Redesigning Landscape Architecture for the 21st Century

Landscape architects are often thought of as the outdoor equivalent of interior decorators ("exterior decorators"?) doing little more than selecting and arranging some nice-looking plants. But with the help of a $4 million grant, the Harvard Graduate School of Design is reimagining the field for a new era of interaction between cities, buildings, and the natural environment.

From The Boston Globe

: keep up with changes in the profession, landscape architecture professors are meeting with environmental scientists, biologists, anthropologists, engineers, and political scientists across campus to jointly transform buildings and their surroundings.

Landscape architecture is well positioned to help respond to concerns over climate change and the expected sea-level rise, [department chairman Charles Waldheim] said, as well as the need to clean up toxic waste left by a previous generation of developers.

“There’s an increasing sense that landscape architects are really able to better manage complex urban change over time’’ than people in other professions, he said. Landscape architecture “now ends up being a place where the arts, questions of urbanism, and questions of ecology can connect.’’

This is smart. Los Angeles, for example, is looking at requiring houses and businesses to capture any rainwater and prevent runoff. Contractors and traditional architects don't know how to do that stuff. But it's exactly the kind of work you'd want a more interdisciplinary, involved cohort of landscape architects to help with.