ASLA Announces 2017 Student Awards

ASLA 2017 Student General Design Award of Excellence. Invisible Works: A public introduction to the dynamic life of wastewater treatment. Bridget Ayers Looby, Associate ASLA | Faculty Advisors: Matthew Tucker; Joseph Favour, ASLA; Baline Brownell, University of Minnesota / Bridget Ayers Looby

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has announced the 28 winners of the 2017 Student Awards. Selected from 295 entries representing 52 schools, the awards honor the top work of landscape architecture students in the U.S. and around the world.

The winners will receive their awards at the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Los Angeles on Monday, October 23, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The September issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM) features the winning projects and is available for free viewing.

The following is a complete list of 2017 student award winners:

General Design Category

Award of Excellence

Invisible Works: A Public Introduction to the Dynamic Life of Wastewater Treatment (see image above)
by Bridget Ayers Looby, Associate ASLA, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota

Honor Awards

Weaving the Waterfront
by a graduate team at Cornell University

Milan Traversing
by Zhiqiang Zeng, Student ASLA, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania

Concrete Nurse Logs: Spawning Biodiversity from Ballard’s Century-Old Locks
by Hillary Pritchett, Associate ASLA, a graduate student at the University of Washington

Creating Dynamic Hybrid: Towards Landscape Innovation in a Smart City
by Fang Wei, Student Affiliate ASLA, a graduate student at Tsinghua University

Create a Walkable History: Editing the Historical Percorsi of Pienza
by Zhengneng Chen, Student ASLA, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania

The Turning Point: A Focused Design Study for the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York
by Christopher O. Anderson, Student ASLA, a graduate student at State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF)

Residential Design Category

Honor Award

Micro-infrastructure as Community Preservation: Kampung Baru
by a team of graduate students at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Analysis and Planning Category

Award of Excellence

ASLA 2017 Student Analysis and Planning Award of Excellence. Water and the Agricultural Landscape of Illinois. Team: Jacqueline Carmona, Student ASLA; Maria Esker, Student ASLA; Layne Knoche, Student ASLA; Carmeron Letterly, Student ASLA; April Pitts, Student ASLA; Cesar Rojas-Campos, Student ASLA; Zi Hao Song, Student ASLA; Yuxi Wang, Student ASLA; Xiaodong Yang, Student ASLA; Dongqi Zhang, Student ASLA; Nathan Burke, Student ASLA; Yizhen Ding, Student ASLA | Faculty Advisor: Kathrine Kraszewska. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Water and the Agricultural Landscape of Illinois
by an undergraduate student team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Honor Awards

Desert River Water Conservation
by Zhuofan Wan, Student Affiliate ASLA, a graduate student at the University of Toronto

Disaster Autopsy Model
by an undergraduate student team at the Louisiana State University

Climate Change Armor
by Zixu Qiao, Student ASLA, a graduate student at Texas A&M University

Reviving the 30 Meters
by Tianjiao Yan, Student ASLA, a graduate student at the University of Toronto

Landscape in Evolution: Creating a Resilient Nomadic Landscape from Bottom Up in Hulunbuir
by a team of graduate students from Beijing Forestry University

Forests on the Edge: Plant-Based Economies Driving Ecological Renewal in Haiti
by Christine Facella, Student ASLA, a graduate student at City College

Communications Category

Award of Excellence

ASLA 2017 Student Communications Award of Excellence. HydroLIT: Southeast Tennessee Water Quality Playbook. Southeast Region, TN, USA | Team: Lindsey Bradley, Student ASLA; Erica Phannamvong, Student ASLA; Kyra Wu, Student ASLA; Sarah Newton, Student ASLA | Faculty Advisor: Bradford Collett, ASLA. University of Tennessee / Lindsey Bradley, Erica Phannamvong

HydroLIT: Southeast Tennessee Water Quality Playbook
by a team of graduate students from the University of Tennessee

Honor Awards

Agro-pelago (Foodscapes for the Future)
by Jaclyn Kaloczi, Student ASLA, a graduate student at the University of British Columbia

Urban Landscape Metrics: Re-imagining the Class Field Trip in New York City’s Great Parks
by Quinn Pullen, Associate ASLA, a graduate student at the Pennsylvania State University

Tactile MapTile: Working Towards Inclusive Cartography
by Jessica Hamilton, Student ASLA, a graduate student at the University of Washington

