A Eulogy for Landscape Architecture

Suggested Reading: Kerb 17: Is L.A. Dead?

Every once and a while a publication comes along that has a profound effect on the audience it addresses. Kerb journal of landscape architecture issue 17, published by RMIT (the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology), is such a publication.

“Dear landscape architecture,


Are you dead?

Were you ever alive?

If so, what did you achieve? What significance did you have? Will you be remembered?

Probably not… ” pg.73

The editors pose the question above, “Is landscape architecture dead?” They lament that “the most unforgettable event in your life occurs when leaving academia for professional practice…where one minute you experiment with supposedly new ideas…only later to completely ignore new ideas and submit to the pressures of reality.” To remain relevant they challenge us to engage both modes of thinking and fuse these worlds together.

Jason King reviewed in his blog Landscape+Urbanism “The editors of this particular volume of KERB seem to take on a really dangerous topic with a freshness that was missing in many of the iterations of this long-standing dialogue.” For many of us unfamiliar with this “long-standing dialogue” Kerb 17 provides an introduction that also addresses purely contemporary concerns…

Physical landscape is now not the only mediator of our interactions – virtual landscapes and digital information are now also landscapes we work with…How do we design for and between the physical and the digital? pg.27

Joshua Zeunert’s essay Land Architect, has spurred many online discussions among landscape architects see incited by his statement “the ‘scape’ is killing the profession”. In his essay Zuenert uses his biting wit to pose serious questions in a quasi-comical manner…

The pertinent question for all LA’s is this: In all honesty and in the spirit of brutal self-awareness, are we currently capable of achieving a clear and accurate cocktail party summation of our job description? pg. 91

As future landscape architects this thought provoking and sometimes disturbing collection of essays primarily addresses us. As students we need to be engaged in discussions such as the ones held in Kerb 17 that can help transfuse life back into the profession, if it is true as they suggest, that it is indeed dying.

-Marie Hermansson

BLA, Student ASLA

Purchase kerb at: http://www.amazon.com/Kerb-17-L-Dead/dp/B002D09I6M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid

Kerb was founded by, and continues to be produced by, undergraduate students of the Landscape Architecture program at RMIT.