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The Camaro in the Pasture

Speculations on the Cultural Landscape of America
Robert B. Riley

BUY Cloth · 184 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813937151 · $39.50 · Apr 2015
BUY Ebook · 184 pp. · ISBN 9780813937168 · $39.50 · Apr 2015
BUY Paper · 184 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813938073 · $25.00 · May 2017

John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize, Foundation for Landscape Studies (2016)

Robert Riley has been a renowned figure in landscape studies for over fifty years, valued for his perceptive, learned, and highly entertaining articles, reviews, and essays. Much of Riley’s work originally ran in Landscape, the pioneering magazine at which Riley succeeded the great geographer J. B. Jackson as editor. The Camaro in the Pasture is the first book to collect this compelling author’s writing. With diverse topics ranging from science-fiction fantasies to problems of academic design research, the essays in this volume cover an entire half-century of Riley’s observations on the American landscape. The essays—several of which are new or previously unpublished—interpret changing rationales for urban beautification, the evolution and transformation of the strip, the development of a global landscape of golf and resorts replacing an older search for exoticism, and the vernacular landscape as wallpaper rather than quilt. Ultimately, Riley envisions our future landscape as a rapidly fluctuating electronic net draped over the more slowly changing and familiar land- and building-based system. Throughout, Riley emphasizes the vernacular landscape of contemporary America—how we have shaped and use it, what it is becoming, and, above all, how we experience it.


These essays reflect a way of thinking about landscape that dramatically affected anyone who came of age in professional landscape studies from the 1960s on. The writing is classic Riley—personal and expository, but also provocative and captivating. This book offers a rich understanding of cultural and natural landscape issues, realities, and concerns.

Robert Melnick, University of Oregon

This marvelous anthology captures Robert Riley’s unmatched curiosity and keen insights into the contemporary landscape in all its variety—from the common to the designed, the urban to the countryside, the garden to the theme park. His subjects vary widely from actual physical sites to literary landscapes to the landscape of photography, but his voice is consistently clear and original throughout. Within each essay, Riley challenges design conventions and popular trends, demanding rigor while eliciting giggles and gasps. Students of the cultural landscape should know Riley’s writings as well as they do Jackson’s. This collection ensures that they will.

Elizabeth K. Meyer, FASLA, University of Virginia

The Camaro in the Pasture is a fantastic and amusing collection of essays by one of the most astute and creative voices of the late-twentieth-century American landscape. Riley asks and sometimes answers questions rarely addressed by contemporary landscape architects and design educators. It would be thoughtful reading for teachers and professionals alike.

Peter Walker, FASLA

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