Common Lectures Series | Spring 2018

All Lectures in IFNH RM 101 @ 4:00 PM unless otherwise noted (*)

January 17
Emily Vogler, Department Chair of Landscape Architecture
Rhode Island School of Design
SCALE SHIFT: Infrastructural logic | Material logic

Abstract: At the Rhode Island School of Design, the landscape architecture department exists alongside other arts and design disciplines which have a unique relationship to craft and materials.  The Landscape Architecture Department at RISD seeks to bring this knowledge of materials and critical making into the design process to address regional ecological, social and infrastructural issues at the site and material scale.  In her presentation, Emily Vogler will discuss the working methods at RISD and three current research projects that highlight this approach.  These projects include sculptural forms that engage communities in coastal habitat restoration in Narraganset Bay, an open-source tool kit to support decision making about aging dams in New England, and modules that reduce erosion and support the ecological and recreational use of the irrigation ditches in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Bio: Emily Vogler is a landscape architect whose work negotiates ecological and urban systems, aesthetics and performance, design and research to create a more just, creative and resilient land use system.  Her research, design and teaching investigate social-ecological systems surrounding water, ecology, community, infrastructure and climate uncertainty.  With funding from the National Science Foundation, Vogler is currently part of a team of researchers investigating aging dam infrastructure in New England. Prior to teaching at RISD she was a senior project Manager at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, where she was the project designer for the winning entry of the ARC Wildlife Crossing Design Competition and the Bloomingdale Trail.  She was the 2010 National Olmsted Scholar and served on the board of the Landscape Architecture Foundation from 2011-2014.

January 24
Anita Bakshi, Rutgers University, Instructor of Landscape
Architecture and Lecturer for CHAPS
Beyond Statue Removal and Additive History:
Story, Narrative, and Voice in Memorial Landscapes

Abstract: It is the political imperative of art to confront difficult aspects of the past, in order to transform the aesthetics of the medium itself, and, more importantly, to transform thought.  This assertion gets to the core of why commemorative and cultural heritage sites require the development of richer design practices. The abstract visual and design languages often used at monuments and memorials employ conservative aesthetic approaches which have conservative political implications.  As such, they often do not enable confrontation or transformation.  Rather, this is an art that is more suited to supporting and affirming existing thoughts and beliefs. In this talk, Anita Bakshi argues that a new poetics of commemoration can be sought by working with non-visual aspects of design and with an understanding of cognition and perception. 

Bio: Anita Bakshi is the author of Topographies of Memories: A New Poetics of Commemoration (2017).  She teaches in the Department of Landscape Architecture at Rutgers University and is affiliated with the Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies (CHAPS) Program. Following several years in architectural practice in Chicago, California and Istanbul, she received her PhD in the History and Theory of Architecture from Cambridge University with the Conflict in Cities Research Programme.

January 31
Claire Agre, Principal in Charge and Senior Landscape Architect
West 8 New York
Waste Not: Recent West 8 Works

Abstract: West 8 has led the vanguard of landscape design and urbanism for three decades. As landscape architects and urban designers, the West 8 team consistently finds optimistic and innovative ways to weave contemporary culture, narrative, and joy into forgotten urban places. Pragmatic re-utlization of resources and reimagined terrains becomes the foundation of 21st century iconic landscapes. In her lecture Claire Agre will highlight some of West 8’s North American portfolio, from the renaissance of an abandoned urban island to the leveraging of waste to rebuild eroding coastlines.

Bio: Claire Agre is a Principal and Senior Landscape Architect at West 8 New York. With a background in field ecology and the fine arts, she brings a broad skill set and conceptual clarity to projects of all scales and typologies. As one of the founding designers of West 8’s New York office, Claire has led design for a diverse portfolio, including Miami Beach Soundscape, the Master Plan and Hills phase of Governors Island Park and Public Spaces, the 1000-acre, 40-year Master Plan for Longwood Gardens, and the winning entry for Changing Course—an interdisciplinary, international design competition seeking solutions for the disappearing Lower Mississippi Delta.

