architecture vs. landscape architecture

In December 2018 the Los Angeles Times triumphantly announced “L.A. architects, designers named among the ‘best of the best’: The 2019 AD100 list.” How exciting to make Architectural Digest’s “list recognizing 100 top talents worldwide in the field of design, deemed the ‘best of the best’ by the editorial staff at the style-setting magazine.” A great start to the new year, with lots of beautiful landscapes to blog about! I knew landscapes wouldn’t be front and center in the photos focusing on architecture and design, they never are, but certainly there would be glimpses of what for me is always the scene stealer, even if pushed to the margins of the photos. Design bloggers only have to decide what color they want to talk about on a given day, whether to alternately extol maximalism or minimalism, and the choices are endless. Garden and landscape design bloggers? Slim pickings. (To make matters worse, landscape design credit on a project is often omitted — see here.) So I hungrily checked every portfolio listed by the LA Times but found that if any exterior shots were included at all, they disappointingly revealed that lawn and architects are still bff’s. Hey, guys, the 1960s called, and they want their landscape design back…

 photo kaufmann-house-3-1920x1390.jpg
Kaufman house, Palm Springs, California (Marmol Radziner)
(what a lizard habitat!)

Soon, I hope, when building the “nests” for our species (which impacts the nests of so many other species), the landscape will never be an afterthought. Searching through the portfolios, I did find a firm that included a “landscape” category: Marmol Radziner, with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. These photos are from their portfolio, including the above Kaufman house, Palm Springs, California.

 photo Marmol_Radziner-Mandeville-Canyon-1920x1280.jpg
Mandeville Canyon, Los Angeles
 photo lilac-drive-9-1920x1438.jpg
Lilac Drive, Montecito, Calif.

Maybe you’ll argue that it’s the client still asking for monoculture landscapes of lawn. Everyone knows what to do with lawn. Reassuringly controllable. As Marmol Radziner shows, plantings don’t have to be overly complicated. Easy maintenance upkeep and water-wise are not mutually exclusive. Bunch grasses are simple, effective, deliciously wind-driven. And the above photo reminds me of the words of landscape architect Steve Martino: “A basic garden unit is a wall, a tree, a chair, and a little water. If you don’t have that, you don’t have a garden.” (quote found here)

 photo rolston-3-1920x1516.jpg
Levitt House, Beverly Hills, Calif.
 photo scottsdale-3-1920x1091.jpg
Scottsdale, Arizona
 photo benvenuto-court-1-1920x1280.jpg
Truckee, Calif.
 photo horizon-landscape-4-1920x1398.jpg
small garden Venice, Ca

California is a hotbed of talent … it always has been and still is. … When you think of California design now, you think of indoor-outdoor, you think of houses that let in the sun, let in the light … the talent coming out of L.A. is amazing” — my emphasis! (“L.A. architects, designers named among the ‘best of the best’: The 2019 AD100 list.”)

Let’s emphasize the “outdoor” in “indoor-outdoor” for once. Let in the light, yes, but check out the shadows plants throw against walls, the seductive rustling of the wind in the trees, the myriad inspirational shapes and forms of plants — and the air cleansing and cooling effects they bring to our homes in summer, the wildlife they nurture year-round. (And I include myself in that “wildlife.”) Here’s to a “Green New Deal,” where architecture and landscape architecture shake hands in 2019 and never let go!

(And Happy New Year!)

This entry was posted in artists, design and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to architecture vs. landscape architecture

  1. Kris P says:

    Yay, Denise! I’m with you on every point. I just watched HGTV’s 2019 Dream House and, while there was a nano-second of coverage showing people frantically planting an unidentified something in advance of the big reveal, there was no discussion of a landscape plan, no segment featuring a landscape architect or designer, nothing on the special planting requirements of the Montana site, and, if there was any credit given related to the landscaping at the end of the segment, I was too bored by that point to pay attention. Why HGTV persists in keeping the “G” is beyond me – I’ve lost all interest in the network. Curb appeal is still a big deal when it comes to buying a house but builders and sellers seem to have wholly lost track of the importance that landscape plays in that regard.

  2. Elaine says:

    Landscaping not only is good for the soul and planet but it also helps attract attention when selling the house. Boring lawn doesn’t cut it when more interesting plants can be used.

  3. Peter says:

    You go, gardener! I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for the morning laugh – “Hey, guys, the 1960s called, and they want their landscape design back…” The landscape work you’ve shown is a delight.

  4. Hans Brough says:

    I agree! Let’s not forget the institutions in CA where many Landscape Architects go to learn before they practice (which ironically are not in S. CA) – Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and UC Berkeley etc.

    There are some good gardening and design shows on Netflix that I go to for inspiration and entertainment – most seem to be English. In particular I’ve really enjoyed Monty Don as he tours the great gardens of France, Italy and helps home owners on a much smaller scale back in England.

  5. hb says:

    Most Americans are profoundly alienated from any non-human species other than those they can eat or pet.

    Some lovely examples of why that is so sad in your post. Love those Acacia pendulas (?) in the sea of blue Senecio, the Palm Springs lizard paradise, and all the rest.

  6. You’re correct that treating the garden as an afterthought is one of several big issues. Today is my 30 year mark of being in landscape architecture, the lack of connection except what a few others in other places with a few exceptional clients is why I’m not continuing except for my own garden.

    HGTV, diva architects, unrealistic clients, & immediate satisfaction are some other issues.

    You make many good points on things needing not be an afterthought. That Kaufman boulder field with spare desert plants is great in aesthetic, though I’m unsure with reflected heat in such a hot place. To me, though, until the middle and lower incomes embrace good design and its benefits for their homes, it will continue to be a botique plaything of the few.

    Thanks for the links; I’ll explore them. I used to talk with Martino the few times our paths would cross, his wicked humor helped me through much!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *