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Archive for the ‘ECOLOGY’ Category

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In August’s issue of LAM, Philip Walsh finds that landscape architects could work harder than they do to restore lost wetlands in the United States. Steven Litt, in Cleveland, reports on how Perk Park, an acre of oasis downtown, by Thomas Balsley Associates, is making the city look harder at the value of well-designed open space. And in Washington, D.C., Bradford McKee checks out the new national headquarters of the U.S. Coast Guard with two dozen acres of green roofs and gardens by Andropogon and HOK.

In the departments, the Harvard Graduate School of Design appoints Anita Berrizbeitia, ASLA, as the chair of landscape architecture and Diane Davis as the chair of urban planning; a look at the watchdogs who track down plant growers who infringe on someone else’s patents; and the winners of the Boston Living with Water Competition aimed at envisioning a resilient city come sea-level rise. All this plus our regular Now, Species, Goods, and Books columns. The full table of contents for August can be found here.

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 August articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “The Return of the Swamp,” Lisa Cowan, ASLA/StudioVerde; “Freeze, Thaw, Flourish,” © Scott Pease/Pease Photography, 2012; “The Wetter, the Better,” Judy Davis/Hoachlander Davis Photography; “New Chairs, Subtle Shifts,” Courtesy Harvard Graduate School of Design; “Plant Sheriff,” Courtesy Bailey Nurseries; “Boston from the Ground Floor,” Designed by Architerra; Courtesy Boston Living With Water.

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DredgeFest_GreatLakes_Flyer-02 If you missed DredgeFestNYC and DredgeFest Louisiana (see “The Dredge Underground,” LAM, August 2014) then you haven’t experienced one of the most interesting landscape-focused gatherings around. Fortunately, another chance is just ahead at DredgeFest Great Lakes (DFGL) this August. DredgeFest draws a friendly and curious crowd across a wide spectrum of expertise to look critically at dredging and the land it winds up making—and there are many overlaps with contemporary landscape architecture practice.

This event (conference doesn’t really describe it) will focus on the Great Lakes region (aka the Third Coast in dredgespeak). It will include two days of talks and presentations from a range of designers and others who work in this industrial practice; a day of touring dredge sites around Duluth; and a weeklong workshop at the University of Minnesota’s School of Architecture and Department of Landscape Architecture that brings in a very intriguing international cohort of designers.

This third iteration of DredgeFest should be the best yet, with the now-signature mix of intense investigations and industrial monumentality with the speculative edge that has marked previous DredgeFests.

Landscape Architecture Magazine is a cosponsor of DFGL this year. We’re looking forward to inhaling the fascinating new research and meeting folks in Minnesota this August. Registration for one or all parts of DFGL is open now.

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June’s issue of LAM looks at the tough choices that landscape architecture firms, such as Sasaki Associates and OLIN, must face when updating for a new era; the rustic landscape of a house in Northern California by Lutsko Associates, a winner of a 2013 ASLA Professional Honor Award; and we visit New York City’s biggest secret, Governors Island, the first phase of which opened to the public last year with designs by West8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture.

In departments, Michael Cannell interviews the computer scientist Ioannis Karamouzas about the anticipatory nature of people in crowds; New York State’s new “unwanted” list of invasive plants, fish, invertebrates, and vertebrates outright bans the use of some fan favorites; and Louisville’s tree canopy is disappearing by approximately 54,000 trees a year, according to a new report by the Davey Resource Group. All this plus our regular Now, Species, Goods, and Books columns. The full table of contents for June can be found here.

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 June articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Treasure Island,” © Iwan Baan; “The Shelter of Oaks,” Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA; “Crowd Computing,” Ioannis Karamouzas; “Don’t Bring It Here,” “Flowering Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) Somewhere in Massachusetts, USA” by Liz West is licensed under CC by 2.0; “A Canopy in Crisis,” Courtesy Davey Resource Group.

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The formative influences and expansive body of work of Richard Haag, FASLA, are on full display in this multipart oral history presented by the Cultural Landscape Foundation, and are an excellent accompaniment to Brice Maryman’s lively review of The Landscape Architecture of Richard Haag: From Modern Space to Urban Ecological Design by Thaïsa Way in the May issue (“Once and Always the Radical”). In this interview from 2004, Haag narrates his beginnings at his father’s country nursery to his emergence as a landscape architect to become one of the most well-known names in the profession.

You can buy this month’s 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.

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BY CAROL E. BECKER

Building the supply chain for native landscapes.

Building the supply chain for native landscapes.

From the May 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The oak is our national tree for a reason. Oaks are endemic to our native landscapes in all regions of the United States, easily identified by their leaf shape and gnarly branches. The size of the mature white oak (Quercus alba), spreading up to 120 feet, is one reason we associate oaks with strength, along with the density of the wood and an oak fire’s burning hot and long in the woodstove. Native oaks fall into two taxonomic groups, white and red, and their landscape uses vary depending on soil moisture. But most important today, as Douglas Tallamy, a professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, points out, oaks are the “quintessential wildlife plants.” They provide food to more than 500 species of caterpillars and other insects. In this fact lies the oaks’ value to the entire food chain, from the birds that eat insects to the humans who rest in the trees’ shade.

