At a time when the world is being forced to rapidly adapt to climate change, landscape comes into focus as a subject and medium of more importance than ever. Nowhere is this better known than at the Weitzman School of Design at The University of Pennsylvania, where the landscape architecture department has been leading the field for almost a century. Edited by Richard Weller and Tatum Hands, ‘The Landscape Project’ is a collection of 18 essays by the landscape faculty at Weitzman. Each author takes on a single topic — animals, plants, water, energy, politics, urbanism, aesthetics, and more. If there is just one book you need to get up to speed on the state of art in landscape architecture, then this beautifully crafted little black book is it!
The book promotes a landscape approach as a method for understanding and addressing the complex interdependent issues of environmental and climatic change, ecological degradation, and socio-cultural inequalities. The twenty-three book essays are structured into five sections around concepts of urban landscape systems, ecology, politics, territory, and practice. By linking individual sites and local communities to territorial socio-ecological systems and processes, they discuss issues of urban growth and development, remote areas of extraction and production, environmental degradation and transformation, and social inequality and discrimination. While the book allows for parallel readings of such issues in multiple cultural and geographical contexts, a geographic focus is placed on Canada and other environmentally complex and sensitive northern regions. One key theme is the integration of Indigenous knowledge, experience, and storytelling throughout several of the chapters. The book draws lessons that are grounded in inclusive, contextual, and multi-scalar readings which suggest landscape-informed practices that are both socially and environmentally resilient, just, and sustainable.
George Everard Kidder Smith (1913–1997) was a multidimensional figure within the wide-ranging field of North American architectural professionals in the second half of the twentieth century. Although he trained as an architect, he chose not to practice within the conventional strictures of an architecture office. Instead, Kidder Smith “designed,” researched, wrote, and photographed a remarkably diverse collection of books about architecture and the built environment. His work and life were deeply interwoven and punctuated by travel related to the research, writing, and promotion of books that sought to reveal the genius loci of the countries whose built environments he admired and wished to share with a broader audience. From the early 1940s to the late 1950s his interest in architecture led him to describe visually the architectural and historical identity of many European countries. After his far-flung travels over the decades, with his wife Dorothea, Kidder Smith focused on his own country and produced a series of ambitious books focused on the United States. Kidder Smith’s vision and narrative betray the gaze of the traveler, the scholar, and the architect.
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