Thursday, June 12, 2008

An Evening with Walter Hood and Architecture for Lunch

Last night, the Visual Studies Workshop of the State University of New York-Brockport hosted the final lecture in this year's Reshaping Rochester! Planning for the Public Realm lecture series. The speaker, Walter Hood, is principal at his own design firm as well as a professor of landscape architecture at Cal-Berkeley.

Mr. Hood is a designer who strives to make the beneficiaries of his work, namely the common citizen, see multiple facets of their environment, take away many impressions, and form an informed positive or negative opinion of a space or place. In order to introduce concepts in a freeflowing fashion, Mr. Hood took us through many of his design projects in great detail.

His Eucalyptus Soliloquy (pictured) in Sonoma's Cornerstone Gardens "was inspired by the rows of eucalyptus trees that serve as windbreaks between vineyards and fields in Sonoma County."

His educational and interactive rice gardens in Charleston, South Carolina and the large land tract Phillips Settlement redesign showed his passion for evoking sense of place and preserving traditonal ways of life against encroaching sprawl.

From elevated train plazas to the pictured Splashpad Park in Oakland, Mr. Hood is adept at ameliorating the effects of California most egregious and plentiful assets, elevated freeways. He has also utilized some interesting magnification and multiplication techniques of existing natural features to create different aerially recognizable topographies linking the dominant freeway structure in a benign way.

On the whole the speech gave some of the much needed aesthetic to my hard urbanist edge.

*On a historic note, I learned the reason for the designation "University Avenue" on Rochester's east side. It turns out that the building we were in was one of three remaining original University of Rochester buildings before their move to their current campus in 1926.

I also wanted to shine a little light, albeit with short notice, on a quick and easy event convenient to downtowners. The Landmark Society of Western New York is sponsoring a trilogy of short talks on historic downtown architecture. Tomorrow at 12:10, Cynthia Howk of the society's staff will be guiding anyone interested on a tour of the Four Corners (Main at State), Rochester's historic financial, government, and legal district in the heart of Colonel Nathaniel Rochester’s original 100-Acre Tract. To take part, simply meet at the Powers Building (pictured) entrance at 16 West Main Street.

In addition to the insight gained from Mr. Hood, I also was able to purchase my own full copy of the much talked about Charrette document. My plan is to start developing the post series on Sunday and producing installments for as long as is necessary to cover it in fairly great detail. That and a troubling environmental issue promise to be the blog material closest on the horizon. Enjoy the weekend!

1 comment:

The Landmark Society of Western New York said...

Hi Bob,

Stumbled onto your blog thanks to a Google Alert telling me The Landmark Society was named. Happy to find you here! You may want to check out our new blog here as well - I think it's right up your alley.

Have you been able to go on any of the Architecture for Lunch walks? They really are a fun way to spend lunchtime...much better than a sandwich at your desk. Hope to see you on our upcoming Corn Hill Strolls or other architectural adventures in Rochester!