Couldn’t make it to Phoenix? Well, the two general sessions from the ASLA 2012 Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, were recorded and are now freely available. The first video, above, shows Charles Fishman, investigative journalist and author of The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water, kicking off the first general session with a thought-provoking case for “smart water.” Arguing that human civilization can use water “more smartly and creatively,” Fishman also said landscape architects can play a central role as “water revolutionaries,” moving the planet to a more respectful approach to water consumption and reuse.
Landscape architects, he said, “design the places we live in, the places we play in, the places that create our modern world.” These designers create “parks, green ways, memorials, and energetic downtowns.” They “reconnect us with the natural world.” Given everything landscape architects do requires water, these designers can help lead the change in way water is managed. And it sounds as if there’s no time for delay in many places: Fishman said the availability of water, natural systems underlying water, and consumption of water are all changing.
The second video shows some of the world’s leading design critics in a dynamic give-and-take on the role of landscape architects in designing cities. Bradford McKee, editor of Landscape Architecture Magazine, organized a panel that consisted of Inga Saffron, architecture critic, The Philadelphia Inquirer; John King, Hon. ASLA, urban design critic, The San Francisco Chronicle; Steven Litt, architecture and urban design critic, The Plain Dealer; Chistopher Hume, urban design columnist, The Toronto Star; and Christopher Hawthorne, architecture critic, The Los Angeles Times.
Throughout the session, landscape architecture was painted as a critical, but often missing, element of urban design. As cities grapple with climate change and the legacy of suburban sprawl, landscape architects need to assert themselves not only as designers of parks and gardens, but as designers of all public infrastructure.
Also available are brief write-ups of the two sessions: Charles Fishman: “Landscape Architects Can be Water Revolutionaries,” and Design Critics: Landscape Architects Can Take the Lead in Designing Cities.