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waste-music

Waste Music Festival / Title Magazine

According to Mariana Mogilevich and Curt Gambetta, Princeton University Mellon Initiative, “the production of waste and the production of space go hand in hand.” As landscape architects, architects, and urban designers remake our cities, waste is created too. Moving this waste shapes our urban landscape. Putting all this waste somewhere often means the creation of segregated urban wastelands.

As Mogilevich and Gambetta explain though, “despite waste’s centrality to the design and imagination of cities, it is today understood as a largely technical problem about the management of its disappearance.” On March 7 at Princeton University, they will assemble a diverse group to look the opportunities in spaces “designed as waste or wasted.”

Sessions will explore questions like: “What is a wasteland, and what role does design play in its definition and reclamation? What is the relationship between wasteland improvement and social and economic transformation?”

Speakers include landscape historians, architects, geographers, urban designers, anthropologists, and artists.

Along with the symposium, the team has put together a new exhibition called Tracing Waste, which looks at “artistic works that trace the movement of trash and sewage.” The exhibition runs from February 23 to March 13.

The symposium on March 7 is free and open to the public.

And here’s a symposium for landscape architects interested in cutting-edge modeling technologies: Simulating Natures at the University of Pennsylvania, March 19-20. The organizers ask: “how can we better engage the invisible biotic and abiotic interactions and flows that exist outside of human creation but can only be understood through our systems of representation?” Speakers include Bradley Cantrell, ASLA, Harvard University; James Corner, ASLA, Field Operations; and Alex Felson, ASLA, Yale University, among others.

designintelligence

Design Intelligence

DesignIntelligence recently announced its 2015 landscape architecture graduate and undergraduate program rankings. Once again, Louisiana State University came in at the top of undergraduate landscape architecture programs. And for the 11th year, Harvard University came in as the best graduate program in the annual survey conducted by DesignIntelligence on behalf of the Design Futures Council.

Detailed rankings are available in the 15th edition of America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools, which assesses program rankings and education trends in architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, and industrial design.

Respondents from nearly 1,400 “professional practice” organizations answered questions about how well prepared graduates are from different undergraduate and graduate programs. The number of respondents grew by 75 percent over last year, making the survey results even more credible.

Satisfaction with landscape architecture graduates among employers has been dropping the past few years. Some 71 percent said they “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the state of landscape architecture education in the U.S., down from 74 percent last year and 80 percent the year before.

Among employers, some 75 percent found that graduating students had an “adequate understanding” or “more than adequate understanding” of biology, biodiversity, and environmental degradation. Some 68 percent thought their firms benefited from the new ideas about sustainability that recent graduates brought with them, up from 60 percent last year.

This year, the top five emerging concerns by practitioners are:

    Sustainability / Climate Change (55 percent)
    Maintaining Design Quality (54 percent)
    Integrated Design (40 percent)
    Speed of Technological Change (33 percent)
    Urbanization (32 percent)

The set of concerns is virtually unchanged from last year, except speed of technological change is now a top concern.

DesignIntelligence asks us to only list the top five schools for each program. To see the top fifteen rankings for each category, purchase the report.

Bachelor of Landscape Architecture Degree Rankings:

1) Louisiana State University
2) Pennsylvania State University
3) Cornell University
4) California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
5) University of Georgia

Master of Landscape Architecture Degree Rankings:

1) Harvard University
2) University of Pennsylvania
3) Cornell University
4) University of California at Berkeley
5) Louisiana State University

An additional deans and chairs survey asked leaders of 42 landscape architecture academic programs about the issues they find significant. According to 80 percent of the professors surveyed, their biggest concern is climate change and sustainability, while another 68 percent said urbanization and 36 percent said globalization. This is unchanged from last year.

Among the biggest changes to curricula in the last 5 years: some 58 percent thought it was “more emphasis on sustainable design,” while 48 percent saw an increased focus on “community engagement.”

For the fourth year, DesignIntelligence surveyed 317 landscape architecture students to gauge their satisfaction with the programs covered. On average, just 58 percent thought their program was “excellent.” The greatest number of students thought their program was excellent at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by those at the University of Virginia and then Iowa State University.

