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The Figure

GINA FORD

Sasaki Associates | FASLA

吉娜·福特

Sasaki 董事 | 美国景观师协会终身理事

Gina Ford is a principal and landscape architect in Sasaki’s Urban Studio. She is soon to be inducted into the ASLA Council of Fellows (FASLA), and served as a 40 under 40 Vanguard by NextCity.  Beyond her professional practice as a landscape architect, Gina also extends her experience by research, lecturing, and teaching. Her teaching experience includes guest critic and studio instructor roles at Harvard GSD, Northeastern University, MIT, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and RISD.

Gina devotes herself to create vibrant landscape spaces, with a particular focus on the new life and use of the urban and public environment. She has led many award-winning projects, including the Chicago Riverwalk, Boston’s Lawn on D, Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park, Sea Change: Boston and so on.

吉娜·福特在 Sasaki Associates 担任董事,主要负责领导城市设计相关的工作。她于今年荣升FASLA, 即美国景观师协会终身理事,并被NextCity评为40位40岁以下的行业先锋之一。除景观设计实践外,她还广泛涉猎研究、教育,演讲和竞赛领域,并身兼哈佛大学设计研究院、麻省理工学院和罗德岛设计学院的客座评论员和工作室导师。

吉娜·福特竭力于营造充满活力和生机的景观空间,为城市和公共空间赋予新的生命和用途。她主导设计了众多获奖作品, 包括大家耳熟能详的芝加哥滨水景观,波士顿LAWN ON D 临时景观及公共艺术项目,汤姆哈娜凡滨河公园等。

One of the best summertime in Boston– The Lawn On D by Gina Ford and her team | Sasaki Associates
“Swing Time” | Photograph by John Horner | Source: Harvard Magazine, Zara Zhang

The Interview

Gina Ford shared her professional experience and passion for design with GARLIC.

“AS ONE OF THE EARLIEST FEMALE PRINCIPAL, GINA IS CELEBRATING HER 2oth ANNIVERSARY WORKING AT SASAKI”

It is a great honor to have you for the Garlic interview. As the principal at Sasaki, you must have a really fantastic life story.  Would you like to introduce a little bit about yourself to our audience?

Absolutely! It is my honor to be part of GARLIC. I am Gina Ford. I am a landscape architect and principal of SASAKI.

Next June will be my 20-year anniversary here. I’ve been here for two decades, which makes me feel like a very old soul in this building. I have an undergraduate degree in architecture, came here as a draftsperson (doing CAD), got exposed to landscape architecture, and decided to go back to school. I went to the Harvard Graduate School of Design for my landscape degree, came back in 2003 and have practiced here ever. I became a principal in the firm in 2007, the same year I had my sweet daughter. I have been a principal for ten years now. I was one of the first woman landscape architects at SASAKI. Mostly doing work in public sector, (including) large-scale waterfront, public park work, etc. It is the part of the love of my life.

当然。大家好,非常高兴接受GARLIC的访问。我是吉娜·福特,是一名景观建筑师以及SASAKI的设计总监。

明年六月将迎来我在SASAKI的二十周年纪念日。二十年时光流转,我已经成了这里的“老人”了。我本科是建筑专业,之后来SASAKI做绘图员。在这里我接触到了景观,从而决定回学校继续学业。我来到了哈佛大学设计学院攻读景观硕士学位,2003年从哈佛毕业后又回到SASAKI进行设计实践直至现在。我于2007年晋升为公司的设计总监。也就是在这一年,我有了自己可爱的女儿。至今,我已做了十年的设计总监。我也是SASAKI景观专业最早的女性设计总监之一。我大多时间参与公共项目的实践,包括大尺度滨水项目和公园项目等。这些专业实践是我生命中挚爱的部分。

Gina Ford gave a speech on diversity and humanity | Image Courtesy of You Wu | Landscape Architecture Foundation.

“CITIES ARE NOT PURELY WHITE, PURELY WEALTHY, THERE ARE INCREDIBLE SPECTRUMS OF CONCERNS.BUT LANDSCAPE FIRMS ARE STILL SO DOMINANTLY DRIVEN ITS HIGHEST LEVEL OF LEADERSHIP BY A SINGLE DEMOGRAPHIC.”

