Theories of Landscape as Urbanism, Landscape as Infrastructure: Paradigms, Practices, Prospects

Responding to contemporary urban patterns, ecological pressures and decaying infrastructures, this course brings together a series of influential thinkers and researchers from the design commons across North America to discuss different methods, models and measures of large scale, long range design for the 21st century. Organized around a sequence of weekly topics and readings, guest presentations focus on the future of the region that, with the predominance of landscape ecology and the revival of geography worldwide, challenge the laissez-faire dogma of neo-liberalist economics, Fordist forms of civil engineering, and Euclidean planning policies that marked the past century. From Geddes to Gottmann, Mackaye to Mumford, Olmsted to Odum, the first part of the course re-examines a series of influential plans, projects, and practitioners to trace a cross-section through the history of urbanization in North America and the industrialized world to chart the trajectory of an emergent regional paradigm. Foregrounding the nascent reciprocity between ecology, economy and energy, the second part of the course opens a horizon on pressing issues facing cities today to recast the infrastructural and geopolitical role of landscape as operating system for future urbanism. Drawing from an array of contemporary projects and historic public works, the course concludes with student-led presentations of mapping projects that focus on transboundary watershed regions throughout the world; regions where, according to the United Nations, more than 60% of the world population will be living by the year 2030. Foreshadowing the preeminence of ecology in cities and infrastructures, the motive of the course is to construct a clear, multivalent discourse on the field of landscape as it becomes the locus of intellectual, ecological and economic change of significance, globally. The course is an advanced offering from the Department of Landscape Architecture and is open to graduate students in the disciplines of landscape architecture, urban design, planning, public policy, architecture and civil engineering (limited enrollment).