Walter Hood featured in Architect Magazine

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Walter Hood featured in Architect Magazine

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    Jason T. Radice

    Here is a VERY short blurb and slideshow on Walter Hood that appears in this month’s edition of Architect magazine…yes, the official publication of the AIA. I’m surprised as you are. Hood makes some interesting observations which I was hoping they would elaborate on, but they didn’t. Oh well, at least he’s in there.



    The article does leave a lot to be desired.


    Jason–What do you think he meant about ‘committing ourselves to the [our] work..’ and his correlation to technology?

    Jason T. Radice

    I think he is getting, when compared to his live-in studio, how clinical and impersonal LA, and design in general, has become. It takes no real talent to be somewhat creative, you can fake your way through it. We all know hacks, and the computer just makes that easier. I’ve seen it myself, not so much with LAs (though I can think of one), but mostly engineers where the pride of practice is gone…and its (rather, used to be) rush, rush, rush. It’s primarily a business, not a practice; no longer an art but tangible product measured by output. And usually with a 25 year old EIT over their head running the job. It’s just that…a job. 9 to 5 and it’s done. That is why so much modern work sucks. I know architects like that, too. Complacent in their position, just rolling with the punches and not growing or broadening their practice.


    I’ve also seen it at colleges. You all know I went back for my MLA and was disgusted with what some colleges had become (I didn’t know how good I had it with my BLA). I also lecture and jury at two other colleges, so I see it first hand as a professional. When he talks about the “young people”, I can relate…they just don’t know design. I know that is a blanket statement, but it is mostly true. You are taught extensively how to use the tools, you make pretty stuff on the computer, you slap together some design and render it… but you can’t begin to explain what you did or why you did it. You aped the “concept” from some obscure project somewhere in Europe or South America which have little relevance to the American design sensibility or context. That is not a concept.


    That is why Walter Hood is so different. His work is of the communities where he designs. No rubber stamping…he gets to know the people and what they want/need in the space. He is hands on with the project especially with analysis, in ways most do not even try. I’ve met Mr. Hood several times and had a lengthy discussion with him. I still refer to my notes from his lectures I have seen, he blew my mind with his design philosophy.


    Whew! Sorry for the rant…I have a lot on my mind as of late. Guess it’s time to get my blog rolling.

    Tosh K

    The question a professor of mine once challenged me mid-seminar discussion was:  so you would choose to work and know your project sites?  This during a sustainability seminar where we spoke about the importance of connections between place and people, the culture and the designer.


    It is nice to see some designers stick to where they know while pushing the boundaries of design; and so sad to see so many others doing one offs in foreign places, publishing them and turning away as those projects fail.


    Walter’s awesome, and a great juror.


    First off might I say, I live in the Sacramento area and one of my past girlfriend’s-mom’s-friend has a studio exactly like Walter’s in Oakland. It is just a few buildings over, (darn! I saw her studio before I knew who he was!) and might I say, I fell in love with it. Her’s is strictly for art (paintings, drawings, etc) but the atmosphere was amazing. I am a firm believer in inspirational and unique studios, and this is a great place to set an example for that. Anywayysssss…


    Personally I am not surprised he made it into Architecture Mag. What a lot of people don’t know is that Walter actually has his MLA & MArch. That is what I think makes him awesome at what he does, on top of his god-given talent. I am going into my second year at Penn State and was fortunate enough, last year, to actually participate in a 5 day landscape architecture design workshop that was run by Walter. I have had 2 different events in my life to cause me to change how I think about Landscape Architecture, Architecture (what originally got me into this field of interest), and my design process. He has a very–complexly simple– approach to design, if that makes any sense. Trying to understand his ideas and concepts of his design process were very hard to grasp but halfway into the next week I got it and still use a modified approach today. I think his experience and appreciation for the built form and structure of Architecture makes his Landscape designs hold even deeper dimensions of meaning. Also, his understanding for the area he is working in, the culture, the history, the PEOPLE, emphasis on PEOPLE, make his landscapes weave not only into the fabric of the formal spaces around it, but more importantly the SOCIAL FABRIC of the site.


    Personally from my view of things I wish more aspects of architecture programs were more integrated into LA programs, and both of the fields weren’t so… disconnected… or in better words, so cut-throat towards each other. I know we, as LA’s get the sh*t end of the stick on this debate over who is better than who, but both fields have much to learn from one another; even more so in the university environment.


    All and all he is a great guy and it was an absolute pleasure working with his at such a young age and hearing him speak. Hopefully I can do it again!

    ALEX P

    I thought this drama between landscape architecture and architecture was just something that happened in academia.


    I think it is a yes and a no and half drama half understanding. I have worked with Architecture/ Design firms with LA’s in house and ones that are strictly architecture. With native LA’s in house the architects had a broader understanding of what exactly the LA did and they also respected his work. With the firm that had no LA, they would be showing me plans, get the the L-1 page of the project, say “oh this is just plants” then move on. I think the “drama” in college creates a lack of interest on both sides to really understand what each other is doing then that carries into the professional world and translates into a complete lack of understanding. And of course we as LA’s get the short end of the stick because architecture is a bit more universally understood, so the “popular kid” reputation goes to the architects.

    Yona R. Owens


    I am glad to read your well said rant. It reminded me of comments by Lewis Clarke, posted recently at

    Thanks for your original post/heads up on Walter Hood.







    Thanks for bringing this forward. I have little familiarity with Hood’s work, but found a video of a talk he did at TEDxBerkeley ( I think he is a good example of what a “master builder” might look like today. Someone who might not have the expertise in all areas of design/engineering, but can intelligently communicate with not only lay individuals but governmental officials and professionals as well.


    I’m now a fan.

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