Research Category

Honor Award

Fairy Tales to Forest
by Amy Taylor, Student ASLA, a graduate student at Ohio State University

Student Collaboration Category

Award of Excellence

ASLA 2017 Professional Student Collaboration Award of Excellence. RISE, a coastal observation platform. Goose Island State Park, TX, USA | Team: Hannah Ivancie; Neive Tierney, Student ASLA; Olakunle Oni; Sebastian Rojas; Max Mahaffey; Qianhui Miao, Student ASLA; Michelle Sifre; Sara Bensalem; Eric Alexander; Mitch Flora; Josh Leger; Hannah Frossard; James Holliday | Client: Goose Island State Park; Texas Parks & Wildlife Department | Faculty Advisor: Coleman Coker. The University of Texas at Austin

RISE, a Coastal Observation Platform
by a team of graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin

Honor Awards

The White House Kitchen Garden
by a team of graduate students at the University of Virginia

Follow the Water: Rain Garden as Diagram
by a team of graduate students at Mississippi State University

Community Service Category

Award of Excellence

ASLA 2017 Professional Community Service Award of Excellence. Student Ridge Lane, San Francisco, California. Nahal Sohbati | Faculty Advisors: Heather Clendenin, Affiliate ASLA; Mary Muszynski, ASLA; Wright Yang, Academy of Art University / Eric Arneson

Ridge Lane
by Nahal Sohbati, Student Affiliate ASLA, a graduate student at the Academy of Art University

Honor Awards

Earth and Sky Garden: A Therapeutic Garden for the Puget Sound Veteran’s Affairs Hospital
by a team of graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Washington

An Outdoor Learning Environment for and with a Primary School Community in Bangladesh
by Matluba Khan, Student Affiliate ASLA, a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh

The student awards jury included:

  • Barbara Swift, FASLA, Chair, Swift Company llc, Seattle
  • Michael Albert, ASLA, Design Workshop, Aspen, Colorado
  • Meg Calkins, FASLA, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana
  • Mark Focht, FASLA, New York City Parks & Recreation, New York
  • Robert Page, FASLA, Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation, Boston
  • James Richards, FASLA, Townscape Inc., Fort Worth, Texas
  • Roberto Rovira, ASLA, Florida International University, Studio Roberto Rovira, Miami
  • Meghan Stromberg, American Planning Association, Chicago
  • Mercedes Ward, ASLA, New York City Parks, Flushing, New York

New Guide: Smart, Sustainable Materials at Home

The landscape architect mined elements from the cannery structure, including abandoned machinery, for repurposing in the new gardens. The recycled tumbled glass riverbed in the Dining Room Court, and stone columns in the Lew Hing Garden add to the historic character. Hand crafted site furnishings made from FSC-certified wood, concrete, steel, and glass were designed by the landscape architect and crafted by Miller Company Landscape Architects’ in-house installation team. ASLA 2010 Professional Residential Design Honor Award. Pacific Cannery Lofts / Miller Company Landscape Architects.

New and non-recyclable materials used in homes and landscapes are often not designed to be recycled. These materials can consume enormous amounts of resources to produce and distribute and create additional waste when they are demolished. Waste materials create waste landscapes: landfills, massive incinerator systems, and multi-square-mile floating plastic garbage islands in the world’s oceans.

ASLA has created a new guide to using low-impact materials at home, which contains research, projects, and resources on how to better source materials for residential landscapes. Developed for homeowners and landscape architects and designers alike, the guide is designed to help spread more sustainable and resilient practices.

To avoid sending useful materials to landfills and cut down on materials that release toxic substances, The Sustainable SITES Initiative™ (SITES®) recommends reusing or recycling existing materials.

Homeowners can also specify local materials to support local economies and cut down on the energy use from the transportation of materials.

But beyond reused, recycled, or local materials, there are other important ways to reduce the impact of materials on our health and environments.

Sustainable residential landscape design can increase the health of environment through the use of innovative low-impact materials that are permeable and reflective (high albedo).

Permeable materials allow water to infiltrate and recharge aquifers, instead of being sent to combined stormwater and sewer systems.

Reflective, “cool,” or white materials help reduce air temperatures, particularly in cities dealing with the challenges of the urban heat island effect, and energy costs by minimizing the use of air conditioning to cool buildings.

There are also more sustainable wood and concrete options out there that minimize consumption of newer materials or extend the life of existing materials.

