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Archive for the ‘Landscape Architecture’ Category

sxsw

SXSW Eco light art installation / SXSW Eco

South by Southwest (SXSW) Eco, which has grown from a small off-shoot of the well-known SXSW music festival into a major sustainable design conference, is now looking for the “businesses, designs, and technologies that will drive global change” for its early October conference in Austin, Texas. SXSW Eco looks like the perfect place for landscape architects to present their innovative ideas, as this year the focus will be on architecture and the built environment; art and design; smart cities and transportation; and water and resources.

The conference organizers are looking for “content that inspires, educates, and informs, providing motivation as well as the tools to take action.” They want a real “diversity in perspective, opinion, and representation.” Furthermore, “self-promotion and advertorial presentations are not well-received.” Session proposals could include panels, workshops, debates, or any other creative format.

According to Forbes magazine, “creating that marketplace for exchange of ideas and progressive thinking is what South by Southwest Eco is all about.”

Submit your session proposals by May 1. Using the “PanelPicker” tool, the SXSW community will then vote on which sessions will make it into the conference.

For those just looking to attend some conferences and get some new ideas this spring or summer, here are a few of interest: Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) in Dallas, Texas (April 29 – May 2); Lightfair International in New York, NY (May 3 – 7); The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s Second Wave of Modernism III: Leading with Landscape in Toronto, Canada (May 21-24); International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) World Congress in St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia (June 7-15, 2015); and the Society for Ecological Restoration’s World Conference in Manchester, England (August 23 – 27).

See hundreds of upcoming conferences at ASLA’s continuously-updated free resource: Conferences for Landscape Architects.

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Even the playground will look natural / Photo: Nelson Byrd Woltz, The Houston Chronicle

Master plan for Memorial Park, Houston / Photo: Nelson Byrd Woltz, The Houston Chronicle

Council OKs Plan to Reimagine City’s Marquee Green SpaceThe Houston Chronicle, 4/1/15
“The joggers, hikers, cyclists, equestrians and ballplayers who use Memorial Park will see the city’s marquee green space reborn over the next two decades, a process furthered with the Houston City Council’s unanimous approval Wednesday of a new master plan for the park.”

Beijing to Upgrade Green Belts to Combat PM2.5People’s Daily, China, 4/2/15
“This year, Beijing plans to upgrade some of the city’s green belts with plants that have strong dust retention ability, in an effort to combat PM2.5 and improve air quality. Eighteen types of plants have been selected for the trial program.”

In Chicago, Parks Are on the Upswing  – Grist, 4/8/15
“For three decades, residents begged for a verdant space where their children might play or where they could sit for a brief reprieve. Finally, weary of waiting for the Chicago Park District to cobble together such a site, they chose to do it themselves.”

California is Naturally Brown and Beautiful. Why Are Our Yards Green? – The Los Angeles Times, 4/9/15
“A few years ago, my wife and I decided to replace the mangy bit of lawn in front of our house with drought-tolerant dymondia, which was supposed to spread into an interconnected ground cover. Less water, no mowing, I thought. Easy call. But the dymondia struggled, and seemed to ebb in the hot summer and flow in the cooler, wetter winter.”

Hargreaves Presents Four “Approaches” to Downtown East Commons – The Star Tribune, 4/9/15
“Landscape architecture firm Hargreaves Associates for the first time revealed images for The Commons, a future park in downtown Minneapolis shouldering high expectations from the public for recreation and commercial growth in the area.”

Water Management Key for Urban Planning The Korea Herald, 4/10/15
“As water, life’s most critical resource, becomes scarce, strategic and advanced water management is emerging as a key policy task for cities. Cities in Denmark are spearheading the best practices in prioritizing water management in their urban planning policy development.”

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Uptown Normal Circle / Pinterest

Normal, Illinois, doesn’t sound like a typical spring break destination—but for me, it was the perfect getaway. Along with fellow urban planning students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I visited Normal in March 2010. We started our day with a walking tour of Uptown Normal and ended it by biking to its neighbor, Bloomington, via the Constitution Trail. The highlight of the tour was the town traffic circle (yes, a traffic circle!) called Uptown Circle, designed by Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, which is a gathering place that captures and filters stormwater and simplifies a complicated intersection. On a sunny afternoon in 2010, it was easy to see why it’s the heart of the district.

Normal invested more than $90 million in this neighborhood, spending about half of its investment ($47 million) on a Complete Streets approach that considers all users—people traveling by foot, bicycle, transit, or car—of all ages and abilities. They widened and repaired sidewalks, reconstructed Constitution Boulevard, and built Uptown Circle and Uptown Station, a multi-modal transportation center.

Today, more than 40 percent of all trips in Uptown Normal are by foot or bicycle. Since these improvements, it experienced a boost in retail sales (46 percent) and attracted more than $160 million in private investment.