To see the full responses from professors and students, purchase the report.

Check out the 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009 rankings.

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Bar codes are engraved in granite towers jutting up into the sky in Topher Delaney’s “Promised Land.” – Amy Osborne / The San Francisco Chronicle

PBS Series Explores ‘A New Wild’ Sustained, Instead of Wrecked, by PeopleThe New York Times, 2/4/15
“The series ends in New York Harbor with the story of Kate Orff, a landscape architect who’s been pursuing the restoration of the region’s oyster reefs as a buffer to storms, pollution filter and more. Now a $60 million grant will help establish an oyster reef off the Tottenville section of Staten Island.”

Winter’s Stark Landscape Lets You See Yard in a New Light – The Chicago Tribune, 2/5/15
“‘This is a great time to look at your landscape without its screen of leaves,’ says Susan Jacobson, landscape architect at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle. ‘You can really see it in a new light. You’re down to the basics, and you’re not distracted by flowers and other details.'”

Renovated “Tom Sawyer’s Play Island” in Hialeah Park UnveiledThe Miami Herald, 2/10/15
“Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah now boasts a half-million-dollar new playground area for kids to experience their own adventures, both in the air — on monkey-bars and swings — and on land. Nestled between strands of oak trees and pristine lakes, ‘Tom Sawyer’s Play Island’ is the largest playground within Miami-Dade County’s parks.”

Promise Fulfilled: Required Public Art Springs up on Mid-MarketThe San Francisco Chronicle, 2/11/15
“Unfenced last week after nearly a year of anticipation, a new pathway cuts a corner from Market Street through tall slabs of granite to 10th Street. Look up and they will see that there are granite monoliths with ledges to sit on. One ledge has the word ‘Promised’ etched into it in gold, the other has the word ‘Land.'”

Billionaire Barry Diller’s $130 Million Floating Park on the Hudson Is Actually Going to Get Built, and It Looks IncredibleBusiness Insider, 2/12/15
“Media mogul Barry Diller and his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, have committed to funding a floating public park and performance space on a pier in the Hudson River. Their pledge of over $113 million will be the single largest private donation to a public park in New York City history, according to Capital New York.”

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ASLA 2014 Professional Award of Excellence. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus, Seattle, Washington. Gustafson Guthrie Nichol / Timothy Hursley

Landscape architecture services in the U.S. are currently valued at around $2.3 billion per year, according to a new report from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The latest data, which covers up to 2012, shows that landscape architecture services account for 14 percent of total architectural services, which are estimated to be valued at $16 billion. In 2012, an estimated 21,000 landscape architects were employed, earning about $1.8 billion.

The report shows architecture and design industries as a whole were hard hit by the recession from 2007 to 2009. From 1998-2008, architectural and design services — which also includes a range of industrial, interior, and graphic design services — accounted for 0.25 to 0.27 of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). In 2009, that number dropped to 0.22 percent of GDP, “a current-dollar decline of $8.7 billion from value added in 2008.” And the decline just continued through the recessions to 2012, when the value added by architectural and design services hit a “15-year low of 0.19 percent.” As NEA has not yet presented any data from 2013 and 2014, it’s unclear whether architectural and design industries have come back to pre-recession levels. But ASLA’s Business Quarterly shows a dramatic uptick in business for landscape architects from 2008.

The NEA’s report doesn’t attempt to quantify the broader economic impact of landscape architecture. For example, it has been demonstrated that designed urban plazas and green spaces generate significant economic benefits: they raise nearby property values, which in turn leads to more tax revenue for governments, attract tourists, clean the air, and store stormwater. According to a report from the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence, Central Park in New York City is estimated to create 1,000 jobs and contribute $80 million in direct economic benefits as well as an additional $665 million in tax revenues due to the fact that it raises the value of nearby property by $17 billion. There’s also the monetary value of ecosystem services, the benefits of cleaner air and managed stormwater for Manhattan. The question remains: how can the broader economic impacts of landscape architecture, and really design in all its forms, be better measured in national data?

