Most believe the L.A. River needs to change, though exactly how it should be done is still up in the air.
The push to fix the 51-mile Los Angeles River over the past few decades has been a triumph of citizen-fueled advocacy. It has harnessed landscape architecture as well as politics, planning, economics, engineering, hydrology, and ecology toward a dream of a living river, with plants and animals and people (and real estate) close to the water. Persistence and skill, notably on the part of the group Friends of the Los Angeles River, led to the stunning endorsement last year by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of a $1 billion federal plan to restore natural habitat along 11 miles of the upper river. It was a bigger bet on the river than anyone expected. Since then, the big questions have been whether Congress will fund the plan and, if so, how much the federal government will pay and how much the city will pay. The city must buy land, clean up contamination, and build a public realm; a lot of how to do all that had been laid out in a master plan in 2007 for 32 miles of the river, from its headwaters in Canoga Park to downtown Los Angeles. As part of the large master plan team, led by Tetra Tech, the offices of Civitas, Wenk Associates, and Mia Lehrer + Associates developed transformative, landscape driven solutions for sites along the river.
It’s all been incredibly exciting. But now, rather than wait until Congress considers funding the corps’ plan, the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, an ardent river advocate, has been encouraging a whole other river plan but not telling anyone much about it. For this newer plan, the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation, a nonprofit the city chartered to direct its river strategy, asked Frank Gehry’s firm, Gehry Partners, to begin studying the whole length of the river. OLIN is on board as a consulting landscape architect. Garcetti called Gehry’s work “a master plan, in the truest sense of the word,” and added, “To have the Olmsted of our time focusing on this, I think, is extraordinary.”
The Olmsted remark did not go over well among landscape architects. None of the revelations about the Gehry project went particularly well, not least because they were unexpected. Over the past year, some longtime river strategists have been shown the outlines of the Gehry team’s effort, but for the most part it unfolded in private until the Los Angeles Times reported on its existence in early August. Then came the disciplinary resentments in the landscape realm and, more important, the pains of people—professionals and laypersons—who worked hard to get the corps’ blessing on a major plan. Those people rightly worry that they may now have to spend more effort to defend what they have already achieved for the river. They worry because so little about the new planning process has been shared with them or with the public. The city’s emerging bid to host the Olympics in 2024 adds another layer of uncertainty to some of the river sites.
The revitalization corporation insists it is considering all the previous work for the master plan and the corps’ proposal in its new project, but one of its tendencies has been to speak as if Gehry’s team is starting a process of remaking the river rather than walking into the middle of one. Mayor Garcetti, who has made the river a serious project for his administration, could clear up a lot of confusion. He needs to ensure that the intelligence gathered so far around the river’s revival remains in play and will feed into any future plans. It would help to involve the river’s early advocates and designers much more closely than seems to have been the case lately, and to pay more attention to their considerable accomplishment. Visions for a better river could combine many ideas and forms. Coherence in the approach will be crucial in selling them.
Credit: By A Syn [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
Posted in LAM MAGAZINE, LAND MATTERS, PEOPLE, RIVER RESTORATION | Tagged California, Civitas, Eric Garcetti, Frank Gehry, Friends of the Los Angeles River, Gehry Partners, L.A. River, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Times, master plan, Mayor Garcetti, Mia Lehrer & Associates, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Wenk Associates | 2 Comments »
October’s LAM is our awards issue, and that means almost 70 pages of Student and Professional Award winners, including the 2015 Landmark Award given to Dan Kiley’s South Garden at the Art Institute of Chicago. Finished in 1962, the South Garden celebrates almost 50 years of continued excellence as both a landscape architecture project and a cherished space in the public realm.
Out of 327 submitted projects to the Student Awards, 23 winners were chosen, with many of the projects highlighting the diversifying nature of landscape architecture. In the Professional Awards, 33 winners were selected from 463 submissions, many of which set the tone for the future of the profession. All this plus our regular Land Matters and Now columns.
