Archive for the ‘Exhibitions’ Category

Rococo Chair / Tony Favarula

Rococo Chair / Tony Favarula

Can leaving the comfort zone push designers to re-imagine what is possible? Outside Design, an exhibition at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)’s Sullivan Gallery, shows that the answer to this question is yes. During a talk at the gallery, Jonathan Solomon, director of architecture, interior architecture, and designed objects at SAIC, called for leaving the usual behind and “re-weirding the discipline of design,” which can allow designers and artists to innovate and move beyond disciplinary boundaries. The exhibition is part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial and features the work of five firms of artists and designers: Analog Media Lab (Urbana-Champaign, Illinois), Ants of the Prairie (Buffalo, New York), The Living and the Ali Brivanlou Lab (New York City), Species of Space (Chicago), and Sweet Water Foundation (Chicago). Solomon curated the gallery as a “series of laboratories.”

To re-weird design, as Solomon explains, designers must design outside of their wheelhouse. They have to explore ideas and processes that push both the design and themselves, and go beyond clients’ comfort levels. It may also call for designers to look outside — literally. Designers should see the “complexity of nature and ecology” as an inspiration for design and art, as well as a potential means to create a more sustainable future.

David Hays of Analog Media Lab describes their work as “purposeful, pragmatic, and playful” yet grounded in experimentation. Their Rococo Chair riffs on the floral designs of Rococo-era upholstery fabrics, replacing them with actual flowers sandwiched between clear plastic (see image above). However, these flowers aren’t sealed up; they are allowed to decay. The flowers in the chair are dynamic, making the “rococo image real.”

Moving up to the scale of the building, both Ants of the Prairie and The Living propose re-wierding building façades, integrating them with the natural world.

Whether we like it or not, animals and bugs live with us in and around our homes. How do we reveal and enhance this relationship? Joyce Hwang of Ants of the Prairie created her installation, Habitat Wall, as an “inhabitable living membrane.” Built of different types of wood, including salvaged and reclaimed pieces, and composed of a series of modules, Habitat Wall is a beautiful physical object, but also functions as nesting houses and ledges for bats and birds, allowing both people and creatures to live together.

Habitat Wall / Heidi Petersen

Habitat Wall / Heidi Petersen

Habitat Wall / Tony Favarula

Habitat Wall / Tony Favarula

Designing at the intersection of biology and architecture, David Benjamin of The Living works with biologist Ali Brivanlou to co-create a façade with nature. They designed Amphibious Envelope, a façade wherein the traditional double-paned glass is replaced with tanks filled with water, moss, frogs, and snails. As the oxygen levels in the wall lower, the frogs rise to the top of the water, triggering sensors which release air bubbles, thus re-oxygenating both the water and the air around the wall. The installation is both a “functional façade” and an “open-ended experiment” that allows for a more fluid relationship between the inside and outside.

Amphibious Envelope / Heidi Petersen

Amphibious Envelope / Heidi Petersen

Amphibious Envelope / Tony Favarula

Amphibious Envelope / Tony Favarula

And the process of re-weirding design can be expanded yet again to the scale of the public realm.

Eric Ellingsen of Species of Space plays with questions of language and people’s perception of public space. A book case built on an angle and a dream machine, a spinning strobe in a dark room that produces visual hallucinations, are a means to change our perception. Elison also is in the process of mapping poems of cities, to create a “physical manifestation of language and design.”

Dream Machine / Tony Favarula

Dream Machine / Tony Favarula

For Emmanual Pratt of Sweet Water Foundation (SWF), an ecosystem can be both a physical natural process and a network of people. SWF “transforms blight into life” through their internship model, which trains students in aquaponics and ultimately encourages them to create a “decentralized network of sharing.” The aquaponics ecosystem then becomes an ecosystem of community partners and users. Their installation, Aquapons, highlights the importance of a sustainable system.

Aquapons / Heidi Petersen

Aquapons / Heidi Petersen

Outside Design shows us how small changes in perception can yield interesting results. Designers owe it to themselves to look outside the usual design processes. Inspiration may come in the form of bats, frogs, or poetry. Everyone should be open to the opportunities “re-weirding” can provide.

