Chris Guillard, a Guest for P.H. Elwood Lecture

Alexandra Smith

Chris Guillard, a landscape architect from San Francisco, focuses on three main points while creating: places, systems and things.

Guillard, a founding partner of CMG, a landscape architecture firm, spoke at Iowa State on Friday as part of the P.H. Elwood Lecture Series. 

The series, started in 1997, was created by Theodore Osmundson. The event is named after Philip H. Elwood, who developed the Department of Landscape Architecture at Iowa State.

Guillard’s lecture, titled “P.S.T.” focused on each of his three main points. Place seemed to be the most pronounced and important point of Guillard’s work. 

“Places are the heart of the act of design and architecture,” Guillard said.“A place is never the same its always changing from moment to moment.” 

To illustrate his point, Guillard showed a picture of a place changing with all the different season. 

Guillard had many different ways to define system.

 “In architecture you have to remember there is an economic system, a social network, and ecology system,” Guillard said.

For thing, Guillard kept the description simple. 

“A thing is a catch word for immediacy,” Guillard said.

After Guillard explained his main points of architecture, he began to go through some of the many projects he’s worked on that were not only visual but were ecologically spectacular as well.

Guillard created a band shell made out of car goods, plastic, and car hoods with a foundation made out of recycled water bottles. The band shell created a gathering spot for the community. 

“It became a space for social interaction,” Guillard said.

Another one of Guillard’s projects on a 16-acre storm water system on the edge of San Francisco Bay. “To the left was a bunch of industry, to the right was a landfill, and then in the middle was the wetland,” Guillard said.

To create a ecologically-friendly design, a lot of work had to go into the linguistics. Guillard had to predict things like the water surface level and use a GPS system to route out and mark where he was going to work.

The city was also supposed to close down the landfill but never ended up doing it. This led to large quantities of seagulls flying over the storm water system. 

“The seagulls loved the new design they had a bathroom and a kitchen, they would get food from the dump and then mass amounts would fly over the storm water system. You had to use a clipboard to cover your head,” Guillard said.

To solve the problem they created an acoustic system in the wetlands to scare away the seagulls. “There are still a lot of seagulls out there though,” Guillard said.