Arts

Marking a centennial, a new list highlights endangered US landscapes created by female pathbreakers

Marking the centennial of voting rights for American women, the nonprofit Cultural Landscape Foundation has devoted its 2020 list of endangered US landscapes to sites created by female designers. Accompanied by an online exhibition after the coronavirus derailed a travelling show, today's report Landslide 2020: Women Take the Lead details 12 entries, two of which include multiple sites. The online presentation includes images and historical descriptions of each landscape as well as video interviews with practitioners who discuss the sites and the challenges women still face in pursuing careers, even though they now make up a majority of students in university landscape architecture programs. The annual designations, which date back to 2003, have fostered efforts to preserve landscapes threatened by deferred maintenance and demolition; here are a few of the sites designated in this round.

© Larry Syverson

Thomas Polk Park, Charlotte, North Carolina. A one-third-acre plaza in downtown Charlotte includes a vest-pocket park designed in the late 1980s by the Bulgarian-born landscape architect Angela Danadjieva that includes a signature Modernist water feature. The surrounding plaza has fallen into disrepair, and the park suffers from a lack of programming and seating. A firm has been contracted by the city and private city-center partners to revitalise the park and fountain, but the coronavirus and ongoing protests for racial justice have thrown the timeline into uncertainty. A revitalised plaza could herald the return of performances, rallies, picnics and art displays, the foundation says.

Courtesy of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Disneyland, Anaheim, California. The landscape architecture here is one of the most intact commissions by Ruth Shellhorn, much of whose built legacy in the Los Angeles area has disappeared. In March of 1955, months before the amusement parks opening day, its landscape was still incomplete and Walt Disney invited landscape architect Shellhorn to finish the work. Today, despite her role in the parks planting design and visitor experience, Shellhorns name is largely unknown to Disneyland visitors.

© Barrett Doherty, courtesy of the Cultural Landscape Foundation

South Cove, Battery Park City, New York City. Built almost entirely atop landfill at the southwestern edge of Manhattan along the Hudson River, Battery Park City boasts numerous parks designed in the 1970s and 80s. In 1984 local authorities commissioned a project by the landscape architect Susan Child with a site-specific installation by the environmental artist Mary Miss linked closely to Battery Park Citys residential area. The result was a two and a half acre park sited on a concrete platform extending over the water. Today it is threatened by rising tides and the threat of extreme flooding as a result of climate change.

© David Martin

Michigan State Parks, various locations, Michigan. Shown: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Alger County. In 1969 the landscape architect Genevieve Gillette led an effort to pass legislation to fund the state park system. Today the parks are struggling to muster the financial support needed to maintain them, and none of those established during Gillettes lifetime have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Cultural Landscape Foundation argues that listing even two would draw the national support needed to ensure funding in the future.

© Daves Rossell, courtesy of the CulturaRead More – Source [contf] [contfnew]

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