The only good news in the report is in 2012 the U.S. exported nearly $2.4 billion in architectural services, creating a trade surplus in this area of $1.5 billion. This surplus has only been increasing over the past few years, as more American landscape architects take on ambitious projects in the Middle East and Asia.

Jason Schupbach, NEA Director of Design, told us: “The headline to us from this data is the growing trade surplus in landscape architecture services. It says to us that American design is in demand across the world, and that demand is growing.”

Taxis submerged in nine feet of water during Hurricane Sandy / Alan Blumberg

Taxis submerged during Hurricane Sandy / AP Photo/Charles Sykes

Fifty percent of Americans live in coastal cities now threatened by extreme storms brought on by climate change, said AIA NY President Tomas Rossant at a recent event sponsored by ASLA NY and AIA NY at the Center for Architecture in New York City. Architects, landscape architects, urban designers, and engineers need to collaborate to save our coastal cities. As ASLA NY Chapter President Jennifer Nitzky, ASLA, argued, “effective resilience planning takes great collaboration.”

Kicking-off the event, Stevens Institute of Technology professor Alan Blumberg and urban designer and professor Alexandros Washburn, Affil. ASLA, showcased their work at the new Center for Coastal Resilience and Urban Excellence (CRUX) modeling interactions of “water on cities and cities on water.” Blumberg hopes these models — if well communicated to the public — can help us better prepare for the next Sandy.

Communicating what we know is vital. One of the main issues during Sandy was researchers could predict where water would enter urban locations, but had trouble communicating this information to the public in advance. In Hoboken, New Jersey, which thought it was protected from the Hudson River swells, water would ultimately enter from the south and north. In one dramatic example, taxi companies seeking to evacuate to drier ground moved from an area where water would rise three feet to an area that would ultimately be submerged in nine feet of water, information Blumberg says he could have told them.

Can we use new technologies to communicate all the data we have? What if we could check our Google Maps before a storm to see predicted conditions for a location and an overlay showing the range of water levels in street view?

Flood level predictions via Google Maps? / CRUX

Flood level predictions via Google Maps? / CRUX

Washburn described the hybrid fluid-solid modeling he and Blumberg have been working on at CRUX. To date, software for fluid modeling and solid architectural modeling have existed in separate worlds. At CRUX, they seek to create hybrid “surf and turf” modeling programs to understand “how water affects the city and how the city affects the water, as well as ways to bring in data whether from fluid hydrological systems or topography and buildings to make the models comprehensible, accurate, and plausible.”

CRUX_Surf-and-Turf-Software

“Surf and Turf” hybrid models would integrate fluid modeling software with architectural software / Alex Washburn / CRUX

Such models take grid-based software for fluid modeling and attempting to create fully three-dimensional grids. But such modeling needs to focus on specific locations since creating such grids requires tremendous computational power. Researchers need to understand where the hot spots are in the first place, then direct modeling efforts there. But Washburn believes things are looking bright with this technology: “Ten years ago, we couldn’t even come close to modeling of this type. Now, we are at the edge of being able to define the problem and finding the solution.”

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Grid mesh models are used to simulate fluid dynamics / CRUX

Urban designer Walter Meyer, ASLA, founding partner, Local Office Landscape Architecture, presented several projects seeking to implement innovative and effective approaches to resilient coastal design. Meyer described the process of what Local Office calls “forensic ecology” to assess existing “nature-based features.”

Meyer showed how wetlands could be used for “wave storage” and absorb water and energy from incoming waves.  The type of wetland, however, is critical. Herbaceous wetlands, in one study, showed only a 13 percent effect on wave energy from storm surge, whereas woody wetlands, such as afforested mangroves in India, had a 50 percent effect on surge attenuation.

Meyer also showed how sand dunes are really “root” dunes and suggested ways to “horizontally turbo-charge” these dune structures to get similar functionality in narrow spaces such as the Rockaways.