SITES recommends building with certified, sustainably-harvested woods; recycled woods; and recycled plastic or composite lumber to preserve forests, which are critical to sequestering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

To avoid sending useful materials to the landfill, conserve natural resources, and reduce a project’s carbon footprint, SITES also recommends landscape architects source sustainable concrete from manufacturers using supplementary cementing materials, like fly ash – a byproduct of coal-fired power plants. Landscape architects should reuse concrete from structures on the existing site, like crushed concrete as an aggregate base. Concrete that incorporates recycled materials, like crushed glass or wood chips, are a more sustainable and use less cement than traditional pavers.

Used in both landscapes and buildings, low-impact materials can reduce GHG emissions and create a healthier environment.

Local governments can partner with non-profit organizations and landscape architects and designers to increase public awareness about why it’s important to use low-impact materials.

Explore sections of the guide:

Permeable Surfaces
Reflective Materials
Sustainable Woods
Sustainable Concrete

A Fun Plaza Rooted in Ancient Japanese Forms

Burial mounds from 1,500 years ago seem like an unlikely inspiration for CoFuFun, a contemporary plaza and playground, but Japanese designers with Nendo found a way to translate the spiral forms of an ancient Kofun into a place that encourages joyful exploration in Tenri, a small city in Nara prefecture.

CoFuFun / © Takumi Ota

The 6,000-square-meter (64,000-square-feet) plaza next to a train station includes a meeting space, events stage, playground, information kiosk, and cafe and shops. According to Nendo, which outlined their project in ArchDaily, the goal is to “encourage community revitalization” by creating a hub for both tourists visiting and locals commuting.

CoFuFun / © Takumi Ota

Tenri has a number of ancient Kofun, which are “beautiful and unmistakable, but blend into the spaces of everyday life in the city.”

An ancient Kofun / Daily Glimpses of Japan

Nendo placed Kofun-inspired forms throughout the plaza landscape, which is itself modeled after the Nara basin in which Tenri sits, a space surrounded by mountains. Here, the Kofun are bright-white, a color that symbolizes purity and truth, but is also associated with mourning.

CoFuFun / © Takumi Ota

Kofun are key-shaped mounds with levels, like the ancient zigurrats of Mesopotamia or the step pyramids of the Maya. Using the terraced Kofun as a model, Nendo used the forms to create stairs, benches, fences, roofs, and shelves.

The designers ingeniously incorporate activities into the Kofun forms: one convex center enables kids to run around in circles until they are dizzy while protected by a fence; one provides the foundation for a giant trampoline; and the interior of another hosts the cafe and shop.

CoFuFun / © Takumi Ota
CoFuFun / © Takumi Ota
CoFuFun / © Takumi Ota

The plaza creates a sense of flow for visitors who can move seamlessly from one use to another. This is because it’s “an ‘ambiguous’ space that’s a cafe, playground, and massive piece of furniture all at once.”

The plaza name — CoFuFun — incorporates “fufun,” which in Japanese means “happy, unconscious humming.” Co-” refers to cooperation and community. The name works in both Japanese and English. Hopefully, they can find a way to keep the white forms bright.

See more images.

New Guide: Ecological Landscapes at Home

Over the four-year construction period, the addition of hundreds of mature trees and countless flowering shrubs, perennials, and groundcovers, brought in a flood of nesting birds and insect pollinators. ASLA 2016 Professional Residential Design Honor Award. Kronish House, Beverly Hills, California / Marmol Radziner.

Plants are central to a functioning global ecosystem. Plants oxygenate the atmosphere and reduce atmospheric pollutants. Ecological restoration in both developed and developing countries is a primary strategy for mitigating the impacts of climate change. Native plant communities are not only key to the global ecosystem, but also crucial to environmental and human health at the residential and neighborhood scales.

Urbanization has fragmented what were ecologically-productive landscapes. According to the Audubon Society, the continental U.S. has lost 150 million acres of wildlife habitat and farmland to urban sprawl over the last century. Sustainable residential landscape architecture practices can help build a network of productive landscapes. Native plants can be used to regenerate sustainable plant communities and reconnect fragmented ecosystems in residential areas. Creating a network of productive ecosystems expands wildlife habitat areas and boosts human health and well-being by bringing nature’s benefits right to residential yards and outdoor spaces.

