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Archive for the ‘PRACTICE’ Category

LAMCASTJULY

Drones aren’t all bad, and in an interview with Yale Environment 360, Thomas Lennon, director of this two-minute video of awe-inspiring nature shots of the Delaware River watershed, explains the limitless possibilities drones provide over traditional aerial photography from helicopters. But the potential stretches further than nature videos and becomes a useful tool for environmentalists and artists alike, setting it apart as an aid rather than the controversial weapon the term “drone” is most often associated with. For the two-minute video and interview, click here or the picture above.

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BY TIM WATERMAN

The Milan Expo 2015 raises unsought emotions about food, cities, the world.

The Milan Expo 2015 raises unsought emotions about food, cities, the world.

From the July 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

A city like Milan reflects the strivings of generations. It has a rich quality of everyday life that includes a sophisticated food culture, which, as in so many Italian cities, is both distinctly local and, because of its history of trade, cosmopolitan. The evolution of the city’s form has intertwined with the tastes and appetites of the Milanese. The convivial quality of many of its spaces comes from enclosures such as its ubiquitous courtyard gardens, its cool semiprivate zones where neighbors come into contact, or its sidewalk cafés. Milan was once Mediolanum (meaning “in the midst of the plain”), the capital of the Western Roman Empire. It was enclosed by walls, but open to its countryside in the Po River Valley, where alluvial soils raised abundant grain and grapes, and roads brought influence from all over Europe.

Milan’s economy has suffered, as has all of Italy’s, from the crash in 2008, and recession and unemployment are tenaciously rooted. While its economy continues to be underpinned by industry and agriculture, notably by small, family-owned farms, government policy has looked to urban and infrastructural development for solutions to the crisis. Italy’s new, post-Berlusconi government is trying to show evidence of its ability to deliver, and Milan, the financial center of Italy, has become a showcase of contemporary neoliberal development. In particular, two developments have shown great international visibility: the Milan Expo 2015 and the business district at Porta Nuova, best known for the Bosco Verticale (vertical forest), the heavily vegetated and much-published twin luxury apartment towers by the architect Stefano Boeri.

Boeri has courted controversy at both sites, attracting antigentrification protests both from the working-class neighborhood the towers protrude from, as well as accusations of deploying expensive greenwash that would never be possible in a lower-cost development. Much the same objections have been raised against the plans for this year’s expo in Milan, which he master planned with Jacques Herzog, William McDonough, and Ricky Burdett. “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” is the expo’s motto, meant, as it was, to embody a sustainable ethic, but it clashed with the presence of food giants such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola among the nations represented. Lavish spending on the project further excited anger, as many people questioned the concentration of municipal spending on one site instead of many, and the inevitable siphoning away of funds that such concentration engenders. On May Day in Milan, cars blazed in the streets, windows were smashed, and ‘No Expo’ graffiti proliferated.

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IMG_7846 In a profession as diverse as landscape architecture, it can be hard to get a sense of how the profession is performing as a whole. So each quarter, ASLA sends out its Business Quarterly Survey to a wide variety of firm types to get a snapshot of the profession’s health. The survey helps measure activity in firms’ billable hours, inquiries for new work, and hiring.

For the second quarter of this year, about 86 percent of firms reported stable to significantly higher billable hours over the previous quarter, which is slightly better than reported for the same quarter of 2014. About 84 percent said inquiries for new work were stable to significantly higher in quarter two. Slightly fewer than half (48 percent) said they plan to hire in the coming quarter; during the first quarter, the figure was 62 percent.

The survey also asked firms about their recruiting approaches and the use of social media. Although nearly 42 percent of respondents said they use social media in recruiting, only 16 percent said they think a potential job candidate should have strong social media skills.

For the full news release and highlights from the 2015 second quarter BQS, visit ASLA’s website here.

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BY KEVAN WILLIAMS

The planting of jatropha could help build the economy of a haitian town.

The planting of Jatropha could help build the economy of a Haitian town.

From the April 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

When I meet Robinson Fisher at a coffee shop in downtown Athens, Georgia, on a cold and rainy day, he hands me a bar of soap. Fisher and the soap have just arrived from Haiti: specifically, a village called Terrier Rouge, a community of about 20,000 people in the hot, dry, and very poor northeastern part of the country. I first met Fisher, the father of a childhood friend, years ago, and only later learned he’s a landscape architect. He’s had a long career with his firm, Robinson Fisher Associates, practicing in lush, temperate, and developed northeast Georgia. But for the past decade he’s made a lot of trips to Haiti, spending several months each year learning and working with people there on a variety of agricultural experiments. The soap, wrapped in plain paper and stamped with a simple logo, is the latest product of that work.

