Urban Parks: From Olmsted to the present day

I’ve just stumbled across this rather enlightening video by Rebecca Messner, assistant editor to Urbanite Magazine, which explores the evolution of urban parks in America. Beginning with the granddaddy of American landscape architects, the man behind New York’s Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted. In her article at Grist.org, Rebecca raises the thorny subject of his contemporaries and their absolute lack of recognition. The fact that so many great landscape architects doing wonderful things in the field right now, and almost all remain largely unrecognised by the general public. One recommendation I’d wholeheartedly agree with is to check out the ground-breaking work of James Corner, a contemporary landscape architect with real vision when it comes to transforming urban blight and reintroducing nature to our cities.

Let’s hope that the whole idea of sustainability in modern society, the desperate need for open spaces, intelligently designed to maximise the quality of life for urban populations everywhere will indeed encourage a reassessment of the vital work landscape architects do, largely unnoticed, each day. Ironically it is the sheer quality and detail of landscape architecture that leaves it largely unnoticed in the public Zeitgeist. Perfection so soon becomes the norm that a beautiful landscape is seen more as the work of nature than any one visionary. Landscape architects literally shaped half of Britain’s most beautiful countryside over the past few centuries, what’s left of it that is. As space, land and resources become more precious, hopefully the wider public will finally recognise the sterling work produced and spectacular results achieved by the unsung heroes of landscape architecture.

See the full video by PBS at Thirteen.org.

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