Books: Taking Measures
By Alex MacLean & James Corner
Forward by Michael Van Valkenburgh
Yale University Press, 1996
This book gives the impression of being handcrafted, as if each copy were its own special volume. It is a loving appreciation of the land, space, and forms that architects, builders, road crews, and farmers have added to the America that can be seen from above. Corner (landscape architecture and regional planning, University of Pennsylvania) has contributed the essays and commentary that give the book its flow. His drawings are the work of a keen imagination capable of startling points of view. But it is MacLean's aerial photography that forms this beautiful volume, giving heart and light to the land and all that is upon it. The dignity of Iowa farms, the quilted surface of agriculture in North Dakota, and the amazing markings in the Mojave somehow merge to give a sense of a sculpted nation waiting for MacLean to fly over it at low altitude to photograph and glorify.
This book combines breathtaking aerial photographs and exquisite map-drawings of the American landscape with thoughtful essays that explore how various cultures have forged the landscapes in different regions of the country and what the possibilities are for future landscape design. The authors demonstrate that landscape representation is more than descriptive-it can also instruct and construct how people perceive, shape, and transform the land.