The word is ubiquitous, yet has layers of meaning. Said out loud in isolation, landscape will trigger images of remembered places, moods, or emotions based on our own histories. My landscape memories are defined by an urban upbringing and a life spent within the urban core of major cities. The word does not conjure visions of agriculture fields, river deltas, or forests. I respond instead with everyday scenes of bustling sidewalks and “pocket” spaces tucked between high-rise buildings.
Our relationship with outdoor spaces, whether natural or designed, is based not on our past experiences alone but evolves over time with us. In the transformation of a site to “place,” we must start by listening to the people in the communities we serve because their stories will reveal their inherent connections to a particular site. Through this process, we hope to “find the gold” in design that meets their deepest needs for belonging and identity.