Landscape is the Solution

24 Jan

The Bean – Millennium Park (trucknroll)

Walking the High Line (walhalla)

High Line Amphitheatre (walhalla)

Olympic Village sparrows (ppix)

Do you know what a landscape architect is? That landscape architecture touches your life everyday? Despite the broad scope of the profession, encompassing the design of anything that is not a building, knowledge and discussion of landscape architecture is noticably absent.

According to Brad McKee, editor-in-chief of Landscape Architecture magazine, the designed landscape “is the most public and shared form of design.” Yet design critique in the media focuses on objects such as technology, household items and buildings. Landscape architecture is a different mindset, dealing with “voids, space, and systems…and bringing spaces together,”  according to Mark Rios, a licensed landscape architect and architect.  

Discussion of landscape architecture tends to focus on what plants are in bloom.
For instance, this article looks at the success of Chicago’s Millennium Park and New York’s High Line and concludes that Vancouver also needs a park created by a brand name designer.  Fernando Caruncho is selected for his planting design, specifically his “boxes of light.” However, the success of the aforementioned parks is the interactions with nature, people and the city that the innovative designs both create and reinvent.

Tonight Jan Gehl, renowned for his work on public spaces, is lecturing on Cities For People. The timing for this talk is excellent. The Olympics increased the quantity and standard of Vancouver’s public realm with projects such as the Vancouver Convention Centre and Olympic Village plazas. I have developed a fondness for the giant sparrows.

“It is no longer optional to not think about this anymore — you have to. People are looking for ways to come together and landscape is the solution.” – Brad McKee

More recognition of such spaces in the city, especially off the water, should accompany Greenest City goals and ever increasing density. The dialogue surrounding Robson Street closure and the Vancouver Art Gallery relocation in particular present opportunities to create a public gathering space in the downtown core. This is a conversation that needs to be in the mainstream media, both for education and to generate public input.

Images courtesy of trucknroll, walhalla + ppix

%d bloggers like this: