"A city cannot be a work of art."
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Cities are more than collections of buildings. They are hubs of human activity. The whole point of a city is to increase the benefits afforded by concentrating people together. Conflict, complexity and chaos are inherent in cities. Real life is messy. The purpose of art is to interpret the chaos; to establish order, to provide understanding of our human condition. Art is an abstraction of life.
Those of us engaged in the design of the built environment are engaged in constructing infrastructure to support life. We must understand the human economy and natural ecosystems. We seek to provide the order necessary to optimize function. Art eludes our grasp as life imposes its requirements on us.
It is the role of the architect to design buildings. The life of a city is experienced in the relationship between the buildings. The street, the public realm, contains the infrastructure that binds the city together and makes civic life possible.
The role of the landscape architect is to address the space between the buildings. When a site is re-purposed through new construction, our services are enlisted to restore functional connections between human and natural systems so vital to the function of the city. In doing so, we are compelled to bridge the impossible gap between life and art.
We are landscape architects. We are ATLAS.