A number of lectures exploring the ideas of Outside Design are scheduled through November. The exhibit runs through December 19.

This guest post is by Heidi Petersen, Associate ASLA.

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Temple Baths, ArchDaily / Studio Octopi

Temple Baths by Studio Octopi / Arch Daily

Hermann Park’s Japanese Garden Serves As City Oasis The Houston Chronicle, 4/17/15
“Hermann Park’s Japanese Garden is a place where families flock to watch koi school in murky ponds, where couples rest under the trellis covered in leafy wisteria and where Houstonians steal away for quiet time in a natural setting.”

How the Drought Will Reshape Californian Landscape ArchitectureCurbed, 4/22/15
“California is dealing with a resource crisis that’s asking a West Coast accustomed to expansive growth and endless possibility to go against character and make do with less. The last time going dry has caused this much consternation was during Prohibition. Curbed spoke with four leading landscape architects to find out how their profession needs to adapt to a challenge with the potential to reshape the industry.”

‘The Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley’ Review The Wall Street Journal, 4/22/15
“’The Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley,’ an exhibition at the Center for Architecture, shows how modern landscapes often make a better case for modernism than the architecture itself.”

Studio Octopi Begins Crowdfunding Campaign for a Lido on London’s River Thames Arch Daily, 4/23/15
“London’s central waterway, the River Thames, has been a site of enormous interest from architects and urbanists in previous years. From a controversial garden bridge to discussions about how to appropriate what has been described as one of the city’s largest untapped public spaces, London-based practice Studio Octopi have now launched a Kickstarter campaign to help to realize their dream of creating ‘a new, natural, beautiful lido’ on its banks.”

Group Rallies to Save Cherished Spot at Children’s HospitalThe Boston Globe, 4/27/15
“Just ahead of a wrecking ball, a contingent of parents and caregivers want the city to bestow protective landmark status on Prouty Garden, a half-acre splash of green at the heart of Boston Children’s Hospital. It may be their last hope for preserving the emerald retreat.”

Three Finalists Chosen in National Design Competition to Improve Areas below the Main Avenue Bridge The Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/28/15
“The nonprofit downtown development corporation announced on its website that it has winnowed a field of 51 landscape architecture firms to three finalists in a national competition to beautify the portion of the Flats beneath the Main Avenue Bridge.”

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technicolor trampolines

Technicolor trampolines / Bradley White (Bounce Below)

Adventurous and non-claustrophobic explorer-types have typically relied on climbing equipment and headlamps to venture into caves below the earth’s surface. The Bounce Below Arena at Zip World Titan in Wales is now offering visitors an entirely different experience, fusing cave exploration with playground fun via giant mesh trampoline nets connected by walkways and slides running as long as 60 feet.

The three trampolines are suspended in historic Llechwedd Slate Caverns, a Victorian-era slate mine twice the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Originally mined in the 18 and 19th centuries, the caverns were later used to hide precious art works from the Germans during World War II, writes Inhabitat. According to The Daily Mail, workers cleared out some 500 tons of rubble to prepare the attraction. And to add to “the already awesome experience,” said Bounce Below, the trampolines are lit by a kaleidoscopic LED light display.

Users bouncing / Bradley White (Bounce Below)

Users bouncing / Bradley White (Bounce Below)

Anyone willing to be a canary to mine the brand new underground experience can visit anytime – the arena is open as of July 4, 2014 and the cave stays a cool 46 degrees even in wintertime. Activities run in one-hour long sessions, and visitors are supplied with cotton overalls and a safety helmet before riding to the cavern via the old mining train. Yep, just like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (though ostensibly without the saber-wielding bad guys). Sidekick Shorty not provided so bring your little buddies age seven or older along with you for bounce-around techni-colored fun.

