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Archive for the ‘IDEAS’ Category

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This winter, we wrote about the inaugural outing of the North Coast Design Competition (NCDC), Designing Dredge: Re-Envisioning the Toledo Waterfront, and now the winners have been announced. The entrants were asked to envision a useful waterfront space that combined existing and future outdoor developments with dredged materials, and also to provide the placement and design of a research site for the testing and experimentation of dredge material among other possible uses. Garrett Rock’s winning proposal, Re-Frame Toledo, would use Toledo’s dredge material to create sites for the public while also suggesting a phytoremediation step in the dredging cycle to process the sediment for future land use and better water quality. Sean Burkholder, an assistant professor of landscape and urban design at the State University of New York at Buffalo and the founder of NCDC, said that each of the 21 entries showed a thorough understanding of the subject. Some dealt with the excess sediment associated with dredging by creating riverside parks and recreation; others sought to create new ways of dealing with this material.

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The exhibit features a tabletop version of the Wall of Wind at Florida International University, which can simulate a Category 5 hurricane.

The Designing for Disaster exhibit at the National Building Museum features a tabletop version of the Wall of Wind at Florida International University, which can simulate a Category 5 hurricane. Photo: Florida International University

Earth, air, fire, and water—the National Building Museum’s Design for Disaster exhibit, which opened on May 12, separates out the forces of destruction. The toll of earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, and floods is shown in photos and artifacts such as twisted street signs. But the focus is on mitigation. “Design can save lives,” said Chase W. Rynd, Honorary ASLA, the executive director of the museum, during a press preview on May 8. Rynd and Chrysanthe Broikos, the curator of the exhibit, say it’s one of the most important exhibits the museum has done.

It’s as much the story of seismic engineers, researchers, architects, planners, and landscape architects as it is about the disasters themselves, given that the goal is blunting the destructive impacts of disasters (there’s a companion blog and outreach program called Mitigation Nation). The Earth room has cracked walls that recall the aftermath of earthquakes, but just behind them is a buckling restrained brace, or BRB, as an example of what could be done to protect those walls, and around the doorway is a special moment frame, which holds firm against lateral loads during a quake to protect the rest of a structure. (more…)

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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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The Fluid and the Solid TRAILER from Alex + Ben on Vimeo.

If you haven’t used the term “Anthropocene” much, you can be forgiven. The term is of fairly recent origin, and it’s used to describe what some believe is a new geologic age: one in which human activity has changed the earth and its atmosphere. It’s a big idea, one that catches a lot of other ideas in its net—climate change being the most powerful. The idea of the Anthropocene lends more weight to what we already understand are the consequences of human activity. Our impact is not just local, national, or global, but temporal. We’ve literally changed the scale of geologic time.

The awesome consequences of human agency on the land are tough to convey without sounding ponderous, but for the filmmakers Alex Chohlas-Wood and Ben Mendelsohn, who are interested in things like infrastructure, technology, and the human/nature interface, much of the story can be told by the landscapes where these earth-changing processes take place. Which is how they came to make a documentary nominally about dredging, dredge landscapes, and sediment flow: The Fluid and the Solid.

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From the January issue of LAM:

I wouldn’t call 2013 the Year of the Bike in the United States, but only because I hope that 2014 will be an even better one. It was a pretty great year, though. Two of the biggest American cities added bicycle sharing programs. New York City opened its Citi Bikes system in May with 330 stations; by year’s end, nearly 100,000 people had bought a year’s subscription to the system, and by October, the system had recorded 42,000 trips a day. Not bad! Chicago started its Divvy bike system in June with 3,000 bikes at 300 stations between Cicero Avenue and Lake Michigan, and is planning on 4,000 bikes by this spring. The new Bay Area Bike Share started in late August in San Francisco. It was considered a slow start by some measures, but then many people in the city are already married to their own bicycles. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in December that the Municipal Transportation Agency, which has counted cyclists around town since 2006, found that by 2013, cycling had risen by 96 percent. One September evening during rush hour, more than 1,200 people were counted on bikes at the corner of Fifth and Market Streets.

What could be the downside to all of this? I honestly don’t know, but for some people, there seems to be one—usually grounded in irrationality. A perfectly benign technology that runs on calories, presents almost no harm to anyone, that is cheap and environmentally sound, fast, convenient, and, not least, very enjoyable will inevitably make people uptight for their own reasons. Dorothy Rabinowitz, of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, finds Citi Bikes depressing to no end because she thinks it’s socialist and ugly. You could grant her those points and she still sees no benefits. Rob Ford’s bike hatred helped him become the mayor of Toronto. Adrian Fenty’s bike love helped unseat him in Washington, D.C. Many people in cities greet bikes as you might an invasive species.

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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 Agriculture. 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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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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