ASLA has created a new guide to applying ecological design at home, which contains research, projects, and resources on residential landscapes. Developed for homeowners and landscape architects and designers alike, the guide is designed to help spread more sustainable and resilient practices.

Homeowners can use native plants to reduce the use of excess water, energy, and chemical fertilizers and pesticides that damage natural ecosystems, as well as support pollinators.

Residential landscapes can also be used to grow food at home and in communities. When growing food, gardeners should apply principles of ecological design and permacultural practices to ensure food production and garden systems are integrated with the natural environment and avoid contaminating local watersheds with runoff. Homeowners and communities can create composting systems for efficient waste removal and to increase organic matter in the soil.

And plants can also be used inside the home to improve air quality and human productivity.

Homeowners should be mindful of the quality of the soil on their property. Healthy soils are essential to plant and tree health and enable the infiltration of stormwater into the ground. Years of development and construction can lead to layers of compacted soil that restrict movement of water and air, and limit root growth. Homeowners can achieve credit from The Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES®) by using techniques like subsoiling and adding soil amendments to help rebuild ecological function in soils.

Landscape architects partner with communities, non-profit organizations, and local governments to increase public awareness about using sustainable residential design practices that yield productive plant systems and reduce the negative ecological impacts of typical residential development.

Explore sections of the guide:

Native Plants
Ecological Gardens and Permaculture
Supporting Pollinators
Residential Composting
Indoor Plants

President Trump Continues to Bulldoze Environmental Regulations

President Trump holds up his overview of a federal infrastructure review process / Quartz

Amid the global outcry over President Trump’s remarks that sought to legitimize white supremacists at a press conference earlier this week, we almost missed the fact that Trump rolled-back Obama administration rules to improve the resilience of federally-financed buildings and infrastructure in flood-prone areas and to update important flood risk management standards. In 2015, President Obama required new infrastructure to be built two feet above the 100 year flood plain and three feet for critical infrastructure like hospitals and evacuation centers, and also updated standards that guide flood insurance rates. Beyond undoing these regulatory actions, President Trump announced a new effort to streamline environmental review processes for new infrastructure projects.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates flooding has caused some $260 billion in damages from 1980 to 2013. And in the past decade, flood insurance claims now total $1.6 billion annually, putting further pressure on the already deeply-indebted flood insurance system. As climate change increases both inland flooding and coastal sea level rise, scientists expect flooding to only worsen.

To address increased risks, the Obama administration required federally-financed projects to factor in climate change projections. Now, with a stroke of a pen, the Trump administration has not only put communities at greater risk, but likely reduced the lifespan of infrastructure in flood-prone areas, and their financial efficiency and effectiveness as well.

Former FEMA official Rafael Lemaitre, told Reuters the Obama-era rules were “‘the most significant action taken in a generation’ to safeguard U.S. infrastructure. ‘Eliminating this requirement is self-defeating; we can either build smarter now, or put taxpayers on the hook to pay exponentially more when it floods. And it will.'”

And in New Jersey, which was hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, there was disbelief. John Miller, New Jersey Association of Flood Plain Management, told NJ Spotlight the Obama-era rule was a “solid idea.” He added: “We are going to have worsening conditions. We have to build to future conditions.’’

According to Reuters, both the American Petroleum Institute and the National Association of Home Builders praised the move to roll-back the flood risk management standards to the earlier version established by President Carter in 1977, arguing that the Obama-era rules on managing flood risk increased housing costs.

The Obama administration stated that the new standards would only raise housing costs by 0.25 to 1.25 percent, but Republican Congressman Ralph Abraham, from Louisiana, who sponsored legislation that would have blocked Obama’s flood standard, told The New York Times the new rules “would have increased the cost of a new home in Louisiana by 25 percent to 30 percent, because most of the state would be put in a federal flood plain.” The overall effect, however, may be to increase risk, as communities continue to live and build in flood plains not be characterized as risky, and then fail to qualify for federal assistance when disaster invariably strikes. 

In a new fact sheet on infrastructure that lays of the Trump administration’s vision for investing $200 billion in the 2018 budget, Trump administration officials took aim at what they describe as onerous environmental review processes for infrastructure projects. “The environmental review and permitting process in the United States is fragmented, inefficient, and unpredictable. Existing statutes have important and laudable objectives, but the lack of cohesiveness in their execution make the delivery of infrastructure projects more costly, unpredictable, and time-consuming, all while adding little environmental protection.”

