Way, Shape, Or Form

This month in Landscape Architecture Magazine, I have a double-loaded review of ECLAS’ new The Routledge Handbook of Teaching Landscape and Teaching Landscape: The Studio Experience. While I always love writing for LAM, I expecially appreciated having a chance to think in public about the duties of a teacher in the field today. In particular, as we start to form our spring studios at Ohio State, I am dwelling on the many things we expect landscape architecture students to do far afield from the tasks of site design or environmental planning, each of which is daunting enough when pursued on its own.

Take the blue-hatted Swedish students below, who act as little mascots on the cover of Teaching Landscape: The Studio Experience. In being asked to extend the concerns of landscape architecture to performance, they make a proposition and a set of images that are far more distinct and memorable than whatever fledgling design they would otherwise be getting up to (which would more often than not involve “stitching the site back together”). But if it’s true that our minds are opened by their experience, it seems equally true that we are losing thereby another chance to help them walk forewarned and forearmed into the professional wilds of parking stalls and value engineering. Judging from the experience of my past students and my own peers, the missing link is an ability to enter the professional world with an understanding of where to torque it and tweak it to point toward the equitable future we want.

In any case: though my sentiments don’t always match those of the contributors to these volumes, I am thankful right now they are all out there tending their plots. I still want to see what grows from it all.

Update: LAM has been kind enough to put the piece online here.

wingren students
Carola Wingren's landscape students in performance, as featured in TEACHING LANDSCAPE: THE STUDIO EXPERIENCE.

(October 2020)