Archive for the ‘EDUCATION’ Category

Maybe you’ve noticed things have been a bit more lively here at the  Landscape Architecture Magazine blog of late, and you’d be right. In addition to cranking up our posting to twice a week (!), we’ve been thinking a bit about what we might do to expand our audience and create more of a community of landscape-minded readers.  There are many changes afoot that will be rolled out in 2014, but we’d like your help with some low-hanging fruit, namely our blog roll.

Yes, the blog roll is a venerated tradition in the webs, but often it just becomes a mutual linkfest that highlights the same five well-known news aggregators over and over. We’d like to do something more substantial, and we’d like your help, friendly reader.

Our current blog roll (over on the right—->>) is pretty good, but some of our favorites aren’t posting so much anymore and our sense is that there are a lot more landscape-oriented blogs out there than there were a year ago when we first made the list. That’s where we’d like your help.

So tell us your favorite landscape blogs in the comments below.  We’re interested in original content, rather than aggregators, and we’re curious about anything that shapes landscape, from agriculture to climate to infrastructure to policy to design theory to design tech.  

Here are some we’ve been reading lately–

Rust Wire. Always a fave. News and urban grit from the rust belt.

BakkenBlog. North Dakota oil and gas.

Big Picture Ag. Perspectives on ag policy, food, science.

The Prairie Ecologist. Notes on prairie ecology, restoration, and management.

Small Streets Blog. Life at a plausible scale.

Gizmodo. New life under Geoff Manaugh of bldgblog, but you knew that.

Garden Rant. Various garden-related posts with a strong point of view.

99% Invisible. Blog to accompany the excellent design-oriented podcast.

What are you reading and liking? Suggest blogs in the comments or on Twitter @LandArchMag.

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Energy City Framework

Chen used parametric tools to study how new forms of energy production (wind, solar, biomass) can be overlapped with other land uses in urban areas. Images courtesy of Chen Chen.

The Overlapped City was architect Chen Chen’s second ASLA Student Honor award winner, and because of this, it offers a chance to see how ideas and frameworks can grow and mature over the course of graduate education. Chen’s work is notable for its moody, almost dystopian graphic presentation, but it’s her analytical heft that caught the jury’s eye this year. The project distills the spatial implications of energy production, with the city of Houston as a prototype site. We talked with Chen Chen from her Beijing studio, reMIX, about her project, her abiding interest in energy, and the big opportunities that she believes landscape architects are missing.

You won the Student ASLA Honor Award in 2011 (for Vertical Territories, with E. Scott Mitchell and Amy Whitesides) and again in 2013. How would you describe the difference between your projects, and what have you learned and applied in the interim?
The projects share a lot in common. There are continuities of scale, but with quite different topics. Two projects deal with landscape primarily through vertical dimensions, integrating multiple goals, multiple data sets, and a multilayered approach. What is common is the verticality of those two projects, and they both try to deal with problems in [the] context of compact or dense urban environments. Both try to make a synergy between different types [of] land use. For example, both talk about how energy production can be overlapped with open space or landscape or ecological elements. I look at how those functions can work on different elevations to give some productivity to land and open space. Usually, open space in urban areas doesn’t produce any revenue—that’s usually the first thing to be removed when there is a high-pressure urban development. I am trying to look at ways of putting that back in.


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From the November 2013 issue of LAM:

Outdoor classrooms take shape at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women.  Credit: Bob Elbert.

Outdoor classrooms take shape at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women. Credit: Bob Elbert.

After a long day of building at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville, Meredith Ver Steeg, Student ASLA, took inventory of the tools. She had to make sure none of them had slipped into a prisoner’s pocket. “If a single hammer is missing, there will be no movement on this campus until that hammer is found,” explains Julie Stevens, ASLA, Ver Steeg’s landscape architecture professor at Iowa State University.

For much of this past summer, Stevens supervised five landscape architecture students and eight offenders as they constructed a complicated new landscape for the prison. Students learned to build walls, cut stone, and move earth with a skid loader.


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By Alex Ulam

In a lecture hall at New York University packed with politicians, planners, and students, an army of designers gathered Monday morning to show the initial stages of their ideas in the Rebuild by Design competition. The competition, for which 10 interdisciplinary design teams were chosen as finalists in August, is a project of the president’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force to generate ideas for protecting coastal communities from big storms such as Sandy, which struck the New Jersey shore one year ago this week, pummeled the New York metropolitan region, and caused more than $60 billion in damage in the United States alone. The competition runs through March. Proposals by winning teams will be eligible for funding by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and private-sector groups.

The Monday morning presentations, which were reprised at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark in the evening, were a much-awaited midpoint review of the process. For all the deep and lingering distress that Hurricane Sandy created—about 50,000 people are still homeless as a result of the storm—it appears that it has presented one of the most pivotal public moments for landscape architecture in decades, even a century.



