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BY JOHN KING

Tom Fox/SWA Group

Credit: Tom Fox, SWA Group

William Byrd Callaway, an ASLA Fellow and 2007 recipient of the ASLA Medal, died on November 24, 2014, in San Francisco after a brief fight with cancer. He was 71.

During his career, the burly but genial man known as Bill to colleagues and clients excelled both as a designer and as an executive. In the former role he crafted everything from corporate campuses and community parks to private estates. In the latter, he spent his entire career at what now is SWA Group in a procession of positions that included president, chief executive officer, and chairman.

Raised on his family’s ranch near the state capital of Sacramento in California’s Central Valley, Bill graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture in 1966. Then, after a six-month stint in the U.S. Marine Corps reserve, he joined what at the time was Sasaki, Walker, and Associates. He left to earn a master’s degree at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, but returned to SWA in 1971 and didn’t budge after that.

During his career, Bill took a lead role in such projects as the expressive plazas outside the Philip Johnson-designed towers at PPG Place in Pittsburgh and 101 California Street in San Francisco, the low-key Shoreline Regional Park in Palo Alto, and the master plan for the vast Beijing Finance Center. On the business side, he helped steer SWA’s expansion to what is now a firm with 230 employees and offices in China and the United Arab Emirates, as well as six cities in the United States. The firm received ASLA’s Landscape Architecture Firm Award in 2005, while Bill was CEO.

Two years later, Bill was awarded the ASLA Medal for, among other things, inspiring fellow designers “to retain an idealistic view of the profession and the world.” He remained a principal and board member at the time of his death.

What coworkers remember is a leader who was also a colleague—comfortable with, and respectful of, everyone from major clients to entry-level employees.

“Bill was a unique individual for a group practice. He set a tone that allowed young designers to come into their own,” said John Wong, FASLA, who worked alongside Bill for decades at the firm’s home office in Sausalito and who is now SWA’s chairman. “He had a way of providing leadership without being heavy-handed, and people respected that.”

John King, Honorary ASLA, is the urban design critic for the San Francisco Chronicle.

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From the December 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The modest announcement about the appointment of Liza Gilbert, ASLA, to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) in October registered lightly in the media, despite its being a milestone for landscape architecture that hasn’t been in reach since the commission was established by an act of Congress in 1910.

With the appointment of Gilbert, the commission now includes Mia Lehrer, FASLA, who was appointed in June, and Elizabeth K. Meyer, FASLA, who was appointed in 2012. For the first time, three of the seven commission members are landscape designers.

Although there has been a landscape designer on the commission for most of its 100-plus-year history (Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. was a member for the first eight years), according to CFA Secretary Thomas Luebke’s book, Civic Art: A Centennial History of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, having two landscape designers serve simultaneously is rare—three is unprecedented. But what does it mean?

For those unfamiliar with its workings, the CFA is a presidentially appointed body whose charge is to review all federal and District of Columbia government projects as well as those in the Georgetown Historic District and, significantly, those falling within the Shipstead-Luce Act’s area. The Shipstead-Luce project area contains many important national landscapes including the National Mall, the grounds of the White House, Rock Creek Park, and the National Zoo, among others. The CFA review is just one of many hurdles that projects in D.C. must surmount before approval, but it provides a critical platform for high-level design review for projects with both national and local impact. This review authority extends beyond buildings and landscape and includes medals and coins produced by the U.S. Mint, images that act as national symbols.

With the establishment of sustainability goals for federal properties in 2009, the necessity for landscape expertise on the CFA became only more exigent. The appointment of three landscape professionals confirms that landscape architecture’s contributions are fully recognized at the highest levels of government.

The CFA convenes once a month at public meetings to review medal and coin designs, memorials, buildings, and alterations to the built landscapes large and small. Meyer welcomes the addition of Gilbert and Lehrer to the commission and the impact it will have on how projects are conceived from the beginning. “More voices calling for conceptual landscape ideas at first review,” and exemplary work at final review, she says, will help strengthen the overall design. “Those ideas have to be clear at the beginning. They don’t follow from the architecture.”

As one of the only commission members living full-time in Washington, Gilbert can bring the local understanding of how the projects fit together within the city’s unique urban plan. Though still new to the CFA, Gilbert is enthusiastic about the dynamic at her first meeting, a mix of architecture, urban planning, and landscape. “The level of discussion is going to be fascinating. There are a lot of different brains in the room,” she says.

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BEDIT_Fore-Now_Joe-lalli-principal-1022

Joseph J. Lalli. Photo courtesy EDSA

Joseph J. Lalli, FASLA, the chairman and former president of the firm EDSA, died October 25 at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after a brief illness. He was 71.

Lalli joined EDSA in 1968 and became president of the firm in 1994, succeeding Edward Durell Stone Jr., who founded the firm in 1960. During Lalli’s tenure, he led a significant expansion of the firm, which is known particularly for its resort designs, to one that now has 120 employees in six offices. He had more than 500 projects to his credit in 40 countries. EDSA was among the first landscape architecture firms to work in China beginning in 2001. Among its numerous awards, EDSA received the ASLA Landscape Architecture Firm Award in 2010.

