Ficus microcarpa, North Main Street, Downtown Los Angeles
The slow violence of Ficus microcarpa on sidewalks and planters is at once cartoonish and grotesque; triumphant and tragic. For decades, its concrete-crushing roots have served Los Angeles well, overcoming the city’s inadequate allowance for tree roots (and its draconian pruning) to elevate itself as the city’s most successful street tree by measures of shade and biomass. Popularized by Disneyland’s arborist, the Banyan became the arboric brute the cityscape needed and was made by. Now the tree and its tortured sidewalks have become the site of a tragic conflict of interest. Hard-fought improvements to pedestrian egress now seriously threaten the pedestrians’ best solar refuge, pushing our attention down from its generic canopy to reckon the particulars, and path through, its beneficent disruption.
Selected for inclusion in Feburary 2019 Forested Exhibition at Knowlton School of Architecture, Ohio State University, curated by Kristi Cheramie.