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)