San Francisco, Cambridge

Hargreaves Associates - Firm - Philosophy


Hargreaves Associates has at its core a single overriding concern: connection -- connection between culture and the environment, connection between the land and its people. Civilizations have long sought dominance over the landscape, pursuing agrarian and industrial wealth. In reaction, the last twenty-five years have brought about the emergence of an ecological approach to planning, the preservation and restoration of natural systems, and the notion of sustainable landscape. Our own built landscapes eschew these polarized approaches to the land -- one potentially damaging to the balance of natural systems, the other blind to culture and remote from people's lives -- seeking the in-between. Our work acknowledges the simple truth that 'made' landscapes can never be natural. With increasing frequency our work deals with land which has been made and re-made.

These projects reach toward real, visceral connections in an everyday environment. The scales of projects vary, from miles of urban riverway and hundreds of acres of waterfront or converted landfill at one end of the spectrum, to a single city block or small courtyard at the other. Through manipulation and amplification of environmental phenomena such as light, shadow, water, wind; residual environmental and industrial remnants; and topography and habitat, we strive to foster an awareness and understanding of the structural components of natural systems by direct interaction. This direct interaction is in contrast to the insular experience of a replication or restoration of 'nature.' In this way the experience of these built landscapes may indeed be more real in their impact on people than landscapes of preservation or re-creation.

In other instances, these landscapes may accentuate past, present and future fusions of culture and environment. At many different scales, an abstract archaeology surfaces to embrace fragments of previous human use such as those unearthed on an abandoned industrial or agrarian site now converted to public use. This archaeology may also reveal elements of wilderness or pre-cultural dominance, or even the very forces which shape the earth. Without erasure, beyond recall, and outside the walls of the museum our connection with the land and landscape is exposed as the knotted bond it has been and will always be. Whether reductive or rich, highly programmed or passive, culturally interpretive or teeming with the phenomena of nature's own systems, these built landscapes seek the power of connection to our day-to-day lives.