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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 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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Frontier Town: A Tent Camp for Children in the Urban Wild D MET Design (Elizabeth Skrisson and Joel Schmidt) in collaboration with Sarah Lapinski. Photo Credit:  David Lewinski

Frontier Town: A Tent Camp for Children in the Urban Wild. D MET Design (Elizabeth Skrisson and Joel Schmidt) in collaboration with Sarah Lapinski. Photo Credit: David Lewinski

There’s a lot going on in Detroit, despite what you might read in the papers, including quite a bit at the intersection of landscape architecture, urban art, and public space. The open call for the 2014 DLECTICITY competition caught our eye for its intriguing approach to activating Detroit’s sometimes beleaguered city streets.  This is the second year for the competition and we hear that multi-disciplinary teams of all kinds are forming now. Accepted projects are funded up to $2,500 and there are honorariums as well. The description from the website is below, and the deadline is March 31. For more info, see the DLECTRICITY competition’s website. 

DLECTRICITY is back and ready to see more of your work! For two electrifying nights in 2012, DLECTRICITY brought thousands of people into Midtown Detroit to experience 35 projects by local, national and international artists. 25 of those projects were selected from an open call. This fall, DLECTRICITY will again transform Midtown with site-specific installations of light, video, performance, interactive engineering and nonconformist architecture. From lasers to dance, robots to 3D mapping, we want to see what you create. We challenge you to animate historic buildings, turn streets into oceans – the city landscape is your canvas. Now is the chance to show Detroit, and the world, what you can do!

DLECTRICITY is looking for projects that will activate the outdoor, nighttime landscape of Midtown Detroit’s Woodward Corridor including:

+ Light art
+ Video art
+ 3D video mapping projects
+ Multimedia installations
+ Projects that use technology for interactivity and community engagement
+ Works that utilize mobile platforms (smartphones, tablets)
+ Performance (art, dance, theater, music)
+ Talks and workshops
+ Kid-friendly and/or educational
+ The unexpected

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Courtesy Tim Cone/Environmental Film Festival.

Courtesy Tim Cone/Environmental Film Festival.

This year’s urban-themed Environmental Film Festival has an interesting angle for landscape architects. The Washington, D.C.-based festival, now in its 22nd year, will be showing 200 films on a program titled Our Cities, Our Planet that focuses on sustainable cities and the impact of urbanism on our environments. The festival is primarily documentaries, but it also includes experimental films, shorts, children’s films, archival gems (some with live orchestral accompaniment), and works in progress. Many of the screenings during the weeklong festival, which runs March 18–30, 2014,   are free, and include panel discussions with filmmakers and activists. Below is just a selection of the films that caught our eye (with the EFF program descriptions), and a full program and schedule can be seen here.

WATERMARK. From  Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier, and the photographer Edward Burtynsky, who collaborated on the 2006 film, Manufactured Landscapes, Watermark transports us all over the world, revealing the extent to which humanity has shaped water and how it has shaped us.

THE HUMAN SCALE. For 40 years, the Danish architect Jan Gehl has studied human behavior in cities, starting with what he calls “Life Between Buildings.” Gehl has documented how modern cities repel human interaction and argues that we can build cities in a way that takes human needs for inclusion and intimacy into account. In Copenhagen, Gehl has inspired the creation of pedestrian streets and bike paths and the organization of parks, squares, and other public spaces throughout the city.

RIVERS AND TIDES: ANDY GOLDSWORTHY WORKING WITH TIME. Acclaimed around the world for his site-specific earthworks, beautiful and ephemeral sculptures in the open air made of ice, mud, leaves, driftwood, stones, and twigs, Andy Goldsworthy thinks incessantly about “the veins that connect things.”

THE HUMAN TOUCH (clips). Ten years after making Rivers and Tides, Riedelsheimer and Goldsworthy started a new collaboration, exploring more aspects of Goldsworthy’s work and how it has changed  over the years.

SAND WARS. Sand seems quite insignificant, yet those grains of  silica surround and affect our lives. Every house, skyscraper, and glass building, every bridge, airport, and sidewalk depends on sand.What are the consequences of intensive beach sand mining for the environment and the neighboring populations?

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

In this dispatch of the Queue, the LAM staff reads up on the politics of space, urban parks in Mexico, an extraordinary gift of land in California, why architects talk funny, and way too much more.

OUR WOBBLY WORLD

Alexis Madrigal’s piece on California’s water problem is being heavily circulated, but in case  you haven’t seen it, the Atlantic has it posted in full.

Also all over the interwebs is Elizabeth Kolbert talking about her new book, the Sixth Extinction. “We are effectively undoing the beauty and the variety and the richness of the world which has taken tens of millions of years to reach,” Kolbert tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross.  “We’re sort of unraveling that…. We’re doing, it’s often said, a massive experiment on the planet, and we really don’t know what the end point is going to be.”

