Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘LAM MAGAZINE’ Category

BY MIMI ZEIGER

BEDIT_LAMdec14_Eckbospread

To revive downtown, the city appears poised to drive right through a masterpiece.

From the December 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The city of Fresno sits in the middle of California’s San Joaquin Valley. When you drive into town from Los Angeles, the landscape is agricultural and framed by roadside eucalyptus trees. It gives way to off-ramp clusters of gas stations, fast-food chains, and light industrial warehouses. Most of Fresno’s neighborhoods, after nearly 50 years of decentralization and flight from the urban core, sprawl north, tracking the edge of the San Joaquin River. The city’s historic downtown and civic center are a near ghost town.

At the heart of downtown is the Fulton Mall. In the early part of the 20th century, it was Fresno’s main drag, Fulton Street, six blocks lined with banks and department stores. In 1964, the landscape architect Garrett Eckbo turned the street into a modernist pedestrian mall as part of a master plan for downtown Fresno by Victor Gruen Associates. Photographs of the period show a wide promenade full of people flanked by the awnings of existing buildings. Daffodils peek out of Eckbo’s sculptural planting beds, fountains gurgle, and a clock tower by Jan de Swart, an expressive interpretation of a historic form, unambiguously marks the mall as the new town square.

Today, the mall is the center of a fight over downtown Fresno’s redevelopment. The city government, with a $14 million federal transportation grant, supports plans to put a new complete street down the center of the mall. Preservationists plan to file a lawsuit to block the scheme. The rhetorical standoff between sides comes down to revive versus destroy, but the conditions on the ground tell a more complicated story about the role of design as a catalyst and a scapegoat in a changing urban landscape.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

BEDIT_B_Williams_F_and_B_hires

The Bradford Williams Medal is awarded to two outstanding articles in landscape every year.

Great writing about landscape architecture and related topics should be celebrated, and one of the ways LAM does that is with the Bradford Williams Medal. The medal is awarded every year to two articles, one that has run in LAM and one from an outside publication, that told compelling stories and left us understanding the subjects from the inside out. LAM’s Editorial Advisory Committee nominates articles and chooses winners from the nominees.

BEDIT_LAMdec14_Eckbospread

“Fresno V. Eckbo” by Mimi Zeiger from the December 2014 issue of LAM.

This year the medal winner for an article in LAM is Mimi Zeiger, for her story “Fresno v. Eckbo” in the December 2014 issue. Zeiger focuses on the struggling downtown area of Fresno, and proposed changes to the pedestrian-oriented Fulton Mall, originally designed by Garrett Eckbo, that are intended to revitalize the area at the expense of its design history.

Stay tuned for an announcement of the medal winner for an article outside LAM.

The medal’s namesake, Bradford Williams, was an editor and publisher of LAM in its earlier days when it was Landscape Architecture Quarterly. The medal was named to honor his contributions to the magazine and to ASLA. A list of past winners can be found here.

Read Full Post »

BY JESSICA BRIDGER

In Zurich, the quest for something cool ends at the nearest badi.

In Zurich, the quest for something cool ends at the nearest badi.

From the June 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

It is hard not to feel extremely self-satisfied on a late summer afternoon in Zurich, relaxing in the sun. Not only because you perhaps just closed a multibillion euro-Swiss franc M&A deal but because you know that you live in a modern fairy-tale paradise of a city. Where else can you lie out suntanning on a weathered wooden deck, dark aquamarine lake sloshing under you, glass of rosé at your side, steps away from your office in the heart of the city? Zurich is an amazing city for many reasons, and the public baths, known as badis, along the river and lake are certainly not the least of them. If they sometimes seem as perfect as a mid-1990s Abercrombie & Fitch photo shoot with a European city backdrop, this is because they largely are. But this is no accident of urban fortune, nor is it an example of mysterious Swiss superiority. Zurich is a place that leveraged its fortunate position on a lake early, and from its hygienic beginnings to its recreational present, steps were taken to ensure high environmental and open space quality. All with a healthy dash of Swiss sophisticate lifestyle mixed in the blue-green watery bliss.

