Kate on landscape architecture as climate activism in Cooper Hewitt Design Journal

May 29, 2020

Increasingly, “designing the social must be paired with new forms or architectural expression like un-making, un-doing, subtracting, reversing, decarbonizing, tearing out, ripping up, re-planting, and connecting,” Kate Orff described in a 2019 lecture for the Architectural League of New York.

In the Summer 2020 issue of the Cooper Hewitt Design Journal, Kate explores these ideas further in “Unmaking the Landscape”—a new piece discussing the activist role of designers in response to the climate crisis. Several SCAPE projects are discussed, including Public Sediment for Alameda Creek, the Chattahoochee RiverLands, and Petrochemical America.

“I still value great design, the beauty of a line, or the texture and quality of a space. However, the additive or beautifying impulse is wholly insufficient today, relative to the world we have made. I value even more the sound of bird calls and plumage, the mystery of contiguous dense forests, teeming shoals and shallows, all of which are threatened. Americans have to consume less, drive less, extract less. We can’t spend our way or design our way out of ecocide.”

Read the full piece—the issue can be downloaded for free here.