Claire holds degrees in Environmental Science and Policy from Duke University, and received her Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. A clear and compelling speaker, she has taught and lectured at Harvard GSD, University of Toronto, and Rhode Island School of Design.

February 7
Janice Parker, Principal of Janice Parker Landscape Architects
Creating Landscapes – Vision & Process

Abstract: In her well-rounded career as a landscape architect, horticultural specialist, garden consultant, teacher, floral designer and speaker, Janice Parker has distinguished herself by rethinking accepted landscape practices and developing inventive, personal solutions for difficult problems.  In this lecture Parker recalls her experience and practice, through case studies and anecdotes and offers unique personal insights into the design process.  The presentation features breathtaking photography augmented by color renderings, inspiring artworks, brief videos and plans.

Bio: Award-winning landscape architect Janice Parker, RLA, ASLA has dedicated her creative life to the pursuit of craft, quality, innovation and art.  Originally from New York City she has always been drawn to the natural world. “I knew every tree on my street and to this day my favorite landscapes are along the Hudson River. My very first memory is of a flower.”  Her work has been heavily influenced by the classical teachings of her artist peers.  Since creating Janice Parker Landscape Architects in 1984, Janice has cultivated the firm to one of national prominence.  Under her guidance, the firm has been honored with multiple awards, including: the 2017 Stars of Design Award for Landscape Design, the 2017 New England Design Hall of Fame, the 2016 Stanford White Award for Garden Design, the 2015 Professional Merit Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects and the 2012 National Palladio Award for Landscape Architecture.

As an active member of the Stewardship Council for The Cultural Landscape Foundation her notable career has embodied the essence of stewardship through education.  To that end Janice actively mentors, lectures and volunteers.  She has taught Landscape Design and Construction Detailing at the New York Botanical Gardens and New York Horticultural Society and has lectured at the Parrish Art Museum, Boscobel House and Gardens, New Canaan Nature Center, The Bruce Museum, Greenwich Garden Center and the New York Horticultural Society.

February 14
Stephen Ervin, Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Assistant Dean for Information Technology and Director of
Computer Resources
The Changing Digital Landscape: Ten New(ish) Things

Abstract: Computational approaches in design –  largely summed up as “CAD, GIS, the Internet, and digital media” – transformed the design disciplines, and design education, in the twenty years from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s.  The more recent two decades have seen an explosion of derivative, related, and emergent braided currents of technologies and practices.  In his lecture, Stephen Ervin discusses ten promising, intriguing, and potentially challenging current examples of these developments, with attention to their impacts on the disciplines of landscape architecture and urban design.

Bio: Stephen M. Ervin is Assistant Dean for Information Technology at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Director of Computer Resources, and lecturer in the Department of Landscape Architecture, at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.  He holds an MLA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and is a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects (FASLA).  His current interests include Geodesign, innovation in digitally enabled design teaching and learning, and coding and algorithmic design.
A pioneer in applications of computing in landscape architecture, planning and design, Ervin is the author of numerous articles, including “Digital Landscape Modeling, a Research Agenda” and the book, co-authored with Hope Hasbrouck, Landscape Modeling: Digital Techniques for Landscape Visualization (McGraw Hill 2001).

February 21
William Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard
University and Arnold Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary
Plants in a Designed World: The Civic and Scholarly Importance
of the Arnold Arboretum in the Twenty-First Century

Abstract: What, precisely, is an arboretum?  A botanical garden?  Public park?  Safe harbor for threatened species?  Museum collection of living objects?  Place to help define relationships between humans and other forms of life?  Locus of social and economic justice?  William Friedman will discuss the diverse roles that university-based gardens can play at local and global scales through an examination of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University - a unique hybrid between eminent academic institution and beloved park within Boston’s Olmsted-designed Emerald Necklace.  Driven by acute threats to plant diversity in the face of human-induced environmental change, the Arnold Arboretum is forging ahead with major initiatives in biodiversity and conservation efforts.  At the same time, as a cultural institution that is free and open to all, the Arnold Arboretum is rethinking and reinvigorating its important roles in social and economic justice in Boston.  In this presentation, William Friedman will discuss the global and local ambitions of the world’s most wonderful collection of woody plants.

