Archive for the ‘ECONOMICS’ Category

With new plant varieties hitting the market each year, someone has to make sure everyone plays by the rules.

With new plant varieties hitting the market each year, someone has to make sure everyone plays by the rules.

From the August 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The people behind Plant Watch want the name alone to strike fear into anyone illegally propagating plants that are under patent protection. Plant Watch began in 2005 as the U.S. arm of the Canadian Ornamental Plant Foundation (COPF), a nonprofit group that deals with royalty administration and monitoring for illegally propagated plants by growers who skip out on paying the required royalties for growing protected plant varieties. COPF started as “a gentleman’s agreement to grow plants and remit royalties to each other,” says Sylvia Mosterman, the executive director of Plant Watch and COPF. However, “people aren’t as gentlemanly as they used to be,” so COPF grew in response to monitor patented and trademarked plants from illegal propagation.

Plant patents, or plant breeders’ rights, as they are referred to outside the United States, are granted to “an inventor who has invented or discovered and asexually reproduced a distinct and new variety of plant,” according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. Patenting a new variety of plant protects only against the unauthorized reproduction of a plant; as an extra layer of protection, a plant can be given a trademarked name, such as Hydrangea macrophylla Endless Summer, for easy identification by consumers. Breeders are the originators of these new plant varieties, and there are companies such as Bailey Nurseries or Monrovia that actively search for new plants from a variety of breeders to add to their corporate brand offerings. These companies usually have brand compliance rules in addition to (more…)

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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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United States Capitol dome under restoration. Photo Architect of the Capitol

United States Capitol dome under restoration. Photo Architect of the Capitol

A monthly bit of headline news from ASLA’s national office.

It’s April, which at ASLA headquarters in Washington means that Advocacy Day is nigh—Thursday, April 23. Every year around this time, hundreds of ASLA members come to town ahead of the midyear meetings of the Society’s Board of Trustees and Chapter Presidents Council to spend a day on Capitol Hill visiting the offices of their senators and representatives to make the case for national issues that are important to landscape architects.

This year, the focus of advocacy efforts is on three issues: the reauthorization and full funding of the Transportation Alternatives Program and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the authorization and funding (at $100 million) of the National Park Service Centennial Challenge. Advocacy Day is about showing strength in numbers. But the individual work of telling Congress what landscape architects do and why it matters never stops—especially because design in the public realm helps create new jobs, stimulate consumer spending, increase property values, and, in turn, generate billions in new federal, state, and local tax revenues. Even design professionals not planning to take part in Advocacy Day activities should stay aware of how these issues are moving, or not, in Washington, and keep in touch with the members and staff of their congressional delegations.

Each day, Roxanne Blackwell, Mark Cason, and Leighton Yates of ASLA’s government affairs staff work with legislators on issues of importance to the profession, and you should follow them on Twitter at @ASLA_Advocacy. But members of Congress really sit up and listen to the concerns of individual constituents and business owners. To help acquaint you with ways to communicate with Congress, the government affairs staff will hold a webinar tomorrow, April 9, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern. You can register to join the webinar here. Questions? ASLA’s government affairs staff is happy to help. Contact the director of federal government affairs, Roxanne Blackwell, at rblackwell@asla.org.

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CAP TBD  Credit: New Orleans Redevelopment Authority.

A Mardi Gras parade passes by one of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority’s pilot rain garden lots in Algiers, designed by Spackman Mossop and Michaels. Credit: New Orleans Redevelopment Authority.

This week, the Van Alen Institute announced Future Ground, a new, open, and international competition to develop ideas and policies for dealing with New Orleans’s nearly 30,000 vacant lots and abandoned buildings. Nearly 10 years post-Katrina, New Orleans has thousands of idle urban spaces that the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, which owns more than 2,000 of them and is a cosponsor of the competition, wants to see turned into community resources.

The Future Ground RFQ stresses the need to develop workable policies for these vacant spaces as well as design solutions. It states that competitors should be multidisciplinary teams of “individuals and firms with expertise in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, urban planning, graphic design, policy, engineering, finance, real estate, community development, and other fields.” Competing teams need to include local partners. Winning teams, the brief says, will receive $15,000 to work on small projects that can have broader applications and also generate policies that can sustain the program for the next several decades.

