Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Is Landscape Urbanism replacing New Urbanism?

Bat Yam Landscape Urbanism Biennale: The Neighbor's Lawn. Design by Els Verbakel, Elie Derman The Neighbor’s Lawn installation offers a platform for bringing together residents of old apartment buildings at the city's entrance and visitors to the Biennale. Downloaded from
Plan for Milan.
Wikipedia defines landscape urbanism as ‘a theory of urbanism arguing that landscape, rather than architecture, is more capable of organizing the city and enhancing the urban experience’. This definition comes from The landscape urbanism reader edited by Charles Waldheim (Princeton Architectural Press, 2006). 
Excerpts from the article by Andres Duany. published at
¨Last April, upon attending a remarkable conference at the Harvard GSD, I predicted that it would be taken over in a coup. I recognized a classic Latin American-style operation. It was clear that the venerable Urban Design program would be eliminated or replaced by Landscape Urbanism. Today, it is possible to confirm that the coup was completed in September—and that it was a strategic masterpiece.
To summarize: The first step was the hiring of Charles Waldheim, who, after long and patient preparation, had circled in from the academic hinterland acquiring “famous victories” at Illinois and Toronto. The second step was the “general strike” of the huge Ecological Urbanism Conference—the one that I attended last April.
The conference began with a shock: Rem Koolhaas’ keynote address destabilized the then-current GSD regime. It was most unexpected to see the grand, aging revolutionary, distancing himself from all starchitect work (including his own) and aligning anew with his origins in the “humble, local and climatically responsive” work of his 60s teacher, Jane Drew.
Then another shock: Midway though the conference there was suddenly a very unusual performance for a university president. Drew Faust transcended the expected insipid greeting, baring quite some fang when stating forcibly that the GSD was going to change to the ecological line—and to get used to it.
The third step was the publication of a red brick-like summa of the proceedings, Ecological Urbanism—the first official guide of the new regime. In size and weight and format it is clearly a replacement to Rem’s silver SMLXL testament.
Then last month, by interview, Charles Waldheim disclosed that the once”small” Landscape Architecture Department he now heads would within a year hire ten new faculty. He also announced (in both the interview and in the summa) the official name change for the party, from the revolutionary, unique, branded, “Landscape Urbanism” to the reassuring, generalized, mature—conservative even—“Ecological Urbanism”.
Then this week [October 18] it was announced that Rahul Mehrotra (a denizen of India) was hired as a full professor with tenure to head the Urban Design Program. Alex Krieger, the levelheaded head of that program is presumably out. It is not difficult to conclude given Rahul’s specialization, that the Urban Design Program will morph entirely toward third world initiatives—all offshore—thereby leaving the field clear for Landscape/Ecological Urbanism to be the GSD’s only urban program operating in North America and Europe.
Done! This coup was brilliantly conceived and comprehensively executed. Machado and Silvetti, plantados in gentlemanly formal principles, will probably retire soon in frustration. The agile Koolhaas will be the one Old Party survivor, as he has already provided the intellectual underpinnings for Urban Design’s third world focus (with his Lagos work) while supplying infrastructural meta-visions (North Sea Power Rings et al) such that will allow Ecological Urbanism to seem downright pragmatic.¨
Read the full article:

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