Underneath the wrapper is a caramel-colored slab, smaller than your average bar of Dove or Irish Spring, and less refined. There is no logo pressed into the surface, or a specially molded form. It is the product of a simple, locally scaled manufacturing operation in Terrier Rouge, which is evident in its packaging and shape. But it lathers and bubbles just like regular soap. Even more remarkable is what the soap is made of: the oil from the seeds of Jatropha curcas, a scrubby tree that grows abundantly in this arid part of Haiti.

Jatropha is native to Central America and the Caribbean, growing between 20 and 30 feet tall. The semievergreen plant sheds its large leaves during periods of drought, to which it is well adapted. The seemingly worthless and weedy plant is also poisonous. “Nobody eats it: Goats won’t eat it, and bugs won’t eat it much, which allows this plant to survive,” Fisher says.

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The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

West Point Foundry Preserve winter aerial by Elizabeth Felicella.

Extra from “A Past, In Pieces” by Jennifer Reut, in the April 2015 issue, featuring Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects.

 “I love the angle of this aerial, which is enhanced by the long shadows under a low-hanging sun. The effect is a feeling of motion—of swooping low over the bare canopy. The red brick building at the bottom is an anchor that holds the image in place and creates a static ‘yin’ for the motion’s ‘yang.’

—Chris McGee, LAM Art Director

 

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.

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United States Capitol dome under restoration. Photo Architect of the Capitol

United States Capitol dome under restoration. Photo Architect of the Capitol

A monthly bit of headline news from ASLA’s national office.

It’s April, which at ASLA headquarters in Washington means that Advocacy Day is nigh—Thursday, April 23. Every year around this time, hundreds of ASLA members come to town ahead of the midyear meetings of the Society’s Board of Trustees and Chapter Presidents Council to spend a day on Capitol Hill visiting the offices of their senators and representatives to make the case for national issues that are important to landscape architects.

This year, the focus of advocacy efforts is on three issues: the reauthorization and full funding of the Transportation Alternatives Program and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the authorization and funding (at $100 million) of the National Park Service Centennial Challenge. Advocacy Day is about showing strength in numbers. But the individual work of telling Congress what landscape architects do and why it matters never stops—especially because design in the public realm helps create new jobs, stimulate consumer spending, increase property values, and, in turn, generate billions in new federal, state, and local tax revenues. Even design professionals not planning to take part in Advocacy Day activities should stay aware of how these issues are moving, or not, in Washington, and keep in touch with the members and staff of their congressional delegations.

Each day, Roxanne Blackwell, Mark Cason, and Leighton Yates of ASLA’s government affairs staff work with legislators on issues of importance to the profession, and you should follow them on Twitter at @ASLA_Advocacy. But members of Congress really sit up and listen to the concerns of individual constituents and business owners. To help acquaint you with ways to communicate with Congress, the government affairs staff will hold a webinar tomorrow, April 9, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern. You can register to join the webinar here. Questions? ASLA’s government affairs staff is happy to help. Contact the director of federal government affairs, Roxanne Blackwell, at rblackwell@asla.org.

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The April issue features new and formative projects by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects. Signe Nielsen, FASLA, and Kim Mathews, ASLA, talk about the evolution of the firm, and about Hudson River Park in New York City, West Point Foundry Preserve in Cold Spring, New York, and the transformation of Hunts Point in the South Bronx.

In the departments, Timothy A. Schuler talks to Carey Clouse, the author of Farming Cuba: Urban Agriculture from the Ground Up, about the coming change in the urban agricultural system in Cuba; and Kevan Williams reports on how Jatropha has the potential to be an environmental and economic driver in Haiti. Chicago’s new linear park, the 606, does double duty as an elevated place to escape and as transportation and bicycle infrastructure. In the Back, we have a portfolio of drawings by Ron Henderson, FASLA, done as part of his studies on the Japanese practices and traditions of the cherry tree. All this plus our regular Now, Species, Goods, and Books columns. The full table of contents for April 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 April articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “A Past, In Pieces,” “Built to Last,” Elizabeth Felicella; “The Leading Edge,” Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects; “Degree of Difficulty,” Elizabeth Felicella; “Food Revolution,” Andy Cook; “Tree of Life,” W. R. Fisher; “The Express Lane,” Courtesy the Trust For Public Land; “Peak Blossom,” Ron Henderson.

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