Written and Photographed by: Julie Trachtenberg, Instructor

This past spring I travelled to Great Britain with the intent of seeing a few significant garden sites.  With a several family members who are equally enthusiastic about landscapes, we set off on a mission over the course of a few days to do it right.  Amongst the verdant lineup was Regent’s Park, Kew Gardens, Sissinghurst, Great Dixter,  the Bloomsbury House Gardens in Sussex, and the Chelsea Garden Show.

A running theme became apparent as the gardens revealed themselves, that being the imposing form of Hedges.  Hedges do many things for a garden – they define, they rule, they create structure, and they create chaos.

They keep the wild and untamed at the gate, encircling the life within to exist with formality and rigor.  But at some point along the journey we were fortunate to have chosen Great Dixter as the last  point of destination of our travels.   Christopher Lloyd broke the British mold of the straight vertical walls and horizontal shorn tops.  Something fantastical occurred in the process.  Leaping squirrels from the tops of hedges, tilting towers, free standing forms with undefined morphologies.

Great Dixter surprises and captures the imagination.

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A New Year Wish

Written and photographed by: Heather Clendenin

So….here we are approaching the end of  another year. Hope this finds you happy and healthy and enjoying wherever you are. I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you just one of the many ways I see the world in just one of my many favorite places…..

Supposedly, John Muir climbed a Douglas Fir tree in the Sierra to experience the full strength of a mountain storm. Maybe I’ll do that some day, but for now, I’ll place my vote for riding my bike up and over Mt Tamalpais in a driving rain and windstorm. Or on a blisteringly hot, dry dusty trail full of lounging bluebelly lizards type of day. Or, during a feezing, toe numbing, crystal clear dawn. Climbing, cresting, sailing through the landscape whatever the weather! A total sensory experience. A total landscape experience.

It’s one of the great things about living in the Bay Area. Here we are living in a cosmopolitan area of over 6 million people and yet, with not too much effort, the great stands of redwoods, the groves of madrones, or the solitary buckeye offer a good place to listen to the world.  If it’s the crowds you are seeking head over to the base of Pilots’ Knob at dusk where you’ll find yourself in the midst of hundreds of marsh birds….all shouting, trilling, warbling at the top of their lungs.

Whether it’s the glistening serpentine outcrops, the spicy green smell of fiddlehead ferns or the summery savory fragrance of sun warmed redwood duff, the perfectly scaled throne of moss covered chert, the ancient really ancient oak guarding the valley floor, the electric buzz of the hummingbirds or the clattering calls of the crows as they convene on their favorite fir on her eastern flanks, Mt. Tamalpais offers endlessly beautiful experiences. Any time of year.

That mountain….it’s always there waiting, watching. It’s silhouette beckons. In fact, as  I write this I realize it’s been a few weeks since I was last up there. Time to head out. In fact, that’s where I’ll start the new year!  My wish for you is that you begin the new year wherever you are right now by heading out there…outside! Go on -  go out and jump on a bike, climb a tree! See what there is to see!

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Click, shuffle, project! Click, shuffle, Project!

These old-school sights and sounds are not something of the past!

Long before the advent of phone cameras, and apps with  filters that allow us to instantly make our photos look like they were taken in 1960-something, people were having their photographs developed on to slides, that were then carefully categorized into a tray and placed on a slide projector that would allow the audience to view tiny 1″x1″ slides as large wall sized images.

As we bring 2013 to a successful close at the School of Landscape Architecture, we are humbled to announce that prominent Urban Designer, Architect, Instructor, and former Executive Director of SPUR, Jim Chappell, has graciously donated his entire collection of slides to our department. These slides include imagery of his extensive travels across the globe, as well as his life’s work. We consider ourselves very fortunate to be able to see the world through Mr. Chappell’s lens, and thank him greatly.

Hundreds of boxes and binders full of tantalizing images made it safely to their new home at 601 Brannan yesterday, and we can’t wait to categorize them!




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Written by: Sara Giarratana

Light, Line and Space Defined by Sara Giarratana

Lately I have been transfixed by the interaction of light and line. Two-dimensional projection is something I too easily take for granted when shadows wash over our protruding three-dimensional world. But watching silhouettes reform on my window throughout the day makes me contemplate the mystery that so vividly defines my space.

