I found this rant in my files, it's few years old and I may have posted it in the past. If so I apologize for the redundancy. I think that this will get some juices flowing and interesting comments will be posted(I hope).
So have at it all.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the work of the great American writers. I always loved the way they painted pictures with words and the looking into their world through their thoughts. But those guys are from a different time. They were from a time when it was common place for people die on construction projects. Wealthy people had a cheap labor source so they could afford to pay for luxury items like carved stone work on their estates. They exploited the land just as much as they exploited people. Ivory, tropical woods and gold leaf, nothing but the finest. That’s not my world. I choose to draw my inspiration from other places.
I look at it this way. I’m in the people business, because that’s who I design for. I need to be able to meet people were they are. Being able to have a conversation about Kim Kardashian or the latest Starchitect is just as important as being able to talk about Emerson or classic architecture.
Excellent point about the history of landscape architecture and its patrons. People LOOOVE to talk about the good old days and conveniently forget the poverty, short life span, work conditions, social conditions. THATS the legacy we are dealing with now when the have-nots of a millenia suddenly can have.
And the legacy of the landscape poet - Emerson, Thoreau, Leopold - is being carried on by people who work for the National Park Service - biologists, ecologists, botanists. The poet scientist. The soulful naturalist. I can tell you from first hand experience - the majority have little interest in designing for people. Even when its restoration design.
The manifesto also lost me in places but I thought maybe it was written by someone on a really bad day. Roles and relationships between professions change throughout history. I wasn't putting down craftsmen or engineers (knowing where you'd like to have a bridge and actually calculating the loads and supports for it, likewise molding and assembling it, are all different things). We can both define our field and expect it to evolve along with others it relates to. And in keeping with that reality, we may never get the "green leadership" crown (most likely to be shared anyway) but we can illustrate how we are compatible with the leading thoughts guiding society and stay an active part in shaping the outcomes.
That’s it! There is a grouchy tone to it. A lot of it is just griping about things we as LAs have no power to change.
“Landscape architecture has lost its roots in intellectual thought, culture and literature.”
Says who? Maybe society has lost its roots.
“Green Leadership” Huh, the people who write the checks are the green leadership. We LAs can stand on our soap boxes preaching about sustainability until the cows come home. Nothing will change until developers, municipalities and property owners demand “green projects”.
Well said, Craig Anthony, well said.
Thanks Alan. That means something to me coming from you Man.
I’ll also add, most principal architects, developers, engineers and homeowners I work with don’t care about being green, so I don’t talk about it. Those guys don’t care about ecological approaches to anything, unless it puts dollars in their pockets. It took me ten years in the profession before it finally registered with me that the majority of my clients mentally check out when I start yammering on about vegetative swales, wildlife food sources and habitats. If I’m doing the site design whoever my client is, I make them reel me in when it comes to “green design”. If they let me run with it, I’ll have their office park looking like a wildlife refuge. I don’t ask my clients if they want to reduce or eliminate turf areas. I don’t ask if they want me to layout and grade a site in a manner that minimizes the impact of development. I just do it.
The point I’m trying to make is, LAs have more power to save habitat if we would just do what we know is right and stop lecturing our clients and allied professionals about saving the planet. My latest thing I do is spec all native plants on all of my commercial projects and never even using the word native in any of my conversations or drawings. Unless a client asks they don’t get any ‘Chanticleer’ Pears or rolling acres of manicured lawns. What are they going to sue me for doing what I should be doing?
LAs as individuals need to stand up to maintain our relevance. The ASLA and Washington are not going to make a place at the table for us. We have to do it by respectfully taking charge of what’s ours on design teams. When architects and engineers push, I push back. Yikes I’m ranting. I’ll stop here.
BTW, what ever happened to that rookie that was trying to call himself a Landscape Architect because he had passed a design studio or something crazy like that? We really took him to the wood shed bro. For a split second I felt bad, then I realized that he’s probably a better LA/LD because of the tough love. I too needed my share of spankings during my career.
Thanks for this, it is very good.
Not much I can disagree with. In fact, I would say that there is moral obligation to get out of Landscape Architecture and move elsewhere.
The institutional and academic situation seems to reflect the mess depicted in this Manifesto, at European level at least.
Unaware of this document, we have produced our own optimistic Manifesto, a last ditch attempt at having our profession licensed across Europe.
Here it is:
Maybe we should have given up and go home!
Never give up and don't let the bastards keep ya down.