“Designers must be willing to engage government officials, investors
and other land owners with comprehensive strategies that serve to
innovate and educate—even if this means ‘losing’ commissions
based on single-minded project briefs.”
Chicago’s Millennium Reserve is the largest urban open space in the continental United States. In a previous post, I covered the history of the 140,000-acre site and the complexity that planners and landscape architects will have to face in redeveloping the space: brownfield and contaminated site waste, cleaning a scarred landscape filled with construction debris, creating program and a vision for the future, and navigating complex political and capital flows.
Instead of reacting to these conditions, however, landscape architects and urbanists should be proactive and visionary in creating opportunities for their interventions. In a recent lecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Thom Mayne of Morphosis made it clear that designers must be willing to engage government officials, investors and other land owners with comprehensive strategies that serve to innovate and educate—even if this means “losing” commissions based on single-minded project briefs. Mayne’s new book Combinatory Urbanism: The Complex Behavior of Collective Form includes his own forays into a methodology that has allowed design to go beyond the formal and into the strategic, echoing many of the tenets of landscape urbanism by allowing the ground plane to interact seamlessly with architecture. Continue reading