Perhaps the best outcome of all? “People love Uptown Normal,” said Normal Mayor Chris Koos. “They ride the bus, they bike the trail, they shop, they socialize, and they recreate in a wonderful urban center.” This project shows how Complete Streets principles can transform a place.

But neither Normal’s approach nor its results are unique. More than 700 cities, regions, and states have made a commitment to use a Complete Streets approach.

As a recent analysis by Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition demonstrates, using a Complete Streets approach is one of the best transportation investments a community can make.

Examining before and after data from 37 projects redesigned with Complete Streets goals, this study found:

Streets were safer: Automobile collisions declined in 70 percent of projects, and injuries declined in 56 percent of projects.

Safety has financial value: Each collision that a safer street helps to avoid represents avoided costs from emergency room visits, hospital charges, rehabilitation, and doctor visits, as well as the cost of property damage. Within our sample, Complete Streets improvements collectively averted $18.1 million in total collision costs in just one year.

Complete Streets encouraged multi-modal travel: The projects nearly always resulted in more biking, walking, and transit trips.

Complete Streets are remarkably affordable: The average cost of a project was just $2.1 million—far less than the $9 million average cost of projects in state transportation improvement plans. And 97 percent of Complete Streets projects cost less per mile than construction of an average high-cost arterial.

Complete Streets play an important role in economic development: These findings suggest that these projects were supportive of higher employment, new business, and property values. Several projects saw significant private investment since their completion.

Particularly striking is what the projects achieved with a small public investment. For example, Portland, Oregon, spent $95,000 to re-stripe the streets, add plastic bollards, and new signage to NE Multnomah Boulevard. This project created 34 new automobile and 12 bicycle parking spaces. Cycling along the corridor increased 44 percent, and the number of vehicles exceeding the speed limit fell by half.

For some projects, the cost-savings from safer conditions alone justified their costs. For instance, after Reno, Nevada, added bike lanes in each direction and widened sidewalks along Wells Avenue, collisions fell by about 45 percent. The value of Reno’s safer conditions within one year’s time ($5.8 million) is more than its entire project cost ($4.5 million).

The before and after data shows the extraordinary effect low-cost, thoughtful street design can have on local communities. As more communities implement Complete Streets policies — with an explicit aim to make travel by foot, bike, and transit convenient and safe — we should measure our progress toward those aims and make sure we invest accordingly.

Read the full report, Safer Streets, Stronger Economies: Complete Streets.

Ready to get started on measuring your community’s Complete Streets work? Check out the Coalition’s latest guide: Evaluating Complete Streets: A Guide for Practitioners.

This guest post is by Laura Searfoss, Associate, National Complete Streets Coalition.

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Simulation of obstacle configuration and Gilbert Delta formation / Eduardo Rico, Arup-Relational Urbanism, AA/ UCL

Now, perhaps more than ever, we understand our world is shaped by complex, interactive, dynamic systems. Increased climate volatility has shown us why we need to understand these complex systems when we design landscapes. While landscape architects have been fast to embrace ecological systems thinking, they have been slower to see how systems thinking can transform our ways of imagining, visualizing, and then intervening in the environment.

There have been significant advances in the tools we use to understand and represent the multitude of biological and physical factors that shape our environment, particularly in the areas of computational modeling and simulation. These advances were the focus of the recent Simulating Natures symposium, organized by Karen M’Closkey, ASLA, associate professor of landscape architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and PEG Office of Landscape + Architecture, and Keith VanDerSys, also with PEG, and hosted by the landscape architecture department at the University of Pennsylvania.

While computers and suites of software programs have become integrated into classrooms, studios, and offices, they have largely been used to computerize manual drawing and modeling processes, despite their ability to move beyond the purely representational and into the realms of projection and speculation. As James Corner, ASLA, founder of Field Operations, stated in his keynote lecture at the symposium, “Because of the facility afforded by technology and software, it’s relatively easy to produce novel forms. Design has become easy if you only think it’s about form-making and aesthetic responses. It’s not so easy to start to think about how to make the world better. How do we think about tools that allow us to improve conditions rather than to just invent new forms?”

To date, we have embraced a simplistic view of ecology that trends toward modeling efficiencies, operating under the assumption that there is a singular universal truth, so we gear modeling efforts toward definitive answers. Presentations from the symposium challenged this notion: Each session demonstrated a different approach to the act of modeling and simulation, offering suggestions as to the roles new models might play and how they could be used to engage dynamic systems that evolve and change. These roles included the model as a choreographer of feedback loops; the model as a provocateur and tool for thinking; and the model as a translator of information.

Models as Choreographers of Feedback Loops

The first session focused on the capability of hydrodynamic models to chart and understand the relationships among various invisible processes, enabling us to register change over time. Hydrodynamic models can choreograph feedback loops through an interplay of physical modeling, sensing, analysis, and digital modeling. The work of panelists in this session nests different physical and temporal scales, simulating the impacts that interventions have on larger systems. For example, Heidi Nepf at MIT has a laboratory that models the small-scale physics of aquatic vegetation to simulate larger patch dynamics. Philip Orton, with Stevens Institute of Technology and who often collaborates with SCAPE / Landscape Architecture, focused on modeling the effects of breakwaters and benthic interventions on storm surge in Staten Island and Jamaica Bay.

