Artifice, Not Nature
Laurie Olin


Laurie Olin

©Monica Pidgeon

I'm a landscape architect. I started out as an architect, I grew up in Alaska and came out to the States to go to university to study architecture which I love deeply. But in the course of my early years in architecture and practice both on the West Coast and the East Coast of the United States, I discovered that I was interested in things beyond mere buildings. although I love buildings and many architects are close personal friends of mine. But I'm very interested in cities. I fell in love with cities when I came out to the States. (People from Alaska say 'coming out'.) The thing is that cities are wonderful places, they're like these great sort of coral reefs that people build and swim through. I have always thought of cities as a natural phenomenon. They're quite wonderful, they're these habitats we build for ourselves. I find them extraordinary and I féll in love with them. And so, in the process of being a young architect I discovered I was interested in something that we now call urban design and I ended up becoming something that is technically called a landscape architect. although some of my friends say I should stop calling myself that because what we do really seems to be urban design also.


Exchange Square, Bishopsgate, London

©OLIN Partnership Ltd.

The reason I'm interested in the design of cities in some ways is that most people live in cities. And if we are to preserve the great forests and the great agricultural areas of the world, we have to make cities as a desirable place to live so that we will stop flooding the countryside and building bad versions of cities. The open space in cities is very important. It affects everyone's lives, although a lot of people don't realise it. rich and poor. And it has to do with Nature, or somehow in opposition, without realising that we live in Nature and that cities are in some way a natural phenomenon. They're like great coral reefs that people have built for themselves and we swim through and live in.

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