Bio: William (Ned) Friedman is an organismic and evolutionary biologist who studies the origin and early diversification of flowering plants.  Friedman’s studies have fundamentally altered century-old views of the earliest phases of the evolution of flowering plants, Darwin’s so-called “abominable mystery.”  He is also deeply interested in the history of early (pre-Darwinian) evolutionary thought.  As Director of the Arnold Arboretum, Friedman has worked to expand the Arboretum’s societal impact through diverse initiatives in public programming, enhanced communication between scientists and the public, and a reinvigoration of the long-standing relationship between the Arboretum and the biodiversity of Asia.  In early 2016, after four years of extensive planning, a ten-year initiative was launched to shape and augment the living collections of the Arnold Arboretum for the next century.  Plant exploration around the globe will bring 400 species of woody plants, including many threatened with extinction, to this Frederick Law Olmsted-designed botanical garden in Boston.

February 28
Laura Lawson, Rutgers University, Dean of Agricultural and Urban
Programs and Professor of Landscape Architecture
Richard Alomar, Rutgers University, Assistant Professor of Landscape
Design as Democracy

Abstract: By bringing community members to the table with designers, we can collectively create vibrant, important places in cities and neighborhoods that fulfill urgent needs of the community, achieve environmental justice, and inspire long-term stewardship. The book, Design as Democracy (Island Press, 2017) intends to reinvigorate democratic design through framing the need, providing inspirational techniques, and sharing case stories in a range of contexts.  Laura Lawson will speak to the origins of the book project and its framing to address various stages in the design and implementation process, while Richard Alomar will speak to his technique, “sketching together.” Together they will discuss how the book can be used and their hopes for its connection to our profession.

Richard Alomar, ASLA, RLA, CLARB, is a landscape architect, and assistant professor of landscape architecture at Rutgers University. His landscape architecture work as a professional landscape architect and a researcher explores the connections between concepts and implementation.  Alomar uses sketching as an exploratory tool to observe the environment, record impressions and develop ideas on space, place and design. His research focus is on the use of sketching as a toll for engagement and public outreach. He holds a B.S. in agronomy from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez and an M.L.A from Louisiana State University.

Laura Lawson, Ph.D, is Dean of Agriculture and Urban Programs at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.  She received her Masters in Landscape Architecture and Ph.D. in Environmental Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research includes historical and contemporary urban agriculture and community open space.  Her scholarship includes City Bountiful: A Century of Community Gardening in America (2005), Greening Cities, Growing Communities: Urban Community Gardens in Seattle (co-author with Hou and Johnson; 2009), Design as Democracy: Techniques for Collective Creativity (co-authored with de la Pena, Allen, Hester, Hou, and McNally, 2017), and numerous articles and chapters in edited books. Dr. Lawson’s teaching focuses on social and cultural issues in design and planning, participatory design, and the public landscape.

Gernot Riether, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Director of the School of Architecture
Digital Design Build Studio

Abstract: This talk will present a series of projects from the Digital Design Build Studio. The talk will use these explorations to discuss a model of operation for architecture schools in the context of a profession that has been disrupted by digital technology. Talking about some projects in more detail will illustrate the findings of the experimentation with different polymers. The discussion will also highlight the social aspect of these interventions and illustrate how coalitions between non-profit organizations, developers, industry and municipalities may benefit and impact their communities.

Bio: Gernot Riether is the Director of the School of Architecture and Associate Professor at the College of Architecture and Design at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).  In his Digital Design-Build Studio he and his students are researching new novel computer controlled fabrication and manufacturing methods. He previously taught at Kennesaw State University, Ball State University, ENSA Paris-La Villette, Georgia Tech, NYIT and Barnard College at Columbia University and is lecturing internationally.