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VogueAUSTIN, TEXAS—As landscape architecture educators socialized Thursday evening with Lone Star beer, whiskey, and wine, conversations frequently returned to that day’s speech by the landscape historian John Stilgoe of Harvard University. What did it all mean? Is Stilgoe a prophetic observer or is he out of touch with the profession? Is he a feminist or the opposite?

The speech was a winding road system with many cul-de-sacs, loosely related observations that cannot be done justice in this format. Its main intent seemed to be challenging landscape architects to think about where they get their conceptions of landscape beauty, and where clients get theirs.

Stilgoe asserted that many people get their ideas about landscape beauty from advertisements. More specifically, he thinks many women get their ideas from the ads in fashion magazines, and so he has become an avid reader of these magazines himself. He challenged the audience to look at the landscapes that fashion models appear in, and showed slide after slide of unsmiling models positioned in similar landscapes of concrete and stone. “The very straightforward formula for producing the background image is very, very creepy,” Stilgoe said. “Notice how often the model is in a derelict environment.” The model is the beautiful thing. Nothing is allowed to outshine her or her dress.

He wondered why we seem to put historicized scenes on our Christmas cards and how our movies, our children’s books, and our camera lenses are affecting the way we see landscape.

Stilgoe has built his career on such questions and observations. “J. B. Jackson told me to get in a car and go look,” Stilgoe recalled. “Don’t ever ask for a grant, because how are you going to ask for money if you don’t know what you’re going to look at?”

He has observed a nation of passive consumers, more concerned about their own bodies than the content of their character or the flowers around them. “We became a people who stopped dancing and started to watch others dance,” Stilgoe said. (more…)

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"Say Manure!" -Rich Haag. (Photo by Daniel Jost)

“Say Manure!” -Rich Haag.
(Photo by Daniel Jost)

AUSTIN, TEXAS—The Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture conference began on Wednesday with a rousing and hilarious rant by Richard Haag, the 89-year-old landscape architect from Seattle best known for his design of Gas Works Park and his early advocacy for edible plants. The speech veered in numerous directions. At one point Haag polled the audience to see what topics they wanted him to focus on, and, to his surprise, they chose trees. Some of the most memorable lines and moments:

“I have known for 50 years that landscape architecture is the fine art of visual swindles.” [Arguing that no rendering can truly capture the landscape in all its complexity.]

“Landscape architecture is the only profession that embraces nature as a lover. Biophilic, we were biophilic before they started combining words like that.”

On the landscape architecture profession: “Right now we’re on the top. We have what I call the power of procreation. But it can be threatened by other technologies moving in, and we damn well better take control of it.”

“Every idea you have, give it away, because you get a better one in return.” (more…)

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The Panelists (clockwise from top left): Jeff Hou, ASLA; Zhifang Wang; Kongjian Yu, FASLA; Ron Henderson, FASLA; Frederick R. Steiner, FASLA; Binyi Liu, Honorary ASLA; Chuo Li; Daniel Jost, ASLA; Jie Hu, International ASLA

The Panelists (clockwise from top left): Jeff Hou, ASLA; Zhifang Wang; Kongjian Yu, FASLA; Ron Henderson, FASLA; Frederick R. Steiner, FASLA; Binyi Liu, Honorary ASLA; Chuo Li; Daniel Jost, ASLA; Jie Hu, International ASLA


From the February 2013 issue of LAM:

Professors from both sides of the Pacific talk about the amazing cultural exchange happening between American and Chinese universities and the rising stature of landscape architecture in China.

By Daniel Jost

A decade and a half ago, the Chinese government “canceled” landscape architecture education in China. Some bureaucrats decided the discipline was superfluous. Today, the profession of landscape architecture is growing in that country like nowhere else in the world. Landscape architects are among China’s most highly paid professionals, and Chinese students are flooding into American universities to study landscape architecture at an unprecedented rate.

Meanwhile, landscape architecture education has come back into favor in China, and Chinese universities have established or reestablished nearly 200 landscape architecture programs in less than a decade. Some of the people who lead China’s most influential programs studied in the United States, and some of the programs have strong connections with American academics. Tsinghua University’s landscape architecture program was established with the help of a team of American landscape architects led by Laurie Olin, FASLA, of the University of Pennsylvania. Patrick Miller, FASLA, a longtime professor at Virginia Tech, is the honorary chair of landscape studies at Tongji University in Shanghai.

Yet the teaching of landscape architecture in China is often quite different from what U.S. students would recognize—many Chinese programs make a stronger connection between education and practice. And what each program teaches is, for the moment, less standardized than even America’s highly diverse programs. Right now, China has no system for accrediting landscape architecture education, though efforts are under way to change that.

In December, we brought together eight academics from the United States and China to talk about the cultural exchange taking place between their countries and issues educators face in China as they try to build the profession there. (more…)

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