A Reflective Journey of Retrospection and Anticipation


Guo Yong (ACC 2020) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture at Tsinghua University’s School of Architecture. His main area of research lies in the theories, methods, and application of landscape technologies and landscape information modeling (LIM). Through using emerging technologies to build outdoor spaces of various scales and types, he explores the preservation and inheritance of ecologies and cultures. With the support of the ACC, he traveled to the US as a visiting fellow of the MIT SPURS (Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies), conducting academic exchanges, collaborative research, and field visits from August to December 2022.

Our Special Thanks to Hsin Chong – K.N. Godfrey Yeh Education Fund as the sponsor of this fellowship.

Thanks to a grant from the ACC, I was able to embark on a journey of reflection during my six-month sojourn in the US. Along the way, I gained insights into the world, the US, the industry, as well as myself. In addition to seeing the hopeful works of fledgling landscape architects, I was acquainted with the trends in the development of pioneering technologies in response to global issues and humanistic thinking surrounding technology and development. I also forged friendships and became integrated into a more expansive international collective, which has invigorated me for the road ahead.

In early August 2022, I finally set off for the US after a two-year delay. The world was no longer what it used to be. Geopolitical tensions intensified as the pandemic continued to linger, and the future was fraught with turbulence and uncertainty. Nonetheless, after exchanging ideas and collaborating with SPURS/Humphrey fellows from 13 countries, as well as learning from each other’s cultures while we lived together at MIT, the world that I saw became lovely again. Our transcontinental gathering proved to be especially precious and meaningful.

The MIT SPURS program encourages visiting fellows to carry out independent investigation and research during their time in the US. I took this opportunity to examine over 100 completed projects, setting foot in locations the likes of the East and West Coast, Mid-Eastern cities, as well as Hawaii. Following the historical clues of the industry, I visited the early projects that shaped the landscape architecture profession, such as Central Park in New York and the Emerald Necklace in Boston. Between the tides in Hawaii and the wildfires on the West Coast, I came to truly understand the proposition put forward by current climate change: How can we harmonize humanity with nature in this day and age?

I inquired and experienced as I traveled. Wandering through Central Park, one forgets that this stretch of “nature” embedded in a city has borne witness to the passage of more than 160 years. The picturesque scenery renders its artificial origins a lost memory, while seeing people enjoying themselves erases the differences of the individuals within this space. This natural environment was built with the aim of creating a place of happiness for each and every person and stands as a timeless example of the quintessence of landscape architecture.

I inquired and reflected as I traveled. Gazing from the redwood-covered cliffs on the east coast of the Pacific Ocean, I saw beyond the sand dunes and colossal waves. What came into view was not humanity’s home on the other side of the horizon, but the ineffable majesty of nature. It is truly awe-inspiring that mere beings like us are able to hold dialogue with this magnificent world through the help of technology. Landscape architects should not limit their vision to their immediate surroundings. The true ethos of the craft is to protect nature and to benefit humankind by leveraging both technology and arts.

Thanks to this opportunity, I was able to take respite from the tedium of my daily work, look at the world from a foreign perspective, and reflect in nature’s embrace. All this has given me the resolve to persist and strive in the future.