We need more oaks in our landscapes, mostly for the food benefits they provide. But instead of being sought-after plants, oaks are underused, undermarketed, undercultivated, and therefore in short supply. Landscape architects don’t often use them, clients don’t ask for them, and thus growers don’t grow them. A reverse scenario also holds true. Few nurseries grow Quercus species, particularly Q. macrocarpa, Q. muehlenbergii, and Q. alba, because they are hard to grow and suffer significant transplant death. So clients don’t see them and don’t ask for them and, in turn, landscape architects don’t specify them. Whatever the reason and wherever you start, it’s a circle of mutually reinforcing supply and demand.

The oaks are but one example of the larger problem for design professionals working to create sustainable landscapes with hardy plants in a given region. The interest in doing so—the imperative of doing so—is unequaled by the supply of appropriate species. This shortage also helps perpetuate clients’ expectations of plant specimens they do in fact see at the retail level, plants that are well-shaped, blooming, varied, and maybe even a bit exotic. The landscape architecture profession has taught them to value this aesthetic at least since the mid-19th century, when Andrew Jackson Downing codified ornamental landscaping in A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening. Now, we find ourselves in a world where, in just the past 40 years, half the songbird species in the United States and more than 90 percent of the monarch butterflies have disappeared. Honeybees and bumblebees have fallen to a mysterious virus, a cataclysmic problem that threatens the entire food chain. We do know how to reverse these trends and preserve biodiversity in landscapes, but we can’t get it done because clients still want constantly blooming and well-shaped plants with no bugs.

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BY PHILIP WALSH

A new cash crop is shifting the contours of Wisconsin's countryside.

A new cash crop is shifting the contours of Wisconsin’s countryside.

From the March 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Two saucers full of sand sit on my desk. One contains a heathery mix of grains that I scooped up from L Street Beach in South Boston. It’s a blend of dark, light, and medium stone, mostly quartz weathered from the granite mountains of New Hampshire. Viewed at a distance it’s just gray. The coastal sands of southern New England were originally washed down by glacial floodwaters when the Laurentide Ice Sheet began to retreat about 20,000 years ago. Sand is dynamic, particularly when acted upon by the ocean. And indeed, the effect of water on stone is the very genesis of sand. The action of millennia of waves and currents reshapes the grains themselves. This sand is “semiangular”: The grains are irregular and somewhat sharp edged, although the occasional near sphere of transparent quartz does crop up now and again, as I peer at it through a 10x loupe. It is very young sand.

The second dish of sand is quite another matter. It’s an even golden color, reminiscent of straw or lightly done toast. The grains are on the whole much finer than the beach sand, and even without magnification they have a remarkable consistency, almost a silky quality. Under the loupe the grains are almost all rounded, most nearly spherical. The saucer also holds several large lumps of aggregated sand, still damp when I collected them at a mine operated by Fairmount Santrol at Menomonie, Wisconsin. This is sandstone from the Wonewoc Formation, and the mine was originally prospected by a nearby glassmaking company. Some of the sand from this site still ends up as windows. When I gathered these lumps of sand at the quarry, still moist, the stone had the consistency of halvah and readily crumbled into a heap of the distinctive, fine golden grains. Now that the sample has dried it behaves more like the sandstone it is. The Wonewoc sandstone dates to the early Cambrian Period, about 500 million years ago. It was smoothed into its typical roundness and sorted into beds by the actions of shallow seas that lapped the shores of supercontinents that predate even Pangaea, the breakup of which continues to shape our globe. This sand is so old that the tides that refined it were governed by a shorter day and a year 400 days long. It is unthinkably ancient.

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BY KEVAN WILLIAMS

A torreya sapling growing in North Carolina and a photograph of its parent tree.

A torreya sapling growing in North Carolina and a photograph of its parent tree.

From the September 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

For more than 200 years, naturalists and plant enthusiasts have come to the woods along the Altamaha River in south Georgia, searching for a horticultural holy grail: a wild Franklinia alatamaha, William Bartram’s “lost camellia.” First discovered by the famed naturalists John and William Bartram in 1765 at a single site near Darien, Georgia, and seen only a handful of times since, a wild specimen of the plant was last conclusively identified in 1803. Franklinia is considered extinct in the wild, and the species has survived only in propagation: All living plants are descendants of seeds collected by the Bartrams and grown in their Pennsylvania garden. But many aficionados have continued the search for a surviving wild plant, ignoring the seeming finality of extinction. I’m wandering through woods repeating the exercise in the Altamaha Wildlife Management Area, but the Franklinia I’m seeking aren’t wild, as such. They’re an outplanting of two dozen nursery-grown plants, attempted by the staff of the Nature Conservancy to see whether Franklinia could still survive in Georgia.

My guides are Alison McGee, the Southeast Georgia conservation manager for the Nature Conservancy, and her husband, Rob Sutter, a conservation ecologist, who lead me down a dusty dirt road to the conservancy’s experiment site. We park near a campground frequented by hog hunters and venture off into the woods, clad in orange. For a couple of hours we wander through a maze of saw palms, searching without success. All the signs seem to be there. There are tattered strands of survey tape hanging from a few of the trees, and machete wounds mark others, but there are no Franklinia. The planting should have had a marker—“That’s the way we usually find rare species these days,” Sutter says—but we can’t find it. Was it kicked over, hidden under the saw palms, or are we looking in the wrong spot? McGee takes home two hog skulls as a consolation prize, signs of one migrant species that seems to be doing well here.

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