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Land Matters: Much to Tell

Not a day goes by when we (and probably you) don’t come across some new something, large or small, at work or in the world, to add to our love of landscape architecture. We are now two years into a remaking of Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM) and trying to bring out the things that blow us away, the boundless vigor and discovery that are pulling landscape architects to the center of the design professions.

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It is elating and can be agonizing. The elation speaks for itself. If we want, LAM can have a piece about kids with autism on the playground, a good garden, or, as in the January issue, a report about the bonanza in port dredging, and it’s all fair game. The agony comes in realizing that in any given month, or even year, we can never print more than a fraction of what a person should know to be informed about landscape architecture today.

Yes, I am paid to say such nice things, and they are all true. But don’t take my word for it. Go over to the Architect’s Newspaper, where the executive editor, Alan G. Brake, recently devoted an entire issue to landscape architecture on top of the excellent coverage the paper routinely gives our favorite topic. In his editorial, Alan (who has written for LAM) talks about the insurgency of landscape architecture, the way that it has redefined its civic role and has absorbed the environment and infrastructure into its workload and, not least, has offered a way forward for places that are “neglected, damaged, and underutilized.”

You have to love that last part especially. A lot of the stuff we’ve been bringing you involves big messes that landscape architects are trying to turn around. Just the other week, after Hurricane Sandy, it was bracing to watch how words and ideas that mean so much to landscape architects were spilling out of the mouths of mayors, governors, and the media (the New York Times has been simply amazing in its coverage of the storm, the aftermath, and a fuller picture of the future). One hopes the hurricane was a rare kind of moment, but a moment important enough to grab onto and not let go.

(And, while we’re here, I would like to point out that it’s probably good the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel flooded, or there might have been a lot more water in Lower Manhattan. Maybe New York City has some of the infrastructure it needs if it’s put to dual use, and those cool new inflatable corks to block the entrances could be used elsewhere.)

It’s good for landscape architects to feel ahead of the game. Years ago, at my second-best job ever, working for Washington City Paper, our editor, David Carr, often talked about “building the tribe.” He wanted everyone to feel as if they were in on the enterprise. At LAM, we do too. We want to roll out everything that landscape architecture is. We want to hear what you think, and not just about the magazine. A lot of good intelligence about landscape is being amassed through journalism, here, in the pages of the Architect’s Newspaper, Places, Metropolis, and my old home, Architect, and in many good blogs. Tell them, tell us, tell others. Get the word out.

AND good news! I am proud to report that LAM received four bronze and one silver medal at the Eddie and Ozzie awards last fall, sponsored by Folio:, the magazine of the magazine business. The silver medal, in best feature design, went to “Morocco’s Spell,” in February 2012; that feature also won a bronze for best use of photography. Other bronze medals were for best feature design for “Skatepark Unintended,” also in February 2012; best cover in August 2011; and best full issue in September 2011. None of it is possible without LAM’s great staff: our discerning editors, Dan Jost, ASLA, Lisa Chambers, and Lisa Speckhardt, and our very picky art director, Chris McGee.

Bradford McKee
Editor

Comments
jonm@architectswest.com January 8, 2013 11:46 AM
Bravo, Brad, Bravo!
donnasnature@gmail.com January 8, 2013 2:07 PM
Happy New Year Brad - thanks for all the hard work you and tour team have accomplished in these last two years. You continue to stay on the cutting edge of landscape architecture journalism- LAM is gorgeous. Thanks for your inspirational "nudges" to get us writing more about our collective work. If each of us wrote one story this year alone, it would be profound. I am working on mine. Keep up the creative work. Donna Plunkett, PLA, ASLA San Francisco
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