Depending upon the sun’s seat in the sky, the address branded above the main entrance of 601 Brannan is projected on the opaque window that separates the LAN office from the front hall of the building. The two planes cross perpendicularly, so the light from the sun must shine upon the main entrance at a specific angle in order for the shadow to appear on the window. (As you can see in the photos, the number projects backwards!) The movement of the sun brings life to a fixed object and creates a moving picture.




Tim Noble and Sue Webster are British shadow sculpture artists who assemble their work from trash, household items, scrap metal and other diverse materials. By shining a light onto these seemingly abstract sculptures, highly accurate shadow profiles of the artists are revealed. Their work thrives not only on the relationship between the light source and the objects, but also the mystery that shadows behold.





Images for Tim Noble and Sue Webster from

Through the dynamic relationship of light and line, spaces become interactive in a new way. How do you experience light in your day?

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LAN Workday with Golden Gate National Park: Redwood Creek & Tidal Lagoon at Muir Beach

This landscape-level restoration project began in 2009 and is designed to bring back natural function to the creek, freshwater wetlands, intermittent tidal lagoon, and dunes.

The LAN Workday will consist of planting native species to help restore the ecosystems of the Redwood Creek and Tidal Lagoon, which are home to several endangered species.

Saturday February 1, 2014

Meet at 601 Brannan for the bus to Muir Beach

8 AM – 3 PM

***We’ll be working rain or shine. Please be prepared and dress for various weather conditions.***

Project Site: Muir Beach

Type of Service: Habitat Restoration – Volunteers are needed to restore the tidal lagoon and creek at Muir Beach and to maintain the new native plants along Dias Ridge above. The future of the endangered Coho salmon, steelhead trout, and California red-legged frog are at stake. Help heal this special watershed and protect endangered species.

Work Overview: (click here to download) - General Volunteer Work Description

What to Bring:

  • Bring completed agreement forms
  • Bring a reusable water bottle. We’ll have water stations for refills
  • All necessary tools, supplies, gloves and training will be provided. If you have a pair of favorite gloves, feel free to bring those

What to Wear:

  • Wear comfortable work clothes, long pants, and sturdy shoes or boots (NO shorts or sandals/high heels)
  • Dress in layers for changing weather, bring hat, and wear sunscreen
  • Be prepared to get dirty

Register via e-mail to no later than January 22. Spots are limited so RSVP as soon as possible!

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Looking for some local attractions to visit this holiday season? LAN Instructors recommend the following Bay Area location to delight your intersession days!

The Wave Organ by Peter Richards and George Gonzalez

Sound is created by the movement of waves in and out of series of pipes extending into the water. The organ is most active during high tides! The Wave Organ is on a jetty that forms the small Boat Harbor in the Marina district of San Francisco.

Sutro Heights Park

These trails branch from Point Lobos Ave and lead to Pacific Ocean overlooks, Sutro Baths and the Cliff House.

Transamerica Pyramid Center by Tom Galli

A half-acre Redwood grove was transplanted from the Santa Cruz Mountains to San Francisco’s Financial District. The center is complete with a fountain, pond and several sculptures. The entrance to the Transamerica Pyramid Center is on Clay St. between Montgomery St. & Sansome St.

Mount Tamalpais

“Mount Tam” is the highest peak

in the Marin Hills, hosting diverse plant communities in the many microclimates. Mount Tamalpais State Park is in Mill Valley, CA.

di Rosa Preserve

200 acres of vineyard, gardens and natural landscape scattered with art. The di Rosa Preserve is in Napa Valley, CA.

Fort Funston

Once the site of an active US Military fort, the 200ft sandy bluffs are now carved with a network of trails and a Native Plant Nursery. Fort Funston is on the SW corner of San Francisco, near Daly City

Crissy Field featuring sculptures by Mark di Suvero

Crissy Field resides on an ancient 130-acre salt marsh and estuary that was once used by the Ohlone people for harvesting shellfish and fish. Later it was used for grazing and agriculture, a waste dump, an airfield and is now a Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Crissy Field is on the northern coast of The Presidio.


