review - Spacemaker Press

spacemakerpress.com

review - Spacemaker Press

LAND

FORUM

REVIEWS

The FDR Memorial:

Designed by Lawrence Halprin

and

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Memorial

Reviewed by Kathy Poole

Shlomo Aronson:

Making Peace with the Land

Reviewed by Mira Engler

Beverly Pepper:

Three Site-Specific Sculptures

Reviewed by Ken Smith

Placing Nature: Culture and

Landscape Ecology

Reviewed by Sharon Collinge

Outside Lies Magic: Regaining

History and Awareness in

Everyday Places

Reviewed by Deborah Ryan

The Lure of the Local:

Senses of Place in a

Multicentered Society

Reviewed by Leah Levy

CLASSIC REVIEW

Bold Romantic Gardens:

The New World Landscapes of

Oehme and van Sweden

Reviewed by Laura Solano

THE CRITICAL REVIEW OF LANDSCAPE ART AND GARDEN DESIGN WINTER 1999

1


2

CONTENTS LAND

FORUM

REVIEWS

3 The FDR Memorial:

Designed by Lawrence Halprin

Text by David Dillon

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Memorial

By Lawrence Halprin

Kathy Poole traces two books on making the FDR Memorial, one through the voice of its

designer and the other its political history.

4 Shlomo Aronson:

Making Peace with the Land

Forward by Lawrence Halprin

Through the practice of some thirty years, Mira Engler reviews the first monograph of an

Isreali landscape architect dedicated to landscapes sacred and open.

5 Beverly Pepper:

Three Site-Specific Sculptures

Text by Barbara Rose

Ken Smith reviews the work of an artist whose work is not rooted in academic abstraction.

6 Placing Nature: Culture and

Landscape Ecology

Edited by Joan Nassauer

From an interdisciplinary conversation about the relationship of people and nature,

Sharon Collinge looks for convergence.

7 Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History

and Awareness in Everyday Places

By John R. Stilgoe

Deborah Ryan follows the trail of an explorer into landscapes which without Stilgoe’s

direction might otherwise seem ordinary and mundane.

8 The Lure of the Local:

Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society

By Lucy R. Lippard

In this book about local perception, Leah Levy finds that the power of place is personal,

communal and historical.

CLASSIC REVIEW

9 Bold Romantic Gardens: The New World Landscapes

of Oehme and van Sweden

By Wolfgang Oehme and

James van Sweden with

Susan Rademacher

In this republication of a 1990 book, Laura Solano finds the design work still makes a

compelling case for gardens that infuse the ephemeral and manage the prosaic.

Welcome to LAND FORUM, the review of

books in the field of landscape architecture

and garden design. With this issue

we begin a more frequent, bi-monthly,

publication schedule. LAND FORUM will

continue to focus its reviews on books

about the thoughtful practice of landscape

art and garden design, as well as

to review even more books from an ever

broader range of landscape interests.

Presenting more book reviews will mean

that each review will be more concise in

order to introduce readers to the most

current writing about the broadest range

of work practiced globally.

With this issue, we also announce an

offspring, heavier and more dazzling than

its parent, LAND FORUM International,

a magazine of current ideas in landscape,

architecture and design that will

be published six times a year beginning

in May, 1999. Mindful that there is more

thoughtful work to be presented and

more insightful commentary to be considered,

LAND FORUM International will

provide an intellectual and aesthetic

venue for a larger global community.

Book reviews will continue to be an

important way to communicate the body

of practice and thought, but, in LAND

FORUM International, these reviews

will be expanded into essays that reach

beyond book covers to issues that further

enliven the conversation.

Rants and Raves and our Letters

section will move to LAND FORUM

International where we still encourage

you to share you thoughts about books

and landscapes with us.

LAND FORUM

147 Sherman Street

Cambridge, MA 02138

T 617-497-7292

F 617-497-6448

E info@spacemakerpress.com


REVIEW

The FDR Memorial:

Designed by Lawrence Halprin

Text by David Dillon, photographed by Alan Ward

Spacemaker Press, Washington, D.C., 1998

Softcover, 84 pages, color photographs, $29.95

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

By Lawrence Halprin

Chronicle: San Francisco, 1997

Color photographs, 148 pages, Softcover $19.95, Hardcover $45.00

By Kathy Poole

From the opening quotes to the last photographs in these two books,

we are led through two extraordinarily different but complementary

stories in understanding the making of a landscape.

