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Unearthed: The Landscapes of Hargreaves Associates

Unearthed: The Landscapes of Hargreaves Associates

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Unearthed: The Landscapes of Hargreaves Associates

319 pagine
3 ore
Jun 14, 2013


The work of landscape architecture firm Hargreaves Associates is globally renowned, from the 21st Century Waterfront in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to London's 2012 Olympic Park. Founded by George Hargreaves in 1983, this team of designers has transformed numerous abandoned sites into topographically and functionally diverse landscapes. Hargreaves Associates' body of work reflects the socioeconomic and legislative changes that have impacted landscape architecture over the past three decades, particularly the availability of former industrial sites and their subsequent redevelopment into parks. The firm's longstanding interest in such projects brings it into frequent contact with the communities and local authorities who use and live in these built environments, which tend to be contested grounds owing to the conflicting claims of the populations and municipalities that use and manage them. As microcosms of contemporary political, social, and economic terrains, these designed spaces signify larger issues in urban redevelopment and landscape design.

The first scholarly examination of the firm's philosophy and body of work, Unearthed uses Hargreaves Associates' portfolio to illustrate the key challenges and opportunities of designing today's public spaces. Illustrated with more than one hundred and fifty color and black-and-white images, this study explores the methods behind canonical Hargreaves Associates sites, such as San Francisco's Crissy Field, Sydney Olympic Park, and the Louisville Waterfront Park. M'Closkey outlines how Hargreaves and his longtime associate Mary Margaret Jones approach the design of public places—conceptually, materially, and formally—on sites that require significant remaking in order to support a greater range of ecological and social needs.

Jun 14, 2013

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Unearthed - Karen M'Closkey








John Dixon Hunt, Series Editor

This series is dedicated to the study and promotion of a wide variety of approaches to landscape architecture, with special emphasis on connections between theory and practice. It includes monographs on key topics in history and theory, descriptions of projects by both established and rising designers, translations of major foreign-language texts, anthologies of theoretical and historical writings on classic issues, and critical writing by members of the profession of landscape architecture.

The series was the recipient of the Award of Honor in Communications from the American Society of Landscape Architects, 2006.

Copyright © 2013 University of Pennsylvania Press

This book is supported by grants from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

The University of Pennsylvania Press acknowledges the generous funding provided by a David R. Coffin Publication Grant from the Foundation for Landscape Studies, and PennDesign at the University of Pennsylvania.

All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations used for purposes of review or scholarly citation, none of this book may be reproduced in any form by any means without written permission from the publisher.

Published by


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4112

Unless otherwise credited, all images courtesy of Hargreaves Associates.

Printed in Canada on acid-free paper

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

M’Closkey, Karen.

Unearthed : the landscapes of Hargreaves Associates / Karen M’Closkey.— 1st ed.

p. cm. — (Penn studies in landscape architecture)

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-0-8122-4480-9 (hardcover : alk. paper)

1. Hargreaves Associates—History. 2. Urban landscape architecture—United States—20th century. 3. Urban landscape architecture—United States—21st century. 4. Public spaces—United States. I. Title. II. Series: Penn studies in landscape architecture.

SB469.9.M35 2013








Crissy Field, San Francisco, California

21st Century Waterfront and Renaissance Parks, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Los Angeles State Historic Park, Los Angeles, California


Sydney Olympic Park, New South Wales, Australia

Guadalupe River Park, San Jose, California

Brightwater Wastewater Treatment Facility and Northern Mitigation Area, Snohomish County, Washington


Louisville Waterfront Park, Louisville, Kentucky

University of Cincinnati Master Plan, Cincinnati, Ohio

William J. Clinton Presidential Center Park, Little Rock, Arkansas








our current environmental problems, which are now understood in a global context. Landscape’s centrality to addressing these issues—the form of future urban settlement, and the importance of ecological and recreational networks to guide such settlement—is becoming more apparent to those outside of the field, which has helped reestablish landscape architecture in the significant position it previously and deservedly enjoyed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, such increased visibility of the discipline has been accompanied by a narrowing comprehension of its full cultural efficacy, due to the ways in which the terms sustainability and ecology have been uncritically adopted as the primary justification for the contributions that landscape architects make to the built environment. Certainly, landscape architecture is a practical discipline that engages the myriad social, political, and ecological realities that constitute our landscapes; however, landscape architecture is also a projective or imaginative discipline because it envisions the intersections among those realities in critical or challenging ways by making places that are unique, expressive, and experientially compelling.