At his shocking press conference, Trump said a complex highway project can take up to 17 years (but didn’t cite an actual example of this). He called the current approach a “disgrace.” His goal is to reduce environmental reviews for a project to two years and centralize management through a “one Federal review” in which one government agency takes the lead on a project.

Trump said: “It’s going to be quick. It’s going to be a very streamlined process. And by the way, if [a project] doesn’t meet environmental safeguards, we’re not going to approve it — very simple.”

According to BloombergPolitics, the new order “allows the Office of Management and Budget to establish goals for environmental reviews and permitting of infrastructure projects and then track their progress — with automatic elevation to senior agency officials when deadlines are missed or extended. The order calls for tracking the time and costs of conducting environmental reviews and making permitting decisions, and it allows the budget office to consider penalties for agencies that fail to meet established milestones.”

Environmental groups were uniformly opposed to the effort to streamline federal environmental reviews, arguing that a two-year time frame may result in more wasteful and risky projects with damaging environmental impacts.

Republicans argue that excessive regulations are holding up infrastructure projects, while Democrats may agree that some regulations could be streamlined, but, really, the primary issue is there isn’t enough public investment. ABC News reports that a Treasury Department report released earlier this year found “a lack of public funding is by far the most common factor hindering completion” of infrastructure projects.

In other federal environmental and climate news: Scientists from 13 federal agencies released a draft of the National Climate Assessment, which Congress mandates be updated every four years. The New York Times writes: “The study examines every corner of the United States and finds that all of it was touched by climate change. The average annual temperature in the United States will continue to rise, the authors write, making recent record-setting years ‘relatively common’ in the near future.” Perhaps the best that can be hoped for with this administration is the draft review process will be allowed to continue on auto-pilot without political interference.

At the department of interior, The Nation writes, a purge of climate experts is underway, while the word “climate” is being scrubbed from program titles.

And at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): the agency is now implementing national ambient air quality standards, rules created by the Obama administration in 2015, after 15 states and a number of leading organizations sued. Still, there are other worrying developments: Administrator Scott Pruitt’s agenda to reduce regulations and cut staff is largely happening in secret. But that may change: the California attorney general just sued the EPA in attempt to force them to explain how Pruitt will handle conflicts of interest with the fossil fuel industry.

New Guide: How to Improve Water Management at Home

This project implements the first graywater reuse system for residential application in the region. It is intended to reduce water consumption by approximately 40 percent. ASLA 2010 Professional Residential Design Honor Award. Catalina Foothills, Tucson, Arizona / D. A. Horchner / Design Workshop, Inc.

Any residential landscape can be designed to both conserve water in times of water scarcity and reduce flooding during storms. Homeowners can use green infrastructure approaches, like bioswales and bioretention ponds; rain gardens; rain water harvesting; water recycling; and drip irrigation to more sustainably manage water.

ASLA has created a new online resource guide on improving water efficiency through sustainable residential landscape architecture. The guide contains research, projects, and resources on how to better manage water at home. Developed for homeowners and landscape architects and designers alike, the guide is designed to help spread more sustainable and resilient practices.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates flooding has caused some $260 billion in damages from 1980 to 2013. And in the past decade, flood insurance claims now total $1.6 billion annually, putting further pressure on the already deeply-indebted flood insurance system. Sustainable landscape architecture practices — including green infrastructure — can significantly reduce the impacts of flooding on residences.

Homeowners also waste water by irrigating their lawns with water that should be reserved for human consumption. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nearly 9 billion gallons of water is used for residential outdoor water use, mainly for landscape irrigation, some 30 percent of total residential water use.

Sustainable residential landscape architecture—if part of an integrated site design, a comprehensive approach to sustainable building and site design—can dramatically reduce water usage while creating a healthy residential environment.

Homeowners can promote the infiltration, storing, and recycling of water, and limit the use of valuable potable water for landscapes. Bioswales / bioretention ponds, rainwater gardens, and local sustainable water recycling and drip irrigation systems can all be used to efficiently manage water. Homeowners can recycle and reuse greywater (and even blackwater) for landscape maintenance, car washing, and toilet flushing.

It’s important to note that degraded and compacted soil will reduce water and air infiltration into the ground. Homeowners can maximize the benefits of natural stormwater systems by improving the quality of soil on their property though remediation techniques.