And what water it is. It is clean enough to swim in on a hot summer day. It is potable—Lake Zurich currently provides 70 percent of the city’s drinking water. It is clean enough to make ice cubes. It would seem to be alpine fortune, an accidental natural wonder, blissfully free of industrial and human effluent. Actually, starting in the mid-1970s, water treatment effectively reduced pollutants, including algae-blooming phosphorus, sickening E. coli, and chemical and biological contaminants. Water treatment plants, overflow sewers, and industrial pre-treatment transformed the water from typical urban filth to drinking water. As cities across the globe shift their focus to waterfronts as a public amenity instead of a site of industry, reclaiming urban space, Zurich’s badis have the power to inspire. Swiss bathing culture is deeply embedded, with everyone from former Swiss National Bank chairmen eating popsicles at Seebad Enge to teens and grandparents building sand castles alongside whiny toddlers. (more…)

Read Full Post »

BY ZACH MORTICE

Chicago's elevated rail park, The 606, was conceived and funded as transit infrastructure.

Chicago’s elevated rail park, the 606, was conceived and funded as transit infrastructure.

From the April 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

For a relatively new landscape typology, elevated rail parks suffer from no shortage of claims about what they can do for cities. Namely, they can renovate decaying infrastructure, add green space to dense urban areas, improve public health by offering more opportunities for exercise, and honor, rather than demolish, historic industrial landscapes in neighborhoods under immense pressure to remove them.

Beyond New York’s famous High Line, a new generation of elevated rail parks is adding a very practical use to the list, one quite divorced from typical ideas about recreational park use: They can become transit and commuter corridors.

Newly opened this weekend, Chicago’s new elevated rail park, called the 606 (named for the first three digits of Chicago zip codes), will offer landscaped paths to harried bicycle commuters and recreational amblers alike. The park will run 2.7 miles on the former Bloomingdale freight rail line, which has been closed since the 1990s, from the far west side almost to the River North central business district. It is said to be the first such park to combine pedestrians and cyclists along its whole length. The landscape design is by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Our cities' aging populations require new approaches to urban planning.

Our cities’ aging populations require new approaches to urban planning.

From the June 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In December 2013, a massive ice storm crippled Toronto, killing 27 people and knocking out power for 600,000 Ontario residents. Without electricity, elevators in Toronto’s residential high-rises stopped working, and many elderly people were trapped. “I know that there were elderly women up on the 18th floor in a tower near our office who were trying to make tea on a little gas burner,” recalls Patricia McCarney, the director of the Global Cities Institute (GCI) at the University of Toronto. “The elderly were going between two floors to help each other for four days while they didn’t have power. They were actually having small tea parties up on these high floors! So there is a social capital out there, but if that went on any longer, who’s going to take groceries up to them? Who knows they even live there?”

McCarney’s story illustrates both the vulnerability and resiliency of our cities’ older people, a population that planners and designers of all types must increasingly account for. As the world becomes more urbanized, those urban centers are rapidly aging. In the next 25 years, the number of New Yorkers older than 65—currently 12 percent of the population—is expected to increase by 50 percent. According to a recent GCI report, the number of people in the world over 65 years of age will increase 183 percent by 2050, and according to the AARP, most of those elderly want to age in place rather than move to a traditional retirement community.

But building more “age-friendly” cities will be difficult without reliable city-level data about health care, housing, infrastructure, and other quality-of-life indicators. “City data is often either nonexistent or it’s very weakly constructed,” says McCarney, explaining that global statistics for things like mortality rates are often presented at the country, not city, level. McCarney and her team worked with 20 different cities, including London, Shanghai, Helsinki, Dubai, Boston, and Johannesburg to develop a standardized set of 100 indicators organized around themes like safety, recreation, governance, and urban planning. The result, published in May 2014, was ISO 37120, Sustainable Development of Communities—Indicators for City Services and Quality of Life, the first international standard for city-level data. (more…)

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,022 other followers