TCLF: Landslide® 2020: Women Take the Lead

South Cove, Battery Park City, New York, NY, 2020. Photo by Barrett Doherty, courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation-1

The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) today released Landslide, its annual thematic report and exhibition about threatened and at-risk landscapes. Landslide 2020: Women Take the Lead, timed to the centennial of women’s right to vote, focuses on sites across the country designed by women (there are twelve entries, two of which include multiple sites). The sites in Landslide 2020: Women Take the Lead represent achievements by women during the course of the twentieth century.

View press release here

The twelve Landslide 2020 sites are representative of a much larger story. While this report is issued on the centennial of the passage of the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution, it also coincides with nationwide social upheaval highlighting and addressing long-standing injustices and disparities. Within the profession, inclusion and equity for Black, indigenous, and people of color continue to be significant issues. ASLA notes that only one percent of its members identify as African American and four percent as Hispanic or Latino. ASLA provides resources to women and people of color in navigating the profession, in part, because of these discrepancies. Studies of roadblocks for women in the profession in the 1980s and again in the 2000s have consistently pointed to the incompatibility between this career and family life, an issue addressed in the Landslide video interviews with Martha Schwartz and Alison Hirsch. There are themes that certainly would have resonated with professional women landscape architects—many of whom never married or had children—more than a century ago. But life-work balance is only one issue in a complex web of equity concerns. As Heidi Hohmann, Director of Graduate Education in Iowa State’s School of Landscape Architecture noted in the January 2006 issue of Landscape Journal, women’s relationships with men in the twentieth-century landscape architecture workplace were “by turns abasing, pleasant, supportive, patronizing, and truly collaborative.” 

In the exhibition’s introductory video, Thaisa Way provides a brief overview of women landscape architects in the twentieth century, while Alison Hirsch addresses her dual role as a mother of two young children and a university professor, and Sara Zewde (ASLA-NY Member) speaks pointedly about being a Black woman in the profession. Landslide 2020 is, by design, not encyclopedic, but rather meant to spur greater inquiry and dialogue about women and landscape architecture, and hopefully to contribute to the broader conversation about diversity and inclusion.

The Landslide 2020 exhibition had originally been conceived as a traveling photographic exhibition that was to debut at the Boston Architectural College. However, the novel coronavirus pandemic necessitated a solely digital format. In the end, this constraint afforded a special opportunity: to feature richly produced Zoom interviews with some of the leading voices of the profession, many of whom contribute personal anecdotes about the featured designers and other insights. TCLF hopes that these rare recordings will serve as an inspiring and valuable resource for generations to come.

View the Introductor video here: https://youtu.be/zw2N1XZGmCs