February 3, 2010 at 5:35 am #171317John BlackParticipant
Having actually been on several episodes of “Landscape Smart” and won my “Landscapers’ Challenge,” I have to chime in here. HGTV exists to sell ads, not to show good work. “Landscape Smart” aims at the DIY audience, who want free advice and cheap fixes; “Landscapers’ Challenge” hooks us on the drama of competition, but it’s hardly a celebration of thoughtful design.
I think HGTV simply cannot promote quality landscape architecture. Principles get sacrificed for camera angles and production schedules. Projects get dumbed-down for sound bites and cheap installation (you really think the network wants to spend their profit on competent contractors?). The work we did wasn’t always great, and sometimes it wasn’t even good. The one episode of “The Outdoor Room” I’ve seen was, I’m sorry, horrible: the
designerdecorator decided as the concrete was being poured that the new patio was too big. On these shows, “success” so often equates with avoiding disaster that I suspect only outright failure could be more compelling.
Programs like HGTV’s are, in my opinion, too focused on results, on the “after,” when our real value comes in the “before” and the “during.” I agree with Keven that it would be much more valuable to our profession to have a few well-placed experts on CNN or MSNBC or other credible outlets to discuss ecosystems, sustainability, urban planning, site remediation — all the things that make landscape architecture unique and valuable. Public awareness of ecological issues has never been higher; why shouldn’t the local news have some expert commentary on the latest infill project, or the planning issues that President Obama’s high-speed rail corridors will raise? In part, it may be that landscape experts have the sense and discretion to not speculate or sensationalize. But it also may be that the media don’t know us well enough yet to ask us. I think ASLA is doing a fine job of broadening its reach and marketing more resources to the media and the general public; individual designers and LAs can always follow suit to become local and regional experts.February 5, 2010 at 12:49 am #171316Craig AnthonyParticipant
I think ASLA should promote our profession on HGTV. Just not as a 30 minute design and installation competion. Maybe a documentary on the profession’s history, and how it relates to the residential projects. I just cringe at some of the “quickie” projects on some of the shows. Most of those “landscape decoration” projects will last about a month exposed to the weather.February 5, 2010 at 1:23 am #171315Jason T. RadiceParticipant
Perhaps a documentary of Frederick Law Olmsted similar to the PBS Frank Lloyd Wright documentary by Ken Burns?February 5, 2010 at 2:45 am #171314Keven GrahamParticipant
There is one being done now on Jens Jensen I believe for PBS.February 8, 2010 at 7:52 pm #171313Frank VarroParticipant
So make it graduate school? (Seriously, every late night in rad school we would ALL talk about how if someone threw hidden cameras up they could blow project runway out of the water with the drama that went on in that building…)February 10, 2010 at 4:20 am #171312Chad CrutcherParticipant
Hey, all…ever watch Ovation channel? 157 on DISH.
Here is a TV venue I think is most appropriate. They handle the world of the arts and design with real sophistication. This is not high school level documentaries. Most of the shows would be at home on PBS. They have a series called, and I may be incorrect, “Designer People”, or something like that. Profiles of contemporary and histrorical greats in all design fields. Can’t recall seeing an episode specifically about a landscape architect; I have seen them about internationally and historically famous architects and planners. I do expect, in time, to see one on someone like Halprin, Church and even Olmsted. I was stunned by the work of an Iraqi born architect in the UK featured in a recent show…her work just floored me!
To be honest, the shows on other design fields such as fashion, are a super source for ideas!
I also thought the PBS/Burns celebration of the national parks paid due homage to landscape architects with repeated mention of Olmsted’s pivotal role.
As for being frustrated by the lack of publicity, make your own. I’ll not make specific suggestions. You’re all designers…solve the problem. Have some fun! Reach out. You’d be surprised, if you honestly let your passion for what you do and how you do it come out, at the impact you can have. People love to be energized. You have to be, too. When was the last time you really had fun at a meeting, shortlist interview or council presentation? Perhaps the reason the subject of landscape architecture puts people to sleep is because landscape architects put people to sleep! Tell your story with the passion, excitement and sense of discovery that moves you! Share that Eureka moment when the whole thing came together. Tell THAT story. Oh, did I mention lots of pictures illustrating your points?
Do well doing good…
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