WLA interviews Richard Weller about LA+, PennDesign’s new journal.

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The University of Pennsylvania School of Design recently announced the launch of Landscape Architecture Plus (LA+), an interdisciplinary design journal produced at the School under the direction of Dr. Tatum L. Hands, Editor-in-Chief, and distributed globally by ORO Editions. “We wanted to produce something completely different to the usual landscape design journal-which generally just features designers talking to other designers-and truly embrace the rhetoric that landscape architecture is an interdisciplinary field,” Dr. Hands explained.

LA+ is targeted toward the thinking professional and features a range of contribution types including essays, interviews, design criticism, graphic features, illustrations, and provocations. Published twice yearly, each issue of the journal explores a theme from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, provoking new modes of creative inquiry and practice.

World Landscape Architecture (WLA) had the chance to email interview Professor Richard Weller, Chair of PennDesign’s Landscape Architecture Department about the launch of the new journal.

WLA: What was the main impetus for a establishing new landscape journal?
RW: Even though we recognise the power of web-based communications we felt there was still a need for a new print journal. People like hardcopy publications, and students and professionals still build libraries and so we’ve conceived of this journal as something worth collecting. The real impetus, however, is that landscape architecture is a burgeoning global discipline and enterprise but it still lacks intellectual depth and breadth. Without being overly academic we want this journal to inspire, challenge, and stretch our readers.

In particular, we want to produce something quite different to the usual landscape design journal – which generally just features designers talking to other designers or academics talking to other academics – and truly embrace the rhetoric that landscape architecture is an interdisciplinary field.

WLA: Will there be a discourse between disciplines within the journal or more individual articles looking at the role of various disciplines within landscape architecture?

RW: Each issue has a wide range of material solicited from leading thinkers and practitioners in other disciplines and in that way our mainly landscape architectural audience will gain intellectual depth and breadth. But this doesn’t mean designers are not in the mix – they are – each issue will balance designers talking about what they do, alongside other experts reporting on the theme from their perspective. For example, in the first issue LA+ WILD we’ve asked people like Timothy Mousseau, who is an expert on Chernobyl, to report on how major disasters can affect ecosystems in the long term. We also interview biologist Daniel Janzen who challenges accepted theories and practices of landscape connectivity and who has probably done more than any landscape architect since Olmsted to secure large tracts of biodiverse habitat as National Park. On the other hand, Emma Marris speculates on what our cities could look like if threatened exotic animals were to be hosted in urban environments. These sorts of people are both interesting and inspirational, and LA+ does the work of bringing them to you.

WLA: PennDesign has partnered with ORO editions for LA+, what benefits do you see coming from this partnership?
RW: Oro has done a few different projects with Penn and they have shown they believe in quality and enjoy the iterative process of bringing complex projects to fruition. The journal is also supported by a strong group of the world’s best landscape architecture practices which enables us to avoid advertising and devote every page to high quality text and beautiful visuals.

WLA: Will LA+ include material from professionals and students?
RW: Absolutely. As well as the material on the theme that we solicit from other disciplines, we put out an open call for submissions and we welcome articles from professionals and students.

WLA: WILD is the theme for the first edition of LA+, what does WILD mean to you?
RW: What wild means now in the Anthropocene is anyone’s guess. Hopefully our first issue will clear it up a bit, so ask me again in March 2015 when the issue hits the shelves!

WLA thanks Richard Weller for his time in answering our questions and we look forward to see the first edition in March 2015.

LA+ is currently seeking submissions for its Fall 2015 issue, LA+ PLEASURE, inviting submissions on how the production and consumption of pleasure impacts our cities, our landscapes and ourselves. The deadline for abstracts and expressions of interest is September 1, 2014 with submissions due October 15, 2014. For more information, visit www.laplusjournal.com.
For more information on how you can subscribe to LA+ website.