Research

Suburban Corporate Landscapes

Louise Mozingo, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Project Description

Mozingo coined the term pastoral capitalism to refer to suburban corporate landscapes that first emerged in the United States in the 1940s. Her study of the development of pastoral capitalism identifies three familiar suburban forms: the corporate campus, the corporate estate, and the office park.

  1. The corporate campus was modeled on the American university landscape. Containing office and laboratory facilities surrounding a green space, encircled by a drive, and with peripheral parking, the corporate campus spear headed the move of white-collar work out from the city center.
  2. Corporate estates housed top management in suburban headquarters, and often included 200 or more scenically designed acres and a sweeping entrance drive culminating at a central building complex.
  3. The office park was a lower-cost, flexible alternative to corporate campuses and estates, featuring building facilities surrounded by ample parking and framed by a concise scheme of parkways, parking lot berms, and landscape frontages. This development type allowed for easily expanding and contracting personnel and offices.

Mozingo’s project documents how these corporate building strategies restructured the metropolitan landscape, accounting for over half the office space in the United States. However, because such design is engrained in the fabric of low-density, auto-dependent suburbs, it presents an obvious target of re-design as we confront the challenges of a post-peak oil metropolis.

Mozingo’s ongoing research seeks to rethink such vast parking lots, roadways, and bucolic greenspaces in ways that could transform them into spaces that are both dense and connected, an essential step in building sustainable metropolitan regions.