A 60-foot slide leads to the exit / Bradley White (Bounce Below)

A 60-foot slide leads to the exit / Bradley White (Bounce Below)

Visitors to Zip World Titan can also soar above ground along over 8-kilometers worth of zip line cables through the historic mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Zip-Liners / Zip World

Zip-Liners / Zip World

Yoshi Silverstein is the ASLA 2014 communications intern. He is a Masters in Landscape Architecture candidate at the University of Maryland. He focuses on landscape experience and outdoor learning environments.

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Throughout October, the University of Virginia School of Architecture community got to see photographs of the landscape architecture of Reed Hilderbrand, touch samples of materials used in their projects, and grab post-card copies of their site plans. An exhibition of their work culminated in a lecture by founding partners, Douglas Reed, FASLA, and Gary Hilderbrand, FASLA, on their design philosophy.

Rather than being cloistered in an enclosed gallery space, the exhibit occupied the open, eastern hallway of the architecture school where it encouraged daily encounters between students and the firm’s work. It was clear from Reed and Hilderbrand’s talk that both believe places of cultural significance shape fledgling designers and the type of work they ultimately produce.

Each designer situated the firm’s work within his own personal biography and the landscape in which he was raised. In discussing his youth in Louisiana, Reed drew upon Jens Jensen’s belief that we are always longing to return to the “landscape of home.” His experience growing up in a landscape of extreme flatness — contrasted with Hilderbrand’s childhood in the rolling Hudson River Valley — plays a significant role in his unique understanding of the conditions of the ground. Together, they believe “a site’s history and the particular character of its ground – its shape, soil, moisture, vegetative cover – are what motivates meaningful form in our projects.”

While Reed and Hilderbrand may call upon their particular conceptions of home in their design philosophy, they also spoke of the importance of travel. Hilderbrand attributed his year in Rome as a Rome Prize recipient as the primary inspiration him to come together with Reed to found Reed Hilderbrand. Getting to intimately know the landscapes of Rome, not as a tourist, but as an extended visitor with the time and the freedom to “see and return,” made him want to build great places. “Seeing great things is both humbling and inspiring, ” said Hilderbrand.

In their first project together, the Leventritt Garden at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, their design drew upon not only a deep understanding of the conditions of the site, but also an experiential knowledge of Roman terraces, resulting in an “organic parterre” distinct from, yet perfectly suited to the rest of the Arboretum.

The success of this first project stemmed from their ability to grasp the site’s unique assets, while drawing on a vast inner library of places seen over years of travel.

In Reed Hilderbrand’s work at Bennington College, their reading of a set of disjointed site systems from previous eras of development, including an overlay of campus architecture of disparate styles, propelled the partners to bring cohesion to the campus. As Reed says, in this case “we realized that the larger regional context – the panorama of mountains,” with the elevated plateau of the college campus serving as a viewing platform, drew the campus plan together.

While it was inspiring to see images of Reed Hilderbrand’s work in the everyday environment of the school and in the pages of their new monograph, Visible | Invisible: Landscape Works of Reed Hilderbrand, the magnitude of their effect became more apparent after hearing them reflect upon their work. The elegant detailing, subtle sculpting of the ground, and the clearly distinctive quality of the work, are stunning and motivating.

This guest post is by Rachel Vassar, Master’s of Landscape Architecture Candidate, University of Virginia

Image credits: (1) Visible / Invisible, Metropolis Books, (2) Leventritt Garden / Andrea Jones, (3) Leventritt Garden Plan / Reed Hildebrand, (4) Bennington College plan / Reed Hilderbrand, (5) Bennington College / Michael Moran.

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Last year, we only have five top books (see earlier post), but this year we’ve expanded the list. A range of great books came past our desk and any of these may be of interest to your favorite landscape architect. Here are the top ten books of 2011, along with five other notable books:

Landscapes in Landscapes by Piet Oudolf (Monacelli Press, 2011)
In his complex, endlessly interesting landscapes, Oudolf says he prizes form and texture as much as color. He almost exclusively uses perennials, which he values for their “beauty throughout their natural life cycle.” Requiring little maintenance, his naturally sustainable landscapes, which feature drought-resistant plants, evolve over time. As Charles Waldheim, chair of the landscape architecture department at Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD), wrote in The New York Times, “he’s gotten away from the soft pornography of the flower. He’s interested in the life cycle, how plant material ages over the course of a year.” Read the full review.