Microsoft PowerPoint - 15-0318 Symposium_FINAL.pptx

Delaware River hydrodynamic simulation using Aquaveo SMS/ SRH-2D, PEG office of landscape + architecture

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Physical laboratory simulation of sea grasses / Heidi Nepf

Together, the models from the first session challenged our assumptions of what is permanent. Bradley Cantrell, ASLA, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, linked many of the session’s presentations through his advocacy for a shift from modeling for efficiency to modeling for resistance. Efficiency assumes a predetermined end goal while resistance leads toward adaptation, evolution, and new novel landscapes, which is critical to designing for resiliency. Working toward adaptability represents a paradigm shift that calls into question our idea of the fixed state.

Models as Tools for Thinking

Philosopher Michael Weisberg then offered the idea that the model can serve as a tool for thinking — an experimental mechanism for exploring new ideologies. The session examined agent- or rule-based modeling techniques that simulate the dynamic interaction of multiple entities, which can be used to simulate adaptive, living systems. Through a process of bottom-up, rather than top-down modeling, the interrelationships of individual agents can be used to explore the relationship between scenario and outcome. These models show potential for how we might engage complex socio-ecological systems, which is imperative as we enter the Anthropocene Era.

For artist and NYU professor Natalie Jeremijenko, agent-based modeling has led to an “organism-centric design” approach. Understanding intelligent responses to stimuli from non-human organisms could offer a more compelling way of understanding complex interrelationships than two dimensional quantification in graphs and charts.

Panelists discussed our tendency to model that which we know and can predict, which is problematic in that it leaves significant territory unexplored. The concept of “solution pluralism,” presented by Stephen Kimbrough, calls for an open-ended decision-making process that culls the number of possible outcomes in order to limit discussion to that which is determined to be reasonable, while leaving the final selection of a decision open.

Models as Translators of Information

Finally, we heard examples of how models might serve as translators, communicating environmental patterns that underlie the visible environment. Panelists presented new ways of translating information for delivery and consumption, linking the real and the abstract, which are driven by new methods of sensing and data collection.

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Slime mold network optimization as a simulation of urban growth through emergent collective behavior / ecoLogicStudio

Michael Allen’s work on monitoring microscopic activity in soil represented a departure from the traditional method of core sampling. Through the real-time monitoring of soil coupled with sensing water and nutrient concentrations, we can now understand the dynamism of production and mortality below grade.

The MIT Sensable City Lab’s Underworld project, presented by Newsha Ghaeli, aims to use sewage as a platform for monitoring public health, tracking disease, antibiotic resistance, and chemical compounds in real time. Combined with demographic and spatial data at the surface, the project has the potential to map our environment in a revealing way.

Unpredictable issues require unprecedented tools — but they, in turn, may yield unpredictable results. As M’Closkey stated, “Variability and change are built into the thinking behind simulations. The uncertainty inherent in many simulations reflects the uncertainty inherent to the systems they characterize.”

Watch videos of the entire symposium.

This guest post is by Colin Patrick Curley, Student ASLA, master’s of architecture and master’s of landscape architecture candidate, University of Pennsylvania.

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U.S. Federal Office Building, Two Stars, U.S. GSA with Atkins Global, Miramar, Florida / SITES

The Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) has certified a dozen sustainable landscapes across the country for meeting rigorous standards for environmental design and performance, bringing the total number of certified projects to 46. These 12 landscapes include a historic Maryland house, a pocket park in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, and a public children’s garden in Austin, Texas.

“Americans can directly address major environmental challenges we face today – diminishing water supplies, climate change, pollution and loss of wildlife habitat – by how they design and manage landscapes where they live, work and play,” said Susan Rieff, executive director of The University of Texas at Austin’s Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. “The SITES program approach, now increasingly adopted by landscape architects, designers and others, provides a practical blueprint for creating healthy landscapes, and recognizes exemplary projects to inspire others.”

These 12 projects are the last to be certified using a 2009 pilot version of the SITES Rating System. They join 34 others that have achieved certification for voluntarily applying the SITES system to incorporate sustainability into their planning, design, construction and maintenance. Each project received a rating from one to four stars. SITES, which is a collaboration of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), The Wildflower Center, and the United States Botanic Garden, has now certified projects in 20 states.

The pilot program has informed the June 2014 release of the SITES v2 Rating System and Reference Guide. Negotiations are underway with the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) to provide project certification to the requirements of the SITES v2 Rating System and a related professional credentialing program.

