14 June 2011


With Barack Obama in Puerto Rico, we should hear more in the news about the conflicted nature of PR.  It is American (there are no Puerto Rican immigrants, but lots of displaced Puerto Ricans) but doesn't get a vote and is independent minded.  The United Nations has looked upon PR as one of the last colonies in the world.

I got the chance recently to meet some landscape architects from  Puerto Rico who are working to get the profession there up and running.  Until recently, most landscape architectural work on the island (and in the Caribbean) has been performed by firms on the mainland. There are something like 36 licensed landscape architects on the island but there will soon be more since a new MLA program has started at the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico. But soon, most of the landscape architects on the island could be recent grads of PUPR, freshly licensed, with minimal experience.  How do you develop a new profession with so little experience?  This will make it easier for them to break from mainland traditions and develop their own professional culture of practice.

They use the Spanish term Paisajismo (or Arquitectura Paisajista) which is more about landscape painting than design. It comes from the French for Paysagisme which is a landscape painter. It is a beautiful metaphor for what we do, and a cultural .  There is even a landscape magazine called Paisajismo.

I didn't get many photos of landscape architecture in PR, but this fence at the Botanic Garden was supposed to be designed by Field Operations. 

Not that you can tell from these tiny photos, but the student work was great.


Puk said...

It is a wonderful opportunity to embark upon any practice with nothing more than your own personal baggage. But, individuals will bring along the baggage filled by programmatic emphases. Do you think the environment, alone, will be enough of a formative force to defuse the impact of academia upon the designer's psyche?

David Tulloch said...

Remember that when you say "environment alone" that the environment there includes an amazing (1) physical landscape of mountains, coastal areas, and wetlands, (2) biological array of both desert and wet tropical plants, and wildlife and (3) a rich, unique culture of both the people and the place. All of that combines to strongly push those young practitioners in a different direction than mainland LAs who fly in for two days from Atlanta or Houston or even Fort Lauderdale.

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