His Digital Design Build Studio won competitions such as the design of the AIA Pavilion for the American Institute of Architects in New Orleans with a hydroponic spherical enclosure made of environmentally friendly polymers. The studio was commissioned for projects such as a public installation for the Nuit Blanche Festival in Paris where he took cues from biology to digitally create a lightweight structural envelope for a pavilion in which interactive art projects were displayed.

March 14 & March 21
No Lectures (Spring Recess & CELA)

March 28
Outstanding Alumni Award 2018 | Rutgers LA
John Donnelly, Technical Principal at SCAPE Landscape
Designing Resilient Edges in New York City

Abstract: Now more than ever, the design and construction of in-water infrastructure, public shorelines, and landscape spaces requires nimble approaches by multidisciplinary teams of professional in a complex regulatory environment.  Utilizing current technologies and drawing on expertise in horticulture, ecology and urban design, SCAPE’s designs focus on addressing climate change, habitat loss, and social inequity with dynamic, engaging solutions.  John will present 3 of SCAPE’s current projects that directly address issues of coastal resilience, designing public space along the shoreline, and constructing landscapes within the floodplain.

Bio: John Donnelly is a Registered Landscape Architect (RLA) and SCAPE’s Technical Principal.  He leads the management, documentation, and construction of the studio’s major built work projects in the New York region, nationally, and internationally. Currently, John is leading the design of Be’er Sheva Quarry Park in Israel, the New Stapleton Waterfront Park project, and the construction administration of the forthcoming First Avenue Water Plaza.  In his 12 years of professional practice, John’s work has included the design, documentation and implementation of award-winning streetscapes, mixed use developments, waterfront parks, masterplans, recreation trails and a variety of projects on structure.  John Donelly graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Planning and Design, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

April 4
Trinidad Rico, Rutgers University, Director of CHAPS – Cultural
Heritage and Preservation Studies Program
Trees, Mosques, and Malls: The Heritage Landscapes of Qatar

Abstract: The State of Qatar seems to be dominated by rapidly growing modern urban landscapes. But behind the actual and perceived newness, there is a strong attachment to tradition and pre-modern ideals that stand in tension with rapid urbanization, modernization and cosmopolitanism. These tensions are expressed more tangibly through a growing heritage industry that attempts to navigate and reconcile competing cultural, historical, and religious values. In this talk, Trinidad Rico draws from five years of ethnographic work on heritage preservation practices in Qatar to discuss some of the types of heritage subjects that emerge in the narrative of cultural self-representation in this country, and what these tell us about the study of heritage preservation in non-Western contexts.

Bio: Assistant Professor Trinidad Rico holds a PhD in Anthropology from Stanford University. Her areas of research in critical heritage studies include risk and disasters, ethnographic heritage and ethics, and the vernacularization of heritage discourses and expertise. Her current research projects focus on the mobilization of Islamic values in the Arabian Peninsula and the study of heritage and secrecy in South America. She is co-editor of Cultural Heritage in the Arabian Peninsula (Ashgate, 2014) and Heritage Keywords: Rhetoric and Redescription in Cultural Heritage (University Press of Colorado, 2015); as well as author of Constructing Destruction: Heritage narratives in the tsunami city (UCL Institute of Archaeology Critical Cultural Heritage Series, Routledge 2016). She is also founding editor of the series Heritage Studies in the Muslim World (Palgrave Macmillan) and editor of the first volume of the series, The Making of Islamic Heritage: Muslim Pasts and Heritage Presents (2017).