Homes that include natural green infrastructure not only better manage stormwater runoff, but also reduce the massive energy costs associated with running complex water management systems. Water and waste utilities are heavy users of energy and major producers of greenhouse gas emissions.

Explore sections of the guide:

Bioswales and bioretention ponds
Rain gardens
Rain water harvesting
Water recycling
Drip irrigation

Glorious Collages of Nature in the Salish Sea

Nature Medley / Copyright Jill Bliss

Artist Jill Bliss organizes the vibrant mushrooms of the Salish Sea ecosystem into collages, which she then photographs. These exuberant works showcase the rich biodiversity of this unique region, which covers the coastal waterways of northern Washington state and the southern part of Canadian British Columbia. For her, “nature is my church.”

Many of her mushroom collages are assembled on islands — Decatur Island, San Juan Island, and Cortes Island, among others.

Nature Medley / Copyright Jill Bliss
Nature Medley / Copyright Jill Bliss

Bliss states that since discovering the Salish Sea, “I’ve been living, working, traveling and exploring” here ever since.

By trade, she works as a naturalist aboard a tour boat exploring the Cascadia region.

However, when tourist season is over, “I satisfy my nomadic nature by holing up in various off-grid cabins, preferably with wild animals and semi-feral people for neighbors, mentors, and muses. These are the months for hibernation, quiet reflection, close observations of discreet moments in nature, and art making.”

Nature Medley / Copyright Jill Bliss

See all of Bliss’ nature medleys on her website.

Tadao Ando’s Hill of the Buddha

While architect Tadao Ando’s Hill of the Buddha opened more than a year ago, we are just now discovering this wonderful work of landscape architecture in Makomanai Takino Cemetery in Sapporo, Japan.

Ando told Domus magazine: “‘The aim of this project was to build a prayer hall that would enhance the attractiveness of a stone Buddha sculpted 15 years ago. The site is a gently sloping hill on 180 hectares of lush land belonging to a cemetery. The statue is 13.5-meter-tall (44-feet-tall) and weighs 1,500 tons. It is made of fine, highly selected solid stone. Until now, the Buddha statue has stood alone in the field, giving an unrestful impression. The cemetery wanted to give visitors a more serene appreciation of the Buddha.”

So Ando, who is famous for his spiritual buildings made out of concrete, convinced the cemetery to bury the grand Buddha, with just his head peeking above ground, to show respect for this ancient teacher. The Buddha is now surrounded by a hill covered in some 150,000 lavender plants. The only way to get close is to walk through a 40-meter-long (131-feet-long) tunnel.

The Hill of the Buddha / Vitra

As Ando explains, “the design intention was to create a vivid spatial sequence, beginning with the long approach through the tunnel in order to heighten anticipation of the statue, which is invisible from the outside.” The tunnel’s walls are formed out of folded concrete that feels both elemental and monumental.

When visitors reach the Buddha at the end of the tunnel, they see his head is “encircled by a halo of sky.” The cemetery says this view creates a “blessed moment.”

The Hill of the Buddha / Fubiz.net

The surrounding lavender fields offer an ever-changing frame for the Atama Daibutsu: “they turn fresh green in spring, pale purple in summer, and silky white with snow in winter.”

The Hill of the Buddha / Fubiz.net

Ando also created a water fountain, which can be seen in the video above, that serves as a “sacred boundary.” In Buddhism, water enables the quest for “calmness, clarity, and purity in our body, speech, and mind.”

The Hill of the Buddha / Fubiz.net

According to the cemetery, “by detouring around the water garden instead of making a straight approach, one purifies the soul, and one’s mindset switches from the ordinary to the extraordinary.”

Design Competition: Renew Cork’s Quays

Save Cork City / Dan Linehan


Save Cork City
, a volunteer association in Cork, Ireland, has launched a design competition calling for an innovative approach to renewing the historic city’s quayside landscape on Morrison’s Island. The international competition is co-organized with the Cork Architectural Association, with the support of the National Sculpture Factory and the Architectural Association of Ireland.

Save Cork City, a bottom-up citizens’ group that has won the support of local businesses, celebrities, designers, and advocates, was formed to protest the Irish government Office of Public Works (OPW)’s plans to raise the historic quays’ walls, thereby destroying the historic relationship between the city and waterfront.

