The New Landscape Declaration: A Call to Action for the Twenty-First Century

Honor Award


"This extraordinary book reflects a remarkable breadth and depth of thinking by landscape architecture’s most creative minds, and is in itself an assertion that landscape architecture has a central role to play in shaping the world of the 21st century. Born out of the Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future, held in 2016, the declaration reflects critical conversations the profession must have about issues such as climate change, urbanization, and global inequity. Underscoring the need to diversify, innovate, and create a bold culture of leadership, advocacy, and activism, this vast compendium of challenging ideas makes a passionate case for why landscape architecture matters."

- 2019 Awards Jury

Project Credits

  • Publisher: Rare Bird Books
  • Landscape Architecture Foundation:
    • Barbara Deutsch
    • Heather Whitlow
    • Rachel Booher
    • Dena Kennett
    • Arianna Koudounas
    • Jennifer Low
    • Christina Sanders
  • Editor: Gayle Berens
  • Design Adviser: Norm Lee
  • Summit Graphic Identity: Andrew Schmidt
  • Summit Event Planning Support: Krista Reimer
  • Summit Transcriptions: G. Adjoa Akofio-Sowah
  • Summit Host: Penn Design
  • Special Thanks to: Richard Weller and Marilyn Jordan Taylor

Project Statement

What is the role of landscape architecture today? On the eve of its 50th anniversary, the Landscape Architecture Foundation asked a diverse group of the world's leading landscape architects to reflect on the last half-century and present bold ideas for what the discipline should achieve in the future. Well beyond the public conception of the profession as "gardener" or "landscaper," these preeminent designers discussed their role in addressing weighty issues like climate change, urbanization, management of vital resources, and global inequities. Featuring 32 essays from the likes of James Corner, Gina Ford, Randy Hester, Nina-Marie Lister, Kate Orff, Alpa Nawre, Mario Schjetnan, Martha Schwartz, Carl Steinitz, Kongjian Yu, and many more, The New Landscape Declaration book is a critical, provocative, and inspirational examination of landscape architecture and its potential. The ideas cross disciplinary boundaries and challenge current silos of thought and practice, underscoring the need to diversify, innovate, and create a bold culture of leadership, advocacy, and activism.

Project Narrative

In June 2016, the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) convened over 700 designers from around the world for a Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future to set the course for the discipline in the 21st century. This historic gathering marked 50 years since Ian McHarg, Grady Clay, and other leading landscape architects composed LAF's seminal 1966 Declaration of Concern, which decried the burgeoning environmental crisis and heralded landscape architecture as critical to finding solutions. Building on this legacy, the summit was devised to culminate in a redrafting of the original 1966 Declaration of Concern and a landmark publication of the ideas presented.

In preparation, LAF asked a diverse group of leading minds in contemporary landscape architecture to write their own "declarations," reflecting on the last half century and offering bold ideas for what the discipline should achieve in the future. These new declarations were presented at the summit. The following day, nine panels, curated by theme, responded to the declarations and engaged in lively debate about how to realize landscape architecture's potential and effect real-world change. LAF then synthesized the values, discussions, and ideas from the summit to create a new manifesto for landscape architecture.

The New Landscape Declaration: A Call to Action for the Twenty-First Century presents the 32 declarations in original essay form, along with excerpts from panel discussions and an opening essay by Richard Weller of the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. With contributors from around the globe, the book offers a broad snapshot of current thinking on the role of landscape architecture today.

Published by Rare Bird Books, the hardcover, 240-page book was soft-launched at the 2017 ASLA Annual Meeting. In mid-November, it was fully available in hardcover and ebook form in specialty bookstores and through online retailers. The book was Amazon's #1 New Release in the Environmental Studies category for much of November and December 2017. Within two months, the first print run of 1,000 copies completely sold out. To meet demand, a second print run of 2,000 copies was released in March 2018. In total, more than 2,500 copies of the book have been sold to date.

The New Landscape Declaration offers a unique opportunity for landscape architects to step back from their day-to-day work, affirm values, and think big. The book asserts the essential role of landscape architecture in solving the defining issues of our time: climate change, species extinction, rapid urbanization, and inequity. The recommendations are relevant to designers across the globe, underscoring the need to diversify, innovate, and create a bold culture of leadership, advocacy, and activism.

The New Landscape Declaration has inspired ongoing conversations within and among landscape architecture firms, academic departments, and students. Members of the LAF staff and Board of Directors have presented the ideas in the book to over 1,600 individuals at ASLA chapter events, universities, and design firms. Some of these were hosted discussions that resulted in firms continuing the dialogue to craft their own declaration of values.

A number of faculty have utilized the essays in seminar, studio, and professional practice courses, assigning them as readings, using them to prompt discussions, or having students draft their own declaration of values. To support this, LAF compiled sample teaching materials and sent a book to each landscape architecture department in the U.S. and Canada to include in their department or university library. Faculty periodically reach out to place bulk orders, inform LAF how they are using the book in their classrooms, and communicate the value that this compilation of thought leadership brings to their students.

These examples illustrate how The New Landscape Declaration is being used to engage, provoke, and inspire landscape architects. It serves as a potent reminder of the common values that landscape architects share and as a catalyst and call to action to realize landscape architecture's full potential.