2016 has been a great year for landscape architecture books. Whether you are interested in preparing for the eventual shift toward BIM technology, learning about innovative ecological solutions in cities, or the future of infrastructure, last year had something for you. Notably, Charles Waldheim released his most comprehensive primer on Landscape Urbanism which laid out the current thinking on designing cities in tune with nature. Kate Orff published her first comprehensive monograph (though that’s not all it is) about her firm SCAPE. These and many more books formed a stout selection for practitioners and academics alike. We covered a few of these books here at Land8 and plan on reviewing a few more on this list in more detail soon.
ASLA’s the Dirt also recently published a list of their best books of 2016. It is a fantastic list, but we would be remiss here at Land8 not to highlight some of our favorite. So while we recommend you check out all of those books, here are Land8’s best books of 2016:
Cartographic Grounds: Projecting the Landscape Imaginary
Jill Desimini and Charles Waldheim
Princeton Architectural Press
Charles Waldheim and Jill Desimini explore the shift in representation from the “material and physical description toward the depiction of the unseen and often immaterial.” This beautiful book takes a critical view of the current use of data mapping and visualization and calls to return to traditional cartographic techniques.
Landscape Architecture and Digital Technologies: Re-Conceptualizing Design and Making
Jillian Walliss and Heike Rahmann
Authors Jillian Walliss and Heike Rahmann explore how digital technology is shaping the projects and practices of some of the most important firms in landscape architecture. The focus is less on making pretty digital renderings and much more on how simulation and analysis can make much more complex design possible and more integrated with the landscape.
Thinking About Landscape Architecture: Principles of a Design Professional for the 21st Century
This book is interesting because it is not particularly for landscape architects that are already in practice. If you are just starting out in the profession or deciding on studying landscape architecture in college, this book is a great resource to lay out all the different aspects of being a professional and all the different avenues that practice can take you down. Bruce Sharky is a professor at Louisiana State University and always does an excellent job of writing with the perspective of an educator, teaching you his topic easily and precisely.
BIM for Landscape
BIM is coming for landscape and if you aren’t already working with it, odds are you will be. The book is presented by the Landscape Institute, the British equivalent of the ASLA. The UK has already made BIM mandatory on all public sector projects. This book makes the argument that the advantages of moving to BIM are worth the effort and present a bevy of examples to back it up.
Thinking the Contemporary Landscape
Christophe Girot and Dora Imhof
Princeton Architectural Press
This book is another “reader” in the vein of Recovering Landscape by James Corner and the Landscape Urbanism Reader by Charles Waldheim (I guess he hasn’t been mentioned enough in this post). The topics sway around a bit, but many are worth your time. A focus is the changing nature of landscape and the effects of climate change, but it is also about beauty and the aesthetic and how we apply them (and don’t forget them) in modern landscapes.
University of Pennsylvania School of Design
We’re cheating a little bit again here, but if you haven’t checked out Penn Design’s Tyranny and Simulation editions, you need to do yourself a favor and sign up for their bi-yearly subscription. Each issue focuses on a different topic related to landscape architecture but brings voices from outside of the profession to bear.
Toward an Urban Ecology
If you attended this year’s LAF Summit (or you already knew), then you found out that Kate Orff is an optimistic and creative force in the world of climate adaptive design. Her book is part monograph and part a clarion call for the need of meshing the social and environmental to deal with the future problems of our planet.
Landscape As Urbanism
Princeton University Press
In his new book, Charles Waldheim advocates that landscape architects should become the focal points of a new era of designing the world around us. His book clarifies the theory of landscape urbanism and gives a well-reasoned justification for its existence. Though it is a slightly more challenging read, the subject matter is so important to some of the most influential firms in landscape architecture that is it well worth your effort.
Infrastructural Monument and Scaling Infrastructure
Princeton Architectural Press
Two recently published books chronicle two conferences organized by the Center around its first biennial theme – infrastructure. These books represent the first steps in publishing research applicable to “new theoretical frameworks and methodologies appropriate for urbanism of our time.”
Wild by Design
Borrowing a bit because this is on the ASLA’s list too. Learn about how nature can come become an integral part of creative landscape design. Margie Ruddick there’s a set of principles for a more creative than intuitive to produce the challenges in entrenched believe the natural process cannot complement high-level landscape design.
Bonus: Landscape Manifesto by Diana Balmori
Though not published in 2016, the unfortunate passing of Diana Balmori this year merits a revisitation on her seminal work on the purpose of Landscape Architecture. In a passing nod to the Landscape Urbanism vs New Urbanism, Manifesto states that “nostalgia for the past and utopian dreams for the future prevent us from looking at our present.” A solid book on landscape philosophy that is perhaps rigid at times, but it well worth your attention.