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Susan Harris at Garden Rant minces no words when she pays a visit to the new memorial dedicated to the American Veterans Disabled for Life located on an underused corner of land just south of the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. Though the site is quite tricky to get to, the design by Michael Vergason provides an experience that overcomes its harsh settings. Read on:

 

DISABLED VETERANS MEMORIAL SHINES DESPITE ITS LOCATION

SUSAN HARRIS, GARDEN RANT, NOVEMBER 13, 2014

A new memorial opened last month in D.C., this one honoring Veterans Disabled for Life. I’ve watched its progress from the U.S. Botanic Gardens across the street, and seen it presented to a reviewing agency, so was excited to finally see it open.

Here’s a fun two-minute video of its construction and, finally, dedication, from an overhead camera.

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BY JOHN KING

Tom Fox/SWA Group

Credit: Tom Fox, SWA Group

William Byrd Callaway, an ASLA Fellow and 2007 recipient of the ASLA Medal, died on November 24, 2014, in San Francisco after a brief fight with cancer. He was 71.

During his career, the burly but genial man known as Bill to colleagues and clients excelled both as a designer and as an executive. In the former role he crafted everything from corporate campuses and community parks to private estates. In the latter, he spent his entire career at what now is SWA Group in a procession of positions that included president, chief executive officer, and chairman.

Raised on his family’s ranch near the state capital of Sacramento in California’s Central Valley, Bill graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture in 1966. Then, after a six-month stint in the U.S. Marine Corps reserve, he joined what at the time was Sasaki, Walker, and Associates. He left to earn a master’s degree at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, but returned to SWA in 1971 and didn’t budge after that.

During his career, Bill took a lead role in such projects as the expressive plazas outside the Philip Johnson-designed towers at PPG Place in Pittsburgh and 101 California Street in San Francisco, the low-key Shoreline Regional Park in Palo Alto, and the master plan for the vast Beijing Finance Center. On the business side, he helped steer SWA’s expansion to what is now a firm with 230 employees and offices in China and the United Arab Emirates, as well as six cities in the United States. The firm received ASLA’s Landscape Architecture Firm Award in 2005, while Bill was CEO.

Two years later, Bill was awarded the ASLA Medal for, among other things, inspiring fellow designers “to retain an idealistic view of the profession and the world.” He remained a principal and board member at the time of his death.

What coworkers remember is a leader who was also a colleague—comfortable with, and respectful of, everyone from major clients to entry-level employees.

“Bill was a unique individual for a group practice. He set a tone that allowed young designers to come into their own,” said John Wong, FASLA, who worked alongside Bill for decades at the firm’s home office in Sausalito and who is now SWA’s chairman. “He had a way of providing leadership without being heavy-handed, and people respected that.”

John King, Honorary ASLA, is the urban design critic for the San Francisco Chronicle.

FEDERAL CLOUT

From the December 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The modest announcement about the appointment of Liza Gilbert, ASLA, to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) in October registered lightly in the media, despite its being a milestone for landscape architecture that hasn’t been in reach since the commission was established by an act of Congress in 1910.

With the appointment of Gilbert, the commission now includes Mia Lehrer, FASLA, who was appointed in June, and Elizabeth K. Meyer, FASLA, who was appointed in 2012. For the first time, three of the seven commission members are landscape designers.

Although there has been a landscape designer on the commission for most of its 100-plus-year history (Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. was a member for the first eight years), according to CFA Secretary Thomas Luebke’s book, Civic Art: A Centennial History of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, having two landscape designers serve simultaneously is rare—three is unprecedented. But what does it mean?

For those unfamiliar with its workings, the CFA is a presidentially appointed body whose charge is to review all federal and District of Columbia government projects as well as those in the Georgetown Historic District and, significantly, those falling within the Shipstead-Luce Act’s area. The Shipstead-Luce project area contains many important national landscapes including the National Mall, the grounds of the White House, Rock Creek Park, and the National Zoo, among others. The CFA review is just one of many hurdles that projects in D.C. must surmount before approval, but it provides a critical platform for high-level design review for projects with both national and local impact. This review authority extends beyond buildings and landscape and includes medals and coins produced by the U.S. Mint, images that act as national symbols.

