Maya Lin Storm King Wavefield
Storm King Wavefield


In case you missed it (I did): Maya Lin, still most famous for designing the Vietnam Memorial at the preposterously young age of 21, spoke at UIC last month on her philosophy of design. She's done some building architecture during her long career, but since exploding onto the scene with her memorial she's mostly concentrated on landscape architecture (including memorials, though she's apparently retiring from that genre). I've long been interested in landscape architecture, since the manner in which it changes says a lot about culture—consider, for instance, the sylvan landscape of Humboldt Park, initially French-inspired but gently nativized in a Prairie style by the forward-thinking landscape architect Jens Jensen, versus the urban jumble of Millennium Park. Or New York's Central Park, greatest of America's European urban parks, against Millennium Park.

Lin studied computer programming in high school, during the Cobol/Fortran era—leading to her sculpture Input at the college campus she grew up on—and tries to integrate the concept of site-specific design in unusual ways, some of which reflect site-specific structures that can't been seen, a nod to the world around us that we don't notice and can't without the aid of technology. She's not the most dynamic speaker, but it's an interesting talk about her approach (via Blair Kamin). Oddly, given the city's architectural prominence, I'm not aware of a single piece by her in the city; I think Grand Rapids is the closest place with one of her pieces.

Maya Lin – Design For A Living World from Daniel Kuruna on Vimeo.


Photograph: Dendroica cerulia (CC by 2.0)