The 12 most recently certified projects include:

Anacostia Watershed Society Headquarters, Three Stars, Anacostia Watershed Society, Bladensburg, Maryland. This landscape on .35 acres surrounds the historic George Washington House (circa 1752). The building now serves as headquarters for the Anacostia Watershed Society, which developed a public demonstration of practical, aesthetic ways to address the flow, collection, and management of stormwater runoff from the site. Year of adjacent road realignments that raised the grades of surrounding land had created poor drainage patterns throughout the site. With the help of volunteers, interns, staff, and local business donations, the society was able to install permeable paving, a rainwater cistern, brick and dry-stream channels, and rain gardens. The project demonstrates how sustainable stormwater management can be successfully incorporated within historic sites challenged with a limited budget and very restrictive site constraints.

Evans Parkway Neighborhood Park, Three Stars, OCULUS – Landscape Architecture, Silver Spring, Maryland. The expansion of this neighborhood park with the addition of a vacant lot provided the impetus for developing a more natural treatment of park surfaces and restoring a 300 linear foot section of a concrete-lined stream channel. This rehabilitated stream is a model for future naturalization efforts within Montgomery County. The renovated park also includes an informal play field and lawn areas, playground, a picnic area and shade structure, loop walking trails, a pedestrian bridge with riparian overlook area, contemplative seating areas, interactive public artwork, interpretive displays, connections to regional bikeway and public transit systems, natural meadow areas, and shady woodland areas.

Boeddeker Park, Two Stars, The Trust for Public Land, San Francisco, California. This one-acre park developed by The Trust for Public Land and San Francisco Recreation and Parks provides the largest open space in San Francisco’s poorest, most dense and diverse neighborhood. What had been an undesirable, unsafe area for 50,000 nearby residents has become an inviting space that is open daily. The pocket park includes a state-of-the-art clubhouse, walking path, adult fitness equipment, children’s play area, lawn and plazas for community gatherings and a garden. Sustainable systems were prioritized from the start and are integrated throughout the site. Project partners conducted extensive community outreach at nearby senior and youth centers and elsewhere, and worked closely with local community partners to ensure a safe park that provides programs and activities for all ages. Key design and programming decisions were made through these community forums. The result is a model of civic engagement, inspiration, resource conservation, and adaptability.

Hempstead Plains Interpretive Center, Two Stars, RGR Landscape Architecture & Architecture PLLC, Garden City, New York. This is the only naturally occurring prairie east of the Allegheny Mountains. The design and development of HPIC – a low-impact building and site – in a heavily developed suburban area, secures the integrity of the parcel as a natural preserve and historic landmark. In addition, the Plains are located on the Nassau Community College campus and near several universities, providing classes with a learning lab about native prairie habitats and sustainable techniques and an experience for general visitors interested in experiencing prairie life. An entrance through native plantings leads to the new visitor’s center topped with a green roof; open and closed classrooms are provided. Handicapped-accessible and stabilized-soil trails lead to the natural paths in the native prairie. A cistern helps reduce the need for potable water. Solar energy provides power and the building is completely “off the grid.”

Luci and Ian Family Garden at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Two Stars, W. G. Smith Design, Austin, Texas. This garden showcases Texas native plants and landscapes while offering a unique, beautiful space for children and families to appreciate nature through exploration and to learn about plants, wildlife and water, and sustainable landscape design elements. The 4.5-acre space features more than 180 native Texas plant species and interactive features such as a nectar garden, a wildlife blind and pond, a “stumpery” made for tree climbing, and an area for building structures from natural materials. Sustainable practices are part of the fabric of the garden, and include plants that were salvaged pre-construction and replanted, and a rainwater harvesting system and rain gardens to demonstrate water conservation. Locally-sourced pecan shells and crushed recycled glass are among the mulches. Stone harvested on site is used in features such as two caves, and non-potable water feeds a waterfall flowing into a recirculating creek with fish and tadpoles.

U.S. Federal Office Building, Two Stars, U.S. GSA with Atkins Global, Miramar, Florida. This new building houses a key federal agency on a secure campus that includes a parking garage with a green wall and solar panels, pond and other sustainable features on a site that minimizes impacts and harmonizes the landscape with the nearby Florida Everglades. The site design incorporates wetlands throughout the project and in interior and exterior courtyards. These wetlands are visible from within the building. A jogging path occurs around the reconstructed wetlands and there are locations for gathering and relaxation. Structures are made of locally sourced materials with high-recycled content and FSC-certified wood. Native and adaptive plant species occur site wide, creating a sustainable native plant community on aesthetically appealing grounds. The grounds also provide water-quality treatment for the project area.

Environmental Laboratory for Sustainability and Ecological Education, One Star, Alrie Middlebrook, San Jose, California. This former concrete parking lot in downtown San Jose has become a shared garden space used for educational purposes. The tenants include a sustainable landscaping company, The California Native Garden Foundation and its nursery, and an on-site aquaponics farm. The Environmental Laboratory is used to teach schools how to build a sustainable garden education program and showcases a healthy land-use model. The site demonstrates urban food technologies such as vertical food towers, pallet gardens, composting, and gardening with perennial food plants. Drought-tolerant native plants reduce water use and provide wildlife habitat, restore soils and more. Drip irrigation is used for plantings, and water is reused through greywater systems. Many landscape components are made with recycled or reused material. The goal of ELSEE is to have this type of garden model adopted by 10,000 California schools by 2020.

