Beyond the Quotidian Landscape

National
Thursday, October 29, 2009
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The natural landscaping at Sea Ranch is the work of Laurence Halprin.

The naturalistic landscape at Sea Ranch is the work of the late Lawrence Halprin. (Image courtesy of the Cultural Landscape Foundation)

The Cultural Landscape Foundation has just launched What’s Out There,a database of landscapes with some sort of historical significance: parks big and small, and various important modern landscapes. Because these public spaces are often part of our quotidian routines, it’s easy to be completely oblivious to the designer or how the space participates in the history of landscape design. Have a look at  “What’s Out There”–a wonderful title that positively invites browsing–and learn more about what is just around the corner from where you are.

A good place to start is in Advanced Search, where you can browse works by one particular landscape designer (“Pioneer”). Did you know that Isamu Noguchi designed a playground in Georgia? Or simply type “Park” into the search box and start browsing.

As the last of the pioneering Modernist landscape designers leave us (like Lawrence Halprin, who died this last Sunday),  the launch of such a database feels particularly timely. Halprin and many other important designers are only represented by a handful of works in the database, but hopefully this is just a start for a most worthy enterprise.

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