Everyone knows that advertising is a scourge--billboards, pop-ups, spam, etc. During the Olympics, there was more time devoted to advertising than to sports. Why is it then, that many of us look forward to the ads during the Super Bowl more so then the game itself? Maybe it's because some of the cleverest people in the world are creating them and we can't wait to see what witty social commentary, because that is exactly what the best ads are, they will come up with next.
What does this have to do with landscape architecture? Wit in public space is, and probably always has been, very rare. To the extent that it is expressed at all, it is in temporary rather than permanent installations; the stakes are less, public approvals are often easier and, in any case, even the wittiest joke gets old if you have to see it every day for five or ten years. At the same time, public funds are only rarely allocated for temporary installations. Guerrilla marketers don't have to wade through that swamp, though. The ads that they create substitute wit and energy for money and since they are not intended to last long, they don't get stale. They are a surprise and a delight when ecountered. A few examples have been highlighted, but there are many more. By the way, we’ve seen this sort of thing in many cities in the US and Europe but not in Washington. Are we that dull?
In the upcoming weeks, Phase 1 of Diamond Teague Park will open. Designed by Landscape Architecture Bureau, it is one of the few places in the District where the natural shoreline of the river has been left in its original state, providing much needed habitat to native water fowl. The park also utilizes floating wetlands, their first east coast installation, to treat the overabundance of effluent in the Anacostia. Along with a boardwalk and a water taxi dock the new park provides a welcoming civic space at the footsteps of National’s Ballpark.