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BY CRAIG PITTMAN

In inlet in the Persian Gulf, in Qatar's Khor Al-Adraid region. Courtesy National Park Service.

Inland Sea in the Persian Gulf, in Qatar’s Khor Al-Adaid region. Courtesy National Park Service.

From the April 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

We Americans sometimes take our national parks for granted. After all, we’ve got 59 of them, and they’ve been around since 1872, when President Ulysses S. Grant signed the law creating the first one the world had ever seen, Yellowstone National Park. Other countries envy our parks, and some want American help in creating their own. That’s where the landscape architects of the National Park Service (NPS) step in. Through an office established in 1962, they have assisted Saudi Arabia, Costa Rica, Pakistan, and Japan, among other countries.

“Many countries around the world do look to the United States as a leader in park and protected area management,” says David Krewson of the NPS’s Office of International Affairs. “These kinds of projects also give us a chance to learn innovative practices from other countries’ park agencies.”

It’s not easy duty. Look what happened when Qatar asked for help with its Khor Al-Adaid area, also known as the Inland Sea. Inhabited by flocks of flamingos, hedgehogs, gerbils, ospreys, sand gazelles, and wild camels, the region was already attracting tourists enthralled by its towering dunes and dramatic rock outcroppings.

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DISTURBING LANGUAGE

BY KEVAN WILLIAMS

Fore-Now_DISTURBANCE-blog

From the April 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The words that scientists and policy makers choose often say as much as the content of their papers and speeches. For instance, a great deal has been written about whether events such as Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and even recent snow days in the Southeast are truly “natural” disasters, or if the framing of these so-called acts of God masks the human responsibilities for their occurrence. Even the seemingly benign word “disturbance,” an ecological term encompassing events such as floods and fires, takes for granted certain ideas about how ecosystems work.

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BY BETSY ANDERSON

Mitchell Silver

Mitchell Silver. Courtesy the American Planning Association.

If public planning and design efforts seem to yield increasingly to private-sector pressure (consider the developer-fueled High Line), Mitchell Silver may promise some relief. Silver’s appointment as the new parks commissioner for New York City was recently announced, and his respected 25-year track record in urban planning suggests that he will bring a collaborative approach to park management that balances social, health, environmental, and economic concerns—in short, a holistic vision for parks reminiscent of the days of Olmsted.

Silver, a former president of the American Planning Association, leaves his post as the chief city planner in Raleigh, North Carolina, to join the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio. The mayor praised Silver to a crowd gathered for the announcement and described him as an experienced “visionary” who is capable of restoring equity to the city’s parks (de Blasio also noted the link between underfunded parks and larger issues of income inequality, a primary focus of his campaign). Silver emphasized that as a planner, he considers the city’s parks to be part of a single system, of vital civic infrastructure: “Parks do not sit in isolation,” he observed.

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Bridgeport, CT. Courtesy of Rebuild by Design.

Bridgeport, CT. Courtesy of Rebuild by Design.

Back in November, we wrote about the early stages of the Rebuild by Design competition, just after the first teams of finalists presented their ideas to the public. The challenge, which is driven by the President’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, will make substantial funding available for the winners from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as the private sector. We also reported on the Institute for Public Knowledge (“Backstage at Rebuild by Design,” November 2013,) the think tank that has helped shape the public discussions for the Rebuild Challenge.

Last week, the 10 finalist teams, BIG TEAM; HR&A Advisors, Inc. with Cooper, Robertson & Partners; Interboro Team; MIT CAU + ZUS + URBANISTEN;  OMA; PennDesign/OLIN; Sasaki/Rutgers/Arup;  SCAPE / Landscape Architecture; WB unabridged with Yale ARCADIS; and WXY/West 8, gathered to unveil the latest iteration of the designs in public meetings in New York and New Jersey. The teams have been collaborating with individual communities along the shoreline, and their proposals now reflect the input and specific conditions of particular places.