You can read the full table of contents for October 2015 or pick up a free digital issue of the October 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 digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. 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 out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating October articles as the month rolls out.
Credits: Landmark Award, © Tom Harris/Courtesy the Cultural Landscape Foundation; Professional Communications Award of Excellence, Landscape Architecture Foundation; Professional Analysis and Planning Award of Excellence, Hargreaves Associates and Red Square; Professional Residential Design Award of Excellence, Hocker Design Group, Robert Yu, Justin Clemons; Professional General Design Award of Excellence, Courtesy Reed Hilderbrand.
Posted in ASLA, AWARDS, COMPETITIONS, LAM MAGAZINE, PRACTICE, STUDENTS | Tagged 2015, Art Institute of Chicago, Dan Kiley, Landmark Award, Now, Professional Awards, South Garden, Student Awards | 1 Comment »
Since 2012, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston has brought in big names in landscape architecture—Cochran, Van Valkenburgh, Galí-Izard, and more—to speak as part of its Landscape Lectures series. Each lecture is roughly an hour long and highlights the work and achievements of the speaker. The above video contains a playlist of the available lectures through the museum’s YouTube channel, starting with one of the first lectures in 2012 up through June 2015. The next lecture in the 2015–2016 series will feature Walter Hood on November 12. For more information, please click here.
Posted in LAM BLOG, MINDS, PEOPLE | Tagged Andrea Cochran, architecture, Boston, Charles Waldheim, Claude Cormier, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, Eelco Hooftman, Gary Hilderbrand, George Hargreaves, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Kathryn Gustafson, Ken Smith, LAMcast, Landscape Lecture, Laurie Olin, Martha Schwartz, Massachusetts, Michael van Valkenburgh, present, series, talk, Teresa Gali-Izard, Walter Hood | 2 Comments »
The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.
Wrought iron step and brick facade overcome by time. Credit: Future Green Studio.
From “In the Weeds” by Nate Berg, in the September 2015 issue, featuring Future Green Studio’s love for designing with weeds.
“The juxtaposition of new growth against old structure creates a nice tension, and the dead leaves and stems on the wrought iron step create a nice bridge.”
—Chris McGee, LAM Art Director
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 digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.
Posted in INVASIVE SPECIES, LAM BLOG, NEW YORK CITY, PHOTOGRAPHY, PLANTS, PRACTICE | Tagged Art Director's Cut, brick, contrast, Future Green Studio, natives, tension, time, weeds | 1 Comment »
“If Women Built Cities, What Would Our Urban Landscape Look Like?” by Susanna Rustin from The Guardian on December 5, 2014.
Every year LAM honors two articles that stand out in the realm of landscape architecture with the Bradford Williams Medal—one that has appeared in LAM, and one from outside the magazine. For the 2015 medals, articles from the 2014 calendar period were nominated by LAM’s Editorial Advisory Committee and then were narrowed to two winners from the nominees.
Earlier we announced Mimi Zeiger’s “Fresno v. Eckbo” as the winner for an article in LAM, from December 2014. Today we’re proud to announce Susanna Rustin, a feature writer at The Guardian, as the winner for an article outside of LAM for her December 2014 story “If Women Built Cities, What Would Our Urban Landscape Look Like?” Rustin’s article focuses on the need for diversity, particularly women, among those who shape the human environment.
The Bradford Williams Medal is awarded to two outstanding articles in landscape every year.
The medal’s namesake, Bradford Williams, was an editor and publisher of LAM in its earlier days when it was Landscape Architecture Quarterly. The medal was named to honor his contributions to the magazine and to ASLA. A list of past winners can be found here.
The medals will be presented at ASLA’s 2015 Annual Meeting & EXPO on Monday, November 9 in a ceremony at Chicago’s McCormick Place for the ASLA Student and Professional Awards.
