The Products of Landscape Architecture Malls Squares Streets and Parks

The design of streets, squares, parks and other public spaces is often referred to as urban design by landscape architects. A number of the Bruner Awards for urban design, which have an intellectual basis in the broad thinking about the functions of built form represented in Figure 1.6, have gone to such designs. Many, if not most, of such spaces are actually designed by architects rather than landscape architects perhaps because of their 'hard' rather than their 'green' character. Sometimes they are the result of collaborative work between architects and landscape architects (e.g. Pershing Square in Los Angeles). Historically, the buildings that frame many of the best-loved plazas in Europe have been built up piece-by-piece over a long period of time. Sometimes each piece has been subjected to design controls but at other times the architects involved have designed with a sense of decorum -with a sense of concern for the context in which they are designing. Piazza San Marco in Venice is probably the best-known example (see Figure 5.2).

Figure 5.1 Gateway Plaza, St Louis.
Figure 5.2 Piazza San Marco, Venice.
Figure 5.3 Stairway to Bunker Hill, Los Angeles.

Some designs of walkways, staircases, experiential trails, plazas, street beautifi-cations and parks sit more easily under the rubric of urban design than others. The design of an open space is, however, really simply landscape architecture unless designed as a unit with surrounding buildings (as in Pariser Platz, Berlin; see Chapter 8). Such designs occur more frequently in the creation of new towns and de novo precinct designs (e.g. Paternoster Square; also in Chapter 8) than when redesigning open spaces in existing cities (Figure 5.3).

More and more city administrations recognize the importance of open-space design in creating positive images of their cities. For example, this attitude is clear in Canary Wharf (see Chapter 8). Portland, Oregon, with its variety of squares in its downtown and attention to streetscape has been particularly successful in creating a positive image of its central area. Lively squares, stairways (often as pieces of sculpture), and well-paved sidewalks add a sense of dignity to urban life and provide places at which to pause. We have learnt much about their design from examining those that are regarded as lovely, and are well used (see, for example Broto, 2000; Billingham and Cole, 2002; Gehl and Gemzoe, 2003). We need to learn as much from those that are deserted, and those that have decayed rapidly (e.g. Plaza d'ltalia in New Orleans, 1975-8, a sculpture; see Figure 5.4). In these cases it is often not the design itself that was the problem but the surroundings. The context was either not considered in terms of what it offered a new design or else the predicted catalytic value of the new landscape did not materialize.

Deeply embedded in both architectural and landscape architectural thinking is that open spaces in cities are always a good idea, anywhere and everywhere. One of the lessons of the twentieth century is that in terms of urban life this belief

Figure 5.4 Two urban squares. (a) The Ira C. Keller Fountain, Portland, Oregon and (b) Plaza d'Italia, New Orleans in pristine state.

Figure 5.4 Two urban squares. (a) The Ira C. Keller Fountain, Portland, Oregon and (b) Plaza d'Italia, New Orleans in pristine state.

needs to be tempered (see J. Jacobs, 1961). In the Anglo-American world there is also the belief that trees and plants are automatically desirable elements of the cityscape. Often they are, but the world is replete with examples of much-loved treeless squares, such as the Piazza San Marco, and streets. Cities are replete with forlorn, tired, unloved parks that do not even serve as 'lungs' for the city. In arid climes they can be detrimental.

The intellectual level at which landscape architects are best placed to make a contribution to urban design is not only at the detailed design level but at the citywide scale (Bunster-Ossa, 2001). Landscape architects' concern should extend to include the health of the biogenic environment of cities and its side effects on the functioning of the planet, Earth. While there have been ardent proponents of 'designing cities with nature in mind' (e.g. Spirn, 1984), few landscape architects have become deeply involved in urban design.

Major references

Billingham, John and Richard Cole (2002). The Good Place Guide: Urban Design in Britain and Ireland. London: T. Batsford.

Broto, Carles (2000). New Urban Design. Barcelona: Arian Mostaedi.

Gehl, Jan and Lars Gemzoe (2003). New City Space [translated by Karen Steenhard]. Copenhagen: Danish Architectural Press.

Jacobs, Jane (1961). The peculiar nature of cities. In The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Random House, 29-140.

Spirn, Ann Whiston (1984). The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design. New York: Basic Books.

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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