Reservoir,” was a multiplicity of landscape experiences for diverse audiences. These fluctuate across the Park, and express seasonal change throughout the year. In addition, APPLEGAM embraced the principle that landscape architecture should work to connect people socially, as well as disconnect them digitally. Following a series of public meetings at the Arsenal, and later at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Prospect Park, and Governors Island, three categories emerged to constitute the new Park: preservation, restoration, and creation. The first, preservation, encompasses a handful of spaces, including the Croton Reservoir, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Wollman Rink. Restored areas include The Mall, schist outcroppings (such as Umpire Rock), Wall Street Meadow, Strawberry Fields, and the Hans Christian Andersen Grove. Finally, in response to public feedback, the following elements were created: urban wilds, GMO bot-resistant groves, tech modulation zones, patriotic flower beds, climate-adapted gardens, and agricultural production fields. In addition, construction crews relocated the heritage oak trees that survived the attack to a new island in the Croton Reservoir designated “Survivor Tree Island.” A small fee will be charged for admission into some of these new areas. As of 4.00 pm today, the Mayor’s Office, Inc. could not confirm if the Park would offer any free days for New York residents and students. “We are honored that APPLEGAM produced a design that represents all of New York; it is a park for today, for 100 years from now, and beyond,” said New York CEO Bill DiBlastoff at today’s festive ribbon-cutting ceremony. Dave Form, who initially supported the 2018 attack, complimented the work, explaining that “while it is tragic that some areas of Central Park had to be given over to development to support the reconstruction, I am pleased that a large portion has been rewilded.” Against the backdrop of Wollman Rink, a representative from the design firm told the invitation-only crowd, “We are confident that this is a park for all New Yorkers; a park that is at once historic, contemporary, forwardlooking, walkable, and resistant to future eco-terrorist attacks.” The Central Park Authority will continue overseeing programming, security, and maintenance of the Park. Its annual benefit gala will take place on May 8th at 725 5th Avenue, New York, NY.
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honorable mentions 94
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honorable mentions 96
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salon des refusĂ‰s 100
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The Salon des Refusés exhibits a number of competition entries that caught the jury’s attention and imagination, but did not make the final cut.
1 Tone Chu, Aaron Stone + James Andrew Billingsley: As a monument to the temporality and uncanniness of the Anthropocene, it is proposed that nuclear waste be stored 500 meters under the surface of the park, which in turn, visibly registers the rate of the radioactive material’s decay. 2 Xun Liu, Qiaoqi Dai + Yang Du: The park is remodeled as emblematic of the world’s endangered ecosystems, with profits redirected to the United Nations Environment Programme.
3 Zaid Kashef Alghata, Fatima Khamis + Yazeed Alamasi: The project seeks to interweave architecture and landscape through the agency of the grid.
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1 Shelby Cooke, Madison Dalke + Elsa Stoffel: Embedded within what appears to be a typical park is extensive infrastructure for disaster relief so as to improve Manhattanâ€™s resilience. 2 Sunanda Sharmin: The siteâ€™s former wetland ecology is recreated along with a monument to the mostly African-American community of Seneca Village which was erased to make way for the original park.
3 Hakima Hoseini + Bo Lu: The park is conceived as a zone removed from the dominance of technology. The human traits of compassion, meditation, curiosity, reflection, and creativity correspond to large earthworks which emanate light at night.
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Jake Boswell, Karla Trott + Paul Sutter: The northern portion of the park is converted into the world’s first “star port” transporting people to offworld colonies while the remainder of the park is devoted to new green technologies and holding areas for migrants.
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1 Lara del Valle Andrade, Ibon Doval Martínez + Pilar Llop Ripollés: The new park functions as the central infrastructure in the reorganization of Manhattan’s sewerage and storm water system so that the park’s geomorphology serves to cleanse the water. 2 Sebastian Sowa, Gianluca Torini + Meike Schröder: Replete with a “tree school” and festive celebrations of trees, the primary program of the new park is a nursery and tree farm supplying the ongoing project of greening the city.
3 Sergey Ryabov+ Daria Romanova: Individuals take possession and determine the future of 1.6 million 4’9” lots into which the park is subdivided. This catalyzes a process of self-organization and degrees of cooperation over time.
