Landscapes by Day & Night

ASLA 2010 Professional General Design Honor Award. The Brochstein Pavilion at Rice University, Houston, TX. The Office of James Burnett / image: Paul Hester

When we asked ASLA Professional Practice Network (PPN) members what landscape they find just as spectacular at night as during the day, a few responded that any landscape looks just as amazing no matter the time of day, while others felt that no landscape looks quite as good at night as during the day. Between these two extremes were another set of contrasts: the magic of places without light pollution, where people can take in the “beauty of the natural night sky,” and how vibrant cities can be at night. Both types of settings dominate the most popular responses:

  • New York City, with Central Park and Bryant Park mentioned most often
  • The National Mall in Washington, DC, with the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial mentioned
  • Chicago, specifically the waterfront, North Shore Drive, and Millennium Park
  • Paris, especially the courtyard of the Louvre
  • Beaches
  • Deserts

While the skillful use of lighting and the presence of water were key motifs among the most popular nighttime settings, some members praised enjoying the evening no matter where you are: “Mystery and theatrical power are enhanced at night.” We also asked members what made these spaces so captivating, whether seen by night or by day.

ASLA 2016 Professional General Design Award of Excellence. Underpass Park, Toronto, ON, Canada. PFS Studio with The Planning Partnership / illustrated lighting plan: PFS Studio; bottom-left image: Doublespace Photography; bottom-right image: Waterfront Toronto

Here are a few of the responses:

“A snow covered mountain meadow at full moon.” – “You have to see it to believe it.”

“Anywhere that’s dark enough to see the night sky.” – “I think we would all be better off if we had more awe at how small we really are, and how marvelous and enormous the universe is. We only get that looking up into the sky.”

9/11 Memorial, New York City – “The power of the place is expressed in daylight and through lighting design at night.”

ASLA 2010 Professional General Design Honor Award. National 9/11 Memorial, New York, NY. PWP Landscape Architecture / image: PWP Landscape Architecture

Boston’s necklace of parks and Chicago’s green spaces along Lake Michigan – “The pathways filled with people of all ages, the mature tree canopies that allow glimpses of the glittering lights of the high rise buildings above—just the scale of things, how we humans are specks on the planet when placed between a massive Great Lake and the world’s tallest buildings.”

Chicago’s North Shore Drive – “The tall buildings set against the backdrop of Lake Michigan and the perspective that you get in the car is what’s amazing. The alignment of the road opens up vistas of architecture and while you’re moving in your car, it’s like you’re driving through a slide show of the ever changing skyline. Even more spectacular at night.”

ASLA 2010 Professional General Design Honor Award. The High Line, Section 1, New York, NY. James Corner Field Operations (project lead) and Diller Scofidio + Renfro / image: © Iwan Baan

Cairns Esplanade, Queensland, Australia – “The lights and vibrancy bring in an equally vibrant crowd of people. The design of the boardwalk is bold and fresh.”

Canyonlands, Utah – “Moonlight glows on the canyon walls, and the stars are amazing when there is no moon.”

Chaco Canyon, New Mexico – “By day, the ruins can be explored, but at night they seem to come alive.”

Petra, Jordan – “Although this is becoming less true, there is so little light pollution that the stars seem to fall out of the sky. On a moonlit night, this carved landscape is spectacular.”

Stanley Park, Vancouver – “Views of downtown, waterfront, & mountains by day are already incredible. Light it up at night…oh yeah!”

ASLA 2017 Professional General Design Award of Excellence. Klyde Warren Park – Bridging the Gap in Downtown Dallas, Texas. OJB Landscape Architecture / image: Fluidity Design Consultants

Besides specific locations, here are a few more general responses on landscapes that are equally spectacular by day or night:

“A great urban plaza.”

“Any place with great lighting.”

“Any waterfront landscape.”

“Ones that play on the reflection of the moon or glow of a cityscape.”

“I think that cities at night can be spectacular because, in a way it’s like seeing the bones. Seeing how much is quiet and not lighted within the overall context of the city.”

ASLA 2010 Professional General Design Honor Award. The High Line, Section 1, New York, NY. James Corner Field Operations (project lead) and Diller Scofidio + Renfro / image: © Iwan Baan

At the start of 2015, a questionnaire was sent out to members of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs). The theme: creativity and inspired design. As you can imagine, responses were varied, and included many insightful comments and suggestions. Synopses of the survey results were originally shared in LAND over the course of 2015, and we are now re-posting this information here on The Field. For the latest updates on the results of the annual PPN Survey, see LAND’s PPN News section.

ASLA 2017 Professional General Design Honor Award. SteelStacks Arts + Cultural Campus, Bethlehem, PA. WRT / image: Halkin Mason Photography

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