On the my first trip to Europe as a young architect in 1967 I experienced an ‘ah hah’ moment visiting Paris when I encountered the public parks and their design, in particular their seating, cafes and amenities, as well as the civic infrastructure – boulevards, streets, canals, sidewalks, bridges, quais, and promenades. It had a profound effect upon me, and eventually I moved into the field of landscape architecture, leading to several years of living in Rome and southern England, including prolonged stays in Paris and London.
In Be Seated, Laurie Olin writes of his long interest in park and civic public seating, sharing his insights into the seemingly ordinary elements of these places and his concern for the importance and effects of public seating in the conduct and potential of our role as citizens and the establishment of place and community. Discovering both the extraordinary in the ordinary, and the ordinary in the extraordinary, Olin shares examples of his experience as a landscape architect, and the theory, craft, and role of seating in a number of prominent civic places, historically, as well as examples of those his firm and others have designed. Accompanying the essays are drawings and watercolors by Olin that create a dialogue between writing and image, supplying further richness to the author’s insights and point of view as a designer.