Land Forum magazine was founded by Spacemaker Press to reach a global audience through bookstore and subscription distribution. Its mission was “to capture the design elegance and intellectual refinement that characterize our profession, qualities that all too frequently become invisible in discussions of contemporary work, only to reappear ghostlike in scholarly retrospective.” It provided a venue for landscape architects from all over the world to express themselves in a high-quality publication.
Largely written by landscape architects and lavishly and beautifully illustrated with photographs generously provided by landscape architecture offices, Land Forum featured articles on contemporary landscape architecture projects from around the world, from small as well as large firms, for example:
- the work of Shodo Suzuki, Japan (Issue 1);
- the YKK Research and Development Center, Tokyo, by Toru Mitani (Issue 2);
- International Center, Dallas, by David Thompson of SWA (Issue 4);
- Glowing Topiary Winter Garden, New York City, by Ken Smith (Issue 4);
- the Bijlmer Memorial, Amsterdam, by Georges Descombes (Issue 5);
- Place d’Youville, Montreal, by Michele Gauthier and Claude Cormier (Issue 7);
- a Dallas Garden by Michael Van Valkenburgh (Issue 10);
- Olympic Plaza, Sydney, Australia, by George Hargreaves (Issue 10);
- 36 entries from Designed Landscape Forum II: Unbuilt Landscapes (Issue 6);
- 45 built projects from Designed Landscape Forum III (Issue 13).
Other articles documented such environmental projects as the Turquoise Necklace, Phoenix, (Issue 10) and Biosphere II, Oracle, Arizona (Issue 7) as well as such social issues as New York City community gardens (Issue 4) and alternative housing in the Bronx (Issue 10). Some issues were devoted to a single practitioner (Issue 8, on the recent work of M. Paul Friedberg, New York City) or firm (Issue 11: Civitas, Denver, Colorado) or single projects (Issue 12, Disney’s Anaheim, California, improvements, the work of a diverse range of landscape architects).
Land Forum also published a range of thoughtful articles and editorials on landscape themes: for example,
- “Element: Stone” by Raphael Justewicz (Issue 1);
- “On Criticism” by Robert Riley (Issue 2);
- “Roberto Burle Marx: Fazenda Vargem Grande” by James A. Lord (Issue2);
- “Leaves, Dirt, and Petrified Process” John Stilgoe (Issue 3);
- “The Garden in the Machine” by Mira Engler (Issue 5);
- “When Negative is Positive” by Pamela Palmer (Issue 9);
- “Dumbarton Oaks: Acting Out on Values” by Elizabeth Meyer (Issue 9);
- “In Memoriam: Eckbo, Sasaki, and McHarg” by Peter Walker (Issue 10);
- “Garden for Raul de Souza Martins, Petropolis, Brazil,” by James A. Lord (Issue 10);
- “Learning to Remember” by Eric Kramer (Issue 10);
- “The Duponts and Me,” by Frederick Steiner (Issue 14).
Passionate discussion also took place in Rants and Raves, perhaps most notably an exchange on Bryant Park between Laurie Olin and Charles Birnbaum (Issue 3).
Land Forum reached beyond the immediate field to include work of interest to landscape architects, including a series of articles on such contemporary artists as Vito Acconci (Issue 2), David Ireland (Issue 4), Mary Miss (Issue 5), Dani Karavan (Issue 7), Karen McCoy (Issue 7), and Atelier Dreiseitl (Issue 10). On the last page of each issue, Land’s End was the venue for an image or a few words to amuse and provoke, including the Uncle Wilber Fountain (Issue 10) and the Leapfrog Fountain (Issue 9), cartoons by Gabriel Meil (Issue 13)and Guy Billout (Issue 3), the Cultural Landscape Foundation’s list of most-endangered sites (Issue 12), a sketch by Christopher Grubbs (Issue 7), passages from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities (Issue 6), a painting by Scott Green (Issue 5), and poems by Ian Hamilton Finlay (Issue 2) and Emily Dickinson (Issue 4).
Perhaps the most important service provided by Land Forum was the publication of a substantial number of book reviews, solicited, written, and edited by landscape architects, “intelligent commentary on the ideas that form the armature of our art.” In fourteen issues more than ninety books about the field received in-depth reviews.
Not least important was Land Forum’s success in showing the ingenuity and skill of the product manufacturers and service providers that enable the profession to create landscapes--from an entire magazine (Issue 9) devoted to fountain makers WET Design to articles on rock-master Philip diGiacomo (Issue 3) and illustrator Christopher Grubbs (Issue 7) to the well-designed ads that provided interest to every issue. Each issue also included an ad index and an extensive Resources section crediting consultants, product and service providers, and, always, the designers.
Land Forum’s circulation seldom topped 2500, but it set a high standard for all future landscape publications, not just by its physical beauty but because it showed landscape architects writing, photographing, and thinking about the works of other landscape architects, designers, and scholars at the very highest level.