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1 Rodrigo Rodrigues + Christophe Kalaydjian: The former site of Central Park is densely urbanized and the surrounding land of Manhattan island converted into a low density residential and food production landscape. 2 Marija Trifunovic + Katarina Petrovic: A political critique of (what the authors allege is) Central Parkâ€™s increasing exclusivity, leads to an image of a city in a democratic park as opposed to an exclusive park in a city.
3 Anton James: The park is sold off to enable the creation of waterfront parkland around the entire island of Manhattan so as to improve resilience and offer increased accessibility to open space.
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1 Zhu Xi + Inzhu Sydykova: A massive interactive art wall along the western side of the park serves as an ambiguous metaphor for freedom of expression, inequality, and inclusiveness. 2 Felipe Lizcano + William Maya: Central Park becomes the worldâ€™s largest reflective pool of water with aerial walkways covered in plants.
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1 Leonie Mhari + Elinor Scarth: Instead of being redesigned, the park is given a legal right to life and its recognition as a living body repositions it as a site of protest against the Capitolocene. 2 Robert Alexander: A 25-year staged regrowth of the park as an urban forest set out on the Manhattan grid.
3 Rasim Valshin, Vladimir Izakson + Anastasia Makharinskaya: Central Parkâ€™s socio-ecological capacity is enhanced through a multipurpose green megastructure.
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1 Tommaso Marenaci, Francesco Cecchetti + Roberto Fioretti: The new park comprises a desert, a forest, and a monolith, each in their own way symbolic of contemporary culture. 2 Clare Fentress: In this proposal, titled “Dialectical Landscape for the Third Millennium,” the park is refigured as a monumental mountain and valley replete with labyrinthine programming intended to radically expand and critique the park’s current status as a bourgeois playground.
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1 Seok Min Yeo: The site of former Central Park is infilled with buildings designed specifically to capture and enhance solar access to a high density public realm. 2 Chrili Car + Michael Car: The park is entirely self-organized and takes form through an everchanging diversity of human engagement with the landscape. This is organized through a meta-map of all the park’s activities and resources. 3 Julian Bolleter: This project rejects earnest attempts at urban ecology and instead vertically exaggerates the park’s topography to create a “monstrous nature,” as well as significant real estate value inside the new landforms.
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1 Moya Sun: In this retelling of the eco-terrorist attack, a masterplan was coded into the bots which gave rise to plant succession that outlined a supergraphic of the dollar bill wherein a water body appearing in plan view as Benjamin Franklin’s face also serves as a critique of Dante’s Purgatorio. 2 Jacky Bowring: The famous paean to death “Et in Arcadia Ego” is inscribed across the surface of a park stocked with Nicrophorus americanus, the American Burying Beetle, whose Latin name means “death carrier.” By turning over the topsoil the beetles transform the park’s ecology and corrode the legibility of the inscription.
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1 Bridget Hake, Grace Mader + Mackenzie Wendling: This proposal is a cautionary tale of what could happen to the park if the free market were to dominate in decisions about its future. 2 Himawan Prakoso, Ayodia Perkasa + Darmawan Hartono: 242 “soul blimps” hover above the park and project holograms of the dead to mingle with the living. 3 Sheng Fangyuan + Zheng Hua: A new “sky garden” is built atop infill development across the former site of Central Park.
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Xian Li, Jiawei Xue + Jiajia Zheng: A temporary waste processing facility creates a new one-inchthick layer covering the entire park. From this, a novel ecosystem emerges.
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1 Wang Haoyang: Central Park becomes a working landfill site processing construction waste from the surrounding city. 2 Taokai Ma + Shuying Wu: The central axis of the park is rolled into a massive tube leaving the edges of the park to grow wild and increase opportunities for affordable housing.
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Rod Barnett, Jacqueline Margetts + Nona Davitaia: Instead of a design for a new park, a narrative and small exhibition regales how the land has been returned to its original custodians â€“ the Lenape peoples of Mannahatta.
and landscapeâ€™s Ongoing
central park and landscape's ongoing imaginary 130
Julia Czerniak Julia Czerniak is associate dean and professor at Syracuse Architecture where she teaches architectural studios, as well as seminars on landscape theory and criticism. Czerniak is educated both as an architect and landscape architect, and her work as a designer, educator, and writer advances design as a way to enable new ways of seeing, imagining, valuing, and acting within our challenged anthropocentric environment.
