Library of American Landscape History
LALH publishes books about significant North American landscapes and the people who created them.
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What an interesting treasure trove of material that’s arrived of late: a full-blown account of the evolution of landscape architecture north of the 49th parallel and an overview of heritage planning.
Ron Williams – Landscape Architecture in Canada (2014)
McGill-Queens’ University Press
Imagine a project 15 years in the making. Ron Williams does. Landscape architect, teacher, keen observer and an active Alliance contributor, Ron has been meticulously preparing a historically and geographically comprehensive (672-page!) history of landscape architecture in Canada “seen from a broad geographical and cultural perspective.” This high quality labour of love has well been worth the wait and merits ‘pride of place’ on bookshelves across the land.
For those who participated in the Saint Paul conference, you have already had the pleasure of hearing directly from Ron about this four part tome: Landscape Heritage of the First Nations and Colonists; The 19th century Challenges of an Urban and Industrial Landscape; Years of Challenge, 1914-1945: Landscape Innovations in Times of War and Depression; and, Birth of the Modern Landscape, from 1945 to the Present Day. You may have already held it in your hands!
The Alliance merits a passing reference but it is the reminders of conferences past that resonate: passages about the Annapolis Historic Gardens in Nova Scotia (2006) and Boulevard Saint-Laurent in Montreal (2008) immediately come to mind. A discussion about the ‘Canadian Jefferson’ (Louis-Joseph Papineau) co-presented at the 2009 St. Louis meeting for me brought things full circle. A section on therapeutic landscapes reminded me of Brenda Williams’ presentation at the 2011 Fort Worth conference about the Lake View Hill tuberculosis sanatorium.
This precious book could even inspire some soul south of the border – with 15 years of time to spare?! – to launch into a comparable exercise: let’s just say that you’ve been given a good start here! Ultimately the range of content assembled should inspire others to look at their respective corners in new ways, through new lenses. Ron’s magnum opus is an essential volume for the shelves of those with even a moderately abiding interest in our collective – if varied – landscape history.
In 1999 Ron set out to describe the overall evolution of designed landscapes in Canada “from the point of view of a practising landscape architect with a passion for history.” He has delivered and we should thank him.
Harold (Hal) Kalman – Heritage Planning: Principles and Process
A second fortuitous publishing event comes in the form of Hal Kalman’s book “Heritage Planning” which aims to provide a comprehensive overview of heritage planning as an area of professional practice. As he notes in the introduction: “This book is essential reading for both professionals that manage change within the built environment and students of heritage conservation and historic preservation.”
Dr. Kalman carefully weaves historical background of preservation/conservation with his 35 years plus of experiences ‘in the trenches’. Part 1 – Principles covers: Heritage Planning; Context (legal and planning infrastructure, sustainability, ethics); and, Best Practices (charters and conventions; conservation treatments; standards and guidelines).
Part 2 – Process then explores: Understanding the Historic Place (historical research; physical investigation; community engagement; heritage values; significance); and, Managing Change (defining goals; identifying a use; selecting a conservation treatment; tools and incentives; risk assessment; heritage impact assessment; implementation plan; the conservation plan; design, construction, and beyond).
The layout is clear and information – and guidance – is easy to access. Each section is supported by a generous number of figures to illustrate his points.
Beyond the thoughtful text, there is much that might be familiar to Alliance members. The case study of the Kinsol Trestle Bridge in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island (one of the memorable site visits of AHLP 2012) brings us to current day thinking on the topic of heritage planning.
In his concluding remarks Dr. Kalman notes that “… success in the heritage conservation context will be measured by the extent to which ongoing operation enables a historic place to retain its cultural significance. … sustaining the heritage values that were identified in the planning phase is perhaps the best test of the maintenance program specifically and of heritage planning generally.” Whether you are a budding (or mature) student or a seasoned practitioner, these are words to live by, and this volume is a must for your collection.