The Performative Landscape

Alison B. Hirsch, FAAR, is a landscape theorist, historian and designer. Both her design and written work focus on how understanding cultural practices and social histories and memories can (and should) contribute to the design of meaningful places.

Alison was awarded a Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts Research and Development Grant in 2019 and the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership (2020-2021). For short interview related to teaching around this topic, see: http://arccadigest.org/landscape-arch….

Alison is also currently working on a book and the topic of this lecture, The Performative Landscape, which emphasises sociocultural dynamics as catalysts for physical design, challenging common conceptions that participatory or socially-oriented design processes must sacrifice the spatial, material and formal qualities of the landscape architectural project.

Her 2014 book, titled City Choreographer: Lawrence Halprin in Urban Renewal America, was released by University of Minnesota Press (https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-divis…) and received grant support from the Foundation for Landscape Studies (David R. Coffin Publication Grant) and the Graham Foundation. The book provides a foundation for Alison’s ongoing research on participatory methods that contribute to the creative design process.

Alison is co-founder of foreground design agency, a critical landscape practice whose work is both situated and speculative, operating in an intermediate space between practice and theory and the physical and representational (www.foreground-da.com). Recipient of numerous recognitions, including prize-winners of the Pruitt Igoe Now competition, foreground provides Alison a platform to test her research in applied action.

Prior to initiating her own practice, Alison worked in the design offices of W-Architecture and Landscape Architecture and James Corner Field Operations in New York City. Prior to joining the faculty at USC, Alison taught landscape architecture theory and design at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD), University of Virginia and University of Toronto. Alison was a 2017-2018 Prince Charitable Trusts/Rolland Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome.

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