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE, URBAN DESIGN, HISTORY
n his highly personal article “Frederick Law Olmsted and the Dialectical Landscape,” Robert Smithson situates the work of Olmsted, the preeminent landscape architect of the 19th century and the co-creator (with architect Calvert Vaux) of New York City’s Central Park, within the picturesque traditions of the 18th century. Smithson links Olmsted’s work, most notably, to the theories of the influential landscape thinker Uvedale Price, who, according to the artist, “tried to free landscaping” from the conventions surrounding the Italian “picture” garden in order to create “a more physical sense of the temporal landscape.”1 While not an authority on the picturesque, Smithson nevertheless makes an important point: that physical deformities and appearances of neglect are all part of “chance and change in the material order of nature.” Smithson was struck years earlier by the representation of nature in Olmsted’s work in an exhibition at the Whitney Museum.2 About one particular view of Central Park under construction—a photograph entitled “Tunnel Carved Out through Vista Rock for Transverse Road No. 2 at 79th Street”— he noted, “[T]here is no evidence of the trees that would in the future screen the sunken roadway from the park proper.”3 For him, this photograph illustrates a vital point, useful to any discussion of landscape, in that it portrays “an instant out of the continuous growth and construction of the park…that serves to reinforce a sense of transformation, rather than isolated formation.”4 Smithson’s words are prescient. They position this volume’s speculative design work, which envisions a new, 21st-century Central Park, not only within the continuous transformation of matter we have come to expect generally from our discipline and profession, but within the ongoing project of the imaginary in landscape discourse: the unrealized, the fictitious, the hopeful, maybe even the impossible is nonetheless necessary and fertile territory to project different values and futures, not just for parks but for society and the world. What follows is a concise retelling of the evolution and import of Central Park, a broad survey of contemporary trends in park design, and a pointed reflection on the winning competition schemes in relation to the ongoing project of the imagination. When Olmsted used the word “park” in the 19th century he referred to a large tract of land, designated for public use and enjoyment, which produced the effects of a rural landscape. He insisted that Central Park encompass at least 500 acres, believing this to be the smallest space in which the beauty of nature, together with its healing properties, could be designed according to a picturesque geometry. This large size was necessary to fulfill what was then understood as a park’s primary role – to provide an image of green and the effects of freshness as an antidote to the industrial city.
Opposite: An 1863 illustration of Central Park depicting places of interest in the margins, courtesy New York Public Library (public domain).
In accordance with this thinking, land set aside for New York’s Central Park swelled to 843 acres. The First Park Act of 1851 and subsequent legislation enabled civic leaders to purchase land for a public park, after which the New York Park Commissioners announced a competition for its design.
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The brief prescribed a simple and seemingly idiosyncratic mix of landscape, architecture, and infrastructural elements: a parade ground for the militia, a fountain, a place for ice-skating, a flower garden, three playgrounds, and a concert hall, as well as four transverse roads running east and west across the park.5 The site was challenging, as was the park’s configuration. The Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 depicts the boundaries of the future park before the city grew around it – a common condition in the early stages of America’s urbanization, when land was still readily available. Its rational plan of streets and avenues largely ignored the hills, streams, ponds, and swamps of the existing landscape, thus advancing a sensibility and geometry competitors would need to accommodate. The long and relatively narrow configuration of the site, its rocky nature, and the need for east-west transverse roads to assist continuity of traffic tested the ingenuity and talents of each participating designer.6 Olmsted and Vaux’s 1858 competition entry was driven by a profound understanding of the challenges of the growing metropolis, which included problems of sanitation, the stresses of long work hours upon an increasing population, and the loss of natural, or open, space. Olmsted believed in the therapeutic effects of rural scenery—of green meadows, glistening lakes, and air disinfected by sunlight and foliage—and imagined Central Park as an escape from the city’s ills: a place to restore, refresh, and recreate the body. Olmsted also held hopes for the public park that echoed those of American landscape gardener and writer Andrew Jackson Downing—hopes difficult to imagine today—that by bringing together people of all ranks and minimizing conflict between classes, public parks could also play an important social role in democracy.7
