While hiking in the Caksill Mountains my attention was captivated by this leaf suspended in the forest. I found it interesting enough to share.
Terrence Parker, Landscape Architect
The New York Times published an article a few weeks ago looking into the completed third installation of New York's iconic High Line. The article by Michael Kimmelman in the Critic's Notebook section of Art & Design tells of the success of the final piece to the High Line. It is a termination of the park that allows the High Line to transition into New York City through the exposure of what the High Line was before it was redesigned.
Read the article at The New York Times website here.
On a recent trip to DC, I visited the Corcoran Gallery and found three separate exhibitions that all referenced or dealt directly with landscape experiences. Each of which was as intriguing as they were different and were not equally successful.
In the rotunda of the Corcoran was a multi-media display that excited my eye and still resonants in my mind. The light and audio display of Jennifer Steinkamp and Jimmy Johnson were very compelling to both myself and my 8 year old daughter, with whom I played shadow games, and the other patrons who danced through the rotunda as their shadows interrupted the light projections.
This was a landscape experience for me. It referenced centuries of garden design, which employed the rhythm of the multiple figurative sculptures to establish spatial patterns and scale in large landscapes. This piece entitled Loop, created its own expanse of landscape. The shadows of a singular sculpture in the rotunda's center punctuated the light from the four projectors, thus replicating the rhythm of a larger outdoor garden. Inserting the user’s shadows in Loop's colorful digital environment animated the rotunda and invited repeated user involvement, just ask my daughter.
American Metal: The metal work of Albert Paley is stunning, especially the early ornamental gate work.
The detail in the metal and the lush organic quality is so exceptional that I strained not to touch it. The combinations of forged and fabricated steel and brass, bronze, and copper was riveting to the eye. As someone who has designed gates for clients I found great inspiration in Paley’s work. His very large fabricated sculptures and the process that created them from drawing to paper mock-ups was equally compelling.
America Metal, a retrospective of Albert Paley and Plein Air by Mark Tribe, below, can be seen at http://www.corcoran.org/exhibitions.
In Plein Air Mark Tribe references the history of landscape painting as follows:
"…..these new images were created in the studio with appropriated software that uses geospatial data and fractal algorithms to create digital simulations of real landscapes. Plein Air—a French expression that refers to painting outdoors in the open air—alters our perceptions, presenting outdoor landscapes from a “drone’s eye view,” a mechanic perspective that is playing an increasingly important role in contemporary culture. Working indoors, Tribe pictures a computer-generated world in which familiar environments appear distant, almost foreign. Unlike traditional depictions of landscapes in art, these aerial views abstract what we know; they do not reproduce our “natural” terrestrial viewpoint."
They were big and bold, but also flat in appearance and tone, and to my eye not abstract enough or significantly different from any aerial image to render them very interesting for long. So they fell short in changing my perspective of the aesthetics of a landscape or the method of articulating a landscape as an art work.
Terrence Parker, Landscape Architect
What started a year ago as an invitation from my friend and architectural designer David Witham to design a memorial for nine year old Lydia Valdez has ended in a public ceremony last Saturday.
The project evolved from a site walk and a blank slate to a whirligig sculpture. The key element for me was the decision to explore Lydia's art. Once exposed to her very expressive drawings on paper I was able to develop ideas that combined elements from her portfolio into a tall 3-D kinetic sculpture that moves in a subtle breeze. When David Witham enthusiastically endorsed this unorthodox approach as an appropriate way to remember Lydia the artist we presented it to the parents. The sculpture sits near a bench with her poem about judgement and also connects to three other poles where kids can periodically hang hand-painted prayer flags.
Here is the link to the ceremony: http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20140615-NEWS-406150350
Today I ran into a number of people who were at the ceremony yesterday, and to a person they all mentioned how touched they were by your heartfelt comments. Nicely done, sir!" - Scott McKee
Thank you to Altus Engineering for the efforts in the Shoreline permitting and to Stratham Circle Nursery and Van Berkum Nursery for their generous plant daonations.
Here is some text from my talk at the ceremony:
I did not know Lydia in life, but her art works touched me immediately and always will. Lydia Valdez was an artist. She told her parents she wanted to be an artist and she was. She thought, wrote, and drew as an artist does—with feeling.
A few months before Lydia died, Lydia made a dramatic line drawing. That expressive line drawing of an eye and mouth, on paper no bigger than a piece of paper………evolved into a kinetic sculpture. This sculpture, because of the building skills of Nathan Walker, the engineering of Alex Ross, and the installation of Jay Lowry and PK Brown can rotate in a breeze and withstand a hurricane.
