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LA+ ICONOCLAST asks you to redesign New York’s Central Park, which has been fictionally devastated by eco-terrorists. Here’s the brief:
Central Park is arguably the canonical work of modern landscape architecture. Its aesthetic and socio-political ideals of health, beauty and democracy underpin the profession of landscape architecture, which Olmsted first named, to this day. Writing of the park in 1973, the artist Robert Smithson claimed that Olmsted “combined both art and reclamation in Central Park in a way that is truly in advance of his times.” But what would Olmsted do today? What will you do?
This competition asks that you redesign Central Park, starting, as Olmsted and Calvert Vaux did, from scratch. In doing so this competition seeks to explore the following questions: 1) If in parks, no matter how faux or superficial, we manifest a collective aesthetic expression of our relationship with the “natural” world, then what, on the occasion of nature’s disappearance, is the aesthetic of that relationship today? 2) What is the role of a large urban park today? 3) How might issues of aesthetics on the one hand and performance on the other coalesce into what Olmsted described as “a single work of art”? 4) Given the extraordinary history of the Central Park site, the competition asks how the new interprets the old, and how together, the new and the old anticipate the future.
In short, the brief is to create the concept for a new, 21st century Central Park. The brief asks for a plan, a short explanatory text, and discretionary supporting imagery. The competition favors conceptual rigor and imagination, and places a premium on engagement with the questions outlined above. Basic issues of feasibility, materiality, circulation, and programming will also be taken into consideration by the jury.