This is not Van Alen’s first foray into vacant land—it sponsored the Urban Voids competition back in 2005 for Philadelphia, and this competition is part of the multiyear, multiproject Elsewhere: Escape and the Urban Landscape initiative.

The timeline is short: The deadline for applications is September 29, 2014, and teams will kick off in New Orleans in October 2014 and wrap up by the spring of 2015. You can find the RFQ and more information, including a list  of advisers, local sponsors, and jury members, on the Van Alen Institute site.

Tell us in the comments if you decide to submit, and what intrigues you about this opportunity.

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From the June 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

When John Crespo, Student ASLA, was applying to master of landscape architecture programs a few years ago, his target list ranged far and wide, from Texas A&M to Kansas State, University of Illinois, and Cornell University. Admitted to all of them, Crespo opted for the more expensive Cornell, figuring that the school’s excellent academic program and vaunted reputation in landscape architecture might boost his career chances. Next spring, Crespo will graduate with a coveted Cornell degree, but he will also be saddled with an estimated $30,000 in student loans. “It was a calculated decision, because my biggest concern after leaving school was finding a job,” Crespo, 28, recalls about his decision. “I hope the Cornell name will provide me with some leverage and, down the road, the investment will pay off.”

Faced with rising tuition costs and shrinking financial aid opportunities, landscape architecture students are part of the wave of students across the country going deeper into debt to finance their education and professional goals. Some, like Crespo, are banking on that investment to further their careers, despite the debt load, while others are simply trying to obtain degrees that will open doors to their desired fields. Whatever the motive, the total student debt market, which includes private, variable-rate loans and federally backed fixed-rate loans, is surging. In 2013 it topped $1.2 trillion, after passing the $1 trillion mark only two years earlier. More than 70 percent of college seniors who graduated in 2012 from four-year colleges had debt from student loans, compared to 68 percent in 2008. And the average debt load for those graduating with bachelor’s degrees for the class of 2012 climbed to $29,400, up 25 percent from $23,450 in 2008, according to the nonprofit Institute for College Access & Success.


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HIgh-tide scenarios for a storm in 2050, and potential location of future design strategies. Courtesy Sasaki Associates.

Can Boston take action—enough action—to protect itself from rising waters before the next big storm? Or will the city tragically require its own Katrina or Sandy in order to muster the will to protect itself against repeated catastrophe?

Those were the questions in play at the “Sea Change: Boston” symposium on April 26, cohosted by Sasaki Associates and the Boston Architectural College. Sea-level rise is no idle threat in this city: If Superstorm Sandy had hit five hours earlier, at high tide, flood waters could have extended to City Hall. Boston is vulnerable to storm surges of both hurricanes and nor’easters, which could hit on top of sea levels that are projected to rise 1 to 2 feet by 2050 and 3 to 6 feet by 2100.


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"Work" by Alex Kwa from The Noun Project

Work by Alex Kwa from the Noun Project.

From the March issue of LAM:

For most of the past several years, there has not been much to say on the employment front for landscape architects, or for the design and construction industry in general, except that nobody was hiring. And that’s a very short story to tell. But by mid-February, there were definite signs of a steady upward trend in the hiring of landscape architects. Of course, this sort of thing must be said somewhat warily, so as not to jinx or overstate it, but designers themselves offer the proof.

In the first week of February, there were 80 jobs listed on ASLA’s JobLink site; 61 of them were placed in January (most are listings that stay up for 30 days). The last time listings ran this high was 2008; there were about 90 ads placed in both January and February of that year. And we all know what happened over the following several months as the housing market nearly brought down the entire financial system. In January of 2009, there were 14 ads placed; the January number stayed in that range through January 2013, when there were 22 ads.

The jobs listed recently have been diverse. A few public agencies are hiring, and so are design/build firms, landscape contracting companies, small design offices, and global multidisciplinary firms. The destination is no longer just China or bust; there are firms all over the country looking for new people.


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