That sculpture has also built a community.
As a result, everyone here today who;
-raised money or sought the permits,
-welded the metal or wielded the paint,
-cut the brush or shoveled the soil,
-designed the footings or formed the concrete
-turned the wood or shaped the anchors
-produced the flyers or made a flag
………have fallen into Lydia's sphere of influence, thus proving that Lydia was more than an artist, she was also a community builder.
I am grateful to be part of the community that Lydia built. I am also grateful for the act of trust granted by Lydia's parents, Paula and Luis, to all of us in the handling and execution of their daughter’s art work to create this memorial.
And finally, I am grateful to my friend David Witham--- my collaborator--- a project co-initiator, recruiter, conductor, communicator, coordinator, laborer, and the glue---for the honor of inviting me to participate with the intrepid Eagle Scout Jack Rogers and Principal Charlie Grossman, in what has become not just a collective act of building, but also a collective act of love.
Thank you Lydia for being an artist.
Below: The original sketch that produced the sculpture.
Joan Soranno of HGA Architects in Minneapolis focused her entire lecture on the 2014 AIA Honor Award winning project for The Lakewood Garden Mausoleum at the Lakewood Garden Cemetery in Minneapolis. As detailed and thorough as Ms. Soprano’s presentation about the exquisite Lakewood Garden Mausoleum was, it was not until I read about the 2013 Award of Excellence from the ASLA did I come to fully appreciate the role of the landscape architect in the planning, siting, and even the selection of Ms. Soriano's firm HGA as the architect.
The master planning and the historic research that created the setting for the stunning building design Ms. Soranno presented was done by the Halverson Design Partnership. That fact may not have been apparent in the content of this lecture with only a passing reference to the landscape architect, but the interplay between the interior spaces and the landscape views pointed to an equally refined hand in crafting the landscape spaces which enhanced the funerary experience.
Ms. Soranno’s closing comment that, "As beautiful as architecture can be, it can't compete with a tree”, says volumes about her acceptance of the landscape architects master plan which focused the new building on a sunken area that would unite the existing iconic chapel, mausoleum building, and "lawn plan" cemetery style. Building into a south facing slope allowed the new mausoleum to unify the entire cemetery, thus prioritizing the wholeness of the site experience for the visitor.
Ms. Soranno's lecture guided us through every space and recess of the mausoleum in a manner as calm and caring as her poetic design of each space. Her masterful building skills and her own extensive research of historic burial sites created a design approach that eschewed traditional numerology and symbolism present in other historic mausoleums in favor of designing with light and material contrasts. She used a palette of marble, granite, and wood with window apertures to create the shadows that to her "are metaphors for death".
"Funerary architecture is an incredible opportunity to create something meaningful for a community," Soranno said. "The Mausoleum allows visitors to experience a sense of peace and calm in an environment conducive to contemplation and healing.”
She covered not only the spatial and aesthetic considerations of funerary design, but also the economics of crypt and columbarium design and detailing. We now know that the 4,620 columbariums and 879 crypts make this mausoleum economically viable for at least another 75-100 years. Also unexpected, was the aspect of designing a lush retail experience for women shopping for eternal resting places. That level of attention enlivens the visual experience.
The empathy expressed for those in mourning possessed by Ms. Soranno seemed to imbue every detail with a sublime aura. This serene design approach left one’s eyes with much beauty to linger on long after the presentation ended.
For building images go to: http://hga.com/work/lakewood-cemetery-garden-mausoleum#/lakewood-mausoleum-exterior-1
For landscape images go to: http://www.halvorsondesign.com/
Terrence Parker, Landscape Architect
The Architalx audience, accustomed to lectures about building projects and design theories structured by aesthetic principals, had to quickly redial their expectations for the SLO talk last Thursday night. The concept of beauty was to be found at least initially, in the social action, educational, and ecological awareness promoted by the work of Alexander Levi and Amanda Schachter of SLO Architecture, http://sloarchitecture.com/, and less in physical manifestations. This story line permeated the early portion of the lecture.
To this listener, too much of the early content of the lecture relied on video clips of the mundane movements of cranes, canoes, and barges towing around a trash replica of Manhattan Island. With each image of a struggling canoe, the clever literary interludes, intended as a historic insight seemed more like filler. When the isle of detritus was finally deposited onto a recycling barge the lecture sailed on.
It was a relief to see the grace of the Harvest Dome, above. As a sculptural structure, composted of recycled tubing and umbrellas and floated around the rivers of NYC on recycled soda bottles, it had strong aesthetic appeal, especially in good light. It also functioned primarily as a narrative devise to continue to tell the story of our environmental disconnect and derelict behavior toward once beautiful waterways. Now that the architects were designing, the story line transformed beyond waste and into wonder. There was a bit of engineering too, as we even learned that a 32 oz. soda bottle can support 5 pounds and more in salt water.
