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Walter Hood

Walter Hood

A palimpsest describes something reused or altered that still bears visible traces of its earlier form. Often palimpsests appear on a surface, but For Walter Hood, a place is a palimpsest. As places go through cycles of growth and decay, each cycle leaves behind visible traces of past landscapes, past cultures, and forgotten visitors. Whether that trace manifests as overgrown vegetation or a particular vernacular architecture, Hood looks to incorporate this history into his landscape design as a means to honor the past. Or rather, when the opportunity to redesign a place and reshape the public’s perception of that place arises, the idea of place as palimpsest begs the question: How do we spatialize our respect for the past but also create a space that caters to the future? This is a question Hood has been focusing on throughout his career, one that has determined some of his most successful projects.

Hood’s projects also vary tremendously in scale. While one design might apply to three square blocks with a budget in the low thousands, another will tackle acres of land with millions set aside for the transformation. Whether it’s a community garden inspired by kitchen gardens of Villandry, France, a luxurious outdoor setting for a house in San Francisco, an expansive waterfront masterplan for city of Oakland, art objects for Project Row House in Houston, or the hush-harbor inspired International African American Museum landscape, Hood uses the social and ecological tendencies of a site in combination with its natural and cultural history to expand the influence of landscape.

Hood Design Studio's final design rendering of the Nauck Town Square, a reimagining of a central square for one of Arlington, Virginia's oldest African American communities. Incorporated into the Nauck Village Center Action Plan (2004) and the Four Mile Run Valley Area Plan (2018), the project is estimated to be completed by 2020.

Hood Design Studio's final design rendering of the Nauck Town Square, a reimagining of a central square for one of Arlington, Virginia's oldest African American communities. Incorporated into the Nauck Village Center Action Plan (2004) and the Four Mile Run Valley Area Plan (2018), the project is estimated to be completed by 2020.

Photo: Hood Design Studio

An aerial view of the plaza at the De Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. A representation of the possibilities of landscape architecture.

An aerial view of the plaza at the De Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. A representation of the possibilities of landscape architecture.

Photo: Hood Design Studio

Education

Walter Hood earned a Bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from North Carolina A&T State University in 1981. In 1989 he received both his Master of Landscape and Master of Architecture degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, where he is now a professor. In 2013 completed a Master of Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Hood is the recipient of countless awards, including the 2017 Arts and Letters Award in Architecture from the NY American Academy of Arts and Letters, Nomination to the President’s National Council on the Arts, The Goldman Sachs Design Fellowship for the Smithsonian Institute in 2011, and the AIA Award for Collaborative Achievement in the same year. Hood is also the author of numerous publications and has participated in a variety of exhibitions.

Sources

Header Image: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Post-Gazette.com

Hood Design Studio