HELIX Environmental Planning Inc. Headquarters, One Star, HELIX Environmental Planning Inc., La Mesa, California. Landscape conversion of the environmental planning firm’s headquarters entailed the conversion of the landscape to a more regionally appropriate one. The project reduced potable water use for irrigation through rainwater harvesting and the use of native plants, and created a more usable outdoor space for employees, which has increased social interaction and supported healthy activities. The project is unique because it used the expertise of HELIX’s own employees in designing and implementing water-conserving and low-maintenance landscapes.

New Orleans Festival and Recreation Complex, One Star, Torre Design Consortium, New Orleans, Louisiana. A 55-acre abandoned golf course in New Orleans City Park was re-purposed to provide a public space, in conjunction with a Community Development Block Grant. Community input led to opportunities for exercise and outdoor play, and gathering spaces for families, schools, and formal events. The project includes four multi-sport fields, a one-mile walking/biking path, a workout area with adult and child exercise equipment, a large constructed wetland area with meditation paths and a boardwalk, a playground, and a large “Reunion Pavilion” for seating, eating, and socializing. Many oak and cypress trees were retained for shade and enjoyment.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science, One Star, Talley Associates, Dallas, Texas. This 4.7-acre site on a former industrial brownfield is just north of downtown Dallas and west of the Arts District. An elevated freeway determines the site’s southern boundary and is among nearby constraints. The project dovetails with the museum’s primary mission of working to “Inspire minds through nature and science.” To achieve this, the site design was conceived as an abstraction of several native Texas landscape environments that are seamlessly integrated with the building’s architecture that covers much of the space. Starting at the southeast corner of the site, the podium structure of the building was planned to incorporate a vegetated roof system. The roof features plantings that depict different regions of Texas’ ecology: West Texas Caliche, Upland Prairie, Blackland Prairie and East Texas Forests/Wetlands.

Swaner EcoCenter, One Star, CRSA, Park City, Utah. The EcoCenter provides visitors a starting point to experience the 1,200-acre Swaner Preserve, both of which are overseen by Utah State University. The preserve and building serve as places for teaching environmental science. Visitors also hike, bird watch and pursue other nature activities on site. The EcoCenter building demonstrates sustainable features such as solar panels and a cistern for rainwater collection that eliminates potable water use for irrigation and for flushing toilets. Visitors can also learn about an innovative boardwalk that minimized disturbance to land around the piers. Rather than using metal helical piers that produce such damage, these are made from salvaged trestle wood preserved by sitting in the Great Salt Lake for decades. Other approaches included selecting sustainable materials for outdoor seating, bike racks, and pathway pavers.

Tuthill Corporate Headquarters Campus, One Star, Conservation Design Forum, Burr Ridge, Illinois.  The campus provides a workplace environment that honors the human psyche and improves the environment. The building was established on a minimal footprint and oriented to allow employees to easily access a pond/wetland and view it while indoors. Rainwater is collected and directed from the roof to the landscape. The entire site, except for the building footprint, pavement and small Buffalo grass turf edge, has been restored to hardy, native plant species obtained locally wherever possible. Locally sourced limestone was used in a terrace and patio that creates an authentic connection of the building to the local landscape. Invasive species have been removed, allowing the restoration of native grassland prairie and wetland fringe. The restored or recreated on-site landscaping and other elements virtually eliminate surface stormwater runoff and localized flooding.

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WATERFRONToronto / Quadrangle Architects, aLLDesign, Janet Rosenburg & Studio

New City Design Can Help Reclaim a Lost Way of Life – China Daily, 3/18/15
“When landscape architect Sean O’Malley finds himself on a site for the first time, he looks for what stands out, what defines the place. This could often mean a mountain, a river, a system of wetlands. Whatever it is that defines the landscape’s character. Case in point: the Shunde New City Plan, located at the Pearl River Delta, and hour-and-a-half ferry ride from Hong Kong and the second-largest bird migration delta and estuary in Southeast Asia”

Give Hong Kong’s New Towns Character, Says Architecture Academic The South China Morning Post, 3/23/15
“A landscape architecture academic has demanded new towns are given ‘character’ to avoid replicating developments from the 1970s. Assistant professor Vincci Mak Wing-sze, of the University of Hong Kong, unveiled alternative designs for the new towns after she asked her final year undergraduate students to come up with more creative ideas.”

5 Proposals Reimagine Toronto Ferry Terminal and Waterfront ParkArch Daily, 3/24/15
“Waterfront Toronto has unveiled five proposals for the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbor Square Park design competition. The finalists were tasked with transforming Toronto’s waterfront by revitalizing the existing ferry terminal and park through an extensive gradually-implemented master plan”

How Good Old American Marketing Saved the National Parks – National Geographic, 3/24/15
“When President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill creating Yellowstone in 1872, he established the first national park anywhere in the world. But 40 years later, the parks that exemplified ‘America’s best idea’ were a mess.”