The Altered Landscape: Photographs of a Changing Environment by Ann M. Wolfe (Editor) (Skira Rizzoli, 2011) 
From the book: “This comprehensive look at the work of 100 contemporary photographers captures the impact of human activity on natural landscapes. The Altered Landscape is a provocative collection of photographs representing a wide range of artists, techniques, visual styles, subjects, and ideological positions. Organized chronologically, the more than 150 images-by artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, Chris Jordan, Catherine Opie, and Edward Burtynsky-reveal the ways that individuals and industries have marked, mined, toured, tested, developed, occupied, and exploited landscapes over the last fifty years.”

Field Notes from Science and Nature by Michael R. Canfield  (Editor), Edward O. Wilson (Foreword) (Harvard University Press, 2011)
The Los Angeles Times writes: “This gorgeous book reproduces samples from the notebooks of 12 naturalists in all their glory, accompanied by short essays on methodology and why field notes are still so critical to the art of science. These drawings, notes (in spectacular handwriting), photos, and maps are a reminder that natural history is the root of all biology, and observation is a critical skill. George Schaller’s drawings of a lion hunt in the Serengeti, Bernd Heinrich’s delicate drawings of leaves, Kenn Kaufman’s lists, Jonathan Kingdon’s drawings of acacia trees in Kenya, Jenny Keller’s spectacular drawings of moon jellies–these and others make science look not only appealing, fascinating and fun but human and creative as well.

Genius of Life: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted by Justin Martin (Da Capo Press, 2011)
Genius of Place: the Life of Frederick Law Olmsted, a new biography by Justin Martin, illuminates Olmsted’s major achievements as a visionary artist, social reformer, pioneering environmentalist, and founder of the modern profession of landscape architecture. Olmsted is best known for creating several noteworthy landscapes, including New York City’s Central Park. Martin, a journalist who has written two acclaimed biographies on Alan Greenspan and Ralph Nader, paints a portrait of Olmsted as a preeminent American figure, revealing that “as a park maker, environmentalist, and abolitionist, Olmsted helped shape modern America.” Read the full review.

High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky by Joshua David and Robert Hammond (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2011)
The New York Times writes: “This lushly illustrated volume showcases the range of imaginative designs [Joshua David and Robert Hammond] explored and, in some cases, rejected. In recounting their decade-long experiment, they provide an inspiring primer for grass-roots urban planning.” Paul Goldberger at The New Yorker writes: “In this book Robert Hammond and Joshua David, who led the grass-roots movement to rescue the High Line from demolition, tell with energy, passion, and refreshing candor the story of how this industrial artifact became, against all odds, a magnificent park.” 

Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Health, Well-being, and Sustainability by Andrew Dannenberg (Editor), Howard Frumkin (Editor), and Richard Jackson (Editor) (Island Press, 2011)
Dr. Richard Jackson (see earlier post) and Dr. Howard Frumkin (see earlier post) have been long-time advocates of marrying public health and design. In this book, they offer a how-to that is essential reading for all landscape architects. “The authors have crafted an exemplary look at the various components of community design that promote and support health. Through their perspective we see clearly how much community design matters to our health and well-being; and it matters a lot.” – Georges C. Benjamin, MD, Executive Director, American Public Health Association. Read the full review.

MAPS by Paula Scher (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011)
Map making is not just about creating visual representations of physical spaces, but can also be about documenting impressions and emotions. Paula Scher, a partner at Pentagram and one of the most influential graphic designers of her generation, has a new book that conveys the rich, complex feelings she has for the process of map making itself. As she writes in the introduction, “I began painting maps to invent my own complicated narrative about the way I see and feel about the world. I wanted to list what I know about a place from memory, from impressions, from media, and from general information overload. They are paintings of distortions.” Read the full review.

