News: Colorado Becomes 49th State to Establish Licensure of Landscape Architects

Most excellent news from Colorado: Governor Bill Ritter has signed the Landscape Architects Professional Licensing Act into law, establishing licensure of landscape architects in Colorado.  In doing so, the Centennial State becomes the 49th state to regulate the profession. Julia Lent, ASLA’s director of government affairs, will have the full story in the next issue of LAND Online, which will be mailed out on Tuesday. The Governor’s office has the official press release (the licensure bill, SB107, is listed at the bottom of the release).

Perp 1: “So, What Are You in for?” Perp 2: “Graywater”

From today’s New York Times comes the story of home owners in California taking the law into their own hands. No, they aren’t becoming caped crusaders, but instead are building and maintaining their own illegal graywater recycling systems for their homes. One group of clandestine plumbers, calling themselves the “Graywater Guerrillas,” is trying to spread the word about DIY graywater systems. Why go underground? From the article:

“The [California plumbing] code is so overbuilt that I’m beginning to think it’s better to just have everyone do it bootleg,” said Steve Bilson, the founder of ReWater Systems, a company that has installed around 800 code-compliant gray water systems at a cost of about $7,000 each, and who worked as a consultant on California gray water legislation in the 1990s.

As a result, many homeowners have installed unpermitted, illegal plumbing, relying on techniques developed by covert researchers like the Greywater Guerrillas. (It is difficult to know how many, since these systems are not registered with any government or organization, but Ms. Allen said that based on her observations there are probably around 2,000 homes equipped with gray water systems, a few legal but most illegal, in the Bay Area alone.)

The Dirt knew that graywater systems were hot, but not this hot.

June’s House & Garden: Busting Out All Over

House & Garden magazine has outdone itself this month when it comes to promoting the good work of ASLA members. No fewer than four members are highlighted in the issue: Steven Koch, ASLA, for his work in the Pacific Northwest; Jon Piasecki, ASLA, for his New York State sculptures; Kate Orff, ASLA, for her ideas on urban reclamation; and Pamela Palmer, ALSA, for her California water-infused landscapes. Unfortunately, none of the articles are available online, so check the issue out in print. The photographs by Reuben Cox are particularly fine as well

“Memorial Garden? Is There a Type of Architect Who Does That?”

News today from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that architectural designer Rodney M. Cook Jr. has been chosen to head the project to build a memorial to Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams and their wives. The memorial will be close to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and take the shape of a “library in a garden.”

From the article:

The concept of a library in a garden stems in part from John Adams’ lifelong devotion to the writings of the Roman statesman and philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero.

“Cicero’s great idea of heaven was a library in a garden,” Benjamin Adams said.

Although the foundation has not formally chosen a site, the memorial likely will be on Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol and the White House.

Cook’s main responsibility

“will be to coordinate a competition among architects to come up with a concept that carries out the foundation’s ideas….” The Dirt will keep you up to date on when the competition opens, because we certainly know what type of architect should win this competition!

Architectural Digest on Douglas Reed, FASLA

Flipping through the glossy pages of the June issue of Architectural Digest, The Dirt has come across a great article about Douglas Reed, FASLA, and his old friend and college roommate Thad Hayes. When Reed and his partner wanted to build a weekend house in Massachusetts, he turned to Hayes for help with the design. AD has an excerpt from the article, with some of the photos, here. The discussion of how Reed’s love of sycamore trees informed the design and color palette of the house is unfortunately available only in print, but you do get Architectural Digest in the mail, don’t you?


Peter Walker, FASLA, Wins Cooper-Hewitt’s National Design Award

News today from the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York City. Peter Walker and Partners has been awarded the National Design Award in Landscape Architecture. The award is given “to an individual or firm for exceptional and exemplary work in urban planning or park and garden design.” The Cooper-Hewitt cites the excellence of Walker and Partners projects like Stanford University’s Center for Clinical Science Research; the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art in Japan; the Millennium Parklands in Sydney, Australia; and the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas.

