In an era of singular focus on environmental issues, how do we characterize other aspects of design, such as the role materials play in questions of expression, aesthetic sensibility, form, and perception? Three leading landscape architects will discuss how they communicate affective qualities in the landscape through specific material manipulations. Rather than being either merely decorative or sustainable, materials have the capacity to engage cognition, engage cultural discourse, and construct difference in otherwise homogeneous environments, offering a critique to the idea of landscape as a neutral surface for events. Moderated by Anita Berrizbeitia, professor of landscape architecture and chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture.
Andrea Cochran, FASLA, winner of the 2014 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in Landscape Architecture, believes that landscape architecture has the power to alter perceptions and ultimately initiate a deeper respect for the environment. Central to this belief is a conviction that materials possess inherent psychological content. Cochran begins her designs by envisioning how one will feel in the place. Through carefully selecting materials for their visual and sensorial qualities, and paying special attention to craft, her work elicits strong emotional responses in the landscapes. Though the overall spatial configuration of a project drives the design, ultimately materials support the integrity of the space and maximize the experience of the user. Cochran’s seventeen-person studio, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture (ACLA), is set apart by an emphasis on the experiential and material quality of built work, and effectively pursuing design excellence from a project’s inception to diligent oversight of its construction. A cross-pollination of ideas amongst project types is critical to the practice; experimentation pursued in smaller projects, where there is a greater ability to take risks, informs innovations at a civic scale.
James A. Lord founded Surfacedesign in 2001, his 27 years of experience and design vision lead the firm’s diverse portfolio of award-winning landscapes. Through leadership and innovative design, James has established Surfacedesign’s international reputation in urban design and sustainable landscape architecture in such notable projects as the AIA-award winning Smithsonian Masterplan, Auckland International Airport, Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary Plaza and ASLA award-winning IBM Plaza Honolulu. James’ ideals-balancing culture, ecology and design vision with fiscal realities to ultimately create poetic spaces and experiences resonate through the office, no matter how big or small the project.
Surfacedesign is a landscape architecture and urban design firm based in San Francisco, California. This internationally award-winning practice focuses on creating dynamic parks, campuses, plazas, waterfronts, civic landscapes and private gardens. Under the leadership of James A. Lord, Roderick Wyllie and Geoff di Girolamo, a multidisciplinary staff of landscape architects, urban designers and architects provide clients with a wide range of services. The firm’s approach emphasizes and celebrates the unique context of each project, and in the case of a public client, the project’s constituency. Working to cultivate a common understanding about project objectives through community engagement, Surfacedesign employs innovative design strategies to balance social, environmental and cultural goals for each project.
Ken Smith is one of the best-known of a generation of landscape architects equally at home in the worlds of art, architecture, and urbanism. Trained in both design and the fine arts, he explores the relationship between art, contemporary culture, and landscape. Ken Smith Workshop, established in 1992 and based in New York City, is an award winning design firm with experience in a wide variety and scale of projects, practicing landscape design primarily in the realm of public space. Typical design problems involve making landscape space within the context of existing, reworked or complex urban fabric. This requires a strategic approach in making the strongest conceptual landscapes within the limits and possibilities of the site’s infrastructure, context and program. This has led to pushing beyond traditional landscape typologies of plaza, street, and garden to conceptualize landscapes that are hybridized from diverse traditions and influences of the contemporary culture.
Principal Speaker: 1672
with Ken Smith MLA ’86, Andrea Cochran MLA ’79, and James Lord MLA ’96
Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the Public Programs Office at (617) 496-2414 or [email protected].