“He was a very accomplished artist and a design person, a creative thinker, and he was able to take that creative aspect and transfer it to the business side,” said Doug Smith, ASLA, the president of EDSA since 2012, who was hired by Lalli in 1987. “He was an unconventional thinker.” When EDSA first began working in China, Western firms faced a tight, bureaucratic process that required their forming a joint venture with a Chinese firm. “He orchestrated a lot of very complicated aspects of that,” Smith says. An early joint venture, EDSAOrient, remains active in Beijing, and an EDSA office opened in Shanghai in 2013. The firm won an Honor Award for General Design in 2010 for the Crosswaters Ecolodge in China’s Guangdong Province. The firm has also worked frequently in the Caribbean region.

Lalli’s global success was unaccompanied by bluster; his colleagues describe him as a persuasive leader, yet a modest and taciturn person—and a generous one. “You really had to listen to Joe and pull things out of him,” said Lucinda Sanders, FASLA, the chief executive officer of OLIN. “I saw him as a selfless person. He gave to anybody around him. He gave very quietly. He taught us so much about goodness and the suspension of ego.”

“He was a man of such few, elegant words,” said Joe Brown, FASLA, the retired chief innovation officer of AECOM. “He was such a remarkably nice man, a gentleman competitor.”

Lalli was born in Geneva, New York. He received his bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture at Cornell University and his master’s in landscape architecture at the University of Michigan. Aside from his ASLA fellowship, he was a past cochair of the CEO Roundtable and a former member of the board of the Landscape Architecture Foundation.

He is survived by his wife, Jeanne Dawson-Lalli, and two brothers, Vincent Lalli and Anthony Lalli.

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The 272-page November issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine is the biggest of the year, if not the past five. Why the extra muscle? Perhaps abundance is in the air: This year’s ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Denver is looking to be one of our biggest ever.

This year, the ASLA Award of Excellence in General Design went to Gustafson Guthrie Nichol for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle. Despite the difficulties the central Seattle site provides, the site’s landscape design echoes its past as a bog, and its present as a centrifuge of global and local ethics. In “Fire, Rain, Beetles, and Us,” Carol Becker looks at the interconnected catastrophes recently visited on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. “Fluid Boundaries” finds the Colorado River reflow (“A Spring Flush on the Colorado,” April 24, 2014) is just one of several transnational projects to kick-start the riparian wetland along the Colorado River. Jayson DeGeeter, ASLA, talks to Guy Sternberg, the oak guru, about the species and his calling at Starhill Forest Arboreteum. “Detroit from the Ground Up” finds that landscape architecture is playing a major role in Detroit’s revitalization. And the photographer Alex MacLean and the journalist Daniel Grossman investigate the beginning and the end of the transborder tar sands oil trade.

Departments deliver this month as well: NOW has Editor Brad McKee’s perspective on the Rosa Barba Prize, updates on Changing Course, and elementary ag in NYC; Interview talks to Reid Fellenbaum, winner of the ASLA 2014 Student Award of Excellence in Analysis and Planning about his spooky-brilliant project, “Meridian of Fertility”; House Call features residential design in Arcadia National Park by Matthew Cunningham Landscape Architecture; and the Back has a portfolio of The Cultural Landscape Foundation‘s annual Landslide campaign, this year directed at saving site-specific artworks. All this and the usual rich offerings in Species, Goods, and Books. The full table of contents for November 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 November articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: Gates Foundation, Tim Hursley; Pine Beetle, Paul Milner; Hunters Hole, Fred Phillips, ASLA; Guy Sternberg, Noppadol Paothong; Detroit, Detroit Future City; Alberta Refinery, Alex MacLean; Arturo Toscanini School, WORKac; Microtopographic Section Model, Reid Fellenbaum, Student Affiliate ASLA; Opus 40, © Thomas Hahn, 2014, Courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation.

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First, here’s the news that Michael van Gessel, the Dutch landscape architect, took his time and a fair bit of teasing indirection to get out last Friday night in Barcelona: The winner of the 2014 Rosa Barba International Landscape Prize is the North Wharf Promenade and Silo Park on the waterfront of Auckland, New Zealand. It was designed by Taylor Cullity Lethlean of Melbourne with Wraight + Associates of Wellington and completed in 2011.

The big announcement came late in the day, near 9:00 p.m. Van Gessel, who served as the president of the six-person Rosa Barba prize jury, sat with his feet propped casually atop a chair on a stage of the astonishing Palau de la Música Catalana—though in the handsome contemporary auditorium belowground, not the 1908 modernista marvel upstairs, designed by Lluis Domènech i Montaner, which at that hour was filling for a dance performance of the Gran Gala Flamenco. In front of van Gessel were several hundred people gathered for the prize announcement as part of the 8th International Biennial of Landscape Architecture, which ran from September 25 to 27. The audience included the designers of the 11 finalist projects for the prize; they each had presented their entry the previous day. There was also a large turnout of landscape architects, academics, and students from Europe and elsewhere.

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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.

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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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