At the conference of celebrating 50 years of LAF, you have made an amazing speech of declaration of concern. You raised up the question of humanities and diversity in our design field. How do you think it will transform our industry and how we designers can take an action?

I know GARLIC has its root in Penn. I think Penn has an incredible legacy of talking about environmental changes in a really meaningful way. The Landscape Architecture Foundation Summit was taking McHarg’s work as a baseline and asking practitioners to reflect on the legacy, which was largely grounded on environmental concern, and forecast forward for the next fifty years. I have these reactions sometimes to what I see it sort of almost singular track of concern about the environment, and the environment is critical. But also of concern is humanity and the needs of people. I wanted to fold the idea of the design for human perspective into that ecological framework. So, for instance, yes, environment changes are happening, and yes we see more disasters happening, but it is important to know that disasters are happening more often to people without means to recover quickly. More often, the more vulnerable and the poor are impacted.

I think landscape architecture has a huge role to play in transforming and making cities legible. We know cities are not purely white, purely wealthy. There are incredible spectrums of concerns, and I think we don’t often talk about that directly. And lastly, I think I look at firms practicing landscape architecture across the country, I am still really disappointed that it still so dominantly driven – at least it’s the highest level of leadership – by a single demographic. I would love to see – as I am getting older – more progress on that front. I would love to see more diversity of leadership in terms of ethnicity, gender… just different perspectives that will make the whole profession richer and more effective.

我知道GARLIC源起于宾大。宾大有深入探讨环境变化的深厚传统。景观设计峰会以麦克哈格的理论为根基,体现了对现实环境问题的关注,并预测了未来五十年的发展。环境问题非常重要,它体现了人类的需求。所以我认为在生态框架中体现以人为本的理念在设计中尤为重要。例如,在不断变化的环境中,我们看到很多灾难的发生。但更为重要的是,我们看到对于那些对环境并无迅速修复能力的人们,灾难发生得更为频繁。

因而,我认为景观需要发挥更为重要的作用。城市里并非都是白人,也并非都是富人。我们应以更为多元的维度和视角来对其进行审视,而这并未引起我们足够的重视。最后我想提的一点是,我国的景观公司的情况仍令人很失望,公司的高层人员组成结构仍非常单一,以白人男性为主。我希望在不久的将来,我可以看到这方面更多的进步,领导层的人员构成结构可以更为多元。我想这会为我们整个行业增添更多活力。

Gina Ford’s practice on resilience – Rebuild By Design | Sasaki Associates

“THERE ARE ALWAYS SOCIAL CONSIDERATIONS THAT MAY ALSO BE AS IMPORTANT AS THE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE, A LOT OF OUR WORK IS TO BRING THAT TO THE SURFACE.”

Could you give us an example how designers can truly deliver the idea of humanities and diversity? 

My favorite example – which I talked about this briefly at the LAF Summit – is the Rebuild By Design competition. We were looking at the Jersey Shore, and we picked up this one community of Asbury Park – a lovely, beach economy on the middle part of Jersey Shore. When we started there, we gave a big survey, an online survey, for people to talk to us about what resilience meant. And you know we expected to hear about the oncoming storm surges and waves associated with sea level rise and hurricanes. But what we uncovered was the sense that the community wanted social resilience. There was actually a beachfront economy on the oceanfront that was largely about people that would come and go in the summer time, and then there was a permanent community of largely African American people somewhat removed from the oceanfront. And there was no connection between them or very little connection. And so, as part of our work there, we created a public process- a parade actually – that connected two parts of the town. Along the parade route, we talked about what resilience meant. It was a way to bring together this community that just didn’t really have a formal way of that happening previously. Now, that has become a strong bond even though we are not there. For that community, just starting to think together about the future is more resilient. Again, I think we can often times come at problems from an environmental science perspective, become in some ways it is concrete, it is kind of easy to understand, but then behind that often there are social considerations that may also be as important to solve – maybe even a little trickier, a little hidden. I think a lot of our work is to bring that to the surface.