April 11
Marc Appelmans, senior landscape architect and urban planner at SumProject+SumResearch (Belgium).
Re-landscaping the Heart of our Cities - The Case of the Brussels Pedestrian Zone as a Motor for Urban Regeneration

Abstract: After the urban exodus of the past decades, the urban population in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, started to increase again in the last years, partly because people are bored to commute every day. New urban communities settle in European city centers which were abandoned for many years. And cities want to attract the new middle class. Living in the city center becomes fashionable again! The development of the historical grands boulevards (Haussmann style) of Brussels as a longitudinal pedestrian park system initiates a complete make-over of the city center. The project has been developed in concertation with all stake holders and direct users with more space for pedestrians, cyclists, public transport as a result.
The ‘Grands Boulevards project’ of Brussels provides space for new experiences and practices, such as strolling around, playing games, sports, encounters, ... The boulevards are no longer a barrier difficult to cross; in contrary, they become an integrating and welcoming public space… After a long and difficult development process, the project is now under construction and by the end of June 2018 the first part will be opened to the public.

Bio: Marc Appelmans studied landscape architecture and urban planning in Brussels, Belgium. He specialized also in landscape conservation in Munich, Germany, and art history at the ASSA in Fontainebleau, France. During his training, he has been deeply influenced by the ‘Dutch’ way of tackling large landscaping projects where studies were always worked on with multidisciplinary teams associating landscape architects and urban planners, sociologists, biologists, traffic engineers and planners of all kind.
As from the start of his career at ‘M+R’, in the 1980s, Marc Appelmans worked on many regional and international planning studies in the European context as well as on local development plans - always in a multidisciplinary planning context, which until today is a kind of ‘fil rouge’ for his approach. Nowadays he works on consultancy commissions at the ‘environmental planning’ department of ‘Sum’ named ‘SumResearch’ dealing with long term planning (planning of urban fringes, the development of urban agriculture, management plans for historical sites, neighborhood regeneration programs in deprived urban areas, …).  For the project-related department ‘SumProject’ he is directly working on urban landscape and urban design projects such as major infrastructure projects in France and in Belgium.

April 18
The Margaret O. Cekada Memorial Lecture *
Erik Dhont, Principal of Erik Dhont Landscape Architects
Reinventing the Existing: Creating a New Logic in Historic Places
6:30 pm meet and greet, 7:00 pm lecture

Abstract: Erik Dhont sees garden making a form of art, and he embraces it with imagination in order to give the clients a place to dream. Gardens are places to enjoy and appreciate, as well as places to grow and unwind. No matter the commission is to restore an old garden or to build a new one, the design emphasis is always on discovering and conceptualizing elements from the past based on the practical demands imposed by the present, from playing, cultivating to healing. Functionality is balanced with a fine-tuned aesthetic that remains sensitive to the needs of daily use, the chosen plant material, the environmental concerns and the surrounding landscapes. For Erik the essential goal of the garden and landscape is to make sure that the strongest element is there: you look, you observe, you take time.  Over the years Erik Dhont has developed a style that remains personal, distinctive and instantly recognizable. Organic shapes on paper are translated into sculptural forms on site which would gain their patina as time goes by and the garden matures. It is this sense of rhythm—moments of the day, seasons of the year, and periods of life—that Dhont strives to highlight in his design. And his garden space is where this sense of rhythm is embodied and being performed. 

Bio: Since the beginning of the practice in 1989, Erik Dhont has worked on a wide variety of projects, and established a client base throughout continental Europe, and beyond in Russia and the US. Commissions from private individuals, public bodies and commercial institutions have echoed a wide range of contemporary demands and challenges, meanwhile have provided platforms for continuous creativity: How would modern taste coexist with historical context? How would 2D-graphic layout transform into 3D-dimensional place making? How would abstract sculpture dialogue with classical topiary? How would furniture and horticulture illuminate one another? Such questions are explored from various angles in various means—drawing, collage, model, installation, dance, film, and first of all, gardens. Recent commissions include several private gardens in Switzerland and France, a sculpture garden in California and a shore garden in the Azores. The office also works on social and urban development projects in Brussels.

See a list of our past lectures