Landscape Architect Kate Orff Takes the Helm of Columbia’s Urban Design Program – Fast Co. Design, 3/31/15
“Landscape architect Kate Orff, ASLA, has been selected as the next director of Columbia University’s urban design program, within the school’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation.”

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Each year at the ASLA Annual Meeting, some of the world’s top landscape architects and designers explain themselves in front of an audience of hundreds. These designers give in-depth presentations, explaining the logic behind their designs and their latest projects. Now, ASLA has made these presentations available online for free. From the ASLA 2014 Annual Meeting in Denver, you can watch more than 6 hours of videos by:

Balmori Associates (see above)

This New York-based practice is recognized internationally for designing sustainable master plans, waterfront parks, public spaces, and gardens. The firm’s approach is rooted in the exploration of the boundaries between nature and structure through landscape. BAL / LAB, the incubator office, focuses on green roofs, floating islands, temporary landscapes, forms of representation, and zero-waste cities.

Watch Diana Balmori, FASLA, Javier Campana, Noemie Lafaurie-Debany, and Theodore Hoerr, ASLA, Balmori Associates; moderated by Mario Nievera, ASLA, Nievera Williams Design.

Biohabitats

Landscape architects hold more power than ever to foster biodiversity and resilience and tell a compelling story of the landscape and our place in it. By embracing scientific principles and allowing them to inform our work, Biohabitats aims to create robust, dynamic landscapes that go beyond improving quality of life.

Watch Keith Bowers, FASLA, Claudia Browne, Jennifer Dowdell, ASLA, and Chris Streb, Biohabitats; moderated by Susan Jacobson, FASLA, Morton Arboretum.

Confluence

Since their founding in 1998, Confluence has become one of the largest landscape architecture and planning firms in the Midwest. Principals gave an overview of the firm, its leadership approach, and their strategies behind design-service delivery and client-type diversification. They discuss “Midwest Nice” and the associated challenges.

Watch Brian Clark, ASLA, Lyle Pudwill, ASLA, and Jill Boetger, ASLA, Confluence; moderated by Patrick Coughey, FASLA, Wimmer Yamada and Caughey.

!melk

!melk is a dynamic, internationally-recognized landscape architecture and urban design firm specializing in the creation of highly experiential public spaces as well as large-scale urban interventions. Founder Jerry van Eyck, ASLA, addresses his firm’s growing reputation for a refined focus on context, identity, strong narrative, pragmatism, and detail.

Watch Jerry van Eyck, ASLA, Emily Bauer, Assoc. ASLA, and Ian Hampson, ASLA, !melk; moderated by Mia Lehrer, FASLA, Mia Lehrer + Associates.

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Catherine Park, St. Petersburg, Russia / Asergeev

The International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) and the Association of Landscape Architects of Russia (ALAROS) has launched a design competition that seeks to identify “superior environmental designs” by landscape architecture students worldwide. The competition is open to individuals or teams of students in undergraduate and graduate programs.

According to the organizers, “students are invited to present their ideas for the application of innovative, sustainable solutions in contemporary landscape issues. The competition encourages students to explore both urban and rural green-blue infrastructure and suggest scenarios for the sustainable development of human habitats.” Students can select any site in the world, at any scale.

The top-three winners, which will be announced at the IFLA World Congress in St. Petersburg, Russia, June 10-12, will take home $7,000 in prizes. Winning boards will also be exhibited at the conference.

Submissions are due May 8. Entry fees range from $10 to $50, depending on the country of the educational institution. The fees are calculated based on purchasing power indexes to ensure students are charged an “equitable amount.”

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Wet Matter / Harvard Graduate School of Design

Wet Matter, Harvard Design Magazine’s latest issue, asks us to reconsider our oceans, which cover the vast majority of our planet. Edited by Pierre Bélanger, ASLA, associate professor of landscape architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, the issue brings together a range of fields and an array of lenses to “unlearn our binary, dichotomous relationship with the ocean,” as the magazine’s editor-in-chief Jennifer Sigler writes in the opening remarks. How?, she asks. With an eye to the oceanic, not defined as “not land” — but a matter to be investigated on its own terms. Below are brief summaries of some of the articles in this rich compendium:

In The Other 71 Percent, Bélanger stares what he considers “the glaring blind spot in the Western imagination” straight in the eye. He urges the reader to take the oceanic turn: recalibrating our attention away from the space race and back to the earth’s oceans to better understand how we are shaping and shaped by this “vast logistical landscape.” By recognizing the oceans, the other 71 percent of the planet, as a key dimension of climate change, Bélanger challenges “the dry, closed, terrestrial frameworks that shape today’s industrial, corporate, and economic patterns” to imagine an alternate and more fluid future.

