Teaching Creativity: Landscape Architecture, Originality, and Autobiography

This seminar will be an exploration into creativity in landscape architecture —what it is, where it comes from, what feeds it, and, crucially, whether and how it can be taught or nurtured. The methodology will be that of a master class: we have assembled some of the most accomplished contemporary practitioners of landscape architecture and will engage in a close reading of two or three of their built projects, through the lens of their autobiography, their professional trajectory, and their working process. Landscape practioners include Laurie Olin, Toru Mitani (from Toyko), Mario Schjetnan (from Mexico City), Shannon Nichol, Julie Bargmann, and James Corner. The filmmaker Wes Craven will be our seventh guest. For each class, we will be joined by a variety of landscape architecture educators including Beth Meter and Thaisa Way, as well as professors from across the university and the GSD, with the aim of facilitating a wide-ranging and sometimes cross-disciplinary conversation. The course has sponsored six GSD students to travel to see the built work of our guest designers. At least one student will travel to visit the work of each guest, to foster strong student participation in the discussion.

Irregular Format
The course will be comprised of seven six-hour sessions. Students who enroll in this course in the fall are expected to participate in the course over two semesters, three sessions during module 2 of fall 2014 and four sessions during module 3 in spring 2015. Grades will be given after module 3 in spring 2015. Students who will be graduating at the conclusion of the fall semester are not eligible for this course, nor is anybody who will be on leave in the spring. If a student attends the fall portion but not the spring, they will be withdrawn from the course.

The fall semester will meet three times – October 20th, November 3rd, and November 10th. At each session we will be joined by one of the “masters,” and the day will be devoted to a discussion of his or her work, life, and career. Each week, a student who has traveled to see the built work of the guest speaker will introduce the guest and his or her work and make a presentation of their own about the work. The guest will make a presentation, focusing on his or her sources of inspiration, creative process, and working method, using the projects visited by the student as case studies. The rest of the day will be devoted to open conversation among the guest speaker, students, and other invited participants. The final project for the course will explore the idea of creativity, the design process, and built landscapes. Students may choose to focus on one or multiple landscape architects covered in the class. The format and media of the project will be open-ended and self-determined by the class.