Walter Hood Collection Open for Research!

Posted on by Emily Vigor

The EDA 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 Park (1998-2001) and Splash Pad Park (2001-2002), for their ability to turn overlooked landscapes into popular and vital social spaces.

Hood was the 2009 recipient of the prestigious Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Landscape Design and has exhibited and lectured on his professional projects and theoretical works nationally and abroad. Recently, he edited the volume Black Landscapes Matter with Grace Mitchell Tada (University of Virginia Press, 2020) and his work is currently featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition, Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America (2021). He has been a fellow at the American Academy in Rome in Landscape Architecture (1997); received a Distinguished Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2010); is a recipient of the Academy of Arts and Letters Architecture Award (2017); was awarded the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2019); and is a MacArthur Fellow (2019).

The 18-month project, Walter Hood: Redefining the Public Realm, resulted in the processing of Hood’s work from 1995-2014 and provides access to the records of his practice. The addition of Hood’s collection is part of a concerted effort by the Environmental Design Archives to ensure that a multitude of significant voices in Northern California design are preserved and made accessible for future generations. The Walter Hood Collection consists primarily of project files and drawings, firm portfolios, models, and personal sketchbooks. Physical and digital files for his 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 completion of this project marks the EDA’s first hybrid collection (physical and digital records) made available to researchers. The preservation of digital files from legacy media, including CDs, floppy disks, and ZIP disks is something that we have been eager to take on at the EDA, and we are incredibly excited to be able to provide access to these resources in our reading room.

We were fortunate that the processing of the physical collection was completed at the beginning of 2020, prior to the restrictions to our physical spaces during this pandemic. I previously posted about my work to process the physical materials, as well as catalog and separate the legacy digital media to prepare for imaging, and am so thankful for our fortuitous timing. Since the digital records had already been removed from the physical collection, it was easy for me to shift to imaging them at my new workstation (aka my home). The EDA used several open-source tools to capture and preserve digital files, including Data Accessioner, TreeSize, and Bagger. I was incredibly grateful throughout the processing of these files to be able to have ongoing conversations with archivists at UC Santa Cruz’s Special Collections & Archives, who also use these tools for processing digital collections. The workflows we used to process Hood’s collection have been added to the EDA’s Born Digital Processing Plan and will be utilized in our upcoming NEH grant-funded project to process the SMWM collection.

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. The finding aid for this collection can be accessed on the Online Archive of California here.

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The working from home setup!

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Aerial photograph of De Young Museum (San Francisco, CA) 2005

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Watercolor of Splash Pad Park (Oakland, CA) 2001

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Photograph of model for Splash Pad Park (Oakland, CA) 2001

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Drawing for Lafayette Square Park(Oakland, CA) 2003

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Photograph of Lafayette Square Park (Oakland, CA) 2002