Architectural critic David Dillon begins with Roosevelt and

connects FDR and the events of his presidency with the process of

creating the memorial. With elegant dexterity, the text navigates

the mine field of personal agendas, partisan politics, disadvantageous

world events, aesthetic arguments, and public acceptance

battles that continually threatened the memorial’s construction

from its inception, transforming what could have resulted in a

historical recitation of events and people into what reads like a

political thriller. In his narrative of four ‘rooms’ of the memorial,

each of which recall one of FDR’s four terms, Dillon explicates how

a political view—whether from Halprin, Roosevelt, a political action

group, or philosophy of history—shaped the expression. The textual

tour is fulfilled by Alan Ward’s photographs of the built memorial.

Filled with vitality and people, Ward carefully tenders the range of

emotions that Halprin and his collaborators worked to evoke,

assaying Roosevelt’s impact on us collectively as citizens and as

unique individuals. Text and images are deftly intertwined to build

an argument for the memorial’s success in taking an inherently

abstract and formless content—politics—and giving it meaningful

and resonant physical expression.

As the memorial’s primary designer, Lawrence Halprin begins

with his own memories and tells a personal story of constructing

a design—on paper and in the built landscape. Through lucid

text and simple, communicative diagrams, Halprin blends history,

technical data, symbolic intentions, programmatic goals, desires

for emotive responses, and construction details. The result is a

graphic and text argument that is so seamlessly convincing that it

seems “natural,” in terms of fulfilling an essential relation that is

seemingly indisputable. And it is this seeming fullness and comple-

The somber, statesman-like Roosevelt of Neil Estern’s monumental

bronze surveys the memorial and his own presidency.

tion that is problemmatic. When used as a “companion on a tour

of the Memorial” (according to its book jacket), Halprin’s enumerated

histories are so personal and filled with ‘interpretation’

that they leave very little room for visitors’ personal views,

creative imaginations, or alternative historical memories. As a

landscape design education tool, the book is a case study filled

with a range of lessons: technical construction issues; communicating

design ideas to the public; choreographing successful

collaborations with artists. Most importantly, the story demonstrates

how abstract ideas and history are transformed into

physical reality, making a rare and valuable insight into design

process. In this regard, it will surely join Sketchbooks and RSVP

Cycles as a ‘classic’ in landscape design literature.

Both books are insightful accounts of processes that would

otherwise remain opaque. Yet, their greater value is their complement

of one another in communicating design-making to the

public. Halprin says that he wanted the memorial “to be an

experiential history lesson.” What he provides (in both book and

built construction) is just that—a contemporary history lesson for

how to construct a public landscape that is charged with collective

history memory and individual aesthetic experience. Dillon’s

situating of Halprin’s work within the politics that initiated it

reminds us of the necessity for placing our work within larger

conceptual contexts than their immediate physical environments.

In a time when designers all too often bemoan that “The public

doesn’t understand us” or “What we do isn’t valued,” the accounts—as

complements—offer a constructive model for demonstrating

our talent as synthesizers and our work as an art that is not

mere self-indulgence but of cultural significance.

Kathy Poole is an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the

University of Virginia.

© ALAN WARD

3


4

REVIEW

Shlomo Aronson:

Making Peace with the Land

Foreward by Lawrence Halprin

Spacemaker Press, Washington, D.C., 1998

Hardcover, 160 pages, color photographs, $45.00

By Mira Engler

Shlomo Aronson: Making Peace with the Land is a good cause

for celebration. The first book dedicated to the work of a single

Israeli landscape architect, clearly the most deserving one,

discloses a previously unknown body of significant work taking

place in a complex and challenging context to a world-wide

audience. Though the landscape of the Holy Land, a setting of

Biblical histories and constant land conflicts, is well known to

millions around the world through picture books and television

coverage, the artistry of landscape architects whose works

continue to shape the land of modern Israel has never before

been appropriately acknowledged and covered.

Aronson’s built landscapes harmoniously resonate with

and reconcile the strenuous landscape; a landscape encumbered

by millennia of cultural depositories, bestowed with

sacredness, saturated with bloodshed, and suppressed by battles.

Aronson’s designs gently mend scars in the landscape, aesthetically

site viewing platforms and weave paths, and craftfully

knit built details and plants with contour lines, agricultural

patterns, rock and human formations.

The book is a portfolio and a retrospect of Shlomo Aronson’s

landscape architecture practice of some thirty years. Twentyseven

projects grouped into seven types—urban, public parks,

national parks and restoration, infrastructure, afforestation,

town planning, and gesture interventions—are accompanied

by three short texts of landscape architects who have known

Aronson.

