The International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) has announced Adriaan Geuze, International ASLA, founder of the global landscape architecture firm West 8, has received the 2022 Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Award, the “preeminent award for landscape architects and the highest honor IFLA can bestow.” The jury, which included ASLA CEO Torey Carter-Conneen, stated that “Geuze is one of the most significant landscape architects in the world today.” His firm’s projects in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. have “changed the relationship between cities, nature, and people.”
West 8 has completed more than 200 landscape architecture, planning, and urban design projects in over 60 countries, on four continents, IFLA writes.
West 8 says its design philosophy is about interweaving “function, engineering, sustainability, symbolism, expression — and both the vulnerability and euphoria of mass culture.”
“Landscape, infrastructure, nature, and historical legacies” coalesce to shape our cities. “The analysis of the unseen logic — ecology, infrastructure, water and soil conditions, building programs, and people” – enables landscape architecture “to be at the forefront of sustainability, ecological sensitivity, and resilience.”
In the U.S., the firm is perhaps best known work for their plan for Governors Island in New York City, which won an ASLA professional award, and The Hills, a set of constructed slopes at the north end of the island that offers 360 views of Staten Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, lower Manhattan, and Jersey City, along with a 36-foot-long slide. In an 2016 article in The New Yorker, design critic Alexandra Lange said Geuze has reinvented the concept of the park with Governors Island and his other projects in Europe.
Lange reveals the sense of discovery the Hills offer: “In holding you here, between the city and the peaks, Geuze delays the big reveal, focusing attention on the curtain, on the way that the landscape architecture has embroidered the ground beneath your feet. Then he draws the curtain back to show a star that needs no introduction: as a visitor strolls down the path, the Hills part to reveal the Statue of Liberty.”
Other significant recent projects include Máximapark outside Utrecht, a city in the center of the Netherlands. The massive 740-acre park serves as a “unifying public space” for a new suburb of 100,000 people.
The park includes 123 acres of traditional park features, including “woods, fields, meandering watercourses, ponds, pedestrian areas, a playground, bridges and formal avenues for visitors to enjoy.” Another 246 acres was given over to a local association for sports fields. And the rest was donated back to the city to develop as housing in order to ensure the park has a dedicated community and sense of security. A 2-mile long, nearly 20-foot-tall honey comb-shaped pergola, which winds through the park, not only helps demarcate the public space, but also provides habitat for climbing plants, bats, birds, and insects.
And in Madrid, Spain, Geuze and his team led Madrid Río, a six-billion Euro project, with Spanish architecture firms Burgos & Garrido, Porras La Casta, and Rubio & A-Sala. Capping a highway tunnel and its exits, the project revitalizes a 3.7-mile-long stretch of the River Manzanares. A series of seven new parks, each distinct, connect into a linear park along the river, stitching communities together.
One road off the highway was relocated, creating space for a 1,000-vehicle underground parking garage, which was then capped with a garden. Twenty new bridges increase access to the river and surrounding communities. The new park system won an Urban Land Institute Open Space Award in 2018.
For Geuze, these projects highlight that “public space has become the dominant subject for the landscape architecture profession. Today demands a proactive attitude:
- to engineer softscape and shade against hardscape
- to speak out for the public and free spaces against the commercialization of the urban realm
- to veto traffic-dominated streetscapes
- to campaign for pedestrian-friendly cities
- and above all to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all user groups.”