The New American Landscape: Leading Voices on the Future of Sustainable Gardening by Thomas Christopher (Editor) (Timber Press, 2011)
Instead of exacerbating environmental issues, gardeners must harness the many ecosystem services provided by natural systems and design gardens that support and strengthen local ecologies. This how-to guide clearly demonstrates how gardeners’ sustainable practices can positively shape our shared enviroment. Read the full review.

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward L. Glaeser (Penguin Press, 2011)
“Edward Glaeser is one of the world’s most brilliant economists, and Triumph of the City is a masterpiece. Seamlessly combining economics and history, he explains why cities are ‘our species’ greatest invention.’ This beautifully written book makes clear how cities have not only survived but thrived, even as modern technology has seemingly made one’s physical location less important.” – Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics, professor of economics at the University of Chicago.

The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World by Carl Safina (Henry Holt & Co, 2011)
From the Booklist review: “From his home base, this celebrated scientist and activist travels to places where the impact of climate change and environmental abuse is starkly evident. With the spiral of a year as his structure and with what Einstein termed the ‘circle of compassion’ as his moral compass, MacArthur and Guggenheim fellow Safina illuminates the wondrous intricacy and interconnectedness of life in a book of beautifully modulated patterns and gracefully stated imperatives.”

Other notable books in 2011:

The Agile City: Building Well-being and Wealth in an Era in Climate Change by James Russell (Island Press, 2011) Read full review.
Gateway: Visions for an Urban National Park
by Alexander Brash (editor), Jaime Hand (editor), Kate Orff (editor) (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011) Read full review.
Pulled: A Catalog of Screen Printing by Mike Perry (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011) Read full review.
Small, Gritty, and Green: The Promise of America’s Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low-carbon World by Catherine Tumber (The MIT Press)
Urban Green: Architecture for the Future by Neil Chambers (Palgrave MacMillan, 2011) Read an interview.

In addition, check out a few other best book lists: Planetizen offers their top 10 planning books for 2011. The University of Cambridge compiled a list of the top 50 books on sustainability.

Lastly, these “painstakingly hand-printed” t-shirts of some great U.S. cities by City Fabric aren’t books but they make great presents.

Image credit: Montacelli Press

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In 2007, New York City’s Governors Island saw the birth of FIGMENT, a public arts organization. Since then, the organization has only grown. In fact, more than 200,000 attended FIGMENT events and exhibitions in NYC and Boston last year. To be even more ambitious, the group is opening new arts festivals and exhibitions in Jackson, Mississippi and Detroit, Michigan. FIGMENT says its continuing “its mission to offer free, inclusive and participatory art to entire communities, removing the barriers of museum and gallery walls and entrance fees, and blurring the lines between those who create and those who enjoy art.”

This year, on Governor’s Island, FIGMENT will offer a free arts festival with performances from June 10-12, and interactive exhibitions until September 25, including a “terrace sculpture garden” featuring “17 sustainable sculpture projects”; an artist-designed mini-golf course; and this year’s City of Dreams Pavilion, Burble Bup, which was the result of an international design competition created in partnership with ENYA and SEAoNY (see an earlier post on the competition and last year’s winner). 

A few events and exhibitions that look interesting:

Aqua Attack by Angry Dolphin. “Are you a Super Villain or Super Hero? Aqua Attack!! is Back! The imaginary Japanese game show where you dress up and battle in kiddie pools with super soaked plush toys and guest game show hosts. Plus a new surprise!” (June 10-12)

Plastic Fantastic by Diedre Kreiger. “Plastic Fantastic is a 16 foot geodesic dome made from over 6,000 post-consumer water bottles. Participate in the making of the dome and one of the programmed events throughout the weekend. Plastic Fantastic creates possibility for social change through play, collectivity, community development and production.” (June 10-12)

Stealth Fighter by Zaq Landsberg (see image at top). “This 1:1 scale replica is framed in wood and wire and covered in Astroturf. It will be hidden in plain sight. Although the Astroturf blends in with the grass, Stealth Fighter will be obvious because of its size and distinctive shape. Visitors can go inside the fighter and use its ‘cover’ to peek out the jet intakes and cockpit windows.” (May 27 – September 25) 

