Why Not Cultural Systems? Expanding Our Value System Beyond Nature and Ecology

This seminar will examine the planning, design and stewardship opportunities and constraints frequently encountered when dealing with cultural landscapes. In addition to addressing foundational principles, this seminar will demonstrate how bridging the artificial, often segmented divides between both design and historic preservation and nature and culture results in an expanded, holistic and more thoughtful design interventions.

Specifically, the seminar will address the issues, and identify the tools and strategies surrounding the planning, treatment and management of cultural landscapes (from surgical design interventions at an iconic landscape designed by Dan Kiley, for example, to a landscape that was associated with important people or past events that is also rich in narrative). Methodologies for historic research, tools for documenting existing conditions, and strategies for evaluating and analyzing cultural landscapes will be reviewed and tested. In addition, considerations and tools for assigning value, and the myriad and interrelated issues surrounding the level of design intervention, carrying capacity for change, and prescriptions for management and interpretation will also be debated. This work will be buttressed with case studies and supplemented with a small number of local site visits, and required student presentations.

Finally, a diversity of planning, design and stewardship challenges will be addressed. This includes: physical and financial limitations for essential research; how we assess and assign significance; the value we place on context (both physical and historical); the quest for authenticity and why this is an underutilized tool in our design kits; antiquity as an asset (also known as weathering); the need to determine a landscape’s carrying capacity for change; and, the recognition of a cultural landscape's palimpsest (historic layers).  Integral to this work, the necessity for communications strategies for messaging and public engagement will be a key consideration.