Local-Office_Forensic-Ecology

“Forensic ecology” applied to several situations / Local Office

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Planted “double” dunes “horizontally turbocharge” ecological functionality in narrow spaces / Local Office

Local-Office_Dune-Plantings

Proposed planted coastal dunes in the Rockaways / Local Office

Beyond wetlands and dunes, manipulating underwater topography could also have an impact on coastal resilience. Meyer used forensic ecology to explain how “Hudson Canyon,” a gully in the sea floor just off the Rockaways in New York, correlated to hot spots of wave energy that caused further erosion. Such findings suggest that topography could be used to focus wave energy on particular hot spots of heavy impact on the coastline where more intensive infrastructure might be built to cost-effectively mitigate storm damage.

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Wave energy channeled by the “Hudson Canyon” at the Rockaways / Local Office

How can projects that use these novel approaches take root? Anthony Ciorra, US Army Corps of Engineers NY district chief of coastal restoration and special projects branch, said the Army Corps’ has its hands tied to a great extent as it awaits funding approvals and marching orders from Congress, but there has been a shift in culture there in recent years. Ongoing studies are exploring more sustainable and adaptable solutions, and the Corps is trying to integrate resiliency thinking into its projects. That said, for the Army Corps financial feasibility is primary and “recreation is secondary . . . any project must first show that risk reduction choices equal a cost benefit.”

The best approach, agreed on in theory by all presenters, is to find ways to collaborate regionally, across state lines and beyond election cycles. “Nothing happens in the city without aligning money, politics, and design,” said Washburn, recalling something he learned while working with US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynahan. “And if you can’t hold them together through an election cycle, it falls apart.”

Washburn added that “nothing will help speed our preparation for the next storm more than our ability to make decisions better at the federal and state level and do something that America as a nation was not set up to do, which is to have politicians work regionally.”

Yoshi Silverstein, Associate ASLA, is founder and lead designer-educator at Mitsui Design, focusing on landscape experience and connection to place. He was the ASLA summer 2014 communications intern.

rebuild

Public viewing of Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge: A Comprehensive Strategy for Hoboken, Rebuild by Design Competition / OMA with Royal HaskoningDHV; Balmori Associates; and HR&A Advisors

Architectural Record and the Van Alen Institute have created a new survey meant to mine the design world’s complex feelings about competitions. The survey, which takes just about 10 minutes to complete, is sure to collect some fascinating data on what motivates designers to enter competitions, how they would like to see the format improved, and what they have gained or lost from participating. The sponsors say the “survey results will help catalyze the development of new models for this highly charged” practice.

In one section, the survey aims to uncover just how truly interdisciplinary those interdisciplinary teams are in these competitions. There are questions like: “How frequently are you required to work with other design professions (e.g. architecture, landscape architecture, planning, etc.) in the design competitions  you have entered? How frequently are you required to work with other non-design professions (e.g. finance, ecology, social sciences, etc.) in the design competitions you have entered? What professions outside of design would you like to work with on a competition?”

Other interesting questions ask respondents to think more broadly about the role competitions play in focusing our attention on critical issues. “What do you think has been the most interesting or influential design competitions of the last decade and why? What sites or issues do you think future competitions should address?”

The survey doesn’t address student design competitions explicitly.

Results will be presented at a conference organized by the Van Alen Institute and Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design on April 23-24 and also be made available online.

A few lucky random respondents will receive prizes like an iPad Mini, Bose QuietComfort noise-cancelling headphones, a Nespresso Vertuoline espresso maker, and a $200 gift card to MoMA Design Store.

Complete the survey before March 2.

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Nus de la Trinitat Barcelona, Spain / Battle i Roig

Enric Batlle, founding principal of Barcelona-based Batlle i Roig, believes landscape architects should not be afraid of to use the term “garden.” Early in his career Batlle never used the word to describe his projects. He called them parks because he felt it elevated their status. But Batlle has embraced the notion of the garden, titling his book and recent lecture at the University of Virginia, “The Gardens of the Metropolis.” The title is intriguing because it connects two scales: the intimate garden and the immense metropolis.

Batlle showed us a map of the edges between Barcelona’s built environment and open spaces. His projects are bridges that connect the two. He presented a few examples of his work in Barcelona:

Trinitat Park (see image above) occupies an inaccessible location common to many major cities: the middle of a highway interchange. These spaces left over from large-scale infrastructure projects are almost uniformly forgotten. Here, his firm used rows of trees, grade changes, and a large circular “mountain” to sonically and visually shield the park from surrounding traffic.

