Magazine article The Crisis

Landscape Design Revitalizes Urban Communities

Magazine article The Crisis

Landscape Design Revitalizes Urban Communities

Article excerpt

Walter Hood dreams in colors, shapes and rhythm. As arguably one of the best landscape architects and designers in the country, Hood revitalizes public spaces, shaping once-blighted urban areas into improvisational marvels. His is a vision that takes into account the everyday mundane movement of life and integrates it all - the spontaneity, self-expression, community sense of self - with the best traditions of environmental design.

"I want to be known for the content of my ideas and my convictions and the things I stand for," says Hood, 46, an associate professor of landscape architecture and chair of landscape architecture at the University of California (UC), Berkeley.

Hood is among a growing number of landscape architects who are finding their way to neglected areas and injecting them with a newfound imagination and vigor. In 1996, he helped renovate Lafayette Park in West Oakland, Calif., long considered a decrepit outpost of checkers playing, wine drinking elderly men and a refuge for the homeless. The park suffered years of half-baked development, a shifting tax base and post-urban renewal stagnation. Hood's renovation included new picnic tables and benches, a play area for children, a mini plaza featuring chess tables and a pathway recounting Oakland's history.

A native of Charlotte, N.C., Hood attended North Carolina A&T, which became the first historically Black college to have an accredited landscape architecture degree program in 1977. Hood was part of the architecture program's first graduating class. …

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