The lecture ended strongly with a well researched and novel approach to reinventing the handsome R x R Station at Westchester Avenue, above image. Presently dilapidated and caged-in by layers of transportation infrastructure the SLO team proposed a plan to link the station to a new park across the tracks and on the Bronx River.
At least in this lecture, the SLO design process was defined by the metaphor of navigation. They found the fun in navigating bureaucratic permitting processes or convoluted waterways, to engage disparate civic organizations and individuals in quirky design projects to improve sites, raise awareness, expand communities, and eventually building human networks. Thus proving that social action as a design force reveals its own beauty.
Terrence Parker, Landscape Architect
An article about the Lydia Valdez Memorial at Little Harbour School was published to Seacoast Online earlier today, featuring an interview with Terrence Parker about the memorial design.
Read the article here: http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20140414-NEWS-404140316
Eelco Hooftman of Gross.Max Landscape Architects of Edinburgh, Scotland spoke in Portland, ME at the Architalx series on April 4th. He referenced his Dutch landscape sensibilities in citing numerous examples of landscape manipulations and atmospheric landscape paintings focused on light quality, horizon lines, and even satellite images of night skies. Mr. Hooftman also cited design critiques calling his work ‘too provocative for a public that looks for peace of mind in gardens’.
But after viewing a lecture of numerous award winning designs one might wonder about the validity of such a comment.
Mr. Hooftman made a strong case that Landscape Architecture is still, and should be, an aesthetic experiment focused on philosophy, poetry, and yes even seduction. This seems to be the underlining approach in his firm’s ability to reconcile programmatic requirements of a client and site with his own vision.
His atmospheric vision was never more apparent in the landscape renovation for the Templehof Airport, above, in Berlin where he preserved the majority of the 900 acre site as a park, albeit with several hundred acres of urban development on the edges, similar to the NYC model of park development. The project has stalled; controversial in the minds of the ultra-ecological German public reluctant to lose an inch of existing park. When asked about his design process, outside of seeing parallels to historic landscape painting and images of airplane contrails over this once military base, his vague response left the audience reaching to understand it. What was evident though is an exquisitely rendered and thoughtfully layered park, at the scale of Central Park, and yet to be built.
Another delightful project, one rooted in site materials, was the construction of a garden wall at the expo in Xainxain, China. Mr. Hooftman found inspiration in his discovery of a local roofing tile maker, and once inspired, developed a use for their product in an unlikely wall enclosure that created a secret garden of sorts within a heavily vegetated setting.
The lecture’s net effect was to convince and seduce the audience into believing that in the example of his projects, rendered with a mind seeped in the atmospheres of the great landscape paintings of both European and American masters, that philosophy and poetry when used to reveal the sublime quality of nature is still relevant in the any conversation about site context and why the ‘landscape’ matters above all.
Terrence Parker, Landscape Architect
ASLA's 'The Dirt' recently brought attention to a new web tool created by World Resources Institute, ESRI, UNEP, Google, and several other environmental groups. The tool is called Global Forest Watch, and it allows viewers to watch "near-real time" deforestation throughout the world. J. Green sites on the article by 'The Dirt' that Google and the University of Maryland provide data to support facts that 2.3 million square kilometers of trees within the past 12 years have been lost through human and natural causes.
Not only can viewers watch the deforestation of areas all around the world, they can work to stop illegal logging practices. This program aims to gather user information and pictures which can be used to monitor illegal logging practices, and provide other crowd-source trends and information. The website tracks protected areas, and users can view which companies have rights to log from certain areas. Companies that get supplies and ingredients from forested areas also now have the opportunity to see if their suppliers are working legally, and where their products are coming from.
Visit Global Forest Watch, and view The Dirt's original article 'Watching Global Deforestation (and Reforestation) Happen' to learn more about this new web tool.
Out in the Landscape is about all things landscape— as seen, heard, and voiced by landscape architect Terrence Parker of terra firma landscape architecture in Portsmouth, NH.
Guest Bloggers will also be invited to contribute their voice.
Out in the Landscape will attempt not only publish the work and process of terra firma landscape architecture, but also be a hub for information, posts, and references concerning local, national, and global landscape issues and important design projects and trends.In addition, Out in the Landscape will also be a vehicle to record, cite, and develop landscape inspirations from spontaneous images captured from tiny mobile devices to big voices culled from giant media portals.