Architect Walter Hood will give public talk March 31

Walter Hood
Walter Hood

The North Dakota Museum Of Art invites everyone to a free lecture by Star Landscape Architect Walter Hood on Thursday, March 31, at 7:30 p.m. The public is also invited to a buffet luncheon with Mr. Hood on Friday, April 1, at noon. Cost for the luncheon is $10 and attendees are asked to RSVP by March 28. The public talk is part of the North Dakota Museum of Art Lecture Series.

Hood works almost exclusively in the public realm—no expensive condo buildings, no corporate complexes. Instead, Hood transforms run-of-the-mill public spaces—city parks, highway underpasses—into pillars of the communities they serve. “These corners and streets are vital gathering places. By letting people be where they already want to be and do what they already want to do, Hood hopes to reinvigorate the corridors—and the businesses that line them,” explains a resident of Oakland, Calif., home to Hood Design.

To summarize, “Hood sees things that we don’t see. He brings out something that’s already existing and beautiful, and enhances it.”

Grand Forks officials and non-officials alike have turned their attention to enlivening our public spaces. Becker proposed a Grand Loop that ties together the downtown, 42nd Street, Gateway Drive, and 32nd Street South. In his evening lecture, Walter Hood will unveil an abundance of possibilities and ideas for vitalizing the Loop and reclaiming overlooked places. Over lunch the next day, he will talk with stakeholders and interested members of the public. All are welcome.

Walter Hood is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Landscape Architecture Department. His studio practice engages in urban landscape where a collective density of inhabitants share physical, social, political, and economic resources.

He gained widespread recognition for transforming a traffic island under I-580 in Oakland to Splash Pad Park. Additional designs include Oakland’s Lafayette Square, National Museum Of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming, and the Atlanta’s Center For Civil & Human Rights. Museum Director Laurel Reuter discovered Hood when she stopped in San Francisco to visit the de Young Museum. Why was it such an engaging and comforting public space? She concluded that the overriding motif of the new museum building was to bring the outside in. The winds off the Pacific, the moving shadows and glancing rays of sunlight enlivened the art and the architecture. Walter Hood was responsible.

Awards he has earned include Smithsonian Museum’s Goldman Sacks Fellowship, AIA Award For Collaborative Achievement, and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award. He was also a 2011 presenter at TEDx-Berkley.

The North Dakota Museum of Art introduced National Public Art Specialist Jack Becker to the Grand Forks Community. Under the banner, “Public Art Humanizes People,” Becker spent the next two years working with local community members to create a Grand Forks Master Plan for Arts and Culture, which was finished in December 2015.

JLG Architects of Grand Forks, which defines Community Urbanism as one of its specialties, is underwriting Walter Hood’s visit.