11 Designs Every Student Must Know

As students, we are exposed to a dizzying stream of designed environments.  Its a challenge to recognize and understand the seemingly endless supply of incredible (and terrible) places.  The shear number is a testament to the influence of our field, but what are the most important ones?  What are the standards by which we can contrast our own work and the work of others.   I asked our faculty to us their opinion on the most import designs that have been build over the last half century or so.  Here are Kofi’s and Jay’s responses…

1. Levittown, NY–the model for a lot of the suburban fabric we’ve inherited today. not great for “design”, but “great” for embodying the land values and ethics we continue to face today.

2. The Miller Garden, Columbus, Indiana by Dan Kiley-an icon of modernist residential design, building and site work together as a series of outdoor rooms, and still feels like the midwest.

3. GM Tech Center, Warren, MI by Eero Saarinen and Thomas Church–another icon of modernist design, literally expressing the industrial process in international modernist vocab…wouldn’t do it today, but in it’s time, a classic

4. Sea Ranch, California. Moore, Eshrick, and Lawrence Halprin–an alternative approach to melding architecture and site, where site forces drammatically influenced the form of the buildings…it’s showing it’s age, but at the time, great.

5. Gasworks Park, Seattle.  Richard Haag–popularized reclaimation of industrial sites for recreation, and the juxtaposition of industrial history with bucolic settings…leading to

6. Landschaftpark Duisburg Nord, Rurhr Valley, Germany by Peter Latz–went beyond haag, and programmed the industrial ruins, and offered site remediation strategies for the garden landscape

7. Parc la Villete, Paris by Bernard Tschumi–park and landscape as living diagram, an influential break fro the past (for good and for ill) that popularized the idea of ambiguity and adaptation to site elements to mainstream landscape architecture thinking.

8. Paley Park, New York by Zion and Breen–the granddaddy of all “pocket parks”.

9. Vietnam War Memorial, Washington DD by Maya Lin–put minimalism as a design aesthetic into the mainstream, as well as the over-memorialization of america.

10. Disney World, Orlando by the Walt Disney Company–take your pick: total devastation of local ecosystems, auto dominance and seas of parking, the “valuing” of landscape based on popularity and revenue generation (above other values), “disneyfication” of culture and land process reducing complicated relationships to soundbites, theme parks,later “lifestyle centers” i.e southpoint mall, etc…it sums up thestate of where we are today pretty well i think.

11. Village Homes.  Davis, CA.  Micheal & Judy Corbett. A model of attempted sustainable land development.