Contacts
 






Product Search Engine




Walter Hood
Blending Art, Architecture, Landscape Design and Urbanism

Profile by Ifsha Buttita


image

Walter Hood has spent his career trying to find a balance between the arts--architecture, art, and landscape design--and how they play out in urban landscapes. Photo: Splash Pad Park, Oakland (C)Katie Standke


image

Walter Hood, on site at a Powell Street project in San Francisco, has called his studio a tripartite practice, working across art + fabrication, design + landscape, and research + urbanism. Photo: Hood Design Studio



Walter Hood, creative director and founder of Hood Design Studio in Oakland, California, has spent his career trying to find a balance between the arts--architecture, art, and landscape design--and how they play out in urban landscapes. Some of the areas he is most interested in and focused on in his work include landscape design; community development; citizen participation, particularly ethnic groups; and the design of architecture and landscape simultaneously.

Hood has called his studio a tripartite practice, working across art + fabrication, design + landscape, and research + urbanism. "...urban spaces and their objects act as public sculpture, creating new apertures through which to see the surrounding emergent beauty, strangeness and idiosyncrasies." --Walter Hood.

The founding of his studio in 1991 parallels his career in academia--he has been a professor of landscape architecture & environmental planning and urban design at the University of California, Berkeley, since 1991.



image

In his design work, Hood's focus has been on community development, citizen participation--particularly ethnic groups-- and the design of architecture and landscape simultaneously. Photo: Broad Museum Plaza, Los Angeles (C)Mark Boster and Hood Design Studio


image

"Landscapes and built elements emerge as improvised acts, familiar yet reshaped into something new." --Walter Hood
Photo: Coastlines, Port of Los Angeles. Image courtesy of Katie Standke


image

"I love that you can have a specific, idiosyncratic, and complex idea for the design of an object or a space, and then you get to figure it out. It never gets tiring." --Walter Hood
Photo: New de Young Museum Gardens, San Francisco (C)Steve Proehl & (C)Felix Rigau



"In my teaching and my practice, I am committed to the development of environments which reflect their place and time specifically through how people inhabit various geographies," Hood said. "Landscapes and built elements emerge as improvised acts, familiar yet reshaped into something new."

Hood Design Studio is a research-based firm. "We focus on the typologies of landscapes, human-centered spaces, and the public realm," Hood said.

Project research the firm conducts includes archival and oral histories as well as physical, environmental, and social patterns and practices. "These are used to uncover familiar and untold stories," Hood said. "These practices are layered through an idiosyncratic improvisational design process that builds on architecture and urbanism's rich tradition which yields familiar, yet new spaces, forms, and elements."

This year, Hood was selected as a research fellow for the USC School of Architecture's American Academy in China. Established in 2016 under the auspices of USC's School of Architecture, the American Academy in China strives to create cross-cultural collaboration between the United States and China by promoting dialogue around design, the built environment and the arts.



image

Walter Hood was the recipient of a 2017 American Academy of Arts and Letters award in the architecture category. The Academy described his work as "dissolving the boundaries between landscape architecture, urban design and public art." Photo: Planter seats, International African American Museum, Charleston, South Carolina, Hood Design Studio


image

"We selected Walter Hood for this year's fellowship because his work crosses so many boundaries--between landscape and art, place and architecture, design and making, process and product."-- Cliff Pearson, director of the American Academy in China. Photo: Cooper Hewitt Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden, NYC. Courtesy of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum


image

"I teach the foundation, so we prepare students with many methods for making decisions in design so that they can be literate within the context of their ideas," Hood explains. Photo: 7th Street Dancing Lights + Gateway, Oakland, California



During his fellowship, Hood has designed a lawn jockey and will oversee the fabrication and installation of it in two separate places--Shanghai and Los Angeles. Hood's goal is to explore material possibilities endemic to trade between China and the West, particularly porcelain, invented in China and coveted by the West. A budget of $5,000 will be used for the fabrication and installation in each city, helping to determine the size and materiality of each jockey. The jockeys will be placed in a public lawn, such as a park, courtyard, or quadrangle. In addition to creating and installing the jockeys, Hood will give a pair of lectures, one at USC and the other in Shanghai.

Cliff Pearson, director of the American Academy in China, explained why Hood was the perfect choice for this project. "We selected Walter Hood for this year's fellowship because his work crosses so many boundaries--between landscape and art, place and architecture, design and making, process and product," Pearson said. "He also challenges notions of identity in terms of nationality and race. Because the American Academy in China's goal is to cross borders and connect cultures, he seemed like a perfect fit."

Hood's landscape architecture work has received recognition in his fields of work over the years. He received the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Landscape Design in 2010. In 2017, he received an American Academy of Arts and Letters award. The award described Hood as "dissolving the boundaries between landscape architecture, urban design and public art."

The work he does is important to him personally, but also to communities.

"Cities are places that we do not tend to invest in," Hood observes. "The public realm includes places where people are accommodated in diverse ways. I look at how to take mundane spaces and make them beautiful," he adds.



image

"I love creating special, wonderful environments that all people can enjoy--these are not just for people who can afford it, but they really and truly are democratic spaces." --Walter Hood


image

"The public realm is the last bastion of democratic space," he asserts. "If we neglect it, we neglect people." Photo:Viaduct Rail Park, Philadelphia, courtesy of Rob Cardillo



The process of making things is what drew Hood to landscape architecture. "I always liked making things and when I was introduced to drafting in high school, I became interested in architecture and engineering," he recalls. "I love that you can have a specific, idiosyncratic, and complex idea for the design of an object or a space, and then you get to figure it out. It never gets tiring."

Now with his own students, he emphasizes themes that include culture and ecology, the city and memory, and race and landscape. "I teach the foundation, so we prepare students with many methods for making decisions in design so that they can be literate within the context of their ideas," Hood explains.

His many projects in the urban realm include Broad Museum Plaza in Los Angeles, Cooper Hewitt Garden in New York, Greenprint master plan in Pittsburgh, and the Bay View Opera House in San Francisco, to name only a few.

What he loves most si the opportunity to work in diverse environments and collaborations. "All of my projects are memorable due to the time and people involved to produce a work," he says.

Working specifically in the public realm is extremely important to Hood. "The public realm is the last bastion of democratic space," he avers. "If we neglect it, we neglect people. I love creating special, wonderful environments that all people can enjoy--these are not just for people who can afford it, but they really and truly are democratic spaces."





As seen in LASN magazine, June 2018.






Comment Box is loading comments...

Search Site by Story Keywords




August 21, 2018, 9:04 am PDT

Website problems, report a bug.
Copyright © 2018 Landscape Communications Inc.