我非常喜欢的一个项目,在景观设计峰会上也有提到,是Rebuild by Design设计竞赛。我们的基地是位于泽西河岸中段的环境宜人的阿斯伯里公园社区。在设计初始阶段,我们进行了一个较大规模的在线调查,希望可以了解人们对韧性设计的理解。我们期待可以积极应对即将到来的风暴潮,以及与此相关的海平面上升和飓风。我们非常欣喜于这个社区对韧性设计的认同。这里既有夏日来此度假的游客,同时又有远离岸线,以非洲裔美国人族群为主的稳定社区。这两部分人群也并无关联,或者说是极少的关联。因而我们的项目旨在创造一个公共的通廊,其中包括一个可连接城镇两个部分的广场。通过这个方式,可使这个社区更为紧密地联接。也正由于此,这个社区开始思考如何使其未来发展更具韧性。我们经常从环境科学的角度思考问题,这非常实际,在很多方面也更易于理解。在这背后其实通常是对其社会问题的考虑。但很多时候,这些问题有些棘手,且不易于被发觉,因而我们希望经由我们的设计,可使这些问题浮出水面。

Community Engagement – Rebuild By Design | Sasaki Associates

” THOSE EXTRAORDINARY FEMALE LEADERS ARE ALL SO STRONG AND NEVER AFRAID TO SPEAK UP THEIR MIND.”

There are also some very respectable and significant female leaders in our industry, like you, Mia Lehrer from Mia Lehrer + Associates, Lucinda R. Sanders from Olin, Martha Schwartz of course, Zaha Hadid and so on. What kind of character do you think they all share? What can we young female professionals learn from these amazing people?? 

You named a couple of really incredible people. Some of them I have relationships with. I have been working with Mia Lehrer in Los Angeles, and we are on the board with Lucinda for LAF. Martha was one of my faculty when I was at the GSD. These are the people I really respect and admire. I think it is really nice at the LAF, in particular, you know there is this network of very smart, very capable women that have been working very diligently to make the profession more visible. I think of practitioners like Lucinda, Martha, and Mia, but I also think about the academics that are training our next generation. Beth Meyer gave the opening address at the LAF. I have nothing but respect for how incredibly intelligent she is. Thaisa Way at the University of Washington. Elizabeth Mossop – a mentor of mine – was at LSU for a long time. Scheri Fultineer at RISD. Anita Berrizbeitia at the GSD. Dorothée Imbert at the Ohio State University… I can keep going and going.

This network of women is helping to shape the future of our profession in academia in a really exciting way. So we not only have a balance of men and women coming out of landscape programs in recent decades, but now we have a host of women that have been trained by women role models, and that is to me is really exciting. (Because I think today is really a meaningful day to our country. We could actually have a woman president tonight.) It is exciting to think about the impact of all the women in all these schools are having on the next generation of practitioners.

Now, your question is though what they share. I think about these women – Martha, Mia, Lucinda. They are all so strong, and they are not afraid to speak up their mind. I watched Martha at the GSD. I was just blown away. She just didn’t shy away from saying the difficult thing. Often times, women are told to be polite, and not to say the difficult thing. But these women, they make it known and they say something. I think that is really inspiring.

你提到了很多出色的女性设计师,她们中有些与我本人还颇有渊源。我曾经和Mia Lehrer共事过,与Lucinda Sanders在景观设计峰会上有过讨论,Martha Schwartz是我在哈佛设计学院读书时的老师。她们都是我敬仰的人。这些睿智又能力出众的女性致力于让这个行业更具影响力,景观设计峰会为她们搭建了一个非常好的平台。我认为景观设计师Lucinda Sanders, Martha Schwartz, Mia Lehrer,以及培养下一代设计师的学者,比如在景观设计峰会上致开幕词的Elizebeth Meyer,我对她们无与伦比的睿智深表钦佩。华盛顿大学的Thaisa Way,我的导师、’长期在路易斯安娜州立大学任教的Elizabeth Mossop,罗德岛设计学院的Scheri Fultineer,哈佛大学设计学院的Anita berrizbeitia,俄亥俄州立大学的Dorothée Imbert……我可以把这个名单一直列下去。我相信这些女性学者在学术界为塑造我们这个专业的未来贡献卓著。近些年来我们不仅在景观专业中有较为均衡的男女比例,而且有众多女性景观设计师师出这些颇有成就的女性学者。这的确是让人深感振奋。你在提问中问到她们有哪些共有的特质。我认为她们,比如Martha Schwartz,Mia Lehrer和Lucinda Sanders内心都非常强大,她们也从不惧怕表达自己的观点。我在哈佛设计学院时感受到了Martha Schwartz的强大气场。她从不惧于讲出困难的事情。女性经常被要求举止文雅,在言语中有所保留,但这三位女性从不掩饰自己的观点,她们勇于表达她们对事物的认知和感受。我认为这对我们女性设计师来说是一个巨大的激励。

