Art delivers the message of urban planning
To describe the type of work companies like EnSite do as interdisciplinary is a bit of an understatement. We list planning, landscape architecture, urban design, engineering and sustainability as among our core offerings on our website. Such a list inevitably leaves something out. More, it suggests a siloing of disciplines that’s antithetical to our actual approach to projects – and our business, as evidenced by our horizontal corporate structure.
Sometimes it’s helpful to look to art and social commentary (and art AS social commentary) to interpret the challenges our society faces, and that businesses like ours are charged with overcoming. We recently discovered a good source in Terrain.org. Labeling itself “A journal of the built + natural environments,” Terrain presents opinion, interviews, art and literature that serve as odes to the beauty of the natural world and also to the discipline of solving human solutions in a way that softens our footprint. Likewise, the lens of art allows readers to more immediately grasp the eventualities and urgencies inherent in much of our planning policies. Terrain’s Unsprawl department provides case studies of redevelopment success stories that result in greater walkability, focus on land stewardship, increase economic viability and reverse inefficiencies resulting from decades of short-minded policy.
There are many blogs dealing with topics of urban renewal, reversal of sprawl, placemaking and the like. We admire Terrain especially for appealing to hearts and minds with the prominent showcasing of art and literature that approach these far-reaching considerations. If a picture (or a poem) is worth a thousand words, it’s often more succinct than a 10-second elevator speech at communicating a corporate mission of making life in our communities more fulfilling and sustainable for the time we’re here, and for generations to come.