Other Attractions around the SF Bay and California:

Fioli Gardens – Recommended by Brett Marsengill

Los Angeles County Museum of Art – Brett Marsengill

Fort Funston – Todd Gilens

The Murals at Coit Tower – Todd Gilens

DeYoung Museum Tower – Todd Gilens and Ellen Burke

Oakland Museum – Toni Bava

Paramount Theatre in downtown Oakland – Toni Bava

Mission San Juan Bautista – Toni Bava

Bernal Hill – Julie Trachtenberg

China Town – Owen Lang

Balboa Park – Owen Lang

Golden Gate Park – Owen Lang and Ellen Burke

Japanese Garden – Andrew Tu and Ellen Burke

Top of the Fairmont – Andrew Tu

Pacific Heights – Ray Freeman

San Bruno Mountain – Ray Freeman

Filmore Street – Yasmine Farazian

Valencia Street – Yasmine Farazian

Chestnut Street – Yasmine Farazian

Pigeon Point – Yasmine Farazian

Inspiration Point, Berkeley – Yasmine Farazian

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden – Yasmine Farazian

Yerba Buena Gardens – Pam Nagle

Visitacion Valley Greenway – Pam Nagle

Muir Woods – Ellen Burke and Pam Nagle

Tennessee Valley – Ellen Burke

Joshua Tree – Todd Gilens, Pam Nagle and Toni Bava

Salt Point and the Pigmy Forest – Todd Gilens

Point Reyes National Seashore – Pam Nagle

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As the semester comes to a successful close, we would like to wish you a fun and safe holiday.

We look forward to seeing you all revved up and ready to go for Spring 2014!


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Landscape of Ancient Kings

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”  - Rumi

I was first introduced to the ancient and mysterious Landscapes of Iran at the age of ten when my family decided to make a major physical and philosophical move from the west to the east.  From the day we arrived, it was total immersion; Total Immersion into a new language, culture, tradition, and societal context!  Through the process of assimilation into what was a foreign place to me, I learned to observe and interpret the big picture as well as the nuances of an ancient land and culture that are an integral part of my DNA.

Many years have passed, and I have since made another major physical and philosophical move, this time from east to west, to pursue a career in Landscape Architecture. As a Landscape and Urban designer, I am often asked what constitutes “good design”. During a most recent visit to the country of my ancestors, a road trip from the northern peaks of the Alborz Mountains to the stunning high desert landscapes of Kashan and Abyaneh in central Iran confirmed that the essence of good design lies in a deep understanding, appreciation, and celebration of environmental and cultural context. It is only through this understanding, that the design of spaces can transcend being purely form based, and remain relevant to people’s lives through time.

The photographs below show a glimpse of  the big picture and  nuances from the Landscapes of Ancient Kings, that have solidified my idea of “good design”. Enjoy!

 Written and Photographed By: Yasmine Farazian, Full Time Faculty, Academy of Art University 


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Spring Symposium: A Vision for the American West


For more than half a century, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. was one of America’s preeminent landscape architects who pioneered comprehensive planning and played a critical role in forming the nation’s county, state, and national parks. He wrote the key language that established the National Park Service, and for 30 years advised the Park Service on the management of land, water, and scenic resources. In California, Olmsted helped established the California State Park system and East Bay Regional Park District, and recommended a 160,000-acre park and parkway network for the Los Angeles region that still guides park advocates. In Colorado, his work resulted in Boulder’s city parks system and Denver’s 40,000-acre mountain park system.

Join NAOP, the National Building Museum, and our partners as we explore Olmsted’s lasting influence on issues specific to the American West, including park management, metropolitan growth, and the protection of the region’s unique environmental resources.

The most comprehensive presentation to date of the full scope of Olmsted’s legacy, the symposium will discuss the continued relevance of, and inspirations from, his visionary work as we seek to address contemporary challenges in landscape architecture, regional planning, and natural resource conservation.

Thursday, March 27, 2014
Symposium at Stanford University, Stanford, CA. 8.0 LA CES (ASLA); 8.0 LU HSW (AIA); 8.0 CM (AICP)

Friday, March 28, 2014
Choice of symposium tours on the history, planning and design of the

  • East Bay Regional Park District.  8.5 LA CES (ASLA); 8.5 CM (AICP)
  • Stanford University Campus.  6.5 LA CES (ASLA); 6.5 LU HSW (AIA); 6.5 CM (AICP)

- See more at:


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Register for your Spring 2014 Classes today! Contact your student advisor, and register for your classes online ASAP!!!!



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