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Harbourfront Centre at York Quay - Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

Editorial Board Message

A message from Eric Klaver, Chair, Ground Editorial Board

Every year, when the editorial board decides on the next round of themes for upcoming issues, we brainstorm any number of possibilities, discuss, and then vote for our picks. Typically, about fifty are spitballed, which are whittled down to four. When death was suggested, and subsequently discussed, we almost immediately—seemingly reflexively—added “and renewal.”

There was no disagreement about this addition, and while I think it is partly due to the discomfort we have as a culture around death, I believe it is also due to the fact that, in landscape architecture, renewal is a significant part of our stock in trade.

In 1994, as a celebration of the OALA’s 25th year, Robert Burley was commissioned to photograph built works of landscape architecture by OALA members that became the Tithing for Eden exhibit in the Design Exchange in Toronto. Included in the exhibit as a coda was a photograph and brief elegy for the Ontario Place Forum, now considered a masterpiece of landscape by Michael Hough (then Hough, Stansbury & Associates), as part of the Ontario Place. What sprang up in its place was an affront to the original design. Coincidentally, and perhaps instructively, we are in the same situation with the entirety of Ontario Place under threat. Like Saturn eating his own children, our actions can precipitate loss that echo into following generations.

In this issue, we explore the threat to Ontario Place and other important landscapes, not just as lost places, but also as existential cultural loss. As part of “and Renewal,” we also turn to those landscape architects’ works which serve to reclaim and renew cultural landscapes. Renewal is a hopeful and fulfilling part of our profession. Equally, we are called to engage with death as part of the process, where perseverance of, and resistance to loss is paid as a fundamental element of our vocational tithe.

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