After seeing the art, visitors can play 14 holes on Bugs & Features, a mini-golf course in which each hole is designed by a different group of artists. One hole, The Composting Micro Bug Food Spiral by Dee Dee Maucher of the MoS Collective features “the multitudinous microorganisms” that “process our food waste. This golf hole is a three-step compost system for soil building and food growing.” In addition, there’s also the aptly named Very Large Flyswatter hole by Jason Lucas, Bob Scott, Bob Seetin, Lilah Amon-Lucas. (May – September 25)

Finally, there’s this year’s City of Dreams Pavilion, Burble Bup, which doesn’t seem to have been built yet, or at least we can’t find images of the actual installation online. Designed by Antonio Torres and Michael Loverich, who make up an artistic duo called Bittertang, the pavilion’s materials, which will include soft inflatable berms, will be completely reused or recycled at the end of the summer. (May-September 25)

Image credits: (1) Zaq Landsberg / FIGMENT, (2) Angry Dolphin / FIGMENT, (3) Diedre Kreiger / FIGMENT, (4) Jason Lucas, Bob Scott, Bob Seetin, Lilah Amon-Lucas / FIGMENT, (5) Bittertang / FIGMENT

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Antony Spencer, a Dorset photographer, won the UK “Landscape Photographer of the Year” competition, which brings a £10,000 prize, for this shot of Corfe castle. The photography exhibition highlights “the interaction between people and places.” Charlie Waite, a top British landscape photographer, founded the competition in order to capture “images that best symbolise our land and our times, which will stand as a record for the future.”

The thousands of entries received from landscape-loving Brits features both pristine natural scenes and urban sites. The competition organizers write that the entries “demonstrate both the beauty and variety of the UK landscape, its universal visual appeal and our ongoing love for exploring and photographing its many faces.”

Natural England, a conservation organization, co-sponsored an award to highlight “an everyday landscape.” Helen Phillips, Chief Executive of Natural England, said: “This year’s extraordinary collection of images captures the tremendous variety of landscapes in this country and helps us appreciate the role they play as natural life support systems – filtering and storing water, holding fertile soils, locking in climate changing carbon, soaking up flood water, and buffering coastal storms.”

Network Rail also sponsored an award for the photos that best “shows the interaction of today’s rail network with the surrounding landscape.”  Robin Gisby, Network Rail, added: “For over 150 years, the railway has helped connect people across the length and breadth of the country; it is a big part of British life.” 

See the winning images and additional larger images in a slideshow from The Guardian.  

Many photos will be featured in an exhibition in London, open through January, 2011. Also, check out the exhibition book

Image credits: (1) Corfe Castle, Anthony Spencer / Landscape Photographer of the Year 2010, (2) Crossings, Barbican, London, England by Jonathan Lucas (Adult Living the view runner-up) / Landscape Photographer of the Year 2010, (3) South Downs near Kingston, East Sussex, England by Slawek Staszczuk (Natural England ‘Landscape on your Doorstep’ Award) / Landscape Photographer of the Year 2010.  

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The Architect’s Newspaper and Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) sponsored the Cleantech Corridor and Green District competition, which asked designers to come up with bold concepts for a 2,000-acre redevelopment zone at the eastern edge of downtown Los Angeles (see earlier post). According to The Architect’s Newspaper, the city has set aside the zone as a base for future clean tech manufacturing. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa seems to be investing his own political capital in making the area a center for L.A.’s green economy and a showcase for sustainable urban redevelopment. The City of Los Angeles, Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles, and the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority all participated as partners in the early conceptualization of the new district.

