Last October's "What's Out There Weekend New York" was my introduction to the Cultural Landscape Foundation, and it was a pretty good indication that these are serious people when it comes to exploring the ways in which public landscapes are imagined and executed. Oh, there were glitches that seemed mostly owing to the fact that the planning wasn't done locally -- not least the scheduling of this incredibly ambitious program for the same weekend as "Open House New York," which I described here recently, in connection with this year's edition of OHNY, October 12-13, as "probably NYC's most important touring weekend of the year").
But the schedule was an awesome assortment of riches. I spent Saturday exploring Brooklyn's Prospect Park from top to bottom: Grand Army Plaza with Municipal Art Society super-tour leader Matt Postal, then the park's great mile-long central Long Meadow and the Ravine followed by the exciting projects at the southern Lakeside end, both with the park's vice president for design and construction, Christian Zimmerman. (Plus I had scheduled myself then for an across-the-city trek to a tour of the Bronx's Van Cortlandt Park, but I would have needed a more instantaneous exit from Prospect Park to have any hope of making it anywhere near on time.) Then Sunday, after a tour of Staten Island's north shore that was originally planned as an MAS coproduction but wound up as an exclusively MAS event, I got a splendid overview of Queens's Forest Hills Gardens with the development's leading realtor (also a longtime resident). There must have been 20 or 30 other tours listed which I would have loved to do.
TCLF describes itself as "the only not-for-profit (501c3) foundation in America dedicated to increasing the public's awareness and understanding of the importance and irreplaceable legacy of its cultural landscapes."
Through education, technical assistance, and outreach, we broaden awareness of and support for historic landscapes nationwide in hopes of saving this diverse and priceless heritage for future generations. While TCLF seeks donations to support its efforts, it is not a membership organization.I should probably have taken note here of other "What's Out There Weekends" that have been scheduled, but I didn't want to let down readers and friends in the Los Angeles area by failing to sound the alert for this month's upcoming "What's Out There Weekend Los Angeles," offering an opportunity to "explore and discover two dozen historic landscapes in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Santa Monica through a series of FREE expert-led tours highlighting the region's remarkable landscape legacy."
Founded in 1998 by Charles Birnbaum, FASLA, TCLF achieves its mission by:
• Collaborating with individuals and local, regional, and national groups to understand and protect our landscape heritage and to reach the broadest possible audience. For example, TCLF is one of the American Society of Landscape Architects’ “partners in education”;
• Training professionals, students, teachers, and the general public to recognize, document and safeguard America's cultural landscapes;
• Serving as the nation’s largest and most valuable non-profit source of information about our nation’s historic landscapes and those pioneering individuals who have contributed (through design, planning and advocacy) to this legacy;
• Raising awareness of and support for individual landscapes-at-risk; and
• Recognizing and celebrating the efforts of owners, supporters and stewards of significant American places.
Landscape Legacy in the City of AngelsIt's a much less ambitious schedule than WOTW New York, and competition for precious spaces in those two dozen tours is likely to be keen. The list of tours is here:
Los Angeles' landscape legacy ranges from its Spanish Colonial roots to the present, and includes Asian, Hispanic, and African American heritage. The region is known for its distinct Modernist design legacy, which connects indoors and outdoors in innovative ways, and it also has a unique history of Postmodernist with public spaces that meld architecture, landscape architecture and art into one inseparable unit. Explore LA's design legacy through tours that include entertaining anecdotes and intriguing stories about city shaping, landscape architecture and design history. Many are places people pass daily, but do we know their background stories?
What’s Out There Weekend dovetails with the Web-based What’s Out There, the nation’s most comprehensive searchable database of historic designed landscapes. The database currently features more than 1,400 sites, 9,000 images and 700 designer profiles. And, What's Out There is newly optimized for iPhones and similar handheld devices, and includes a new feature -- What's Nearby -- a GPS-enabled function that locates all landscapes in the database within a 25-mile radius of any given location.