Cartographic Grounds: Projecting the Landscape Imaginary

The drawing of a parallel between cartography and architecture is instructive. Each lies in the field of the practical arts; each is older than history; and each, since its beginnings, has been more or less under the control of its consumers.

Arthur H. Robinson, The Look of Maps

Cartographic Grounds reconciles the precision and instrumentality of the plan with the geographic and territorial implications of the map. In light of the ascendance of “mapping” and data visualization in design culture, and the privileging of abstract forces and flows, the exhibition reimagines the projective potential of cartographic practices that afford greater proximity to the manifestation and manipulation of the ground itself. The approaches presented here offer landscape architecture a long-overdue reconciliation of the depiction of the ground as a site of design with the geological and geographic, the regional and the territorial. They provide contemporary design practice with clues to the imaginative intersection of the material and the digital, the data-driven and the experiential.

The exhibition reexamines the depiction of the horizontal surfaces and material grounds of landscape architecture. It describes a series of foundational techniques used in the representation of the ground, taken from various disciplinary sources. Through the analysis of a series of maps and plans, we identified eleven graphic systems within four broad themes. These cartographic strategies offer an instrumental array for describing various conditions: subsurface, temporal, aqueous, and terrestrial. These representational tools are at once analytical and projective, precise yet speculative. Taken together, they form a rich symbolic language capable of describing existing and imagined landscapes.

Jill Desimini, Curator

This exhibition was initiated by Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the Faculty of Design and Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design, and Charles Waldheim, John E. Irving Professor of Landscape Architecture and Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture.


Designers and Cartographers

Jean-Charles Adolphe Alphand
Architectural Research Office
Alexander Dallas Bache
Karl Baedeker
George F. Becker
Heinrich Karl Wilhelm Berghaus
Jacques Bertin
George Bradshaw
Bureau Bas Smets
Joan Busquets
Aaron Straup Cope
James Corner Field Operations
Nicolaas Cruquius
William Morris Davis
Michel Desvigne Paysagistes
Guillaume Henri Dufour
Jean-Louis Dupain-Triel
Charles Eliot
Future Cities Lab, Jason Kelly Johnson and Nataly Gattegno
Patrick Geddes
Geographers’ A-Z Map Company
Google Maps
H.M. Gousha Company
Griffith Morgan Hopkins
Gustafson, Guthrie, Nichol
Arnold Guyot and Count H. de Pourtales Gorgier
Zaha Hadid Architects
Washington Hood and Major J.D. Graham
Alexander von Humboldt
Geoffrey Hutchings
Xaver Imfeld
Eduard Imhof
Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson Ltd.
Jeppesen and Company
Patrick Kennelly
Clarence King
Leonardo da Vinci
Heinz Leuzinger
A.K. Lobeck
J.D. Love and Howard F. Albee
Benton MacKaye
Anuradha Mathur and Dilip da Cunha
Thomas Milne
Mosbach Paysagistes
New Geographies Lab (Hashim Sarkis, Andrew McGee, Jarrad Morgan)
Giambattista Nolli
Office for Metropolitan Architecture
OPSYS/Landscape Infrastructure Lab—Pierre Bélanger
Edward Otho Cresap Ord
Matthew Paris
William T. Peele, Richard K. Rogers, Bradford Washburn, Tibor G. Toth
Carme Pinos and Enric Miralles
J.W. Powell
Erwin Raisz
Arthur H. Robinson
Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter
Visconde de Santarém
Hal Shelton
William Smith
Alison and Peter Smithson
Somatic Collaborative/Felipe Correa
Staman Maps
Rudolf Staub
Clemens Steenbergen, Johan van der Zwart, and Joost Grootens
Carl Steinitz and the Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Spatial Analysis
Stoss Landscape Urbanism
Ranzan Takai
Paola Viganò and Bernardo Secchi
Vogt Landscape Architects
A. Wainwright
Wallace, McHarg, Roberts and Todd
Johann Heinrich Weiss
West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture
John E. Weyss
G.M. Wheeler
Franz Ludwig Pfyffer von Wyher
Richard Saul Wurman

Collections and Institutions

Harvard University:
Frances Loeb Library, Graduate School of Design
Pusey Map Collection
Widener Library
Cabot Science Library
Ernst Mayr Library

Alpines Museum der Schweiz
The Army Map Service, Corps of Engineers, United States Department of the Army
Badan Koordinasi Survei dan Pemetaan Nasional (Bakosurtanal)
Bibliothèque Nationale de France
British Cartographic Society
British Geological Survey
British Library Board
British Ministry of Town and Country Planning
Bundesamt für Landestopografie
Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières
Dartmouth College Library
David Rumsey Historical Map Collection
Defense Mapping Agency Aerospace Center
Ente Nazionale Industrie Turistiche and Ferrovie dello Stato
ETH-Bibliothek Zürich
Fairey Surveys Ltd. for the State of Bahrain
Geological Survey of Japan
Geospatial Information Authority of Japan
Institut National de l’Information Géographique et Forestière
Instituto Geográfico Militar de Chile—Archivo Técnico
International Hydrographic Organization
Korean National Geographic Information Institute
Lands and Surveys Department, Bahamas Government
Library of Congress Geography and Map Division
London County Council
Ministère des Travaux Publics et des Transports
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Geographic Society
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Naturforschende Gesellschaft Zürich
Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas
Royal Collection Trust
The Sanborn Map Company
Survey Department, His Majesty’s Government of Nepal (in cooperation with the Government of Finland)
Surveyor-General Rhodesia
United States Board of Surveys and Maps
United States Federal Aviation Administration
United States Geological Survey
United Stated National Park Service
United States NavyUniversity of Strathclyde Library

Related Event

Cartographic Grounds: Projecting the Landscape Imaginary,” Panel Discussion with Mohsen Mostafavi, Charles Waldheim, Bobby Pietrusko and Jill Desimini