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Archive for the ‘HISTORY’ Category

Multihalle, Mannheim, Germany. Photo Copyright Frei Otto

Frei Otto, Mannheim Garden Festival Hall (1975), Mannheim, Germany. Photo Copyright Frei Otto.

In recent years, the announcement of the Pritzker Prize has fueled as much debate about the prize itself and about the state of the architecture profession as it has about the merits of the winners. This year was no exception. In giving the award to Frei Otto, the German architect and engineer known for his tensile and lightweight structures, the Pritzker prize organization unintentionally broke its rule of recognizing only living architects. Otto died at 89 only days after being notified of his selection, and the prize announcement was rushed two weeks ahead of its planned date. His unfortunate passing aside, Otto was an unusual and in many ways inspired choice by the jury. He was a gifted and generous collaborator, and most of his most prominent built works were coauthored by other architects and engineers, many of whom were still emerging at the time, including Gunter Behnisch and Ted Happold, and later, Shigeru Ban. “Otto was a spark, a trigger. His ideas created opportunities for others to thrive,” said the engineer Guy Nordenson. In his tentlike Mannheim Garden Festival Hall and the soaring Munich Stadium complex for the 1972 Olympics, he created breakthrough structural ideas, which often required new technologies and models to bring Otto’s ideas into built reality. Nordenson credited Happold and others with having created the first computer-based form-finding techniques in their modeling of the Mannheim project. (more…)

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While many people know the fine books published by the Library of American Landscape History (LALH), the library’s excellent series of short documentaries, North America by Design, deserves attention as well. The films, coproduced with Florentine Films/Hott Productions, Inc. and freely available for viewing, are based on the richly illustrated scholarly histories they publish. So far, the series contains four films, all of which can be seen in full on the LALH website:

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

California drought, visualized with open data. Courtesy USGS. http://cida.usgs.gov/ca_drought/

In the December Queue, the LAM staff spends way too much time playing with a drought data visualization, reads about rivers reappearing everywhere, and keeps tabs on Chicago’s bid to be an architectural capital.

CATCHING UP WITH…

  Though researchers continue to analyze the sustained ecological benefits of Minute 319, a pulse flow released in March on the Colorado River (“Fluid Boundaries,” LAM, November 2014), the social benefits to local communities were obvious.

 The river restoration and daylighting projects landscape architect Keith Underwood has worked on in the D.C. area have brought life back to what was once buried for fear of disease (“A Filmmaker Who Follows Buried Rivers,” July 22, 2014).

 Despite some criticism over the sustainability of the daylighted Cheonggyecheon River in Seoul (“A View From Below,” LAM, June 2010), the project remains an ecological and social success story.

FIELD STUDIES

 We are what we eat, but does the culture surrounding the food’s cultivation affect us as well? A recent study published by the journal Science says so.

Salon reports that a new study published by the Journal for Nature Conservation reveals a drastic decline in reindeer across the world due to tourism and inbreeding, among other factors.

•  Dalia Zein at Landscape Architects Network visits Parc André Citroën, considered by some as one of Paris’s worst parks.

The UN-Habitat website recently launched a new search platform to access the UN’s publications and reports on a variety of urban topics, from sanitation to gender to housing.

OUR WOBBLY WORLD

 New user-friendly interactive maps created with open data by the USGS visualizes the drought intensity over time in California and the Southwest.

 If you’re an American who doesn’t believe in climate change, you are now in the minority. A new survey conducted for Munich Re America finds that 83 percent of American respondents believe the earth’s climate is in fact changing, though only 14 percent identified it as a top concern.

 Tiny Bubbles department: According to scientists at Leeds University, if you can reduce the bubble size in the wake of oceangoing vessels, you can “counteract the impact of climate change.” 

A recent segment on 60 Minutes reports that the world population is tapping into groundwater at a quickening pace, and looks at ramifications for overdrawing from these vast, but finite, groundwater reserves.

OUT AND ABOUT

 In a bid to cement Chicago as an architectural mecca, the city recently announced calls for entry to the Chicago Architecture Biennial Lakefront Kiosk Competition as part of the premiere of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Submissions run until March 23, 2015.

Rick Darke, whose firm is known for “landscape ethics, photography, and contextual design,” will be the keynote speaker for the 2015 Ecological Landscape Alliance Conference & Eco-Marketplace, which takes place February 25–26 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

DISTRACT ME FROM MY DEADLINE DEPT.

 If this doesn’t stop you from jaywalking, we don’t know what will.

 Why plant a real tree when you can get an urban wind turbine that looks like one instead?

Show that you’re landscape cognoscenti with these aerial photos for your phone’s wallpaper.

 Even oil barons can get into the spirit of the holidays.

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2x4_aar_rome_prize_emailIt’s always been a bit of a mystery why more landscape architects don’t apply for the Rome Prize. It isn’t because it’s obscure: The fellowship is one of the best-known and most prestigious awards for designers and humanities scholars, the kind of résumé bell ringer that’s recognized across the professions. At its center is an 11-month (on average) residency at the American Academy in Rome’s Villa Aurelia among a diverse group of scholars, musicians, and artists, and the rich community working in and around the academy. But while the architecture fellowship has always been highly enrolled, perhaps because of the academy’s early association with the architect Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead, and White, the two (on average) fellowships for landscape architecture do not receive nearly the same amount of applications. And that’s a shame: “This is an opportunity not to be passed up,” says Mary Margaret Jones, FASLA,  a principal at Hargreaves Associates.