The Foreward by Lawrence Halprin, Aronson’s mentor,

collaborator, and friend, reiterates Shlomo’s respect and awe

for the landscapes he chose to work within—the sacred and

open rather than the secular and built—that of Jerusalem

rather than Tel Aviv. Peter Jacob’s introduction to the book

sketches Aronson as a master that “weds environmental and

aesthetic literacy with both a pragmatic and symbolic reading

of the landscape.” Jacobs pinpoints Aronson’s guiding tenet, a

search for a sense of peace and quite. And finally, Kenny

Helphand’s insightful essay largely elaborates on this search

for order and calmness in the chaotic and stressful Israeli

landscape. According to Helphand, the key concern of Aronson’s

work is, when and how to introduce the modern as counterpoint

or connective tissue. And while modern needs are well

addressed in Aronson’s work, the design language remains

traditional.

Mira Engler is an associate professor in the department of landscape

architecture at Iowa State University.

Olive trees and Pennisetum grass, with Temple Mount in background in

Beit Shalom Park, Jerusalem.

Bell caves in Beit Guvrin National park.

© SHLOMO ARONSON

© “ALBATROS,” DUBY TAL, MONI HARAMATI


Beverly Pepper: Three Site-Specific Sculptures

Text by Barbara Rose

Spacemaker Press, Washington, D.C., 1998

Softcover, 64 pages, color illustrations, $24.95

By Ken Smith

East face of Cel Caigut.

In the introductory essay for this monograph, art critic Barbara

Rose draws on themes which she argues separate Pepper from

other environment-oriented artists of the period. Rose places

Pepper outside the mainstream of the conceptual and theory

based generation of earth artists and minimalists by making the

distinction that Pepper’s art is not rooted in academic abstraction.

Pepper’s work is described as coming out of the tradition

of sculpture rather than a literalist reaction to the illusionist

tradition of painting, as did minimal art. Her work is positioned

as intuitive and felt as opposed to rational and thought. Esthetically,

Rose argues that Pepper’s origins were not the modernist

flat planes of Cubism, but rather personal, classically inspired

volumetric forms with expressions of opposition, of hollow, void

and solid. Her outsider status is further reinforced by the fact that,

REVIEW

while American, she has lived much of her professional life

outside the United States, primarily in Italy and much of her built

work has been realized in Europe.

This monograph is number six in the “Landmarks” series

published by Spacemaker Press. The focus of this publication is

on three recent large scale site-specific sculptures. Included is a

handsomely illustrated folio section of the three projects in

Barcelona, Spain, Pistoia, Italy and Zurich, Switzerland, all dating

from the late 1980’s to mid 1990’s. The publication concludes

with an interview that fleshes out many of the themes outlined in

the introductory essay, giving this publication the depth and

personality of the artist’s own words.

Ken Smith is a landscape architect practicing in New York City.

5


6

REVIEW

Placing Nature:

Culture and Landscape Ecology

Edited by Joan Iverson Nassauer

Island Press, Washington, D.C., 1997

Softcover, 179 pages, b/w photographs, $30.00

By Sharon K. Collinge

Super Mall entrance, Tacoma, Washington.

Prairie, near Warren, South Dakota.

At the core of landscape architecture is the interaction of humans and

nature. We may quibble about whether humans are inextricably linked

with or distinctly separate from nature, but as designers and users of

landscapes, in either case we must address the ethics, aesthetics, and

environmental consequences of our interactions with the living planet

Earth. In Placing Nature: Culture and Landscape Ecology edited by

landscape architect Joan Nassauer, scholars from widely disparate

disciplines boldly converge on such difficult questions as, “What is our

appropriate role in nature?” and “How should we live?” To describe

the mission of this volume as ambitious is indeed an understatement.

Not surprisingly, answers to these rather thorny questions vary

widely, from novelist Jane Smiley’s condemnation of industrial agriculture

to philosopher Marcia Eaton’s cogent explication of the relationship

between aesthetics, knowledge, and ecology. Ecologists Eville

Gorham and Bill Romme provide careful summaries of ecological

impacts of past and present human activity. Conservation biologist Curt

Meine describes our metaphoric imprisonment in the grid of 18th

century land surveys. Geographer Judith Martin and historian Sam

Bass Warner emphasize connections between ecology and design in

urban landscapes, and geographer and landscape architect Deborah

Karasov calls for locally-driven community development. Nassauer

weaves the volume together with her own research on aesthetics and

ecology in residential landcapes, as well as introductory and concluding

chapters emphasizing general questions and themes.

Despite the range of approaches brought to this conversation,

there is much common ground. The writings complement and

strengthen each other with the tone of a group of thoughtful,

compassionate, and intelligent people conversing around a table.

