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American Society of Landscape Architects


May 2004 Issue

With or Without Civic Memory
When designers update modernist pedestrian malls, should they consult the original landscape architects or just quietly forget they ever existed?

By Frank Edgerton Martin

With or Without Civic Memory
Archie Nicolette

The 1960s and 1970s were an idealistic time when towns and cities across America closed their streets to cars and opened up their downtown cores to trees, street furniture, and pedestrians. The fervor of the anti-war movement and a growing antipathy to cars and consumption led many collegiate downtowns such as Boulder, Colorado, and Lansing, Michigan, to hire landscape architects to create new and utopian city realms of nature, art, pop art, and public transitz—pedestrian malls.

Thirty years later, many of these malls have failed and have been entirely removed. The few that remain—most of them in college towns—have been reconfigured to serve transit and maintenance needs. The question for landscape architects today is how these civic centers should be stewarded for the future. Should they be strictly restored to their original vision or updated for modern needs?

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