Out of a legacy of high modernism, a history of form, technique, function, and technology has dominated the representation of architecture’s and landscape’s surfaces. This history has perpetuated a binary interpretation of the role of the architec¬tural surface–—either form and technique driven or function and technology determined. Form privileges the expressive, a response to the question of what the surface could be; while function privileges the operational, a response to the question of what the surface should be. Certainly these hard-lined distinctions have not always been so clear, though they have organized camps of thought in twentieth-century design histo¬ries and practices. Yet, external to this pairing is an overlooked history of what could be called the “productive surface.” The productive surface is a constructed terrain that has the ability to, simply put, yield something. In other words, it has a tangible, positive byproduct–—energy, biotic, or abiotic components, for example. The productive surface is premised on an intimate understanding of context, climate, and natural processes. It may operate at the scale of a building, a region, or scales be¬tween–—because of its networked and scalable logic. This text seeks to reveal a twentieth-century history of the productive surface, establish its key progenitors, and offer an interpretation and assessment of its recent resurgence.