The park acts as a bridge, allowing urban residents to access and enjoy previously inaccessible spaces. These kinds of bridges are increasingly necessary in growing cities searching for novel public spaces.

Batlle i Roig also worked on a landfill restoration project in El Garraf National Park completed in 2010 and located more than 10 miles from the center of Barcelona. Battle remains emphatic that the Garraf landfill reclamation project is in fact “urban public space” despite its distance from the city. It’s urban because the park is filled with more than 40 years of Barcelona’s waste. “What could be more urban than that?,” he asked.

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Garraf Waste Landfill, Begues, Spain / Battle i Roig

The space is public because a path switchbacks down immense terraces and eventually wanders into the city itself. The path defines the landfill as a public space, creating a sense of both accessibility and responsibility for the visitors confronted with the magnitude of urban waste production and management.

The Garraf Landfill Project demonstrates the radical nature of Batlle’s theory of the garden’s role in the contemporary metropolis. To garden is to cultivate and tend. By treating a landfill as a garden, Battle expands the traditional definitions of the term. Are landfills, highway interchanges, and other forgotten spaces that support the metropolis all potentially gardens?

This guest post is by Luke Harris, Master’s of Landscape Architecture candidate, University of Virginia.

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Schuylkill River Dog Park / FSRP.org

“Many people think parks are easy, but parks are one of the hardest things for governments to do because of the physical and human aspects,” explained Peter Harnik, Hon. ASLA, director of The Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence, while introducing a panel of experts at the New Partners for Smart Growth conference in Baltimore. The complex undertaking of how to best to create and maintain parks — for both governments and non-profits — is a thread that connected all speakers.

Mark A. Focht, FASLA, first deputy commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and former president of ASLA, gave an overview of the amazing progress made in Philadelphia’s expansive park system over the past few years. Some 80 percent of the city’s residents are already meeting Mayor Michael Nutter’s “goal of everyone being within a ten-minute walk away from a park.” Examples of recently built green spaces and amenities that help the parks department to reach all city residents include Paine’s Park, a skate park and public space; the Schuylkill River Dog Park; and the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk.

As part of Philadelphia’s innovative, 25-year Green City Clean Waters plan, the parks department has also “made strategic investments to stabilize, improve, and green existing recreation centers and playgrounds.” It also is implementing green infrastructure for innovative stormwater management in existing neighborhood parks and bringing “high-quality amenities” like trail systems to communities.

Baltimore residents Stephanie Murdock and Jennifer Robinson described how non-profits — not the city government — are leading a resurgence in Baltimore’s parks, helping to make the city more livable. Murdock, the president of Skatepark of Baltimore, talked about her non-profit’s ten-year journey to build a public, concrete, destination skatepark in Baltimore. The first phase – a 5,000 square-feet concrete bowl — was completed last May in Roosevelt Park, a late-nineteenth century park in the Hampden neighborhood.

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Skatepark of Baltimore / Explore Baltimore County

“For a young person in Baltimore to have a place where they can be free, that’s huge,” said Murdock. She told the audience the skatepark will soon add more “shade, seating, walkways, and restrooms” so that all members of the community can enjoy the space.

Robinson, the director of Friends of Patterson Park, another park in southeast Baltimore, said her non-profit’s efforts showed her that “parks become very personal for the people who use them.” Her non-profit is transforming the once-neglected Patterson Park, an Olmsted-designed space, into the city’s “best backyard.”

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Patterson Park / Patterson Park

The group’s involvement began with the renovation of the park’s historic pagoda, which had fallen into disrepair. Today, the group ensures the park remains “a green space for all sorts of users” through community events and programs. The group is now “looking at a formal conservancy model that will elevate the friends’ role in management of the park.”

At the New Partners for Smart Growth conference in Baltimore, a panel of experts called for using green infrastructure to make communities “climate smart,” which can also boost their resilience to natural disasters.