With the aid of a detailed survey, Olmsted and Vaux transformed what they referred to as the “cheerless waste” of the site into their “Greensward Plan.” Out of 35 entries, theirs won first prize. The plan was deceptively simple: a unified composition of solids and voids—a vegetative figure/ground—punctuated by water bodies. The broad, open green spaces were blanketed in turf with well-defined edges. Olmsted was adamant about the park’s cohesiveness, arguing that the park was “a single work of art” that was “framed upon a single…motive, to which the design of all its parts…shall be confluent and helpful.”8 The before and after sketches that accompanied the competition entry reinforced this, as did the park’s name—Greensward—the suffix “ward” indicating direction. One distinctive break in this continuous expanse of green was the promenade, a long, straight elm-lined walk strategically located within the topography of the lower park. Part of what historian Norman Newton called a “tightly knit complex of urbanity,” the promenade was joined by the music hall, the esplanade, and the Bethesda fountain and designed much more architectonically.9 An arrow that overlaid the walk’s axis, referencing its central sight line, was the only diagrammatic notation on the competition entry’s plan. The most innovative component of Olmsted and Vaux’s proposal was their well-known approach to the transverse roads, which they depressed below the surface of the park so that drives could be carried over them. This strategy to eliminate traffic had an effect similar to that of the 18th-century “ha-ha,” a remarkable spatial device that contained farm animals while providing for the visual extension of a garden to the landscape beyond. Its use here allowed for uninterrupted views across
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the whole length of the park. The impact of these sectional innovations was reinforced by other design decisions, such as locating the higher density carriage roads on the outside of the park while keeping the more intimate pedestrian paths within the secluded interior. Together, this efficient circulation system provided for the complete separation of through-park and in-park traffic, strengthening the unity that the designers so desired – a unity that would prove to be challenged by now centuries of economic and social pressures to add program and other features to the park’s composition. The simplicity of this winning scheme is difficult to see in Central Park today, now filled with “Things to See” (from the Bethesda Fountain to Alice in Wonderland), “Things to Do” (ice skate, attend the theater, ride the carousel), and “Places to Eat” (from snacks at Harlem Meer to brunch at Tavern on the Green), few of which are early park components. However, the park’s ambitions can still be understood through both the designers’ comprehensive competition report, and through reams of historical accounts, interpretations, design analyses and speculative thought. One of the most provocative interpretations is by Olmsted scholar Charles Beveridge, who writes about Olmsted’s theory of the process by which nature affects those who view it. Olmsted explains that the root to all of his best work lies in the “extraordinary opportunities for cultivating susceptibility (of the body) to the powers of scenery.”10 He excludes “exertive” recreation from Central Park (physical sports and games of mental skill that places demands on the conscious mind) and privileges recreation forms, which, through immediate bodily stimulation, subject the user to the effects of his design. The precondition for this susceptibility is the absence of distraction.11 Seen through this lens, the depressed transverse roads and separated circulation paths not only allowed uninterrupted views, it allowed users to flow seamlessly through the park without the distraction of noise and traffic. Furthermore, the graceful curves and smooth grades of the park’s serpentine layout, and hard surfaces of the drives and pathways, kept exertion minimal.12 In planting the park, Olmsted used material uniformly and felt anything which attracted attention, even an exotic flower, was a distraction.13
Opposite: Tunnel through massive rock outcrop known as Vista Rock, blasted to create the 79th Street Transverse Road (c. 1860), courtesy New York Public Library (public domain).
