At first, I was going to choose The Consolation of Philosophy by Alain de Botton, "Seventy-five Percent: The Next Big Architectural Project" by Ellen Dunham-Jones in the Fall 2000 issue of the Harvard Design Magazine and "On the banks of the Sava" by John Berger in The Sense of Sight for the three books, articles, or essays that I expect will remain with me in the years to follow. The book by Alain de Botton has had a significant influence on me this summer in thinking of various things and how to approach the summer pre-thesis booklet. But I fear that the book is a novelty for me for its newness and its implementation for this list is limited due to its potentially non-applicative nature for landscape architecture. The article from the Harvard Design Magazine is not a good choice either -- it simply affirms many thoughts about the discipline; it is not a probing exercise of thought. A reading to which I agree with certain ideas --
... The architectural profession, with a few notable exceptions, remains focused on the design of single buildings with little concern about where they're located. (6)
-- has little for me to develop and think upon than a reading that has questions or encourages profound thinking.
Therefore, I have decided on the following, plus a quarter:
Irwin, Robert. Being and Circumstance: Notes Toward a Conditional Art. Lapis Press: 1985.
The importance of this work for me is mostly due to Irwin's four categories of sculpture which I find to be brilliant. But I think that Irwin's writing can be applied to the landscape, especially with what he was aiming for with his last "definition", that of site determined/conditioned. He suggests that everything inclusive of a thing's environment determines how the thing presents itself:
...whether the response should be monumental or ephemeral, aggressive or gentle, useful or useless, sculptural, architectural, or simply the planting of a tree, or maybe even doing nothing at all. (Irwin, 27)
Oswalt, Philip, Ed. Dettmar, Jorg. "Naturally determined urban development?" Shrinking Cities, Volume 2: Interventions. Hatje Cantz Publishers: 2006. 144-150.
The essay examined how design could accommodate adaptive reuse and landscaping elements (forests, grasses) in the abandoned lots and buildings of shrinking cities. My interest lies in that cultivation of such unconstrained wilderness in derelict areas as a celebration of experience. Too many public spaces are too sterile -- too refined with their manicured lawns, the bright and shiny buildings. On a visit to the Elizabeth Mills in Central Falls, RI, I lamented seeing the freshly restored mill buildings. Irreplaceable character was lost. Moss, dirt, and the cloak of age once clinging to the walls of those buildings [would] add so much to a sense of place.
That idea of sense of place piqued my interest in another essay, which I think adds a quarter to the discussion. It was titled: "A Sense of Place, a Sense of Time", in the book A Sense of Place, a Sense of Time by J.B. Jackson, published by Yale University Press in 1996. It identified the experience of place which is believed to be lacking in American cities. The author argued that a sense of place -- buildings, monuments, -- is immaterial because people tend to identify their sense of place through events rather than the landmarks. A city-wide festival would be an example of this. Thus, how we should consider identifying a sense of place is really identifying it through a sense of time.
Berger, John. "On the banks of the Sava." The Sense of Sight. Vintage International: 1985. 45-49.
I can identify with how the author's describes the colors of material, texture, and the untidy yet intentional yards and gardens of a Slavic village. He was curious how he knew where he was because of these things, but, that because of these things he could not be elsewhere:
...It is not a landscape which lends itself to representational painting - but rather, to film because it moves, or to embroidery and decoration because they ignore the difference between near and far. It is the landscape, however, evident behind the experience expressed in a great deal of Slav poetry. But one must be clear about what one is looking for. There is nothing arcadian or innocent or eternal or reassuring about its qualities. Such landscape encourages a passionate (not quietist) recognition of transcience [sic]. (Berger, 49)