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."
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
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
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
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."
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
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
FR_LP+ | Poser Les Bonnes Questions
FR_LP+ | Prix de Design Urbain
FR_LP+ | Des emblèmes : Non Merci !
Landscapes - Fall 2014