IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 19

JAMES CornEr :: LAnDSCAPE UrBAnIST

Philosophy: “People understand landscape as a scenic picture. For me the deeper meaning is about how your body uses landscape. So walking, cycling, gardening, all the ways you use the land are more fundamental than just its appearance.”
James Corner, rLA, ASLA , Field operations, new york, ny

T

he limited notion of landscape design as green décor surrounding buildings or as delineating recreational spaces is becoming antiquated—with much help from “landscape urbanist” James Corner of Field operations. James has degrees in both landscape architecture and urban design, but the path to his far-reaching view of the field has been fittingly evolutionary. Early in his career while working on several large-scale prominent projects, Corner became discouraged by landscape architecture’s process as an isolated discipline and its resulting lack of synthesis with the surrounding environment. Also frustrated by the field’s stagnant discourse, which seemed devoid of architecture’s intellectual vibrancy of the 80s, James decided to focus on his own research and writing. Literally approaching landscape from a new perspective, James set out on a flying tour of the United States with aerial photographer Alex McLean to document the landscape from above and to investigate the ways in which we impose shape and meaning on the land. In addition to the resulting book, Taking Measures Across the American Landscape, James edited Recovering Landscape: Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture in an effort to invigorate landscape architecture

as a critical cultural practice. He has also been teaching at the University of Pennsylvania since the late 80s, and since 2000 has been chair and professor of Landscape Architecture at its School of Design. The new discipline that James is helping to forge is an approach that encourages collaboration among multiple fields such as landscape architecture, urban design, infrastructure, ecology, engineering, and hydrology, and that’s focused on sustainability and the challenges facing our contemporary cities. There’s an emphasis on process versus an end solution, and as such its mindset embraces an open-endedness and allowance for landscapes to evolve with their surrounding context. This would all be academic if James weren’t exploring landscape urbanism in the real realm. one remarkable project that puts this new philosophy to work is Field operations’ plan to convert Fresh Kills, a huge former landfill on Staten Island—the largest in the country—into a public park that also restores its ecological systems. Three times the size of Central Park, the “Lifescape” design for the park will include natural gas harvesting from the still decomposing landfill to heat 22,000 homes on Staten Island; reclamation of wetlands, grasslands, and woodlands; as well as educational programming and recreation areas for activities ranging from mountain biking and kayaking, to cross-country skiing. The reinvigoration and transformation

Integrating the site’s history with the new landscape, the high Line park features the structural and functional elements of the former elevated rail line—such as rails and ties—along with new structures and foliage.

of degraded sites was also the guiding tenet behind the High Line, the widely acclaimed park atop a derelict elevated railroad track in New york City’s Meatpacking District. A wander along the first phase, opened in 2009, reveals a constant play between its industrial past and its new incarnation: indigenous plants and untamed grasses recall the overgrowth of its abandoned years, while rail ties and rusted tracks are ingeniously incorporated into the design. It’s an open space that actively participates with the historical and cultural life of the neighborhood. And the phenomenal success of the park has added to the continued regeneration of the area, including a forthcoming Renzo Piano-designed building for the Whitney Museum at its south end. Not least, it’s become a model for cities around the world looking to transform their postindustrial structures and fallow districts into active regenerative urban spaces.

Photographers: Peden+Munk (portrait), Nico Guillin (High Line)
perspective

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011

IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011
From IIDA
Contents
Q&A
The Virtuous Circle
Hybrid Professionals
The Consulting Advantage
Trending Research
As the World Turns
MythBusters
Design Decoded
Resources
Viewpoints
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - Cover2
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - From IIDA
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 2
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - Contents
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 4
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 5
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - Q&A
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 7
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - The Virtuous Circle
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 9
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 10
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 11
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 12
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 13
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 14
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 15
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - Hybrid Professionals
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 17
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 18
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 19
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 20
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 21
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 22
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 23
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - The Consulting Advantage
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 25
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 26
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 27
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - Trending Research
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 29
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 30
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 31
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 32
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 33
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - As the World Turns
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 35
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 36
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 37
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 38
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 39
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 40
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 41
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - MythBusters
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 43
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 44
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 45
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 46
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 47
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - Design Decoded
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 49
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 50
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 51
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - Resources
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 53
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 54
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - 55
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - Viewpoints
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - Cover3
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2011 - Cover4
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