On Wed. May 21, Charles Birnbaum from The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) spoke at Toronto’s Arts and Letters Club. This “Inside the Planner’s Studio” event was sponsored by the City of Toronto and attended by City staff in Parks, Urban Design, and Planning, as well as numerous professionals in architecture and landscape design. Charles introduced the work of TCLF and brought a useful third-party perspective to some of the issues faced by Toronto’s designed landscapes.
Themes included: the necessity of better understanding the natural and cultural contexts surrounding landscape in order to preserve, maintain, or appropriately change them; the need to elevate landscape design discourse beyond just budget and practicality, and towards the creation of “authentic places”; and the need to advocate and educate – to make more public the critical discussion about design decisions in the public realm.
The talk and panel discussion, which included Janet Rosenberg, Harold Madi, and ERA’s Michael McClelland, was also a chance to explore the agenda for the 2015 TCLF international conference to be held in, and focus on, Toronto.
Is it possible, for example, to come away from the conference with real goals and guidelines? To perhaps even devise a charter or manifesto for the future of landscape in Toronto? It’s an exciting thought that has generated a lot of discussion. And we look forward to working together to continue the exchange of ideas, as well as to the exciting possibilities ahead for the landscape of this city.
Thanks very much to the City of Toronto, Charles Birnbaum, and all in attendance.