In my own writing, I characterize Olmsted’s infrastructural organization as an early example of resilience. Despite 150 years of programming and development pressures that have transformed many of the park’s green spaces (the disturbance), the key sensibility of the park, the ability for a visitor to flow seamlessly—on foot, on a bike, in a car, or on a horse—without interruption, persists. Central Park, like any living system, is not monolithic and static either ecologically or culturally. The original infrastructural armature for the park enables the addition of buildings (such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art), the conversion of space (from the reservoir to the Great Lawn to ball fields), and the shift of management strategies (that allow the Ramble to be a place for either people or birds)
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without the park’s essential character being destroyed. Such organizations that accommodate change would become the hallmark of design competitions at the turn of this century. Interpretations of Central Park have also engaged, variously, the necessarily complex terms “beautiful” and “picturesque” which designate not simply landscape styles but schools of philosophical thought and modes of ordinary experience. What is relevant here are the attitudes towards nature these terms imply and the often-contradictory practices they suggest. Consider the picturesque – a term which has been construed as a way of seeing, an effect of landscape assembly, and a strategy of thinking about nature. Olmsted characterized the Ramble as the most picturesque part of the park where the desired effect was to duplicate nature’s mystery and bounteousness through indistinct forms and a play of light.14 The sequence through this densely planted place was designed around outcroppings of schist and led one from shaded trails to lighted gaps by the lake. These days, as one wanders around the myriad divergent pedestrian paths, the variety of the scene makes the walk seem much longer than it actually is, enveloping the body in the landscape. Additionally, scholars and critics have frequently speculated on Central Park’s relationship to the city.15 Although the park is typically characterized as a green oasis, its park/city relations are more complex than their simple opposition. As I discuss elsewhere, to regard Olmsted’s philosophy simply as escapist and the 19th-century park as separate from the city sets up a problematic, false polemic. This mischaracterizes strategies still relevant to making large parks today. As landscape historian and critic Elizabeth Meyer points out, “It was a place of nature, but it was not, by any means, anti-urban.”16 For example, we all recognize Central Park as a respite from the city, but it was also a spur to its development. Olmsted understood the relationship between park-making and city-making and argues that real estate lost in park acreage will be compensated for by the park’s role in increasing the value of adjoining land, which, we now see, has benefits (economic acceleration) and drawbacks (social exclusivity and gentrification). Additionally, the park brilliantly accommodates two organizational strategies: the city’s streets along with the formal requirements of the picturesque – the first extends the grid, the second resists it. Such capacity of parks to knit themselves into their adjacent context all the while maintaining a distinct identity remains important. Finally, the park is both an artificial place made through considerable construction processes and an image of nature, where city functions are screened with lush planting. What parks are, how they look and are configured, and the roles they play in cities have changed significantly since Olmsted’s time. Confronting ecologically and culturally disturbed sites such as landfills and deindustrialized parcels often requires designers to challenge the green veneers of the past and advance alternative strategies that ecologically heal the
landscape, retell the complex narrative of a place, propose new aesthetic agendas, or promote biodiversity. Facing the social, ecological, and economic pressures of resilient design, landscape architects today have also become experts at advancing design approaches that balance fixed elements (such as buildings, circulation patterns, and infrastructure) with those which are flexible, dynamic, and changing (such as wildlife paths, water flows, and seed distribution, as well as resources and client desires). Furthermore, accommodating the multiple, mutable, and often conflicting constituencies of a park has made eternal optimists out of designers with regard to the social role of projects: most of us still believe parks to be reliable places for the unfolding of life, human and nonhuman alike. To this end, publics are increasingly engaged in envisioning, operating, and maintaining parks: today, parks are not just for us but also by us, and designers are increasingly innovating representational strategies, tools, and techniques to enable such participation. Not only does this make parks more useful to specific groups, it catalyzes local citizens to be stewards of their environment. Together these considerations suggest an evolving shift away from highly tended, singularly controlled, wholly conceived parks to messier, emergent ones, capable of recreating a park’s identity in the public imagination. One of the strongest arguments for financing, designing, building, and maintaining parks is for the services they provide to their urban hosts. These address significant global challenges which revolve around water (too much, too little, or in need of cleansing); waste (cleaning it up, reusing it); and diversity (social, cultural, biological).17 By valuing water as a precious resource, restoring toxic lands, and engaging with species other than our own, contemporary parks not only address these challenges,
