Happy Birthday, Mr. Olmsted

Today marks the 185th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, the founder of American landscape architecture. The span of Olmsted’s work ranged from Central Park in New York City to the grounds of the U.S. Capitol to dozens of college campuses and local parks. Geek out at the National Park Service’s Olmsted Archives and explore his original drawings, papers, and historic objects online.

[oil painting of Olmsted by John Singer Sargent]

MN College Doubles Up on Green Roofs

Attention, Minnesotans! Do you like green roofs? What about ice cream and music? Well, tomorrow you can get your fill of all three as Macalester College in St. Paul dedicates its second green roof on their Kagin Commons building. The roof was constructed last fall and has been planted for the spring. The dedication is part of the college’s weekly “EnviroThursdays” events.

By the way, The Dirt would want to stay for the weekend and check out the Theater and Dance Department’s production of The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Now that’s a cool title for a play.

What Did You Do for Earth Day?

The Dirt
certainly hopes that your Earth Day weekend was lovely and that you got to contribute to an environmentally friendly activity, a green charity, or that you at least went outside!

Earth Day got its start in 1970 and has developed and grown in the last 30-plus years to be a global event. Groups of all sizes, from single Boy Scout troops to the members of the US Congress, pitch in each year to help clean up rivers, reclaim parks, and educate others on living a green lifestyle. However, not everyone is so happy with Earth Day; in a wide-ranging essay, World Changing‘s Alex Steffen and Sarah Rich write that this year’s Earth Day should be the last we ever have. Click through to read “Make This Earth Day Your Last!”

We’d love to hear what you did for Earth Day–let us know in the comments!

[photo of earth day planting by keylime]

Survey: Green Roof Industry Grows by 25% in 2006

Last week, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities announced the results of their industry survey on green roofs. The results show the amazing growth of and interest in green roofs.

From the announcement:

The Survey indicates a growth rate of more than 25% over 2005, representing more than 3 million square feet installed in 2006.  For intensive green roofs that typically incorporate larger plants, the growth rate was 110% in 2006.
Click through to the Green Roofs site where you can download a full report on the survey and the results.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Designs on the Landscape

Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer
featured a nice write up of Baldev Lamba, ASLA. Lamba discusses his blossoming career and the challenges of working with various types of clients. Most famously, Lamba designed the First Ladies’ Water Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

From the article:

Lamba, who began as an architect, is even designing a house in Elverson. He thought about quitting teaching to buy more time for projects, but decided against it.

“My whole day becomes a kaleidoscope of sensual experiences that keep me alive,” he said, then confessed, “I would just spend more time procrastinating.”

Click through for the whole story.

How Much Is a Tree-lined Street Worth?

New York magazine last month reported on the NYC Parks Department’s attempt to quantify just how much a tree growing in front of a house or apartment in the five boroughs is worth. The department counted 592,130 nonpark trees in the city, then broke down their worth using factors like energy cost savings, stormwater retention, and air quality improvement. Click through to see the final math (and if you live in NYC, plant a tree! You’ll be rich, I tell you, rich!).

[photo by celebdu]

The Great Climate Change Debate That Wasn’t

Now this article from the Washington Post is funny, no matter your political stripe:

Senator John Kerry and presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich held a debate yesterday on global warming. Senator Kerry was fully prepared to attack Gingrich’s supposed global warming skeptic stance, only to be completely surprised. With his first words at the podium, Gingrich conceded that global warming is real, is contributed to by humans, and must be dealt with actively.

From the article:
The warm and fuzzy Gingrich surprised Kerry, who jettisoned prepared remarks that accused the former speaker of “marching in lock step with the climate-change deniers.” Instead, Kerry found himself saying: “I’ve always enjoyed every dialogue he and I have ever had.” He added that “your statement is very, very important” and gushed: “I frankly appreciate the candor.”

The debate ended. They shook hands. Kerry put an arm around Gingrich. Gingrich put an arm around Kerry. For a brief but terrifying moment, they appeared to be on the verge of a hug.

[video: Akira Hakuta / Washington Post]

ASLA Annual Meeting to Feature Vice-President Al Gore

Wow! Guess who’s coming to ASLA’s Annual Meeting? Former Vice President Al Gore will be the closing keynote speaker for the 2007 Annual Meeting on October 8 in San Francisco.  He will present An Inconvenient Truth, the visually stunning multimedia presentation that inspires audiences to confront environmental issues in the world today.

The Society’s mission is to lead, educate, and participate in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments.  In 1992, ASLA presented then-Senator and soon-to-be Vice President Al Gore with its Olmsted Medal, the highest honor the Society may bestow upon an individual outside the profession of landscape architecture.

“It was only the third time the medal had ever been presented and this early honor turned out to be very prescient given Al Gore’s steadfast leadership, vision, and stewardship of the environment,” said Nancy C. Somerville, executive vice president and CEO of ASLA. “His speaking tour and documentary have educated millions on what we must do to protect our planet for ourselves and for generations to come.  Landscape architects are on the forefront of designing our built environment and protecting our natural resources and his presentation will provide a rallying point for the profession.”

The ASLA Annual Meeting is the largest annual gathering of landscape architecture professionals in the world and will be held October 6-9 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.  More than 7,000 attendees are expected to participate in over 80 educational sessions and to tour the 500-booth product EXPO.  Information on meeting registration is available here.


ASLA Announces 2007 Professional Awards

Drumroll, please!

ASLA has announced the recipients of our 2007 Professional Awards. A prestigious jury considered over 500 entries and selected 38 projects to receive awards. The awards will be presented on October 8 at the ASLA Annual Meeting in San Francisco at a ceremony and champagne reception sponsored by Landscape FormsThe Dirt won’t mention which project is his favorite, but he sure wouldn’t mind living in a few of the  properties featured in the Residential Design category. Click here to visit the Awards site to read all about the winners.


Discovery Communications to Start New Green Channel

The New York Times reports today that Discovery Communications, Inc. (the media giant behind more than 10 networks on cable and online) will be launching a new channel devoted to covering the green movement. The as-yet-unnamed channel will reach 50 million households, according to the article. It will replace the current Discovery Home channel.

So why is DCI moving into the green arena? Looks like they’re courting that other green–greenbacks. From the article:

In addition to satisfying the interests of viewers, [CEO David] Zaslav said that advertisers now have distinct green budgets in the same way that they have online budgets.The new channel will launch in 2008.