The two finalists for the award are also ASLA members: James Corner’s Field Operations and Ken Smith, ASLA. The Cooper-Hewitt will also hold its second annual National Design Week this fall. More information about museum and its programs can be found at

[Photo: Courtesy of Peter Walker and Partners]

LEED Is Growing, and a Not-So-Gentle Scolding on Green

The San Diego Business Journal reports this morning that membership in the US Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) has increased tenfold over the last seven years. This explosive growth has been fueled by the burgeoning “green” movement across the country and around the world. Other interesting bits from the article:

  • LEED projects are in all 50 U.S. states and 24 countries.
  • Some 986 million square feet of commercial building space is registered or certified in the LEED program. Project types include new construction, existing buildings, commercial interiors, and core and shell — buildings where the owner doesn’t control the interior design. LEED certification for homes and neighborhood developments is now being studied.
  • The annual U.S. market in green building products and services was more than $7 billion in 2005, and is expected to increase to $12 billion in 2007.

On the other hand, the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Sunday Opinion page throws some cold water on “going green.” Columnist Jane Powell’s piece “Green Envy” reminds readers that true conservation is more than using the latest technology.  She rails against some of the green movement’s darlings, like CFL lightbulbs and triple-glazed windows. Shocking! The long piece is worth the read.

Update: Michael Van Valkenburg Associates, Inc., Wins Toronto Bid

Late yesterday afternoon came the word that the team headed by ASLA Fellow Michael Van Valkenburgh‘s firm has won the Toronto Lower Don Lands Design Competition. The Dirt covered the finalists back in February. More information and a large .pdf file on the winning “Port Lands Estuary” design is available on the Don Lands site. Christopher Hume from the Toronto Star also has a good article on the new design here.


ASLA Fellow Sees a New Phoenix and More

Last weekend’s Arizona Republic magazine profiled Christine Ten Eyck, FASLA, in a piece entitled “A Natural Designer.” Along with detailing several of Ten Eyck’s projects around Arizona, the article also allows her to discuss her vision for a new Phoenix, one wrapped in “ribbons of green.” From the article:

“You’re not going to draw people into downtown Phoenix with more paving, more buildings and more cars,” she says. “People want to be in a place where nature is integrated.”

And so, on a rendering she made up, is her idealized version of downtown Phoenix. This dreamscape includes narrowed streets, the extra room from deleted lanes giving way to desert-friendly plantings. These “ribbons of green” Ten Eyck so dearly wants to see in the city could easily be watered with the condensate from all of the new buildings going up in the area.

“There are thousands of gallons of pure water coming out of those air-conditioning systems every day,” she says. “This isn’t rocket science, but any time you talk about harvesting water, people get worried about things like footings or their pavement getting bumpy.”

Also, in her vision, these pedestrian-friendly ribbons of green would connect city blocks with each other, and there would be plazas with water elements and public works of art to enjoy along the way. Temporary tree farms would take over the many vacant, dirt-covered lots that now dot the downtown landscape. In fact, Ten Eyck would even like to see a code that would prohibit those sad, empty plots of land.

Click through for the entire interesting piece.

Metropolis: 2007 Next Generation Design Competition Winner

a publication that “examines contemporary life through design” (and that The Dirt looks forward to perusing each month), has recently announced the winner of its Next Generation design contest. The winning team, the San Francisco-based firm Civil Twilight, came up with a way for streetlights to dim and brighten at night as needed. The heart of the system is an ultra-sensitive photocell that measures ambient moonlight and light pollution levels. When one of these “lunar-resonant” streetlights needs to be on, it is, but when it’s bright enough outside at night the light would dim or turn off completely.

The only question would be “When is ‘bright enough’ bright enough?” Public safety folks may think it is never a good idea to turn off a streetlight at night. Still, I bet there are LAs out there who would love to design a streetscape with such smart lighting. A full rundown of the winning team and the runners-up will appear in the May issue of Metropolis.