Two recent developments have overshadowed these latter concerns. First, a turn in the profession that emphasizes ecofriendly or green design has resulted in a set of predictable responses to environmental sustainability, such as green roofs or constructed wetlands. The prominence of this utilitarian approach to function has eclipsed questions about how such approaches engage the equally relevant social, experiential, and symbolic functions of landscape. And second, academic discussions concerning landscape urbanism have gained traction among architects and landscape architects over the past decade. Its proponents claim that conjoining the terms landscape and urbanism frees landscape from being understood in counterpoint to the city (and attendant associations with remoteness, scenery, and nature). Here, ecology is constructively understood as an overarching metaphor for interconnectivity: by recognizing that every-thing is bound together by the same dynamic processes, we see that our cities are as ecological as our landscapes, our landscapes as manufactured as our cities. Given this desire to leave behind binary divisions between city and landscape, center and periphery, or culture and nature, it is unfortunate that the rhetoric of landscape urbanism has been polarizing in other ways by arguing that landscape architecture should be liberated from its traditional concerns (the most commonly named are form, composition, and representation) by subsuming it under a different rubric and, presumably, by engaging in different modes of practice. Landscape urbanism’s call for a disciplinary realignment raises important pedagogical questions in terms of what ideas (theory, history, techniques) we teach and, significantly, what defines a discipline’s efficacy, if not its expertise. This has yet to be seriously addressed in pedagogical or methodological terms, which is why landscape urbanism as defined in the North American context is simply landscape architecture rebranded.¹ Landscape architecture is already broadly cross-disciplinary in practice; it was founded as a profession by combining practical knowledge drawn from a constellation of other fields—geology, forestry, horticulture, and so on—and is influenced by visual culture, philosophy, science, politics, and poetry. It engages this collection of influences in order to propose or challenge how ever-changing social, economic, and technological conditions might be engaged and experienced on the ground. It is, in fact, the ground—its specific material, historical, and formal potential—that is missing from much of the conversation surrounding sustainability and landscape urbanism today. This account of Hargreaves Associates’ work is a consideration of alternative strategies that in their turn critique these recent developments.

HARGREAVES ASSOCIATES HAS BEEN EMBROILED in the challenges of making public landscapes for almost thirty years. Its practice thus spans a time frame that has witnessed many changes both internal and external to the discipline. The aim of this book is to trace these shifts, utilizing Hargreaves Associates’ work as a vehicle in order to demonstrate how the utilitarian and infrastructural demands (hydrological, ecological, etc.) placed on landscapes can be engaged through vivid and precise design interventions rather than privileging one of these values at the expense of others. A second objective is to explicate the firm’s geologic design methodology, which incorporates diverse notions of strata—historical, material—to demonstrate its pertinence for dealing with the type of site conditions commonly encountered today, namely, the postindustrial landscape. Though landscape urbanism has, in the United States, been positioned as a response to the sprawling metropolis, which is characterized by a vast horizontal field that is automobile-dominated rather than by traditional definitions of city centers and building density, the sites vacated because of this horizontal expansion (old airports, industrial waterfronts) are exactly the types of locations that form the basis of projects most often referred to as exemplars of landscape urbanism, and they are the types of sites focused on in this book.

Given the prevalence of such sites today, we have entered a phase of park building that rivals the political momentum of the nineteenth century. This is an immense opportunity for landscape architects to engage in questions about the nature of public space, and the nature of nature as represented and constructed in urban landscapes, particularly because today’s site conditions are distinct from those of our predecessors. As George Hargreaves has said, the firm has never built on a greenfield site: there are no streams, no boulders, no forests, in other words, no bones on which to build its projects.² Hargreaves Associates has taken advantage of these conditions to develop methods to physically and conceptually build complexity back into sites that have been stripped of their ability to support diverse uses. Consequently, this book is organized into three chapters that address different notions of fabricated ground—geographies, techniques, and effects—and includes an examination of three projects within each theme. The choice of projects cited—by landscape standards quite modest in size, ranging from eighteen acres to two hundred acres—is to focus on the specificity of a middle scale of site.³

The themed chapters are preceded by an introduction that situates Hargreaves Associates’ work with respect to the influences that were prevalent when Hargreaves began his practice. Given that earlier interpretations of the firm’s work are structured around terminology such as process and open-endedness, terms that have become more prevalent over the past two decades, the introduction traces how these ideas emerged with respect to that work. George Hargreaves and others have explained a shift in their approach as a move from a subjective engagement with process to a more intensive investigation of programming; however, this change is as much an indicator of the shifting nature and location of public park space and its funding as it is simply a reflection of the shifting intentions of the designer.⁴ Thus, the subsequent chapters include projects that span from the late 1980s to 2012 bringing into focus the consistent threads in Hargreaves Associates’ work that manifest differently in various projects, and that shift expression as externalities change.

The title of Chapter 1, Geographies, signifies the intersecting cultural, natural, and political forces that influence a region’s transformation over time. I use the projects in this chapter as microcosms of these broader changes, and underscore the challenges that landscape architects face when transforming sites for public use, especially in regard to postindustrial sites. The notion of public, collective life is presented in two interrelated ways: first, in how sites are places of collective memory; and second, in the changing definition and role of who constitutes the public. The projects chosen for this category demonstrate how public space is about representation—of people, of place—whether or not we claim it to be so. The first project is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service (San Francisco’s Crissy Field), the second a state park (Los Angeles State Historic Park), and the third a downtown waterfront development (Chattanooga) that contains part of a National Trail—also a designation of the National Park Service. Consequently, these projects must address the needs of local residents while representing the aspirations for federal and state cultural landscapes.

