IN THIS ISSUE: Lesley Marlene Siegel documents the personalization of an ubiquitous element in Los Angeles’ urban landscape. Four architects, John Chase, John Kaliski, Mohsen Mostafavi and John Dutton set out parameters for urban design in the face of late capitalism. Gary Strang proposes designs for an engineered landscape.
This issue of the newsletter is devoted to the renewed debate concerning the formation and definition of the urban landscape and the rethinking of our attitudes toward intervention. We reprint here introductory remarks from three recent symposia on urban issues which, while presenting distinct approaches, all confront the ultimate inseparability of landscape, culture, politics, technology and urban form.
Opening discussion sessions during the Urban Revisions symposium sponsored by MOCA and the L.A. Forum, John Kaliski and John Chase both focus on decentering the role of urban design in the fabrication of cities. Chase celebrates the ad hoc contributions of city residents to the formation of urban space, and cautions against the false optimism of comprehensive urban planning. Kaliski situates urban design in relation to theory and culture, arguing that from above and below, respectively, both must factor into a designer’s vision. These comments are set to appear in expanded form in an upcoming collection of essays, “Everyday Urbanism Will Always be the Newest Urbanism.”
Another nexus for the discussion is the point at which landscape and the city were thought to meet. In his introduction to the symposium ,Denaturalized Urbanity, held at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Mohsen Mostafavi addresses the impossibility of attempts to draw clear distinctions between concepts of nature, suburb and city. Concurrently, a call is made for an increased awareness of the spatial consequences of social and cultural forces acting upon the urban fabric. Finally, John Dutton presents background for the L.A. Forum’s summer lecture series, “Natural Productions: Landscape and Nature in the City.” Landscape is approached conceptually, as the mediating element between the natural and the urban. A broad range of speakers uncovered myths, critiqued our existing culture of landscape, and presented possible directions for the future.
Urban Culture Confronts Urban Design
Urban Theory Challenges Urban Design
Infrastructure as Landscape
Apartment Living is Great
Lesley Marlene Siegel
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