Between Landscape and Site: Relational Urban Infrastructures

Authors: Sara Jacobs*, University of Washington
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: urban design, landscape history, urban nature, infrastructure, visual representation, counter cartography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Washington 3, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The role of design has increased as urban landscapes reengage ecological flows, systems, and processes lost to the linearity of modernist planning. Yet, inherited binaries between urban, nature, landscape, and site have limited how the built environment can be re-imagined as a more-than-human socio-ecological project equip to address questions of environmental change and social inequity. This paper brings urban political ecology and environmental history into conversation with landscape and urban design to examine how environmental design is entangled with nature, race, power, and the state. I first explore how progressive-era environmental ethics, coupled with regional planning, expanded the scope of the urban landscape in the United States while also producing new environmental and social boundaries. I then explore contemporary infrastructural case studies from Seattle and New York to reflect on and critique how design practices have rationalize ecological process as panacea in contemporary urban redevelopment. By interrogating how environmental knowledge continues to be deployed as a practice of boundary making within contemporary systems-based landscape and urban design, I reposition these practices as relational projects of ecological and social transformation.

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