Do our green urban policies actually undermine social equity? Tom Slater fires a shot across the bow of the advocates for urban sustainability and resiliency, and asks, Who gains? Who loses?

FIELD STUDIES

Recognition for the groups, including TCLF, Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, and the Minnesota chapter of Docomomo US,  who rallied to save M. Paul Friedberg’s modern landscape, Peavey Plaza.

Lorena Martínez, the mayor of Aguascalientes, Mexico, finds that the new 8 mile long linear park park, La Línea Verde, solves a host of urban problems, from asthma to crime. Cityscope talks to the mayor and the citizens about what it took.

Via Grist, Brentin Mock interviews Clarice Gaylord, who was in charge of the EPA’s first effort to deal with issues of environmental justice–under the Bush administration.

Instead of selling his 300 acres of highly valuable land near Silicon Valley–the number $500 million was thrown out there–Walter Cottle Lester willed his family farm to the state to be preserved as an agricultural park. No playgrounds, no swimming pools, no basketball court, just wide open space.

Via PlaceswireEsri’s ArcGIS opens up its platform to the public and puts reams of government data, including the EPA’s, into the public’s hands.

DISTRACT ME FROM MY DEADLINE DEPT.

Photographs by artist/geographer Trevor Paglen of never before-seen-surveillance sites cracks open the hidden landscapes of intelligence gathering.

So very cool new Multiplicity project from Landscape Forms and Fuseproject lets designers play with street furniture.

Translation, please: “Interrogating the hermeneutic potentiality of the urban fabric’s boundary conditions is the key to intervening in the city’s morphology. The phenomenological nature of a building and its neighborhood is enhanced by ludic acts of horizontality.”

How to make pennyfloors, with much chortling in the comments about cost per square foot.

The world without people is a little bit creepy.

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Courtesy the North Coast Design Competition.

Courtesy the North Coast Design Competition.

Sean Burkholder has been thinking about the industrial landscapes of the Great Lakes for more than 10 years. He is currently an assistant professor of landscape and urban design at SUNY/University of Buffalo, and his teaching and research include topics that are salient to the region, including the reuse of urban infrastructure, urban vacancy, and the management of dredge materials. Next month, Burkholder will be launching the North Coast Design Competition with project sites along the riverfront in Toledo, Ohio. We talked with Burkholder about the region’s particular character, how the competition will harness local expertise, and why Toledo needs a dredge research site.

Tell us a little about the industrial landscape of the Great Lakes. What makes it different from other working ports, and how does that inform the competition’s program?
The interesting thing about the Great Lakes is that it’s a tremendous resource of fresh water. It’s 200,000 square miles of a drainage basin, and though that’s not big compared to the Mississippi River basin, it’s still 30 million people right on fresh water. With that access to fresh water comes the fresh water ecologies and habitat that are tied to it, so it’s a completely different system than on the coasts.

The Great Lakes was the industrial core of the country. Material made it to the Great Lakes and was then shipped out through the canals or the Saint Lawrence seaway. With changing populations, migration, suburbanization, and de-urbanization, the region has suffered in the postindustrial period. So, it’s a region that’s trying to reinvent itself in a lot of ways. I’ve worked in a lot of the cities around the Great Lakes region, and that work has primarily dealt with vacancy and postindustrial urban sites.

The competition is designed to look topically at issues that are in some ways endemic to the entire basin. The idea is to look at the issues at a graspable scale so that a designer can work on a problem with special contextual conditions in a specific place, but also allow for wide-ranging application.

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POWER TO THE PEOPLE

BY MIMI ZEIGER

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You’ve likely heard of William Mulholland. There’s a ridgetop road in the Santa Monica Mountains, Mulholland Drive, named after him that offers breathtaking views of the Los Angeles basin and was the namesake of a David Lynch movie. Tall tales and mythologies swirl around Mulholland, the civil engineer who founded the Los Angeles Aqueduct and brought water to the desert. The aqueduct, which opened on November 5, 1913, and recently celebrated its centennial, would eventually become the water half of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and Mulholland’s life would transform into legend. But if the story of L.A. water is well known, what of the power supply, the last letter in LADWP? That’s the question posed by the exhibition LADWP Power, on view at the Los Angeles headquarters of the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI) through February 2014.

The one-room show, presented on three touch screens and two walls of the center, examines the overlooked electrical infrastructure that seamlessly, almost invisibly, illuminates and drives Los Angeles. “The DWP is iconic and welded to the city’s culture,” says Matthew Coolidge, who founded CLUI in 1994 and is its director. “Mythologized through various media, such as the film Chinatown, it’s part of the noir history of L.A.”

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