With the establishment of sustainability goals for federal properties in 2009, the necessity for landscape expertise on the CFA became only more exigent. The appointment of three landscape professionals confirms that landscape architecture’s contributions are fully recognized at the highest levels of government.

The CFA convenes once a month at public meetings to review medal and coin designs, memorials, buildings, and alterations to the built landscapes large and small. Meyer welcomes the addition of Gilbert and Lehrer to the commission and the impact it will have on how projects are conceived from the beginning. “More voices calling for conceptual landscape ideas at first review,” and exemplary work at final review, she says, will help strengthen the overall design. “Those ideas have to be clear at the beginning. They don’t follow from the architecture.”

As one of the only commission members living full-time in Washington, Gilbert can bring the local understanding of how the projects fit together within the city’s unique urban plan. Though still new to the CFA, Gilbert is enthusiastic about the dynamic at her first meeting, a mix of architecture, urban planning, and landscape. “The level of discussion is going to be fascinating. There are a lot of different brains in the room,” she says.

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Our much-awaited 2015 LAM Product Directory is packed into the December issue,  which is free to read through Zinio. In addition to the largest-ever Product Directory, December includes a profile of the work of Larry Weaner, Affiliate ASLA, aka the “meadow guy”; Wagner Hodgson’s  new campus addition to Salem State University, a winner of a 2014 Honor Award in General Design; and the imminent threat to Garrett Eckbo’s iconic design for the Fulton Mall in Fresno, California.

Elsewhere, new peer-reviewed specifications for planting by Brian Kempf, Tyson Carroll, and James Urban, FASLA, adapt modern practices and contemporary science that can be altered for any region. In House Call, Nancy Owens Studio creates a design in upstate New York for an old friend. And in the Back, we have a look at amazing botanical illustrations from the pages of Flora Illustrata: Great Works from the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of the New York Botanical Garden. And, of course, there’s more in our regular Books, Species, and Goods columns.

You can read the full table of contents for December 2014 or pick up a free digital issue of the December LAM here and share it with your clients, colleagues, and friends. 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 buy single back issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating December articles as the month rolls on.

Credits: “If He Does Nothing, What Will Happen?” Larry Weaner Landscape Associates; “The Tilted Quad,” Jim Westphalen; “Fresno v. Eckbo,” photo courtesy Garrett Eckbo Collection, Environmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley; “Plant It Right,” Courtesy Urban Tree Foundation; “Dissolved at the Edges,” Michael Moran/OTTO; “Cabinet of Curiosities,” The LuEsther T. Mertz Library of the New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

THE QUEUE, NOVEMBER 2014

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

In the November Queue, the LAM staff sees the real Keystone XL story go viral, learns about the most-wanted environmental fugitives, laments that the Arctic may truly be “ice-free” by 2020, and daydreams about an enchanting bike ride inspired by a starry, starry night.

OUR WOBBLY WORLD

KCRW’s “To the Point” aired an extensive report on the Keystone XL and the various strategies Canadian companies are using to move tar sands oil to the Gulf of Mexico (see “Below the Surface,” LAM, November 2014).

 The EPA has recently released the latest iteration of its report on 30 indicators of climate change in the United States. The third edition of the report compiles new data that links human activities and a warming planet, including wildfire occurrences and the rising levels and temperatures in the Great Lakes, among others.

•  A swoon-worthy four-minute film on global fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions has won a 2014 Kantar Information Is Beautiful award.

Interpol launched Operation Infra-Terra, a list of the most-wanted environmental fugitives in the world. Among the top offenses are animal poaching, illegal mining, and illegal waste disposal.

• The Arctic could be “ice-free” as soon as 2020, according to Cambridge professor Peter Wadhams.

• As part of a $2.4 billion project to protect waterways, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens will add thousands of streetside plots to help soak up excess stormwater, while communities in Maryland seek to add similar measures to avoid large fees under a controversial “rain tax.”

