As we wait for the long-discussed uptown park to actually get built, we at least can enjoy parks secondhand during a presentation Thursday, March 22, by a Charlotte native who has designed them from New York to California to China.
Walter Hood, born in Charlotte in 1958, is a professor of landscape architecture at the University of California at Berkeley. He'll come to the Mint Museum Uptown for a talk titled "Charlotte's Web: Enmeshed Landscapes."
Hood, who also heads his own design firm in Oakland, Calif., thinks parks should be places where people can come in and discover their own ways to enjoy themselves.
"Think about the history of civilization," Hood says in a profile in Fast Company. "The agora, the piazza, the theater, the street, the Colosseum -- we define ourselves in the public realm. And in America, our public realm is sad. We have to be told how to act. Sit here, look there, understand this, don't walk here, don't do that. It's crazy."
Hood's designs range from the grounds of a high-profile San Francisco institution, the De Young Museum, to a park in what was originally a traffic island underneath a freeway in Oakland. In the latter, Splashpad Park, (photo above from UC Berkeley) what previously was useless territory is now home to open-air markets and other activities.
Activity, rather than formality, is what he's after.
"I would rather design for a place that gets worn and messy," Hood says, "than try to keep something in a pristine state that doesn't seem lived in."
In his talk here, "Charlotte's Web," maybe Hood will weave that together with what he sees now in his hometown.