The second chapter, Techniques, focuses on the relationship between technological and natural systems in order to demonstrate how the dynamic aspects of landscape are engaged via engineering and construction. The three projects in this chapter address water cleansing and control and are used to highlight the interface between landscape architecture and engineering. Guadalupe River Park illustrates the various, at times incompatible, definitions of function as it pertains to landscape, and demonstrates how different infrastructural systems can perform similarly in measurable ways without appearing identical. The other two projects, Sydney Olympic Park and Brightwater Wastewater Treatment Facility, are used to make a similar point by focusing on the inescapably aesthetic and ideological aspects of function.

The third thematic chapter, Effects, examines relationships among geometry, topography, and planting, and emphasizes the importance of form making to support a variety of conditions, experiences, and uses. The examples analyzed, Louisville Waterfront Park, the University of Cincinnati, and the Clinton Presidential Center Park, all use similar strategies for their organization. I discuss how form, material, and movement are orchestrated in the work, and how their various combinations constitute moments of awareness in the landscape where particular spatial or material attributes become legible. Working the earth to mold the ground is central to the landscape medium, and Hargreaves Associates’ facility in working with topography is fundamental to the effect of the work.

GEORGE HARGREAVES RECEIVED A BACHELOR OF landscape architecture from the University of Georgia in 1977 and his master of landscape architecture from Harvard University in 1979 under Peter Walker’s tenure as chair of the department. Hargreaves spent several years working at SWA, one of the incarnations of the collaboration between Hideo Sasaki and Peter Walker, before venturing out to form his own practice in 1983, initially named Hargreaves, Allen, Sinkosky & Loomis (HASL) and reincorporated as Hargreaves Associates in 1985. Hargreaves Associates office was first stationed in San Francisco, which remained their only location until Hargreaves became chair of the department of landscape architecture at Harvard University in 1996, at which time they opened their Cambridge, Massachusetts, office. After concluding his position as chair in 2003, Hargreaves opened a third location in New York City and, as of 2008, an office in London.

While George Hargreaves remains the design lead of Hargreaves Associates, the firm depends on the talents of other individuals, many of whom have been with the office for one or two decades. Of particular note are senior associate and president Mary Margaret Jones, who joined the firm in 1984 and has been instrumental in its direction, and former associate Glenn Allen, who was one of the founding partners of HASL.

THE IMAGES IN THIS BOOK ARE DRAWN FROM various sources, including images from Hargreaves Associates, images gathered from the agencies or corporations who manage the projects, my own photographs, diagrams drawn from information provided by Hargreaves Associates, and photos from users of their landscapes who post images on websites such as



Design with Nature (1969), along with Charles Jencks’s famous declaration that modernism ended at 3:32 P.M. on July 15, 1972 (referring to the destruction of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis).¹ The period was marked by a call for an end to totalizing narratives of linear advancement while simultaneously offering the earth-ecosystem as a new totality. In response to this challenge, which landscape scholar Elizabeth Meyer has aptly named the post–earth day conundrum, designers sought to move beyond modernist doctrines of progress in recognition of planetary limits.² This critique went beyond environmentalism and landscape architecture to involve challenges to hegemony—singularity, authority, hierarchy—in any form. Though the critique originated from within many disciplines across the arts and humanities, they shared a common goal of undermining what had become categorical impasses within their respective fields, such as medium specificity (art), singular authorship (literature, planning), and typology (architecture). In response to the array of emerging changes that typify this period, Hargreaves helped forge an approach within landscape architecture that expressed this broader shift in sensibility taking place.³

As Hargreaves was venturing into practice in the early 1980s, critiques of modernist master planning and urban renewal were in full force. Critics such as Jane Jacobs (The Death and Life of Great American Cities, 1961) had ushered in an era of community activism, which changed the relationship between designers and the community for whom they design, and challenged the divide between public and expert. Both grassroots environmentalism and federal regulation of pollution had taken a foothold, spurred on by publications such as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962). This increased awareness eventually led to legislation pertaining to soil and water quality and thus affected the construction of landscapes, especially with regard to cleaning up the large swaths of toxic land in or adjacent to city centers and waterfronts. These sites—the so-called postindustrial landscape—still form the basis of much work that is happening in landscape architecture today and constitute the type of locales where Hargreaves Associates created its first important projects.

The 1970s–1980s was a period when the importance of history as a resource to be mined for design inspiration was reinvigorated as an idea. For some practices, history was invoked in the name of pluralism or populism, drawing on conventional icons or themes so that work could be accessible to a broad audience. This was especially visible in architecture, where historical references, represented in allegedly familiar signs and symbols, were celebrated (see the pleas by Charles Jencks, Robert Venturi, and Denise Scott Brown). In landscape architecture, history was invoked as a means to create specificity and uniqueness, especially on

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