Perhaps most importantly, this collection of essays admonishes

environmental professionals that efforts to meld human activities and

natural processes require a truly integrated approach. No longer can

we expect to resolve these complex issues within the limited realm of

our own disciplines; instead, we must dissolve disciplinary boundaries.

Fortunately, Placing Nature provides fresh perspectives and

novel insights with which to collectively continue this conversation.

Sharon K. Collinge is an assistant professor in the department of biology

and the environmental studies program at the University of Colorado.

© CHRIS FAUST

© CHRIS FAUST


Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History

and Awareness in Everyday Places

By John R. Stilgoe

Walker & Company Press, 1998

Hardcover, 200 pages, no illustrations, $21.00

By Deborah Ryan

In Outside Lies Magic, John Stilgoe traverses territory made

familiar through his previous six books. As he has done in the past,

Stilgoe writes about the common landscape as a place full of

meanings but often long forgotten intention. What makes this

publication unique is Stilgoe’s stated goal to entice the reader into

active and self-directed learning by employing a third person

explorer as a literary device. He then suggests that the landscape

is a place where explorers can postulate a cultural history of a

time and place especially when that history is their own.

In the guise of an explorer, Stilgoe walks and cycles through

ignored if not invisible landscapes speculating on the values that

their intellectual abandonment conveys. He focuses on the ordinary

and the seemingly mundane. . . power lines, strip shopping

centers, interstate highways, road kill, interchanges, main street,

mail boxes and backyard fences. And in doing so, he assembles a

complex quilt of cultural, social, economic and political patterns

that reflect common but often forgotten conditions of our uniquely

American past and present. The observations that Stilgoe draws

from the patterns that he sees are both intriguing and entertaining.

We landscape architects are generally well schooled in reading

the remnant signatures of natural processes on a site. Stilgoe’s

contribution to our profession is in helping us understand cultural

signatures. In Outside Lies Magic, John Stilgoe gives us the tools

and encouragement to read the landscape through yet another

lens, and by doing so, leaves us with the ability to have a more

complete understanding of place.

Deborah E. Ryan is an associate professor of architecture at the

University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the managing principal

of dRa landscape architecture.

Strip shopping.

Fast food.

REVIEW

© JOHN R. STILGOE © JOHN R. STILGOE

7


8

REVIEW

The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place

in a Multicentered Society

By Lucy R. Lippard

New York: The New Press, 1997

Hardcover, 328 pages, b/w and color illustrations, $40.00

By Leah Levy

Lucy Lippard’s The Lure of the Local is a multidimensional

consideration of our contemporary sense of place. Set in the

varied American landscape and reflecting the peripatetic nature

of our history and culture (the multicentered), this is a very

“American” book. Lippard’s insightful and inclusive description

of American locales and our place in them, however, broadens the

concept from a more traditional reading of a predictable community

to a fluid, open analysis of the notion of physical, social, and

cultural belonging. The work moves forward exploring the relationship

between this sense of identity with particular places and

a connection to an expanded society and a larger nature.

The Lure of the Local is a dense treasure of ideas, illuminating

the power of place on our psyches, histories, memories, and

unfolding the realities of how experience and familiarity with

“home” pushes and pulls us throughout our lives. Serving as an

anthology of cultural thought about land/place/home and the

meanings it holds for us, the book is liberally laced with quotes from

diverse sources including Genesis, Estella Conwill Majozo, an

anonymous Vietnamese immigrant, and Robert Smithson, on topics

ranging from public housing to the identifying signs in national parks.

In the way that no experience is a direct route but a series of

perceptions and overlays of the personal, communal, and historical,

Lippard’s book manifests that multileveled process in the book’s

contents, presentation, and design. One layer is Lippard’s own

journal, formatted as an italicized runner at the top of every page,

narrating experiences in her lifetime of summering at the family

home in Maine. Another is the main critical text and commentary

of the book, exploring the landscape and issues of place from

various perspectives (chapter titles include “Around Here”,

“Manipulating Memory”, “Down to Earth: Land Use”, “The Last

Frontiers: City and Suburbs”, among others). A third significant

element is the thread of landscape and place-related works by

contemporary artists that Lippard weaves throughout the volume.

These are illustrated with photographs, and accompanied by

Lippard’s extensive captions discussing the artists, the works and

how they offer new vision to the crucial issues examined.

In the end, The Lure of the Local exemplifies the depth of

complexity the author believes is needed for art to effectively

interact with society. Lippard has created a work that attempts

itself to be what, in conclusion, she calls for stimulating “art

governed by the place ethic” to be: specific to people’s own lived

experiences, collaborative, generous and open-ended, appealing

and memorable, simple and familiar, as well as layered, complex

and unfamiliar, evocative, provocative, and critical.

