5 PM Friday, February 16, 2018
Alexander Robinson is a landscape architect and design scholar. He is Assistant Professor in the Landscape Architecture and Urbanism program in the University of Southern California School of Architecture, and principal of the Office of Outdoor Research in Los Angeles, California. His last book, co-authored with Liat Margolis, Living Systems: Innovative Materials and Technologies for Landscape Architecture (Birkhäuser, 2007), is a bestselling treatise on landscapes as material performance systems. His recent design and scholarly research into the design of landscape infrastructures, such as the Los Angeles River and Owens Lake, has been featured in the press, multiple books, and exhibitions. In 2015, he was awarded the American Academy in Rome, Prince Charitable Trust Rome Prize. His upcoming book, “The Spoils of Dust: Reinventing the Lake that Made Los Angeles” on the Owens Lake will be published in Fall 2018 (AR+D). Robinson received his Bachelors from Swarthmore College and his Masters of Landscape Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Title: The Spoils of Dust: Reinventing the Lake that Made Los Angeles
Once the third largest lake in California and among the world’s greatest air pollution offenders, for decades the deadened Owens Lake was merely a catastrophic footnote to the most notorious water grab in modern history. Now, the lake has been re-assembled to exceed the value of what was lost – without refilling its shores and depriving Los Angeles of its water supply. In Robinson’s upcoming book, “The Spoils of Dust”, the lake’s peculiar redemption is the backdrop for investigating contemporary relationships between landscape design, control, and perception. The lake-like terrain is our most intimate display of modern technocratic vision and exposes the limits of our invention and control of infrastructural ecologies. Whether by observations of dust or scenery, it is as much the product of how we perceive and value landscape today, as what.