CUNY professor Catherine Seagitt Nordenson reads the ocean by its flora. She begins her piece, The Bottom of the Bay, Or How to Know the Seaweeds, by claiming “to know the seaweeds is to know the ocean.” Protista, these “brackish-water dwellers,” display no roots, stems, or leaves, present an illuminating, telescopic view of an otherwise elusive, dark territory– the benthic zone. Collecting seaweed for study is a “local enterprise,” requiring “actual immersion into the waters of the littoral ocean.” From the literal bottom up, Nordenson’s article suggests that “benthic thinking rescales the oceanic, reinserting the body.”

In Destination Whatever: Touring the Cruise Industry of the Caribbean, Martin Delgado, Zuanna Koltowska, Félix Madrazo, and Sofia Saavedra with Supersudaca warn us that indulging our delusional expectations of a perfectly familiar yet still “exotic” vacation destination in the very bowels and on the decks of a cruise ship may lead to a “terrorism of tourism.” The cruise industry has transformed piers, “once perceived as extensions of land” into extensions of the ship, a new “fictional territory” that tethers the cruise ship to the port town by only a provisional string. As the “distance between travelers and islanders grows at an alarming rate,” they forewarn us of a grim future in which “floating fantasies” may become “economic albatrosses, en route to somewhere other than paradise.”

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Costa Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico, 2013 / Supersudaca: Martin Delgado, Zuzanna Koltowska, Félix Madrazo & Sofia Saavedra

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Day at sea on the Carnival Valor, 2007 / Supersudaca: Martin Delgado, Zuzanna Koltowska, Félix Madrazo & Sofia Saavedra

Architect Hilary Sample and engineer Bryon Stigge trace both ancient and new approaches for inhabiting coastal regions. Building Soft suggests that by capitalizing on the ebbs and flows rather than resisting environmental dynamics, “these ‘soft’ construction techniques are constantly operating and responding to alternating calendars of climatic and oceanic forces.” Jacking, leaking, weakening, slipping, and swapping make up the “collective lexicon of spatial interventions” emphasizing “slow systems, soft structures, and weak infrastructures.” This photo essay depicts stilts, flotation structures, permeable exteriors, relocation, flexible materials, and wet proofing to reform both architectural and cultural attitudes of “building strong.”

German sociologist Ulrich Beck, who just died in January, makes a compelling argument in How Climate Change Might Save the World: Metamorphosis. He turns the question of whether climate change has “the potential to alter the political order of the world” around by claiming that “climate has already altered our ‘being’ in the world–the way we think about the world and engage in politics.” Through seven theses, Beck explains why we should focus on “what is now emerging–future structures, norms, and new beginnings” rather than be tempted by “a supermarkets of apocalyptic scenarios,” falling back on an old “nation-state perspective” that separates the decision makers from those most affected. Beck urges us to break out of this imperialistic structure and to instead adopt a “cosmopolitan perspective,” which recognizes “the world city” as “becoming the main cosmopolitan actor” in addressing global issues.

University of Pennsylvania landscape architecture professor Anuradha Mathur, ASLA, and her design partner Dilip da Cunha call into question the line between land and sea. Through both historical references and a contemporary case study, Sundarbans: A Space of Imagination addresses the “chasm between the incommensurable natures of earth and ocean.” Tracing the term “ocean” back the ancients, Mathur and da Cunha discover Oceanus, “the watery element that escapes the disciplines of geometry.” A lyrical description of the source of all rivers and seas is replaced by a map, an arrangement of points and lines. Using the Sundarbans at the mouth of the Ganges as an example, with its “field-like condition being far too complex to mark and hold with points and lines of geometry,” the authors create a new design approach that considers “a temporal and material appreciation of ocean,” including all the “states and cycles of hydrology.”

In Interplay, Yale University architecture professor Keller Easterling, author of the ingenious book Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space, proposes a radically new approach to coastal planning. Calling on urban planners, landscape architects, and environmentalists to use site analysis as a way of rating properties for their more qualitative indicators, Easterling imagines an index to supplement the “bureaucratic layers of jargon” of banks, insurance companies, and real estate firms in which the “many of the physical, volumetric, and climatic attributes of a property are ironically called ‘intangibles.’” Recovering from hurricanes may necessitate a more innovative approach, “a parallel market of spatial variables could offer more tangible risks and rewards.”

Ballast Water follows “alien, invasive stowaways” into the hidden compartments of cargo ships. Author Rose George explains the practice of filling compartments around the hull of ships mostly empty of cargo as a necessary defense. To stay afloat, cargo ship’s bowels are filled like a Trojan horse, carrying along seawater, species, and bacteria (“7,000 alien invasive species are also imported every hour”), disrupting local habitat, and occasionally causing pathogenic effects or infectious disease. Adequate testing standards and ballast water management systems lag behind the “mobility and fluidity” of the sea’s organisms.