We weren’t able to get there in person, but you should read Justin Davidson’s write-up in New York magazine, accompanied by a handy slide show of the proposals, to see the latest work from the competition. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan will announce the winning proposals later this spring.

 

 

 

 

 

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A modern landscape for a historic cemetery by Halvorson Design Partnership and HGA, the remaking of a major Parisian public square by TVK with Martha Schwartz Partners and Areal Landscape Architecture, and the long and winding road back to health for the L.A. River are all in the April issue of LAM. The Climate section looks at Buenos Aires’s flood problem; Now embraces landscape “failures” and reconsiders contaminated military sites; and in Palette, Bernard Trainor, ASLA, melds his native Australia with California natives in his planting designs. All this plus our regular features in Species, Books, and Goods

You can read the full table of contents for April or pick up a free digital issue of the April LAM here and share it with your clients. As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 200 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also purchase single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options. Keep an eye on the LAM blog, Facebook page, and Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating some April pieces as the month rolls out—excellent accompaniments to a very welcome spring.

 
Credits: Lakewood Cemetery, © Paul Crosby; Place de la Republique, © Pierre-Yves Brunaud/Picturetank; Pistia, Peter Essick/Aurora Photos/Corbis; Landscape Fails, Niall Kirkwood, FASLA; Palette: Bernard Trainor, Jason Liske.


We are very honored to be finalists in 2014 American Magazine Awards for General Excellence in the Special Interest category, especially considering the excellent other magazines in the group: Modern Farmer, Los Angeles Magazine, Inc., and the Hollywood Reporter.

The whole point of remaking Landscape Architecture Magazine over the past four years has been to bring out of relative obscurity the huge range of the difficult and inventive work that landscape architects are doing to put our treatment of this planet on a better path. The work is happening at all scales. It happens around small creeks, gardens, town streets, and playgrounds on up to whole watersheds, transit systems, and shorelines.

Landscape architects are wise and dedicated people, and many of their best efforts come through in the ways they gather knowledge across a range of other arts and sciences and factor it in to the reality they know better than anyone: What land can and cannot sustain. The thinking is adventurous, and the stories are so good they practically tell themselves. They just need a home, and that’s what the whole LAM staff strives to give them. Of course, we could not do it without our loyal readers or the amazing support we have here at ASLA, which sees LAM as one of the numerous ways it can work to keep pushing  landscape architects to the front of the game in design and environmental stewardship.

 

A monthly roundup of the news, dispatches, and marginalia that caught our eye.

In this dispatch of the Queue, the staff reads up on the latest on the troubled National Flood Insurance Program, considers the legacy of Bunny Mellon, and indulges in a little nostalgia.

 

CATCHING UP WITH…

    • Slate (via Climate Desk) has an article on “Flood Zone Foolishness,” detailing how the very states most at risk are blocking reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program. In the November 2013 issue, we ran an interview with the project lead on the plan that recommended changes to the program (“The Risk Picture”) and the likely uptick in consumer premiums.
    • Lawrence Halprin (posthumously), along with Lawrence Noble (sculptor) and George Lucas (owner), will receive the Henry Hering Memorial Medal for Art and Architecture from the National Sculpture Society (founded 1893) for their outstanding collaboration on the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio in San Francisco.

 

FIELD STUDIES

 

OUT AND ABOUT

    • Deadline approaching for this radically hybrid art/geography/landscape/performance event: The Anthropocene, Cabinet of Curiosities Slam, to be held at the University of Wisconsin–Madison November 8–10, 2014. The conference will feature a keynote address from Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History and Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change.
    • The Cultural Landscape Foundation unveils its 2014 season of events, which includes What’s Out There Weekends in Miami, Richmond, Virginia, and Los Angeles; the Garden Dialogues series; and a land-art theme for Landslide.
    • The Middle East Smart Landscape Summit 2014 will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, May 6–7, 2014.

 

DISTRACT ME FROM MY DEADLINE DEPT.

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