Posted in AWARDS, CITIES, LAM BLOG, PEOPLE, PLANNING, PRACTICE, VIEWS | Tagged 2014, architecture, article, Award, Bradford Williams Medal, buildings, diversity, environment, If Women Built Cities, LAM, LANDSCAPE, outside, planning, Susanna Rustin, The Guardian, urban, What Would Our Urban Landscape Look Like?, winner, Women, writing | 2 Comments »
BY DANIEL ELSEA
Ireland’s National Landscape Strategy makes clear the twining of land and national identity.
In May, Ireland unveiled a National Landscape Strategy (NLS), in an attempt to establish guidelines for the governance of the country’s historic geography while recognizing its inherent dynamism. Getting to grips with a nation’s landscape in such an ecumenical, broad-brushstrokes way is a tall order, even for a small island nation the size of Maine. Human settlement has left its mark on the Irish landscape for nearly 10,000 years. It’s an old place etched with memories, from the craggy coasts of Western Ireland to the karst of County Clare to the genteel Georgian terraces of Dublin.
These all now come under the protective purview of Ireland’s Department of Arts, Heritage, and Gaeltacht (the latter word referring to the Gaelic language). The agency has committed itself to a 10-year program to implement the NLS, with the completion of a comprehensive national Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) within five years. “It encompasses all landscapes—rural and urban, beautiful and degraded, ordinary and unique,” says Martin Colreavy, Ireland’s principal adviser on built heritage and architectural policy.
Ireland, of course, is a divided island, and the department’s remit extends to the boundaries of the Irish Republic—that is, the three historic southern provinces. The fourth province to the north—what we call Northern Ireland—remains part of the United Kingdom. The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has drawn up its own “Landscape Charter,” which will complement this one, reminding us that politics is often a land-based proposition.
If boundaries define landscapes, then landscapes define identity. As the NLS indicates, this is Ireland living up to its European obligations as Continue Reading »
Posted in ENVIRONMENT, HISTORIC LANDSCAPES, HISTORY, LAM MAGAZINE, NOW, PLANNING, PRESERVATION | Tagged arts, culture, Department, Europe, European Landscape Convention, Gaeltacht, GIS, Heritage, identity, Ireland, Landscape Character Assessment, Martin Colreavy, National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, National Landscape Strategy | Leave a Comment »
Suburban Street Stormwater Retrofitting: An Introduction to Improving Residential Rights-of-Way is the most recent addition to LATIS.
LATIS (Landscape Architecture Technical Information Series) is a great way to learn the technical intricacies of new research in the field, all while earning those much-needed professional development hours (PDHs). Each paper is peer reviewed to provide a learning experience that enriches the profession, with a test at the end that could earn up to 3.5 PDHs, depending on the paper.
New to the LATIS lineup is Suburban Street Stormwater Retrofitting: An Introduction to Improving Residential Rights-of-Way, by Andrew Fox, ASLA, and Jim Cooper, ASLA. At first glance it seems an odd choice in research, as most design professions have become so city focused. But Shawn Balon, ASLA, the professional practice manager at ASLA, says it’s an important topic to cover for landscape architects. “We often discuss green street design and low impact development within the urban context, but it is also important to begin thinking of how suburban interventions can create more aesthetic and healthier places for residents,” says Balon. To work toward a greener future, we must start to retrofit the present.
The paper takes a critical look at present suburban developments and their effects on hydrology, water quality, and community health, and explores existing retrofits, stormwater calculation estimations, design and construction details, cost estimation, and planting/maintenance options for suburban communities, Balon says.
LATIS papers are available to read free of charge for members, while nonmembers will pay $50. Exams for PDH credit are $40 for members and $60 for nonmembers. Click here for more information.
Posted in ASLA, DETAILS, EDUCATION, LAM BLOG, LICENSURE, STREETS | Tagged Andrew Fox, Jim Cooper, Landscape Architecture Technical Series, LATIS, Professional Practice Network, retrofit, retrofitting, stormwater, Suburb | 1 Comment »