For University of Florida architecture professor Charlie Hailey, “‘Inland’ is a multivalent term.” In Camps, Corridors, and Clouds: Inland Ways to the Ocean, he addresses how Internet access can pave a “way to the ocean” for Somali refugees at Dadaab, an “archipelago of five camps, constituting the world’s largest refugee settlement.” For a place defined by as “geographically landlocked, politically adrift, and economically blockaded,” a new network cloud and telecommunications corridor enables new digital interactivity, “allowing it to become not just a surrogate state but an inland camp with its own inherent possibilities for livelihood.”

Rebecca Gomperts, founder of Women on Waves and Women on Web, shows how to use international waters and the Internet to provide safe abortions to women around the world in Bodies, Boats, and Borders. “The idea of the ship was the basis of the organization.” Furthermore, “the ocean is a space of solidarity,” enabling the organization to exploit international law in their efforts to provide “life-saving treatment” to women in countries where abortion is illegal.

In Oan Bubbles: Fact or Fiction?, <smythsmuths 22012143> surprises the reader as a small booklet inserted into the center of the magazine. An excerpt from Sundogz by Mark von Schlegell, forthcoming from Semiotext(e) 2015, this piece of science fiction tells of a future astro-marine world, “an artificial anti-bubble of Earthside Ocean,” “a hydro-ecology” realized by an international panel of scientists, “spacer amateurs,” and fishing unions.

With the assistance of Jean and John Comaroff, both anthropology professors at Harvard University, Bélanger identifies man-made tidal swimming pools along the shores of the KwaZulu-Natal coast in South Africa as democratic structures in a place otherwise governed by the 1947 Law of Apartheid. Between the Tides of Apartheid recognizes the intertidal pools as “marginal spaces constantly in flux…attracting a cultural diversity rarely seen in South African cities or the interior hinterlands.” Bélanger explains how through informality and low-tech infrastructure, “beaches and pools edified a non-state, or extra-state, manifest as spaces of political others.”

Wet Matter concludes with Flotsam: A Visualization of Swimmers, Sinkers, and Spills in the Urban Ocean, a contribution from Colombian architect Luis Callejas with Martin Pavlinic, a designer at MASS Studio. Each of the 35 silhouetted items in the I Spy-arrangement corresponds to an index of oceanic items, characters, terms, and stories. From Mobro 4000, a notorious waste-loaded barge, to Laura Dekker, the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the world on her own, the index juxtaposes the unlikely bedfellows of an urban ocean.

Purchase a copy of Wet Matter. 

This guest post is by Lara Mehling, Student ASLA, Master’s of Landscape Architecture candidate, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

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A runner crosses the Rosemont Bridge as the sun rises over downtown in Buffalo Bayou Park in Houston / The Dallas Morning News

Buffalo Bayou Park in Houston / The Dallas Morning News

What Dallas Can Learn From Houston’s Buffalo Bayou for the Trinity River ProjectThe Dallas Morning News, 3/1/15
“How do you transform the flood plain of a neglected urban waterway into a grand public park and metropolitan gateway? Dallas has been struggling with this challenge for more than 20 years, making incremental progress on the Trinity River corridor while debating whether to burden it with a toll road. Houston has spent that same time successfully remaking a 10-mile stretch of the Buffalo Bayou into precisely the kind of urban amenity Dallasites have long imagined for themselves.”

Stunningly Beautiful Private Gardens of Paris  – Fox News, 3/5/15
“Paris has many famous, beautiful public gardens and even more exquisite private ones tucked behind the walls of its private houses and on the terraces and rooftops of its apartment buildings. A selection of these come beautifully to light in In & Out of Paris: Gardens of Secret Delights, a new book written by Zahid Sardar and photographed by Marion Brenner.”

A Plan to Turn Melbourne’s Elizabeth Street into a Rainforest Canal WA Today, 3/7/15
“The man who turned Melbourne’s neglected and decrepit laneways into a globally renowned attraction has another radical idea to improve the city. His proposal: rip up Elizabeth Street, currently a pretty tired and uninspiring CBD thoroughfare, and incorporate and revitalize the hidden waterway under it that runs down to the Yarra River.”

Google Plan for Mountain View Campus Shuns Walls, Roofs, Reality The San Francisco Chronicle, 3/7/15
“Google’s proposal comes with a laudable list of proposed community and environmental benefits. The design team is earnest, with a strong contingent of local firms who know the terrain, such as landscape architect CMG and Sherwood Design Engineers.”

What the New Memorial Park Could Look Like The Houston Business Journal, 3/11/15
“The master plan for Memorial Park is complete, and, if approved, Houston’s largest park will get a major makeover. The project would potentially cost $200 million over the next two decades, Sarah Newbery, project manager for the Uptown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, told the Houston Business Journal.”

Q&A with Landscape Architect Martha SchwartzNewsweek, 3/11/15
“The profession has grown immensely. It is the fastest-growing design profession in the U.S. Many schools of landscape architecture have opened. The field is booming.”

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