Waldheim’s assertion that diversification and decentralization of cities have put a premium on the horizontal focus on landscape design over architecture makes me think about the argument of the object versus the field. Landscape design is lauded by Waldheim as being able to take on various field conditions such as nature, infrastructure, programs, and impromptu events. But do we get to a point where design dissolves into the field? How can we maintain the balance between the designer’s input and the field conditions that run amok? Is the disappearance of the designer’s authority even a bad thing?
Proponents of the object want to empower their design through specific relationships with their immediate ecology. Words like “nature” do not mean a lot to them. By honing down their criteria of relationships, they make their architectural object more direct and more powerful
Waldheim might see this as a power play. He might think this has something to do with the architect’s ego. But I contend that this has a lot to do with humility. Proponents of the object know their realistic limitations. They simply want to concentrate and maximize their effect on their environment like a sharp chisel rather than a wide mallet.
This is not to suggest that the insulated form finding of an object, a la SCI-Arc, is the optimal way to design. This is to suggest that clear, direct, and realistic goals is a strong framework with which to design.