June 20, 2012
by admin

Book Review – Groundwork: Between Landscape and Architecture by Diana Balmori and Joel Sanders

The Monacelli Press, 2011

Daniel Fox

Event: Oculus Book Talk: Diana Balmori and Joel Sanders, Groundwork
Location: Center for Architecture, 06.11.12
Speakers: Diana Balmori, FASLA, Founding Principal, Balmori Associates; Joel Sanders, AIA, Principal, Joel Sanders Architect
Organizers: AIANY Oculus Committee

Speaking to a full house of interdisciplinary professionals in landscape and architecture, Diana Balmori, FASLA, and Joel Sanders, AIA, made a passionate appeal to designers to “overcome the false dichotomy between architecture and landscape.” Whether reading their book, Groundwork: Between Landscape and Architecture, or listening to them speak, Balmori and Sanders have clearly developed a solid foundation from which to explore these different and sometimes conflicting creative trajectories. The Lerner and Loewe “I Remember it Well” moment during their talk, when first beginning their association, added to the charm that resonates throughout the book’s pages. By exploring different and sometimes conflicting trajectories in search of a robust and integrated creative approach, the result is a forceful one – “linking interactive systems that heal the environment.”

Both Sanders and Balmori talked at length about the “interface” between landscape and architecture, and challenged the audience to shift their own perceptions of the built environment and our professional imprint upon the natural world. To support their perspective they present projects that challenge the preconceptions about the points of separation between the two. Many of the projects are game changers in the realm of human interaction with the natural world. DUNE: Arenaceous Anti-Desertification Architecture in the Sahara desert (Magnus Larsson, 2008) is certainly one of these.

AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, opened the evening with the only way I can imagine closing this review: “This is a groundbreaking book. No one has done this before and it will have an impact on generations to come.” All one had to do was sit in the audience and hear how ignited people were with the concepts being discussed. That is also the experience for the reader moving through and reflecting upon this highly creative and provocative work.

[Editor’s note: For information on a Balmori/Sanders collaboration in NYC, see “Breaking Barriers” by Lisa Delgado, Oculus Spring 2012, pg. 32.]

Maxinne Leighton, Assoc. AIA, is a member of the AIA Oculus Committee, and the Director of NE Region Business Development/Marketing at Parsons Brinckerhoff.

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