disingwhitnature Some years later, however, another nail in the coffin of the designed landscape was drilled: the publication of Ian McHarg’s Design with Nature, which cited the natural world as the only viable model for landscape architecture. This text provided landscape architects with both an analytical method and sufficient moral grounds to avoid almost completely decisions of form and design -that is, if design is taken as the concious shaping of landscape rather than its stewardship alone. McHarg emphasized the evolving study of natural ecology and remained within the bounds of natural processes and planning. A strong moral imperative underpinned the discourse; it mixed science with evangelism -a sort of ecofundamentalism. In his writtings and lectures, McHarg took no prisoners and allowed no quarter.

Marc Treib, Nature Recalled (1999)

I believe that works of landscape architecture are more than designed ecosystems, more than strategies for open-ended processes. They are cultural products with distinct forms and experiences that evoke attitudes and feelings through space, sequence and form. Like literature and art, images and narratives, landscape architecture can play a role in building sustained public support for the environment. Geographer Denis Cosgrove underscores this in his book, Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape, when he argues that cultural products such as works of landscape architecture can change human consciousness as well as modes of production like the neo-liberal capitalism that characterizes late 20th- and early 21st- century American society and that is so at odds with human, regional and global health. So while I do not believe that design can change society, I do believe it can alter an individual’s consciousness and perhaps assist in restructuring her priorities and values.

Elizabeth K. Meyer,  Sustaining Beauty (2008)


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