Cork’s quays / Save Cork City

According to the group, OPW’s plan — which seeks to “build over 8 kilometers of concrete walls and 46 pump chambers around the River Lee in Cork” — will “destroy huge parts of Cork’s historic character through damage to and removal of the City’s historic quay walls and railings, replacing them with basic concrete walls; turn the city into a building site for up to 10 years during the construction, affecting trade and tourism; and visually and physically disconnect the city’s quays and Fitzgerald’s Park from the Lee due to the introduction of the proposed concrete walls and embankments along the river.”

Furthermore, the group believes that OPW’s overall approach of using concrete walls is outdated and expensive, with a high potential for failure. “River containment is a flawed system that has been abandoned as a flood defense measure in many countries as it is expensive, difficult to achieve and can increase water levels in times of flood, putting cities at even more risk. The scheme relies on rarely used mechanical systems such as water pumps and drain valves, that could fail with catastrophic results.”

Instead, Save Cork City has issued a three-point plan, featuring more upstream green infrastructure, a proposed tidal barrier in the harbor downstream of the city, and historic quay revitalization. The group argues the OPW’s approach only looks at the last 20 kilometers of the River Lee, but it’s in fact 90 kilometers long, so there’s ample opportunity to reduce flooding upstream. They believe their plan will cost only €135 million, much less than the €450 – 1 billion the OPW plan is expected to cost.

The group states their plan has been endorsed by a “Nobel Prize-winning scientist, Robert Devoy; the deputy director of the Dutch flood protection program, Erik Kraaij; the former dean of engineering in University College Cork, Philip O’ Kane, as well as thousands of concerned Cork citizens.”

Engineer Michael Ryan told The Irish Times that “flooding in Cork city involves a complex of factors, including upriver flows, tidal surges, a series of historic culverts and pipes under the city and the fact that the city is built on an extensive aquifer which is supplied and affected by both river flows and tidal surges.”

OPW recently dismissed Save Cork City’s proposal as “too costly,” reports the Evening Echo. OPW is still deliberating over the thousand-plus public comments it received about its flooding plan.

Save Cork City and the other organizers will give €10,000 to the winning entry, which will be presented at a public symposium. Register by September 8 and submit by September 22.

Another interesting opportunity: MIT Climate CoLab, “a global, web-based community designed to pool intelligence in a manner similar to Linux or Wikipedia,” offers seven new contests with a $10,000 grand prize. The competitions are in land use, transportation, buildings, carbon pricing, energy supply, adaptation, and shifting attitude and behaviors.

“Since its launch in 2009, Climate CoLab’s open problem-solving platform has grown into a community of over 85,000 people from all walks of life–including more than 300 of the world’s leading experts on climate change and related fields–who are working on and evaluating plans to reach global climate change goals.” Proposals are due September 10.

The Hive: An Acoustic Playground Made out of Cardboard Tubes

Jeanne Gang describing The Hive / Dana Davidsen

Spiraling upwards into the grand space of the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. is the Hive, a trio of domed chambers designed to create unique acoustic experiences. Conceived by Chicago-based architect Jeanne Gang, the Hive towers some 60 feet and is comprised of over 2,500 cardboard tubes. Within its chambers are chimes made out of building materials, like copper pipes and wrenches, and a giant tubulum, an instrument constructed out of pipes of varying sizes that produces warm, surprising sounds.

The Hive / Dana Davidsen

In a tour of the Hive, Gang explained how she used sound to define the space. In the vast expanse of the National Building Museum, “you can’t really hear someone just 10 feet away from you. The sound gets lost, as it does in a big field.”

Within the museum, Gang instead wanted to create an intimate acoustic space. She wanted to recreate the sense of being inside a forest clearing, open but enclosed by trees, where one can sense, acoustically, the bound space as sound waves bounce off trees.

Working with acoustic engineers with Threshhold Sound, Gang and her team accomplished a similar surround sound effect inside the Hive, using catenary structures, painted silver and magenta, to create a full, harmonious timbre.

Inside The Hive / Dana Davidsen

Gang seemed particularly excited about the tubulum. “When everyone plays together, the chamber will be rocking!”

Tubulum / Dana Davidsen

The structures are inspired by both built and natural forms — Gang talked about the oculus of the Pantheon in Rome and mused about pine cones. “We see spirals in nature, too.”

The Hive is open until September 4. Interactive sound experiences will be held on Saturdays. Tickets are $16 for adults and $13 for kids and seniors. Get your tickets in advance.