Gina Ford presents at Women in Design Monthly at her awarded project–The Lawn on D | Source: Sasaki Associates

“THINK ABOUT THE RIVER AS A KIND OF LAYER PLACE, KEEP ALL OF THOSE LAYERS PRESENTS, BUT ADDING THIS NEW LAYER WHERE EVERY GENERATION LIVING HERE CREATES ITS IDENTITY.”

Chicago Riverfront is one of your featured projects. Could you tell us some interesting stories when you transform a “sewer” to lively public open space? What’s your first impression during your first site visit? How does the history of Chicago River as an industrial canal adding another layer to this particular project?

It is a beautiful question, and the project is such a blessing, and I cannot believe that really happens. So many times, you start a project and pray that it will actually happen. This one has just been so amazing… all the effort that has been put into it. The first time I went there, the site is extraordinary. It is a very iconic American landscape. The skyscrapers, even the river itself is very architectural. As a built landscape, it was pretty amazing. But I think the thing about it when I first it was that it was so gray. It was relatively lifeless. There wasn’t a lot of activity. Certainly not green. It was very literally gray. Everything was built infrastructure. There was something really beautiful, and iconic, and memorable about it as an architectural frame, but it didn’t yet have the kind of landscape identity as strong as that architectural space. Our project created something to bring it together and give its own scale and identity. It is more humane, right? And a little bit greener. I think that is what makes it special. At the very beginning of the project, we mapped out the city of Chicago. This is true that I think a lot of cities when you look at the rivers that run through the cities, oftentimes that kind of marine, you can see all of these different areas of development. So when you look at the Chicago River, you can see traces of the historic floodplain, you can see traces of its industrial past, you can see the traces of the Burnham Plan of 1909, were really became the city beautiful facade on the river, infrastructural system. And I think we saw ourselves very much as this new layer, adding the new layer, keep all of those layers presents, but adding this new layer, maybe two of the recreational ecology. So it is nice when you think about the river as a kind of layer place, where every generation lives here creates its identity, or shapes to satisfy the current life that you know. It is exciting too to think about in a hundred years time when someone else adds to it that we cannot even imagine right now.

非常好的问题!芝加哥滨河公园是个非常难得的项目,我都不敢相信它最终实现了。很多时候当你开始做一个项目时,你都期待在这个项目中付出的努力可以得到回报。我第一次到基地现场时,觉得场地条件非常独特。这里拥有非常标志性的美国城市图景。摩天大楼,甚至河道本身都颇具建筑性。这里建成之后的景观效果非常棒,但当时我们第一次到基地现场时,这里充斥着沉闷的灰色调。这里了无生趣,没有什么活动,也没有什么绿色,毫不夸张的讲非常黯淡,基本上都是基础设施。这里有非常动人、颇具标志性的建筑天际线,但并没有和建筑相匹配的景观环境。因而我们的项目旨在打造可与周边建筑相得益彰,同时有其独特内涵,且更为人性化的景观。当然,也是要让场地更绿一些。在项目的初始阶段我们从解读芝加哥这座城市开始。和很多城市一样,沿着蜿蜒于城市间的河流,你会观察到城市不同区域的发展状况。当审视芝加哥河时,你会看到过去泛滥平原的痕迹,过去工业化时代对城市的影响,以及1909年伯纳姆规划在城市建设中留下的印记。这些为城市留下了迷人景象。我们的设计很大程度上是为城市增添一两个新的层面。我们可以把河流当作一个多层次的场所,生活于此的每一代人都为其赋予新的特质,或者说是将其塑造成为一种可满足当下生活的场所。想到一百年后,人们将会为它加入我们现今还无法想象出的全新的层面时,真的是非常激动。

One of the best open spaces in Chicago– Chicago Riverwalk | Source: Gina Ford

The GARLICer

Editor: Xiaoran Du | Wen Zhang

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