Thirty renowned landscape architects identify the next generation of practitioners who are charting new ground.
The innovation-focused hook – 30 well-known landscape architects choose 30 should-be-known practitioners – foregrounds reputation and hints at torch passing. Although it gestures to the future, this book by Meaghan Kombol is very much an inspiring snapshot of the past decade and the present moment in landscape architecture. It’s also a robust global survey of the profession’s enduring debates and nascent trends, presented in succinct, jargon-free profiles of the selected, with beautifully reproduced images of recent and future projects that will send you to Google to see more.
With 20 countries represented, 30:30’s reach is extensive. Some obvious omissions (was Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, surely Canada’s most renowned landscape architect, invited to participate?) amount to quibbles in such a well-rounded, inclusive survey of firms, and all are packaged with the freshness that Phaidon does so well.
What’s unique among such books is how personalities shine through. Sidebars, for instance, list the designers’ favourite plants, materials, and even sounds; Marc Ryan of Public Work chose “the crack of a bat”. Such details provide fascinating glimpses into inspiration, creative processes, and philosophical and practical approaches.
Of course, climate change and biodiversity are recurring themes, though some practitioners offer provocations, such as Luis Callejas saying he enjoys it when his students at the Harvard Graduate School of Design “feel liberated from using the moral weight of ecology as a design medium.” And who knew landscape architects were masters of low-key humour? “Who don’t we collaborate with? Maybe dentists,” says James A. Lord of the profession’s inherently cross-disciplinary nature.
There is great variety among practitioners and their work, which establishes a vital and positive tone throughout, and is a resounding affirmation of landscape architecture’s power, potential, and relevance.
Lorraine Johnson is the editor of Ground: Landscape Architect Quarterly and the author of numerous books on gardening with native plants.