The American Society of Landscape Architects recently announced the launch of The Landscape Architect’s Guide to Washington, D.C. – just the first of many across the country. It’s an online, mobile-friendly guide to more than 75 historic, modern and contemporary designed spaces in D.C., with 800+ photos and expert commentary by 20 local landscape architects. It covers not just the usual touristy places but interesting sites in all parts of the city. Sixteen well planned tours, in fact.
Very cool! It’ll be a great resource for our 19 million annual visitors and for locals, too.
But the guide will serve another, more subtle purpose – to elevate public understanding of what landscape architects actually do. As Adrian Higgins said, “As with architects and engineers, much of the profession’s work is not apparent and deals with concerns such as circulation patterns and storm-water management and has focused increasingly in recent years on sustainable design.”
One example of a designed space that isn’t obviously designed is the stretch of Pennsylania Ave in front of the White House. It was closed to traffic after 9/11 and became the subject of an international competition to redesign it for pedestrian and First Amendment use while providing access to emergency vehicles and the whole inaugural migillah every four years. After the winner was chosen, dozens of planning agency meetings were needed to hammer out every imaginable detail – from the exact varieties of American elms to the perfect slope of the street. I worked for that agency at the time and sat through every one of those meetings, so came to appreciate the often hidden hand of landscape architects in our lives.
There’s more about the Guide on The Dirt.