Landscapes - Fall 2014 - (Page 82)

THE LAST WORD | LE MOT DE LA FIN PHOTO LEES + ASSOCIATES LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS Iconic projects say, "Look at me." Great landscape architecture says, "Look at the world." RONALD MIDDLETON ICONS? NO THANKS! >FR_LP+ DES EMBLÈMES? NON MERCI! EN_Last fall I was in Russia. Putin's government is pouring billions into the restoration of Czarist palaces and gardens. He is supporting a rejuvenation of the Russian Orthodox Church. Refurbished churches are flourishing, adorned with walls of restored icons. While I respect history, much of what I saw left me uneasy. I am not comfortable with the worship of images. The blood of iconoclasts runs in my veins. THE ICONIC LANDSCAPES of the world tend to be relics of times when dominance over nature was the objective and the built landscape was an expression of ego and power. Such is the Peterhof, Peter the Great's answer to the Palace of Versailles. Most celebrated examples of modern architecture are similar celebrations of self-expression and wealth. They consciously seek the title "iconic." Landscape Architects often feel that our profession, too, should trumpet its iconic landscapes. Whenever a call goes out to identify great examples of landscape architecture in Canada, we seem to come up short. It is not that we lack excellent projects. It is not that we lack talented designers doing great work. We lack the stunning images that architects are able to produce of their projects. Part of the reason is that it is more difficult to photograph a landscape than a building. But more so, it is because what we do is fundamentally different from what architects do. WE DESIGN EXPERIENCES, NOT OBJECTS Perhaps I am influenced by my own background in landscape restoration. For many years, my definition of a successfully restored landscape was simple: no one would know that we were 82 LANDSCAPES PAYSAGES TORONTO TRAIL STRATEGY, NATIONAL MERIT ever there. While that is at the extreme, all of our work demands a measure of humility. We design experiences, not objects. We work with nature and our projects rarely resemble the drawings for many years. Often, by the time they have matured they have changed, modified in response to changes in demands from the surrounding communities. The greatest examples of successful landscape architecture often owe surprisingly little to their design. They are the result of sound landscape planning decisions that identified and set aside spaces that have endured over time. The success of New York's Central Park owes more to Olmsted's ability to sell a great idea than to his masterful design. In my own city, Edmonton, the river valley trail system is the gem of Edmonton's park system and a testament to our ability to restrain our urge to over-design. By contrast, our central urban square, Winston Churchill, continues to be a heavily used and loved space in spite of self conscious attempts to make a dramatic design statement. That does not mean that landscape design need be inconspicuous and anonymous. Claude Cormier's Pink Balls project on the cover of the summer 2013 edition of LANDSCAPES|PAYSAGES is immediately identifiable as a product of his fertile imagination. Although it bears the designer's unmistakable stamp, it is not an expression of ego. The project does what it needs to do. It demands that you look to the sky, invites you to celebrate, encourages interaction and challenges you to search for further meaning. Great religious art inspires spirituality, not idolatry, and great projects inspire reflection, not admiration. Icons say, "Worship me." Great art says, "Look to your soul." Iconic projects say, "Look at me." Great landscape architecture says, "Look at the world." RonaldMiddleton@shaw.ca

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Landscapes - Fall 2014

To Begin With | Pour Commencer
Upfront | Prologue
Excellence 2014 | Les Prix D’excellence – Cru 2014
National Honour | Honneur National
National Merit | Mérite National
National Citation | Citation Nationale
The Regionals | Prix Régionaux
Adjudication
CSLA: 80 Years | Aapc : 80 Ans
LACF | FACP
Critique | Critique
Urban Design Awards
The Last Word | Le Mot De La Fin
LP+ Online | En Ligne
“Making a Landscape” … Excerpt
FP_LP+ | Architecture de Paysage du Canada
Lake Effect – Harbourfront Show
FR_LP+ | Profil du Jury
FR_LP+ | EN_LP+ | Hatley Castle Today
Hatley Castle
FR_LP+ | Poser Les Bonnes Questions
FR_LP+ | Prix de Design Urbain
FR_LP+ | Des emblèmes : Non Merci !

Landscapes - Fall 2014

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