Winning entries offered bold new architectural designs, planning and land-use approaches, and infrastructure that could enable energy and water self-sufficiency:

A group of Norwegian designers, Constantin Boincean, Ralph Bertram, Aleksandra Danielak, nabbed the first prize for “Project Umbrella,” which centers around a “large mushroom-like structures” that function as solar evaporators and also treat black-water and distribute clean water. The Architect’s Newspaper writes: “the clear water is distributed and released into the streets through a process of evaporation and condensation triggering a transformation of the conventional streets into a network of lush, cultivated landscapes. Green webs spreading out from the evaporators generate incentives for new, sustainable developments within and around them. The central urban plazas become focal points within a gradual process of transformation that will affect the way people will see, use, and experience their city.” Learn more.

The second prize went to L.A.-based Labtop’s “Greenoplasty,” which create a new light rail line  and set of lightweight housing that could sit on top of the district’s warehouses. The designers write: “The urban approach we took in designing the Cleantech Corridor was to compress the nearly four mile site by implementing a local tram way, then rezoning specific areas in order to give space back to the pedestrian. At the local scale this translates into the opportunistic retrofitting of the existing environment along with the inclusion of highly visible urban markers.” Learn more.

Buro Happold, Mia Lehrer & Associates (see an interview), Elizabeth Timme, and Jim Suhr won the third prize, which would combine renewable energy, waste management, transportation, and stormwater runoff mitigation systems in an integrated approach. The designer contend that “the Cleantech corridor is a perfect site for a case study in creating a modern, performative landscape. There is a great deal of latent potential energy in the corridor, from the landscape and streets to the footprints of outmoded industrial buildings. The river to the east of the site is an enormous asset that if accessed appropriately could be a powerful input within a system that renews and recycles energy, water and waste for the greater Los Angeles area as a whole. We have also been interested in challenging the notion that a productive, urban, manufacturing district is inherently anti-pedestrian and unsafe.” Learn more.

All concepts propose innovative, site-specific ideas. The winners got $11,500 in prize money. Hopefully, the final result will be bigger than that prize money though, and L.A.’s Mayor will muster the political will and the city’s developers will structure the financing needed to turn parts of these visions of a sustainable downtown L.A. into reality.

Learn more about the winning projects and see the top three student winners. If you are near L.A., also see the concepts in person at SCI-Arch until October 27.

Image credits: (1) The City of Los Angeles, (2) Constantin Boincean, Ralph Bertram, Aleksandra Danielak, (3) Labtop: Thomas Sériès, Vincent Saura, Vuki Backonja, Amanda Li Chang, Eduardo Manilla, Benjamin Sériès, (4) Buro Happold, Mia Lehrer & Associates, Elizabeth Timme, Jim Suhr.

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100 Acres, the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s new art park, open all hours year-round, is a place where art appears out of the landscape, or is even part of the landscape, writes The Architect’s Newspaper. The new open-air museum, built on the site of a former gravel pit, is now a “hybrid of landscape, art, and architecture.” Created by Edward Blake, ASLA, a principal with landscape architecture firm Landscape Studio, the site features eight of art installations set within woodlands, wetlands, meadows and lake, and designed for all- weather heavy-duty usage (see earlier post).

According to The Architect’s Newspaper, the new art landscape architecture is an act of “recuperation and subtle adjustment of the non-native ‘blow-ins’ and planted trees and bushes,” which now “define larger and smaller spaces.  [W]inding paths through the park connect it all together.”

Eden II, an installation by Tea Makipaa, features a dilapidated 50-foot-long boat that cuts across the museum’s 35-acre lake. From a nearby guard tower on the shore, visitors can listen to sounds of imaginary refugees fleeing from an environmental disaster. “In this bit of set design, invisible performers, whose voices you hear in the tower, worry about illegal immigrants trying to come onshore, and gunfire rings out somewhere in the woods.” The New York Times quoted one curator as saying: “We can imagine leaving Tea’s piece to become a shipwreck. Why not just let it do what it needs to do?” Visitors can also watch the lake art installation from a metal pier created by Kendall Buster.

On the lake, there’s also “Indianapolis Island,” a fiberglass igloo created by artist Andrea Zittel that bobs itself around untethered. In summer months, visitors can access it via rowboat, and art student are even working within the igloo, creating installations of their own.

“Benches around the Lake” by Jeppe Hein is a set of 15 benches spread throughout the park, forming one continous thread. “All 15 benches are functional, though some are more roller coaster or slide than stable platform, putting guests in close proximity to friends or strangers.” One is even known as a “kissing bench” because it dips in the middle. “When two people are sitting on it, they slide in together, wanted or not,” said the artist. 

There are a number of pieces of larger landscape art: Artist Alfredo Jaar’s “Park of the Laments” is an “isolated, empty, demarcated space, where he encourages you to contemplate all those who have been displaced or lost in wars,” writes The Architect’s Newspaper. “Team Building (Align)” by Type A features two aluminum rings hanging between trees. “At the summer solstice, they project a perfect circle in the middle of the little clearing they define.” Los Carpinteros’ “Free Basket” (seen at top) includes vibrant steel loops that trace the paths of bouncing balls and surround basketball backboards — an installation neighborhood kids have taken to. Dagoberto Rodríguez Sánchez, a member of Los Carpinteros, told The New York Times: “It’s an endless game, with all the connotations you can take from that situation. With every bounce the geography of the game changes.” The site can be used for “anything except basketball.”

The museum is free and open around the clock year round. Learn how to visit.

Image credits: Indianapolis Museum of Art (except Indianapolis Island / The New York Times)

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This year, the International Garden Festival at the Jardin de Metis in Quebec features 21 commissioned gardens, including the unique Tiny Taxonomy (see earlier post).

A few interesting projects include: 

Dymaxion Sleep
(Jane Hutton & Adrian Blackwell): This project includes a network of nets structured over a field of aromatic plants. “Rather than walking through the garden, visitors lie on top of it, translating the typically solitary experience of a garden into a public event. The structure that holds the nets is an unfolded icosahedron, formed of twenty steel triangles. Each triangle is large enough to support a single outstretched body, an intertwined pair, or a pileup of people. Mints, lemon geranium, lavender and fennel are planted below, mimicking the structure’s topography and defining scented territories in which to relax.”

Réflexions colorées (Hal Ingberg): This garden includes a “semi-reflective equilateral triangle,” which offers an “intimate, courtyard-like enclosure that both frames and intensifies the perception of the forest.”

forest.SQUARE.sky (Suresh Perera): “Enclosed by semi-transparent green walls, one retains a dream-like memory of the forest. We circle a pool of water, rising up towards the sky and down towards the sky reflected, moving close to and then away from the encompassing walls. The garden embodies the realm of the in-between. We are invited to gaze upon the sky reflected and to experience a contemplative stillness.” (This one also includes a few videos.) 

Le jardin de bâtons bleus (Claude Cormier, architecture de paysage + Design urbain): Claude Cormier, winner of an ASLA Professional Honor Award for his work on HtO park in Toronto, created this “Blue Stick Garden.” The garden has a few inspirations: “the Himalayan blue poppy painstakingly adapted to the region’s microclimate, and the mixed flowering borders of the original heritage garden from the 1920s.” 

Bascule: les ondées aratoires (Cédule 40 Julien Boily, Étienne Boulanger, Sonia Boudreau, Noémie Payant-Hébert): “Rather than a highly designed and controlled environment, CÉDULE 40 developed a planting system based on chance and random distribution. By revisiting traditional modes of agricultural production and integrating visitor participation in the planting of the garden itself, they subvert one of the primary principles of the garden, which is the strategic organization of a place. Visitors are invited to swing on an oversized swing set, this action triggering the rotation of cylinders perched eighteen feet above, which randomly disperse corn seeds. Chance becomes the guiding principle of the plantation scheme, the participation of the visitor its mode of production. By embarking on the swing, visitors become active participants.”

The 40-acre Jardin de Metis, which includes some 3,000 species of trees and plants, was created in the early 20th century by Elsie Reford. The gardens receive around 100,000 visitors each year.

Learn more about all 21 contemporary gardens, or visit until October 2010.

Image credits: Les Jardin de Metis

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