I’ve been sitting on this almost finished post for almost two weeks, patiently, then not so patiently waiting for Metropolis to get around to posting their November content online… mainly for this month’s great profile about James Corner, and some sweet new pics of the High Line and other work. Finally it’s here, and we can properly illustrate this article ‘The Long View’ and elucidate what Corner means to the profession?
:: what can YOU learn from this man? – image via Metropolis
This picks up our threads from previous discussions of influence and professional voice… Perhaps Corner is that voice. Not a magazine to shy away from hyperbole, the frontispiece proudly starts out with the simple statement…
“By embracing the city’s industrial past – reclaiming landfills, remediating browfields, developing neglected waterfronts – James Corner has helped reinvent the field of landscape architecture.”
No small feat, for sure – but I think perhaps it’s deserved. And since the intra-professional backbiting of a few years back had died back – perhaps the profession has finally turned that corner (no pun intended) that we all needed to attain some professional validation. I haven’t heard much lately about the art versus science debate. Nor is there a bemoaning of ecology as a cop-out to design credibility within the professional dialogue. Seems, as many of us mentioned, you can (or rather have to and certainly want to) have both. And it’s refreshing to see the change. Not that we’ve buttoned up every issue, but there seems some sort of viable platform (to borrow the election term) upon which we exist as a profession and proceed with our work. At the very least we’ve cracked out of our shells and remembered the importance of not just what we do – but that we need to be visible and vocal leaders in this world as well. There is credit due to a number of players – and one of those is definitely Mr. Corner.
:: Fresh Kills – images via Metropolis
The article is a good overview about Corner, and his professional work with Field Operations giving a broad timeline of 25 years of professional and academic work that has turned from writing to competitions to realized large scale built works. It touches on some of the foundations, such as Fresh Kills, as well as showing the expansion and evolution of the scope and breadth of FO’s work. It’s an impressive evolution and interesting to see some visuals of newer work, such as the Lake Ontario Park in Toronto: “Similar to Fresh Kills… a combination of wetlands and uplands on an environmentally degraded site. The design accepts the complicated landscape rather than smothering it with a single-minded vision.”
And the Shelby Farms proposal (previously covered by L+U here) which influence the overall role of the profession. As Corner posits, we should occupy that driver’s seat in leading these design interventions: “Rather than wielding bushes and trees—the proverbial parsley around the roast of proper architecture—landscape architects are, as Corner sees it, the best prepared to tackle the complex, large-scale, often environmentally damaged sites that have become the hallmark of urban regeneration.”
:: Shelby Farms – image via Metropolis
It’s also refreshing to see some confidence and candor coming from the profession. One note that stuck in my head from the article: ““I don’t want to be embarrassed to be a landscape architect because we’re thought of as tree people who come in at the end of the day,” he says.” It’s something we can all support and strive in our practice to promote as well.
:: Fresh Kills – image via Metropolis
The article does spend a lot of time on Fresh Kills, particularly the scale (immense) and the timeline (long) for implementation. As a landscape architect best known for popularizing temporality and duration – it seems even Corner is prone to the antsiness of the designer: “…the slowness grates on Corner. “I think I may have become less patient,” he says. “You go all out, you put a lot into this, and it’s frustrating to see the way and not have it followed.” He went on, “It’s a great profession, a great medium, but I tell you, it’s such a difficult medium to move.”
:: Fresh Kills Phase One – images via Metropolis
:: Repurposed Diggers as Signage – images via Metropolis
Perhaps some of the long timeline will be abated by the High Line, which is progressing steadily from zoomy renderings to actual reality.
:: images via Metropolis
As an further endnote… Has anyone noticed Metropolis’ coverage of Landscape Architecture lately. Seems as if some of the editors have finally discovered the fair profession since Susan Szensasy’s commentary from last year… thoughts?