The Landscape Project is a collection of 18 essays edited by Richard Weller & Tatum Hands as “something of an homage to the department” of landscape architecture faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design. The authors are drawn from the faculty and “showcases them as a teaching team” and include essays written by Richard Weller, Frederick Steiner, Sarah Wilig, Songa Dunpelmann, Karen M’Closkey & Keith VanDerSys, David Goveverneur, Billy Fleming, Ellen Neises and many others.
Weller, in the introductory essay titled “The Landscape Project” starts by providing a definition of project and landscape, providing a framework for the other essays to explore the idea of “the landscape project”. The essay offers many challenges and thought-provoking ideas for the reader including “institutionalization of genus loci as a desideratum of a profession that is tangled up in the chicanery of commercial development often results in the trivialization and misappropriation of place. It is now routine for landscape architects to claim the creation of an authentic sense of place in their design when in fact they have often produced little more than a cartoon, ….”. Weller also addresses resilience as a design paradigm that allows us to “buy time to work through the difficulty of mitigation, specifically time to learn how to live differently on a climate-changed earth without fossil fuels.”. The author continues by providing more explanation that the landscape project as an idea needs to use resilience theory to “move the subject and medium of landscape from the background to the foreground.”
Weller also provides insights on the Green New Deal, the profession’s current state, and how it has changed since the publication of McHarg’s Design with Nature. He also implores landscape architects to build upon rather than dismiss the ground gained by “the discourse of landscape urbanism”. The essay concludes with a request for landscape architects to look up from the ground, seek to create the best design, and have an understanding that design is a gift and responsibility.
The other authors build upon Weller’s idea of “the landscape project” and seek to address a wide range of topics that landscape architects need to understand. Also highlighting that we need to play more of an advocacy and design role in the areas of Agriculture, Water, Energy, Data, Practice, Purpose, Politics, and more. Each essay provides some historical background and then explores each topic through the lens of landscape architecture and how landscape architects can contribute to the profession and its discourse.
The book concludes with an essay from Weller and Hands that, similarly to the opening essay, emplores landscape architects to “rise to the occasion” as many other professions in the constructed environment increasingly look to landscape to create stronger resilience and identity. The authors also state that “the landscape project is now a matter of survival for human and non-human alike” and that “Every landscape project, no matter how small, is part of the “bigger picture”.
From reading the above, one may feel that the book comes across as another set of essays about the doom and gloom of the current situation of landscape architecture and climate change; however, the essays provide insights into each topic and some ideas and guidance to inspire the reader to explore their ideas and also further reading.
The essay writing of The Landscape Project makes the book easily readable and accessible. It is not only for landscape architecture professionals and students. Still, it provides, in some ways, a background for those outside the profession to understand the various issues we face as the human race and the role the landscape profession can play.
The book is a beautifully bound book with a high-quality cover and lettering that is befitting the quality of the writing and topics within its covers.
The Landscape Project is published by ORO Editions and set for a world release on the 20th of March, 2023, and can be ordered through ACC ART BOOKS or your local architecture bookstore
The Landscape Project – Edited by Richard Weller & Tatum Hands
Publish date 20th Mar 2023
Size 177 mm x 127 mm
Pages 236 Pages
All Credited Contributors: • RICHARD WELLER • FREDERICK STEINER • SEAN BURKHOLDER • CHRISTOPHER MARCINKOSKI • SARAH A. WILLIG • KAREN M’CLOSKEY • KEITH VANDERSYS • SONJA DÜMPELMANN • REBECCA POPOWSKY • SARAI WILLIAMS • LUCINDA SANDERS • BILLY FLEMING • JAMES BILLINGSLEY • ROBERT GERARD PIETRUSKO • ELLEN NEISES • MATTHIJS BOUW • VALERIO MORABITO • NICHOLAS PEVZNER • DAVID GOUVENEUR • TATUM L. HANDSThe Landscape Project