Landscape Architecture Section Hosts THIS IS A TEST Symposium

On April 1-2, 2016, the Knowlton School Landscape Architecture Section hosted the symposium THIS IS A TEST: Landscape as Site for Research, bringing to Columbus an international collection of designers, scholars, scientists and artists to discuss the role of experimentation, research and prototyping in the wider field of landscape architecture.

Today’s landscape architects draw from the methodology of agronomists, foresters and horticulturists as well as from art experiments to analyze ecological patterns and generate design proposals—from garden to river and forest. Often small in scale, these experimentations inform larger landscape systems and offer a measure for spatial, material and ecological conditions. THIS IS A TEST continued the celebration of the 100th anniversary of landscape architecture at The Ohio State University by building on the legacy of a land grant institution, namely, by focusing on the connection to agriculture and the reliance on empirical research.

THIS IS A TEST was attended by 250 academics, practitioners and students from across the United States, Canada and Europe. Day One of the symposium took place in the Film/Video Theater in the Wexner Center for the Arts, while Day Two was hosted in Knowlton Hall’s Gui Auditorium. The event culminated with a reception in the Knowlton Hall Center Space.

The symposium was organized by Landscape Architecture Section Head Dorothée Imbert and Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture Sarah Cowles and was co-sponsored by the Graham Foundation, The Ohio State University College of Engineering and the Wexner Center for the Arts.


THIS IS A TEST featured presentations by 13 internationally-recognized speakers, including former Knowlton School Glimcher Distinguished Visiting Professors Michel Desvigne and João Nunes and Trott Distinguished Visiting Professor Roland Gustavsson. A complete listing of speakers, their affiliations and the titles of their presentations follows:

George Descombes, Professor Emeritus, University of Geneva, Switzerland, "Designing a rivergarden"
Steven Handel, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Ecology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, "Rising Seas, Restoring our Coastal Landscape
Richard Hindle, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, University of California, Berkeley, "Inventing Rivers: levee prototypes and environmental innovations from the United States Patent and Trademark Office"
Elena Irwin, Professor, Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, The Ohio State University, "Integrated Modeling of Agricultural Landscapes and Ecosystem Services: The Lake Erie Coupled Human and Natural Systems Project"
Elizabeth Mossop, Founding Principal, Spackman Mossop and Michaels landscape architects, "Reimagining Urban Vacancy: Landscape Experiments in New Orleans and Detroit"
Brett Milligan, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of California, Davis, "1:1 Scale Trials with the Vacant and Feral"
Karen M'Closkey, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Pennsylvania, "Tests of Time"
Michel Desvigne, Landscape architect, Paris, "Landscape Coherences: Tests, Prototypes, and Scales of Operations"
Roland Gustavsson, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, "The Landscape Laboratory. Simple, Spatial, and Dynamic"
Marc Treib, Professor of Architecture Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley, "The Garden as Test Site"
João Nunes, Founder and CEO of PROAP, Lisbon, "Prototype as a test"
Aurora Tang, Program Manager, Center for Land Use Interpretation, "World Building in the West: Conceptual Development, Cultural Monuments, and Visionary Life Practices and Teachings"
Michael Mercil, Professor, Department of Art, The Ohio State University, "Land Grant: An Artist in a Public University"

Accompanying Banvard Gallery Exhibits

Two special Banvard Gallery exhibts were on display during the symposium.

The Elusina Lazenby Experimental Forest is located at The Ohio State University's Waterman Agriculture and Natural Resources Laboratory. It operates as a living laboratory for testing ecological and aesthetics qualities of forest gardens. The site work honors the legacy of Elusina Lazenby, the first woman to receive a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from The Ohio State University in 1926.

João Nunes: Landscape Works runs through September 15, 2016, and is an exhibit that developed out of the 2016 Glimcher Seminar, which Nunes taught in his role as Glimcher Distinguished Visiting Professor. Students in the seminar sought to physically reinterpret both the operational precision of Nunes’ built work, as well as the omnipresent concepts of time, transience, and consciousness that persistently drive his design process.