We began thinking about this issue with a curiosity about what water could become in the future. Joining us, authors brought their own experiences to bear on understanding water and looked for ways to explore the many values engaging water. In this issue of JAE, we can appreciate the enormity of the scales and various nuances through which water and design mix: demonstrated by the broad range of types of projects and of embedded attitudes. Architecture, planning, and landscape architecture projects all engaged with the challenge of water, even while we note that the distinctions between these disciplinary boundaries have become increasingly irrelevant today. Indeed, the topic of water makes this profoundly clear because water, like the air we breathe and share, is a connecting force.
Hadley Arnold begins with an abecedarium to develop a capacity to talk about the future, while Kate Orff grimly illustrates the current state of affairs, urgently calling for a visionary, large-scale “Teal New Deal.” Two sets of discursive images also ground this discussion. Anuradha Mathur and Dilip da Cunha remind us that the line between land and water is an artifice, suggesting that while a separated water is in crisis, “wetness negotiated everywhere holds the way forward.” On a more pragmatic level, Antje Stokman and Dagmar Pelger call attention to the topic of a third space for water with the story of their critical public engagement initiative for Hamburg’s Bille River.
In three different interviews, we invited leading practitioners to give voice to their experience of working with water. Peter Olshavsky interviewed Steven Holl, highlighting the experiential and poetic qualities of water. Meanwhile, Alpa Nawre interviewed both Herbert Dreiseitl and Elizabeth Mossop to bring lessons from landscape practice and leadership into focus. Dreiseitl sees water as an inroad into a more intentional social practice, while Mossop recognizes the practices and scholarship that could affect change in this realm. All three of these practitioners have spent decades working with water through their design practices, and their insightful experiences provide models for sustained engagement.