FIELD STUDIES

 A four-and-a-half-minute video recently released by PBS highlights the haunting beauty of the historic McMillan Sand Filtration site in Washington, D.C., echoing the local residents’ advocacy for the site’s untapped potential.

 Seattle no longer has to worry about needing to choose between funding the police or the local park. Voters recently approved a measure that separates park funding from the general fund, though some worry that this money will not make it to the parks that need it the most.

In a recent essay in Places Journal, Brian Davis (see “The Dredge Underground,” LAM, August 2014) and Thomas Oles challenge the term “landscape architecture,” suggesting that  “landscape science” more accurately captures the core values of modern practice.

Berlin’s 33,000 resident artists have taken advantage of the slow regeneration of the city, giving more leeway for the creative improvisation of space and property.

Medium looks at contemporary cartography and the increasing complexity of modern maps. 

OUT AND ABOUT

United Divide: A Linear Portrait of the USA/Canada Border opened at the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Los Angeles on November 14.

• The Cultural Landscape Foundation and the Presidio Trust will host Saving Nature in a Humanized World January 22–24 at the Presidio in San Francisco.

DISTRACT ME FROM MY DEADLINE DEPT.

 Ever wonder what your city would look like if we all just turned off the lights?

 If Van Gogh was alive today, he’d want you to use this bike path.

• This memorial in Arizona aligns with the sun perfectly only on Veterans Day at 11:11 a.m.

 These pictures highlight works of art only nature could create.

"View along US 40 in Mount Vernon Canyon, Colorado" by Andreas Feininger, 1942.

“View along US 40 in Mount Vernon Canyon, Colorado” by Andreas Feininger, 1942.

The staff of Landscape Architecture Magazine is off to beautiful Denver, Colorado, for the 2014 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO. You can find us in our dedicated space in the EXPO Hall. Look for the LAM logo in the ASLA Commons. Drop by and say hello, or you can find us at any one of the many events and sessions we’re participating in. Here are just a few:

Art Director Chris McGee and Associate Editor Jennifer Reut will be on a panel titled Fit for Print: Landscape Architecture Photos That Work (FRI-C08) at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, 11/21.

Editor Brad McKee is moderating a panel, Design 2034: Our Resilient Tomorrow (FRI-D10), at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, 11/21.

The staff will be in attendance at the Landscape Architecture Magazine Advertising Awards (LAMMYs) on Friday, 11/21 and the ASLA Student and Professional Awards Ceremony on Monday, 11/24.

LAM editors will be on hand for Meet the Editors on Saturday and Sunday.

We’re all really looking forward to the Edible Landscapes Celebration on Saturday, 11/20.

Throughout the meeting the LAM staff will be on the floor in the EXPO hall as well as helping out in sessions and events. Follow us on Twitter @landarchmag throughout the meeting, or stop by the LAM booth, or just introduce yourself—we love to meet readers and hear what they think about the magazine and the blog.

Credit: FSA/OWI collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540.
Close-up view of a moveable climate station.

Close-up view of a movable climate station.

From the November 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Reid Fellenbaum

Reid Fellenbaum, Student Affiliate ASLA

It’s 2080, a world deep in the throes of a changing climate where a landscape’s fertility is analyzed by mammoth structures that roam the Great Plains. It may seem like a scene from a sci-fi novel, but it is actually the basis for Reid Fellenbaum’s “Meridian of Fertility,” winner of the 2014 ASLA Student Award of Excellence in Analysis and Planning, which examines historical practices, climate models, projected precipitation, temperature, and current soil quality of the Great Plains region and suggests that the “Meridian of Fertility,” a geographical dividing line between prairie lands to the west and areas suitable for agricultural practices to the east, is steadily moving eastward. The project proposes a series of shelterbelts to slow this migration, as well as a return to dry-farming practices (a no-irrigation method that relies on the conservation of soil moisture) informed by structures called climate stations that use “hyperlocal climate predictions” to determine the best site for farmers to plant their crops. We talked with Fellenbaum about his project, and how he sees it as a focus on resiliency in a changing world.

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