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American Society of Landscape Architects
Northern California Chapter

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April Is National Landscape Architecture Month

April Is National Landscape Architecture Month

April is National Landscape Architecture Month. It’s a month to celebrate the legacy of the landscape architecture profession and the role of landscape architects in creating the special places in which we live, work and play. As we celebrate the profession, it is our vision that shapes the land for public enjoyment.

Residential gardens, such as, the Donnell Garden at the tip of San Pablo Bay is considered a major garden in the advent of the modern landscape movement in California. It was to become the most significant single residential garden project of the combined talents of Thomas Church and Lawrence Halprin, which conjures some of the free-flowing expressionism of the time, reflected on canvas by Le Corbusier or Picasso. It is a grand demonstration of form, purpose, and detail in landscape design.

Sea Ranch by Lawrence Halprin is a community inspired by the idealized country life. It is a residential development that accommodates more than twenty-three hundred homesites on about 4,000 acres, but maintains the natural environment as the dominant feature. It lacks the cookie-cutter approach to land planning, by setting aside approximately 50 percent of the land as common areas, and clustering the homes together into little hamlets.

The Kaiser Building in Oakland by Ted Osmundson and the Oakland Museum by Dan Kiley emerged as prototypes for a new kind of urban spaces, a multiple use luxuriant green commons in the hardscape heart of the city. Holding the promise of increased open space through shared assets in an era of limited resources, it was a new paradigm for parkland to be constructed on roofs. SWA’s Silicon Graphics’ North Charleston project is another example of seeing beyond the box, where the expressed desire of all parties was to establish a strong campus identity, while blurring the lines between the private and public realms. The park and campus are seen as the two complimentary halves of a larger civic garden, detailed, and scaled to its ex-urban situation.

Hargreaves Associates was commissioned by the City of San José to design its oldest open space into a major focal point to celebrate its commercial and cultural renaissance. The site has been important for the City since it’s beginning as a pueblo. The new Plaza Park has indeed become a focal image for the City. Its success can be gauged by the overwhelming acceptance and use by the public for browsing at weekend market stalls, watching street performers, playing among the fountain jets, or as in the best traditions of parks, simply sitting and watching the world go by.

The landscape architectural staff of East Bay Regional Park District began with the concept of using storm water drainage to create wetland and marsh areas. This concept was endorsed by the Alameda County Flood Control District, which saw the proposed wetland areas as increased capacity for their Alameda Creek flood control channel. A series of ponds was designed and developed recreating the marsh areas that had existed before the creation of the flood control channel. This new marsh provided the district with the opportunity to develop an excellent example of a park that has a variety of recreational, educational, and natural elements.

This is such a small list of landscape architectural projects that have shaped the human interface with the exterior environment, which is our paint palette to express our visions to protect, enhance, and modify the landscape for human enjoyment. As we celebrate National Landscape Architecture Month in April, we should congratulate ourselves on a job well done, but never forgetting that our first responsibility is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

Posted in ASLA News, Design. .

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