Tag Archives: J.B. Jackson

Daybook: It’s About Time: First Project, First Recorded Bit of Design Wisdom

In design school, specifically landscape architecture at Cal in 1988, students need to draw all the time, to use the daybook to record thoughts, sketch design concepts, draw benches and other LA elements that catch our eye, take notes in class, until the daybook becomes an extension of the mind. The first thirty pages of my design school daybook contain my musings about time, the central theme of the first project: to design a garden for a client obsessed with time and with a extensive clock collection he wants placed in the garden. Most of my pages looked like this:

What I see now that I didn't see then, is that, for me, it all comes down to language. I love words.

What I see now that I didn’t see then, is that, for me, it all comes down to language. I love words.

I threw in every thought I could conjure about time. Eventually, I will figure out that design, like writing, is about editing.

My first bit of design wisdom came on page 37 (below left), after the sketch of a nude pregnant woman as big as a hillside (a recurring theme in my daybooks: nude women who are also landscapes) and a sketch of my then boyfriend thinking about two peanuts (recurring theme in college: attraction to men with small thoughts). I also used my daybook as a cheap therapist on whom I would dump my frustrations with the design process (below right) and anything else that got my goat.

The borrowed landscape is a favorite landscape architecture idea, because it connects a site to its surroundings. Fog, sunlight, erosion, really any natural processes are also huge in LA, which is what makes it a rich discipline and practice.

The borrowed landscape is a great landscape architecture concept, because it connects a site to its surroundings. It makes sense that it was one of the first lessons I made note of, along with the J. B. Jacksonesque advice that buildings make good ruins. Fog, sunlight, erosion, really any natural processes, are also huge in landscape architecture, which is what makes it a rich discipline and dynamic practice. Even if the design process can, at times, feel too programmed, the work changes over time and apparently it all returns to coffee stains. Huh.