Airport Landscape: Ground-to-Air: Landscape Investigations from the Orbital to the Intertidal

October 30, 2013–December 19, 2013

Pierre Bélanger, curator

Airbases produce urban geographies and altitudinal ecologies. Whether military or civilian, active or closed, these infrastructures emerge from the technological development of aerial mobility and the contemporary growth of air power amidst the complexities of political, economic growth. Across the spectrum of military and civilian airbases lies a field of urban influence, whereby strategies of defense and projections of power are imprinted in the location, distribution, and reach of airbases as well as their related operations. Not only do they shape how we move through different geographies or how we access different altitudes, these aerial infrastructures open a lens through which we see the ground and ground conditions from above, and alternatively, how we shape air and airspace from below. Profiling nearly 5 years of Design Research by students in the Landscape Architecture Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, these investigations explore aerial infrastructures as a landscape of spatial, ecological relevance and as temporal territory of geopolitical influence. From the historic rise of the military airbase worldwide to the current closure of postwar airfields in growing population concentrations domestically, these investigations reveal the inseparability of the airfield from the complex, technological, geo-political, socio-economic, bio-physical environments in which they are located. By “re-basing” the contemporary airbase and redrawing the contours of contemporary urbanization beyond the spatial footprint of cities, these investigations propose how these aerial infrastructures form a vast ecological web across different altitudes, that bear considerable influence on the processes and patterns of contemporary urban life in the 21st century.

GSD 1211 – Landscape Architecture III
(3rd Semester Core MLA Design Studio, 2010-2013 Selections)

Coordinator: Pierre Bélanger, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture
Instructors: Luis Callejas, Kelly Doran, Rosetta S. Elkin, Niall Kirkwood, Juan Manuel Rois, Kelly
Shannon, Julia Nicole Watson, Christian Werthmann

Contributing Students: Alexander S. Arroyo (MLA ‘013), Kunkook Bae (MLA ‘014), Chen Chen (MLA ‘013), Hugo Colon Acevedo (MLA’014), Carolyn Deuschle (MLA ‘014), Yu Ding (MLA’012), Lauren Elachi (MLA’013), Jing Guo (MLA ‘014), Sara Jacobs (MLA’012), Christina Milos (MLA ‘011), Lindsey Nelson (MLA ‘013), E. Scott Mitchell (MLA ‘012), Gabriella Rodriguez (MLA ‘014), Emily Schlickman (MLA’012), Kyle Trulen (MLA ‘014), Cara Walsh (MLA ‘014), Amy Whitesides (MLA ‘012), Ziyi Zhang (MLA ‘014), with additional research from Nick Bonard (MUP ‘011), John Davis (MArch ‘012), Alexandra Gauzza (MArch ‘012).

Gund Hall