Martin Hogue is an Associate Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture at Cornell University. Trained as an architect and landscape architect, he brings an extensive teaching background with a focus on issues of site and design representation. His research and drawings have been displayed in solo exhibits at over 25 venues across the United States, including The Ohio State University, the Parsons School of Design and the Urban Center in New York, the University of Southern California and the Center for Land Use Interpretation. Hogue's research has appeared in 306090, Bracket, Landscape Architecture Magazine, Landscape Journal, Landscript, Places and the Journal of Architectural Education, among others. His book Thirtyfour Campgrounds was published at The MIT Press in November 2016.
Designers often conceive of the "site" in fairly limited or mundane terms: a neutral or unfinished lot imposed by a client as the specified location for an intervention, a piece of ground that is bound to the earth and subject to its physical laws. As I argue in Recording the Landscape (2017), the term in fact denotes less a real place than a transient condition, the precise interval of time during which a work is first conceived (at which point it is referred to as the project site) and later built (the construction site). Before this crucial period, the very same location exists merely as a place of unfocused attention, since it has yet to command any specific meaning that is the result of design speculation. Once completed, the work performed may take on a more permanent designation—a building, a field, a park, a garden—at which point it often ceases being known as a site altogether. As a designer for whom the work of the artist Robert Smithson and his contemporaries has had a deep and lasting impact, my work explores the mechanisms by which locations become invested with the unique potential to acquire the designation of site. I am interested in the idea that the site can be reconceived less as a transitive condition and more as constructive end product within architecture and landscape architecture— one not so much imposed, in the words of Smithson, but rather exposed—, a prized result on par with a building or designed landscape.
I refer to projects in my research-centered practice simply as a “sites”, an attempt to expose and enhance, through carefully constructed drawings and maps, our comprehension of these particular locales:
•In The Bonneville Salt Flats and the Land Speed Record (2005), for example, I examine an expansive, yet remote stretch of ground in the Utah desert whose surface hardness and perfect flatness across miles has historically made it unsuited to human occupation in all but a single respect—racing at some of the highest speeds ever achieved on Earth.
•In [Fake] Fake Estates: Reconsidering Gordon Matta-Clark’s Fake Estates (2006), I highlight the existence of hundreds of residual land parcels in Queens, New York, most of them so narrow that they cannot receive a building in the conventional architectural sense.
•In the exhibit 925,000 Campsites (2013) and the book Thirtyfour Campgrounds (2016), I interrogate in both serious and humorous ways the intersecting narratives and desires (wilderness, individuality, access, comfort, nostalgia, profit) that find themselves strangely hybridized at the heart of the network of 20,000 campgrounds presently in operation across the United States. This ongoing research continues over the next few years with a forthcoming book provisionally titled Brief Histories.
If some of these situations sound patently absurd—a 622.407 mph land speed record by Gary Gabelich aboard the Blue Flame set on October 23, 1970, for example, a 1/8”x110’ property valued at $10 in Queens, New York, or the existence of 500 nearly identical campsites in the campground at Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon—well, this obsession with measurement and management systems is exactly what led me to study these sites in the first place.
My interest in design representation extends to teaching as well, an area of the curriculum where I have worked at both the undergraduate and graduate levels over the past 20 years. Teaching visual thinking involves more than understanding basic graphic conventions or the finer points of technique and software. As a design educator, I see my role as helping students understand, and establish a measure of rigor over the process of design exploration. For the landscape architect James Corner, “With regard to design, how one maps, draws, conceptualizes, imagines and projects inevitably conditions what is built and what effects that construction may exercise in time.” Design representation is something that happens every day in the studio, and as such it never escapes scrutiny. I take time to offer feedback on anything I might see—a simple sketch, the most elaborate drawing or map that may have been weeks in the making, even the layout of a portfolio being assembled in preparation for a round of interviews. I’m interested in craft, purpose, method, and insight: the scale at which a study is being executed, the degree of distillation with which an idea is being depicted (diagrammatic, or more refined), the type of view (a plan, a section, a timeline, etc.), the medium (analog, digital, hybrid), even the range of colors, the lineweights, and the size of text employed. For the designer, every single choice matters: choices associated with visual representation are design choices as well. To this end, I take great pleasure in preparing illustrative lectures of contemporary and historical examples from a rapidly-expanding, personal database of 20,000 images collected weekly from books, websites and newspapers. I also try to find opportunities to share this interest and passion for visual culture beyond the studio and the classroom, as I have in curating departmental films series on landscape-related themes.
Teaching Honors - My students’ work at has been recognized with 4 national awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects for a series of projects ranging from a master plan for the removal of 15,000 contaminated FEMA trailers temporarily stored at the Hope, Arkansas, airfield in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina (2011); the excavation of a long-forgotten boat slip on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York (2017); and the establishment of small scale agricultural strategies in Puerto Rico following hurricane Maria (2018). I was also honored to receive the Foundation Award for Exceptional Achievement in Teaching from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York (2016), as well as the Hyde Chair in Excellence from the University of Nebraska (2004).
- Hogue, M. (2018). An Illustrated History of the Picnic Table. Places. 2018.
- Hogue, M. (2011). A Short History of the Campsite. Places Journal. 2011.
- Hogue, M. (2005). A Site Constructed: The Bonneville Salt Flats and the Land Speed Record, 1935–1970. Landscape Journal. 24:32-49.
- Hogue, M. (2018). Matter Displaced, Organized, Flattened: Recording the Landscape. p. 174-193 Landscript 5: Material Culture Jane Hutton, Christophe Girot, Albert Kirchengast (ed.), JOVIS Verlag GmbH, Berlin, Germany.
- Hogue, M. (2016). Fully Serviced. p. 38-44 Bracket 3: At Extremes Lola Sheppard, Maya Przybylski (ed.), ACTAR PUBLISHERS, Barcelona, Spain.
- Hogue, M. (2016). Thirtyfour Campgrounds. p. 272 The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, United States.
- Hogue, M. (2009). [Fake] Fake Estates: Reconsidering Gordon Matta-Clark’s Fake Estates. p. 172-181 306090 Princeton Architectural Press, New York, NY, United States.