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they begin to change our perception about what urban parks look like, what they do, and how we value them. Additionally, not unlike public parks historically referred to as “pleasure grounds,” contemporary parks amuse and gratify. We go to parks for the space and activities they provide, the sensory and aesthetic experiences they enable, and even the lessons they teach. The sheer number of large parks being planned, designed, and built around the world today speaks to the importance of this landscape type, both in our physical environment and in our collective imagination. In this context, the LA+ ICONOCLAST competition raises an important question—are the current roles of parks, well, enough? These examples beg our critique: Are they too safe? Too nice? Too ameliorative? Too didactic in their environmental messaging? Have we as a discipline and profession mainstreamed design to the point where we have sold out to the very structures of capital, governance, and social structure that Olmsted, in his own park, sought to critique and fight against? Is there more to park design than being responsible? Over a decade ago, reflecting on the many important and influential international competitions such as Downsview Park Toronto and Freshkills Landfill to Landscape, I and others reflected on the vital roles large parks could play in the city.18 As social catalysts, parks promise contact and exchange for people in otherwise disjointed urban environments; as ecological agents they, in diverse ways, enable life through ecological investment locally and across the larger horizontal urban field. Most relevant here is a third, more speculative, role: parks are places to project futures. Parks can be, what historian Galen Cranz argues, “places for imagination to extend new relationships and sets of possibility.”19
and Lifescape schemes, winners of the Downsview Park and Fresh Kills competitions, respectively, to appreciate their potential influence. Although failing to be realized as envisioned, these two landscape visions have succeeded in almost single-handedly mainstreaming interest in performance-oriented concerns. This point about the power of the purposefully imaginary is not academic. Landscape’s ongoing imaginary work fuels growth and change within the discipline and the profession. If Google’s Ngram is any indication, the need for the imaginary as a spur to growth and change is at risk. This online search engine, which generates word-use graphs over time, shows that in 1800 (the opening of the century in which the idea of the public park gained currency in this country), the use of the word “imaginary” was at its height. Since then, it has been steadily decreasing. In contrast, use of the word “landscape” has profoundly expanded into the 21st century. Can imaginary landscapes survive this trend? Competitions such as this one give me hope. After all, Olmsted was an iconoclast – a nonconformist, a rebel, a questioner, an innovator. I want to believe that these talented and visionary designers are too.
The winning schemes presented in LA+ ICONOCLAST respond, in fresh and suggestive ways, to a brief that calls for a “new, 21stcentury park.” Some are advocational in the way they position park users to “stand up for biomes, ecosystems, species, and individuals” and against everything that threatens them. Others have broad social agendas understood through their strategies to democratize Manhattan’s open space through decentralization, thereby extending public access to the riches of greenery. Still others appear to be their own form of “radical environmentalism.” By obfuscating conventional occupation (of traditional views with cloud vapor) this winning scheme takes power away from developers and architects and puts it in the hands of environmental phenomena. Finally, others leverage the park’s land in order to generate revenue and build other green spaces in park-poor communities across the region. Like competition schemes before them, this work puts imaginary landscapes into the world. Some seem destined to stay just that—imaginary—saddled with logistics that seem impossible to overcome. The influence, and power, of these schemes need not be any less significant, however, than their realized counterparts. One need only remember the Tree City
Opposite: An 1870 map of Central Park, courtesy Geographicus Rare Antique Maps via Wikimedia Commons (public domain).
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1 Robert Smithson, “Frederick Law Olmsted and the Dialectical Landscape,” in Nancy Holt (ed.), The Writings of Robert Smithson (New York: New York University Press, 1979), 118. 2 William Alex & Elizabeth Barlow, Frederick Law Olmsted’s New York (1972), exhibition catalog as cited by Smithson, ibid. 3 Ibid, 119. 4 Ibid. 5 As listed by E. Lynn Miller, Landscape Architecture History Handbook (Lemont: CRYML Beck Press, 1981), 61. 6 For more elaborate commentary on the competition parameters and challenges, see Norman Newton, Design on the Land: The Development of Landscape Architecture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971), 267–90. 7 Charles E. Beveridge & Paul Rocheleau, Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing the American Landscape (New York: Rizzoli, 1995), 20. 8 Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. & Theodora Kimball (eds), Frederick Law Olmsted Landscape Architect, 1822–1903 (New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1928), 45. 9 Newton, Design on the Land, 288. 10 Frederick Law Olmsted to Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer (draft, June 1893), Frederick Law Olmsted Papers, Library of Congress, as cited in Charles Beveridge, “Frederick Law Olmsted’s Theory of Landscape Design,” Nineteenth Century 3, no. 2 (1977): 38. 11 Beveridge, “Frederick Law Olmsted’s Theory,” 40. 12 Beveridge & Rocheleau, Frederick Law Olmsted, 51. 13 Ibid., 35. 14 Beveridge, “Frederick Law Olmsted’s Theory,” 43. 15 For a more elaborated discussion of large parks in relation to the city, see Julia Czerniak, “Legibility and Resilience,” in Large Parks (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007), 214–51. 16 Elizabeth K. Meyer, “Scratching, Marking, Scarring the Surface: Large Park Design as an Act of Remembering and Forgetting Site Stories,” Large Parks: New Perspectives, conference held at the Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA, April 2003. 17 An expanded version of these trends was presented in my keynote address “Large Parks Trending,” in Large Parks in Large Cities, Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, September 2015. 18 In addition to Large Parks, referenced above, see my edited volume CASE: Downsview Park Toronto (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and New York: Prestel, 2001). 19 Galen Cranz, The Politics of Park Design: A History of Urban Parks in America (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1982), 240.
IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF
Vitality is liveliness, to be alive. To be alive is to have the ability to harvest energy for movement, growth, and selfreplication. But without health, vitality is just mechanistic. In LA+ VITALITY we explore the notion of vitality as a proxy for the health of all things, with a particular focus on how design can impact the vitality of people, cities, systems, and landscapes.
sara jensen carr mirka beneÅ CHUAN HAO CHEN COLIN ELLARD JULIAN BOLLETER BILLIE GILES-CORTI JONATHAN ARUNDEL LUCY GUNN CLAY GRUBER MINDY THOMPSON FULLILOVE JANE BENNETT RICHARD WELLER COLIN CURLEY JAKE BOSWELL ANDrew GONZALEZ ROB MCDONALD BILLY FLEMING CHRISTOPHER MARCINKOSKI MARK KINGWELL SIERRA BAINBRIDGE ELLEN NEISES
OUT spring 2020
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wild spring 2015
pleasure fall 2015
tyranny spring 2016
simulation fall 2016
identity spring 2017
risk fall 2017
imagination Spring 2018
TIME fall 2018
DESIGN SPRING 2019
? Interdisciplinary Journal of Landscape Architecture
ICONOCLAST FALL 2019
VITALITY SPRING 2020
GEO FALL FALL 2020 2020 GEO
LA+ (Landscape Architecture Plus) from the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman
School of Design is the first truly interdisciplinary journal of landscape architecture. Within its pages you will hear not only from designers, but also from historians, artists, philosophers, psychologists, geographers, sociologists, planners, scientists, and others. Our aim is to reveal connections and build collaborations between landscape architecture and other disciplines by exploring each issueâ€™s theme from multiple perspectives.
LA+ brings you a rich collection of contemporary thinkers and designers in two issues GEOTo FALLsubscribe 2020 each year. follow the links at www.laplusjournal.com.
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10 JULIA CZERNIAK RICHARD WELLER LOLA SHEPPARD GEOFF MANAUGH JENNY B. OSULDSEN CHARLES WALDHEIM BEATRICE GALILEE TIAGO TORRES-CAMPOS JOE ROWLING NICK MCLEOD JAVIER ARCILA MINZHI LIN SONG ZHANG JIAQI WANG HUIWEN SHI CHUANFEI YU JOHN BECKMANN HANNAH LASOTA LAETICIA HERVY FIONN BYRNE GANDONG CAI MINGJIE CAI FÉLIX DE ROSEN MANOLO LARROSA MARIANA MAÑÓN MARTIN GARCIA PEREZ DAVID GIRALDEAU ALEXANDRE GUILBEAULT SUE CHOI JAMES HALLIWELL DUSTIN TOOTHMAN JOSHUA GOWERS BEN HARDY-CLEMENTS IWAN BURGAUD NADÈGE LACHASSANGE OPSYS/LANDSCAPE INFRASTRUCTURE LAB CHRIS BENNETT CONOR O’SHEA NILAY MISTRY
Issue 10 of LA+ Journal brings you the results of the LA+ ICONOCLAST open design ideas competition, in which we asked designers to reimagine...
Published on Oct 24, 2019
Issue 10 of LA+ Journal brings you the results of the LA+ ICONOCLAST open design ideas competition, in which we asked designers to reimagine...