Jones was a Rome Prize fellow in 1997–98, and she describes her fellowship year, when she made topographic models of Renaissance gardens, with unabashed enthusiasm as “life changing” and “transformative.” She now chairs the board of trustees, the first woman and the first landscape architect to do so, and she’d like to see more landscape architects throw their portfolios in the ring.

Despite its lofty origins and association with classical studies, the academy supports a wide range of new work from emerging artists and designers, and the city of Rome is so rich that there are many ways to develop project proposals that overlap with contemporary research and practice. Jones suggests those applying should  focus on the portfolio—the body of work is paramount—and that those at any point in their career should apply. “Juries are looking for people for whom it will be game changing,” says Jones. “It really is a time to take time to really look and see things.”

The current Rome Prize fellows in landscape architecture are Kim Karlsrud and Daniel Phillips of Commonstudio and Adam Kuby, an environmental designer from Portland, Oregon. Recent past landscape architecture fellows have included Bradley E. Cantrell and Elizabeth Fain LaBombard, and Walter Hood,  ASLA, Thomas Oslund, Peter Walker, FASLA, and Eric Reid Fulford have also been fellows. Applications for the next year’s Rome Prize are due November 1, 2014, and carry a small fee of $30 per application. Late applications will be accepted until November 15 with a fee of $60 per application. More info about the fellowship as well as eligibility and requirements can be found on the AAR’s website.

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BY JONATHAN LERNER

Now viewed across the lawn and meadow, the houses evoke the settlement's rural character.

Now viewed across the lawn and meadow, the houses evoke the settlement’s rural character.

From the September 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Nearly 50 years ago, a cluster of old houses, set slightly askew, was “discovered” in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood. They had been surrounded and concealed by newer structures aligned to the modern street grid. These modest cottages were the last physical trace of Weeksville, a self-sufficient farming settlement founded by freed African Americans after slavery was outlawed in New York in 1827.

An organization soon coalesced to document the history and preserve the structures. These years later, the newly completed Weeksville Heritage Center has wider ambitions: both to celebrate the area’s black history and to foster its present-day cultural vitality. The historic houses have been restored and are joined by a dazzling new building with exhibition, performance, research, and classroom spaces. Between them is an outdoor area meant for active programming and historical interpretation. Elizabeth J. Kennedy, ASLA, the designer, says, “One challenge was to make the historic land use patterns apparent.” Another was to reveal the idiosyncratic route of long-erased Hunterfly Road, originally a Native American footpath, which the old houses had fronted.

(more…)

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Drought is said to be too many nice days in a row. Well, in California, three years of nice days has curdled into sheer dread. In the Features section of our September issue, Bill Marken, a frequent LAM contributor and a former editor of Sunset, takes a road trip through California to witness the effects of the drought, which is crippling in certain places and seemingly not such a big deal in others, and to comment on the efforts, or lack thereof, to help soften the drought’s blows. In Mexico, a memorial to victims of the drug war struggles to honor the local impact of this complex, global tragedy. When the ever-encroaching tides threatened an iconic Norman Jaffe house in the Hamptons, LaGuardia Design Landscape Architects pulled it back from the brink and garnered an ASLA Award of Excellence in Residential Design. The landscape historian Thaisa Way takes Michael Van Valkenburgh’s words to heart when she looks at Chicago’s Lurie Garden, by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol with Piet Oudolf, 10 years after it opened beside Lake Michigan.

Also in this issue: The new landscape design for the Weeksville Heritage Center unearths the site’s past as a freedmen’s settlement; the ongoing efforts to contain sudden oak death’s spread (efforts which, it turns out, may be helped by the California drought); ecologists on the cutting edge of assisted migration who argue that it’s the only way to save the trees; and a brief history of pushback on Rails to Trails conversions. All this plus the regular goodies in Species, Goods, Books, and Now. The full table of contents for September can be read 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 some September pieces as the month rolls out.

Credits: The Lurie Garden, The Lurie Garden; Assisted Migration, Torreya Guardians; Weeksville Heritage Center, Nic Lehoux Architectural Photography for Caples Jefferson Architects; Sudden Oak Death, Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension; Memorial to the Victims of Violence in Mexico, Sandra Pereznieto; LaGuardia Associates Perlbinder House, Erika Shank; San Luis Reservoir, Peter Bennett/Green Stock Photos. 

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 Lincoln's Cottage sits on one of the highest points in DC. Copyright (C) National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Lincoln’s Cottage sits on one of the highest points in D.C. Copyright National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Tucked away among the 276 acres of the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home property in Washington, D.C., is a modest gothic revival home where Abraham Lincoln and his family went to escape the city’s oppressive summer heat.

President Lincoln's Cottage. Copyright © National Trust for Historic Preservation.

President Lincoln’s Cottage. Copyright National Trust for Historic Preservation.

It was here that Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, and it was here that he was sometimes seen walking the grounds at night, wrestling with the country’s most difficult problems in the years before the Civil War.

Paths away from the cottage thread through the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Copyright© National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Paths away from the cottage thread through the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Copyright National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The site, now known as President Lincoln’s Cottage, is managed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It’s important for its associations with Lincoln, but also for its significance as a walking landscape, one that witnessed and perhaps nurtured some of our most enduring ideas of what it means to be American.

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