According to Breece Robertson, the Trust for Public Land’s geographic information systems (GIS) director, climate-smart cities use green infrastructure in four ways (see a brief video above). They create “safe, interconnected opportunities to walk or bike; cool down the city by planting trees and creating parks; absorb stormwater to save energy and recharge aquifers; and protect cities through green shorelines.”

In a pilot study with New York City government, Columbia University, and Drexel University on how to use green infrastructure to protect New York City’s waterfront, the team created a GIS data tool to model priorities. According to Robertson, the models found that “green buffers really do improve resilience.”

Pete Wiley, an economist with the NOAA’s office for coastal management, spoke about a post-Hurricane Sandy assessment of the restoration of living shorelines in New York and New Jersey. According to Wiley, one of the challenges is communities and policymakers “think about restoring what was” because they only regard a “narrow range of benefits based on a specific issue.”

Instead, policymakers must “consider the full range of the benefits for all restoration options.” For instance, more resilient coastal designs that apply green infrastructure can provide a range of benefits, including “recreation, carbon sequestration, storm surge protection, and wildlife habitats.”

Hilarie Sorensen, an educator with Minnesota Sea Grant, described how Duluth, Minnesota is assessing how to use green infrastructure in the wake of a massive storm. Th city, which is located in the Great Lakes Basin, suffered from an estimated $100 million in damages after a catastrophic flash flood hit the region in 2012. The organization selected a 4,400-acre site called Chester Creek for an economic assessment of using a green infrastructure approach, because “it had sustained the most damage from the flood and discharged into Lake Superior.”

A cost-benefit analysis explored the use of green infrastructure to reach 76-acre-feet of water storage, with the goal of a 20 percent reduction in peak discharge for a 100-year storm event. The researchers walked through green infrastructure options and selected the “most viable” during meetings with the local NOAA team. They then worked with the local planning department to “preserve existing green spaces and wetlands.” They “calculated the square footage of roofs” and identified potential “green or blue roofs;” they also examined “tax-forfeited properties to preserve parcels of land.” The group received a $250,000 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant in 2014 to fund restoration projects that also support green infrastructure.

A park visitor is dwarfed by the 30-foot-tall Garden Mount, a focal point of the McGovern Centennial Gardens in Hermann Park – Gary Coronado / The Houston Chronicle

Yoko Ono and Project 120 Collaborate to Reimagine Chicago’s Jackson ParkArch Daily, 1/16/15
“Chicago’s Jackson Park is expected to see some big changes in the coming years. Nonprofit organization Project 120 is working to revitalize the park, restoring many of the design aspects implemented by its landscape architect, the famous Frederick Law Olmsted.”

McGovern Centennial Gardens a Sensory Experience – The Houston Chronicle, 1/16/14
“During a sneak preview last year, I was struck by the views in Hermann Park’s McGovern Centennial Gardens. As the designers intended, I immediately focused on the strong axis that surges from the parking lot path through the shimmering gateway along the expansive Centennial Green to an unexpected sight – the 30-foot Garden Mount.”

Emanuel to Unveil Ordinance Transferring Parkland for Obama LibraryThe Chicago Tribune, 1/21/14
“The mayor plans to assemble a group of community leaders and open space advocates to identify potential land in the city to be converted to green space, as well as look for opportunities to reinvest in and restore the parks designed by noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.”

Palo Alto Seeking Best Bridge Brainpower With Design ContestThe San Francisco Gate, 1/21/15
“So it’s no surprise that a proposed span for bicyclists and pedestrians in Palo Alto — the self-styled ‘heart of Silicon Valley’ — is the subject of a design competition with guidelines that emphasize ecological restoration and ‘the city’s commitment to innovation’ as well as the prosaic need to get from point A to point B.”

Revamped Minneapolis Sculpture Park Adds Some InformalityThe Star Tribune, 1/27/14
“A citizen group that’s advising the $10 million revamping of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is opting toward crossing its 16th-century formality with 21st-century sustainability. Reinforcing the formality of the garden’s south end while leaving the garden’s signature Spoonbridge and Cherry where it is.”

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