Press Room

Announcing the Publication of LA+ PLEASURE

PHILADELPHIA—The University of Pennsylvania School of Design announces the publication of the latest issue of the critically acclaimed interdisciplinary landscape architecture journal: LA+PLEASURE. This issue of LA+ reminds readers of landscape architecture’s complicated relationship to the theme of pleasure by exploring the concept through disciplinary lenses spanning art and design, science, philosophy, sociology, history, and geography. The new issue goes on sale online at and at select retailers beginning November 1, 2015.

Editor in Chief Tatum Hands explains, “We design cities, landscapes, and products for many reasons, but as much as anything we do so for pleasure.”

Urbanism and pleasure find their best partnership in the works of 19th-century landscape architecture, where arcadia is rendered innocent and democratic. The apotheosis of this is Central Park, conceived to pull the masses back from the debauchery that Coney Island and Atlantic City took to such extraordinary heights. Randall Mason and Josephine Kane recall these now dilapidated coastal amusements on both sides of the Atlantic. Against the backdrop of Central Park we can also now read the designs for New York City’s most recent ‘pleasure’ parks, reviewed in this issue by Ellen Neises. In these projects we see landscape architects breaking free of what Phoebe Lickwar and Thomas Oles describe as landscape architecture’s “lugubrious sermons” and its “quest to save.” 

In tales of other cities, philosopher Mark Kingwell maps a psycho-geography of Toronto in a paean to the situationists; historian Ray Laurence encourages a reading of Rome through an Epicurean rather than Stoic lens, charting its development as an urban pleasurescape from Julius Ceasar to Augustus; and Richard Campanella describes how the geography of pleasure continues to evolve in New Orleans. Following this line of inquiry, Stefan Al takes us to that infamous capital of pleasure, Las Vegas, describing how its larrikin casino developers have successfully changed their methods of mass seduction over time, and Jerry Van Eyck discusses how !melk’s recent scheme has at last brought a landscape architectural sense of place to the Las Vegas Strip.

Delving deeper into the dark side of pleasure, Magdalena Sabat charts the ways in which the sex industry operates both visibly and invisibly in our cities, affected as it is by spatial regulation, and we interview Czech landscape architect Vladimir Sitta, who has devoted his entire career to what could surely be described as the masochism of the garden. We find perhaps the deepest and darkest pleasures on the other side of the world in Australia’s Museum of Old and New Art – a subterranean labyrinth that architect Mark Raggatt describes as teetering on the edge of “pleasure and pain, between sex and death.” And finally, this dichotomy of pleasure and pain is explored through an extraordinary collaboration between neuroscientist Morten Kringelbach and artist Annie Cattrell, who together create artworks that shed new light on the architecture of the brain’s pleasure network.

LA+PLEASURE was created and curated by PennDesign faculty member Tatum Hands and PennDesign Landscape Architecture Chair and Professor Richard Weller, with editorial team members Chieh Huang (Production Coordinator), Richard Fisher, and Cricket Day.

About LA+

LA+ brings together contemporary thinkers and designers in two lavishly illustrated issues annually. With the aim of revealing connections and building collaborations between landscape architecture and other disciplines, each issue’s theme is explored from multiple perspectives—not only that of designers, but also historians, artists, lawyers, psychologists, ecologists, planners, scientists, philosophers, and others.

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About PennDesign

Operating in the context of an urban research University that supports a culture of inquiry, PennDesign attracts an international community of scholars, researchers, artists and practitioners eager to promote interdisciplinary thinking that expands the scope of art and design and increases its opportunity to make an outsized impact. From reigniting the link between ecology and urbanism, to exploring how generative design not only produces new forms of building but smarter behavior and better performance, PennDesign’s eight degree programs are committed to thought leadership that impacts policy and engages both locally and globally to advance a sustainable future.