Leah Levy is an independent art curator in Berkeley, California.

Her most recent book is Kathryn Gustafson: Sculpting the Land.

. . . she calls for stimulating ”art

governed by the place ethic“ . . .

This Houseboat, moored in the Kennebec River, was the summer home

of a nomadic local woman.

Antonio Anaya, Church on the Hill, Galisteo, New Mexico, 1994.

© PETER WOODRUFF

© LUCY R. LIPPARD


CLASSIC REVIEW

Bold Romantic Gardens:

The New World Landscapes of Oehme and van Sweden

By Wolfgang Oehme and James van Sweden with Susan Rademacher

Spacemaker Press, Washington, D.C., 1997

Softcover, 312 pages, color photographs, $39.95

By Laura Solano

When first published in 1990, Bold Romantic Gardens: The New

World Landscapes of Oehme and van Sweden, became a watershed

work that revealed a new course in late 20th century

American gardening. At a time when the general public’s appetite

for gardening was flourishing and being fed a singular diet of

flowers, and landscape architects continued to distance themselves

from the cliches that tied them solely to gardening, Oehme

and van Sweden were making a compelling case for rediscovering

the power of making landscapes from the whole realm of materials

available. By not limiting the palette of their designs, they

would not limit the range of possible experiences. This lesson

remains potent today and, with the reissue of this book by

Spacemaker Press this year, it deserves a second examination.

Although largely a book about planting, it offers so much

more to contemplate. The authors’ concerns for garden design

extend to infusing the ephemeral, creating romance, challenging

the perceptions of scale, introducing elements of time, transforming

through personal experience, and managing the prosaic.

These were not new ideas about garden design. What made, and

still makes, this discourse engaging is that Oehme and van Sweden

showed us how to do it with grasses, sedges, and perennials in a

style that distinctly pointed to the American psyche—extroverted

yet puritanical, independent yet connected to community, forward-looking

yet deferential to history. Their style is manifestly

bold yet the authors’ work is not solely about a design style but

rather an approach to living with the landscape.

Save for new introductory remarks, this edition is unchanged

from the previous. However, since this was republished in an age

when new and improved often gets undeserved attention, this is

a comforting book to reread. Nonetheless, there is a nagging

desire to see how time has treated Oehme and van Sweden’s work.

New photographs of several projects would add depth to their

theories. We know from introductory remarks that the authors’

thinking has changed but they prefer to keep these reflections to

themselves, content with the stasis achieved nearly ten years ago.

This is a loss but not one so deep that it should discourage a new

generation of devotees. If you do not own this book, add it to your

library. If it is already yours, take it out again and enjoy the visit.

Laura Solano is a senior associate with the landscape architectural

firm of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. She is an instructor at

the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and has taught

courses at the Arnold Arboretum.

A light cover of snow reveals how the dried garden structures the

winter landscape, even in the absence of evergreens.

© CAROLINE SEGUI-KOSAR

9


10

LAND

FORUM

Land Forum will offer advertisers an

opportunity to promote their company

catalogues with worldwide web links.

For further information, contact

James Trulove

T 202-543-5435

F 202-543-7707

NEXT ISSUE

BOOK REVIEWS

Suzhou: Shaping an Ancient City for the New China

An EDAW/Pei Workshop

Afterword by I.M. Pei

Richard Haag: Bloedel Reserve and Gasworks Park

Landscape Views #1

Edited by William S. Saunders

Unnatural Horizons: Paradox and

Contradiction in Landscape Architecture

By Allen S. Weiss

Alfred Caldwell: The Life and Work of a

Prairie School Landscape Architect

Edited by Dennis Domer

CLASSIC REVIEW

History of the Italian Agricultural Landscape

Reviewed by Ian Firth

EDITOR

Gina Crandell

ART DIRECTION

AND DESIGN

Sarah Vance

Elizabeth R. Krason

PUBLISHER

James G. Trulove

ADVISORY BOARD

Australia

David Yencken

Finland

Tom Simons

France

Christophe Girot

Germany

Robert Schäfer

Japan

Toru Mitani

Yoji Sasaki

Spain

Bet Figueras

Sweden

Thorbjörn Andersson

Switzerland

Peter Petschek

United States

Cheryl Barton

Charles Birnbaum

Dean Cardasis

James Corner

Gary Hilderbrand

Elizabeth Meyer

Robert Riley

LAND FORUM

Published by

Spacemaker Press

147 Sherman Street

Cambridge, MA 02140

T 617-497-7292

F 617-497-6448

Cover Photo

Reflecting pool at the

FDR Memorial.

Photograph by Alan Ward.

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines