Book Review | The Spoils of Dust: Reinventing the Lake that Made Los Angeles by Alexander Robinson

The Spoils of Dust: Reinventing the Lake that Made Los Angeles examines the unlikely reinvention of Owens Lake by the city that dried it.

Written by Alexander Robinson, an assistant professor in the Landscape Architecture & Urbanism program in the University of Southern California School of Architecture, the book offers a detailed insight into how a city through meeting dust control requirements inadvertently contributed to the rebirth of the lake’s landscape. Robinson provides the historical and contextual background (including information about the government framework and stakeholders) to explain how Owens Lake became to be a dried out lake bed and then return to its current form as a highly constructed lake and habitat.

The Spoils of Dust is a reminder of how the growth of cities can have impacts on landscape far from the resident’s view. It also provides lessons on how engineers, landscape architects, ecologists, and volunteers can work together to analyse and understand the landscape over time. As landscape architects, it is also a reminder that although we often have a distaste for infrastructure it is possible that we can design complex landscape infrastructure that can become places (to visit and experience) rather than highly constructed and secured infrastructure by public or private utilities.

The book provides numerous lessons for the reader in relation to working with government authorities, stakeholders, mapping, and at the end provides details for machine using a 3D model and sand printing for landscape prototyping. The book is an interesting read supported by numerous images and diagrams that support the text through imagery.

The Spoils of Dust: Reinventing the Lake that Made Los Angeles by Alexander Robinson is available on Amazon for $USD23.29

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Applied Research & Design (November 15, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1940743486
ISBN-13: 978-1940743486

WLA received a review copy of the book from the publisher.
The links in the review are Amazon affiliate

About Damian Holmes 3339 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at