Doug Bedell — February 13, 2009, 10:11 am

Landscape Architects Speak Up for Aesthetics

With the new federal stimulus package becoming law, aesthetic values are likely suddenly to jump to the forefront in many parts of the U.S. That’s because infrastructure projects funded by the package – roads and bridges, for instance – can raise the prospect of demolition of existing buildings or intrusion into neighborhoods. And existing stuctures can have intrinsic aesthetic value. (That’s something that PRO Barrier designs its barriers, especially the Arrestor and Lightfoot, to preserve.)

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is up to the minute on this. Its LAND Online blog has a thoughtful stimulus package posting headed “Note to Congress: HALS is Shovel Ready.” HALS is the Historic American Landscapes Survey and it will need, ASLA notes, adequate funding in the face of an infrastructure boom. If aesthetic or historic structures must go, HALS can at lease preserve their memory. 

ASLA also notes that the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), created during the Depression, continues “to document historic buildings across the nation…” It’s part of the National Park Service.

ASLA notes that, together, HALS and HABS could document historic/aesthetic sites that may be lost to infrastructure construction or help provide “context-sensitive solutions for highway improvement projects.” And, of course, such a federally-funded cautionary emphasis would help keep landscape architects employed.  

ASLA has a point before we rush out with the stimulus bulldozers. We recommend its thinking to you.

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