18 May 2007

Ecological design issues

Yesterday, at a doctoral exam, we got pretty engaged in a discussion about whether people can "get" designed interpretations of natural landscapes. One committee member even seemed willing to concede the public's inability to see the aesthetic beauty of more natural landscapes. The candidate had been citing Joan Nassauer's work which encouraged visible interventions (like a rectalinear flower planting inside an otherwise natural-looking forest). And I wondered if we should just keep presenting the very ecological design that we could create and help them learn to appreciation it.

It turns out that if were keeping up with my reading I would see a parallel discussion in a recent issue of LA Magazine that looks at one of my favorite examples of ecological design. Crosby Arboretum, in Picayune, Mississippi gets featured as a place where visitors have slowly changed from confused to appreciative. Where the experiences used to be like this:

“Excuse me, can you tell me where the arboretum is?” she asked.

“You are standing in it,” I replied.

Now they are getting visitors who understand the experience and maybe willbe pushing them harder to do exciting things. It isn't just Crosby; the article mentioned Darrel Morrison's Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Ecological design is changing the way people perceive natural landscape.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As Mozingo mentions in her article, we may be at the cusp of ecological designs being just around long enough and visible to now become part of our current visual language. Time will tell.
Bob Brzuszek
Mississippi State University