February 18, 2020
Berkeley, CA: The Environmental Design Archives (EDA) at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) is pleased to announce the completion of a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Collections and Reference Resources Grant to process and make accessible significant source materials created by urban designer Walter Hood. Walter Hood (1958-) is recognized as one of the most accomplished landscape architects and urban planners in the United States.
He teaches in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, and is the creative director of Hood Design Studio in Oakland, CA. Since 1992, his firm has reflected a fundamental desire to design for communities where landscape architecture is essential, though often neglected. Hood’s work focuses on creating environments for people to live, work, and play through engagement with a community and its history.
His practice encompasses both the traditional parameters of landscape architecture and embraces urban design, community, architecture, environmental art, and research. Critics have deemed Hood’s projects transformational, in particular, Oakland’s Lafayette Square and Splash Pad Park, for their ability to turn overlooked landscapes into popular and vital social spaces.
The 18-month project, Walter Hood: Redefining the Public Realm, resulted in the processing of this designer's work from 1995-2014 and provides access to the records of Hood’s practice for scholars in urban planning, landscape architecture, and American studies, research and teaching in the broader humanities, and the general public.
In her letter of support for this grant, Thaisa Way, Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington wrote, “Hood's work is fundamental to understanding how contemporary designers are addressing the acute challenges of the 21st century, from climate change to racism, from community to equity, from design to performance.”
The addition of Hood’s collection is part of a concerted effort by the Environmental Design Archives to ensure that significant and diverse voices in Northern California design are preserved and made accessible. The Walter Hood Collection consists primarily of project files and drawings, firm portfolios, models, and personal sketchbooks.
Physical and digital files for design work span the length of Hood’s career from 1996-present but primarily focus on projects completed in California. The collection includes 20 boxes of manuscript materials, 7 flat files of drawings, 14 models, and 57 GB (13,351 digital files) produced by Hood and his firm.
The project’s completion marks the EDA’s first hybrid collection (physical and digital records) made available to researchers. One of the significant outcomes of this grant was establishing workflows at the EDA to successfully manage the preservation of and access to digital design records.
These new systems lay the foundation for preserving future hybrid and digital collections, and ensure that the EDA will be active participants in the continued preservation of the history of Northern California design, as well as be able to provide access to the historical record for future generations.
The EDA would like to thank the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, for making the processing of this collection possible.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at www.neh.gov.
ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN ARCHIVES
The Environmental Design Archives is a non-profit, self-supporting research unit housed in the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley. One of the largest archival repositories of its kind west of the Mississippi, the EDA holds more than 200 collections that document the work of the San Francisco Bay region’s historically significant architects, landscape architects, planners, and designers. The Archives is committed to collecting, preserving, and providing access to primary records of the designed environment. https://archives.ced.berkeley.edu/
Walter Hood information page, EDA website: https://archives.ced.berkeley.edu/collections/walter-hood
Walter Hood Collection finding aid, OAC: https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/c8sf33dw/