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Archive for the ‘SHORELINE’ Category

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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View of the Golden Gate Bridge behind Crissy Marsh. Courtesy the National Park Service.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge behind Crissy Marsh. Courtesy the National Park Service.

There’s been a new salvo in the Crissy Field development project, which we wrote about back in October (At the Presidio, a Field of Schemes, Oct 22, 2013). The National Park Service released a letter last week expressing strong reservations about the development plans at Crissy Field and encouraging the Trust to take the long view. The letter echoes their concerns voiced in a letter earlier in the fall, but this time stating, “There is wisdom in allowing these new uses to settle in before selecting a major new use and tenant for the Commissary site.” For more coverage see John King’s article in SF Gate and read the full  letter from Frank Dean, General Superintendent on the Presidio Trust site.

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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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Looking north over the Main Post, old commissary building and parking lot, and Crissy Field marsh with  the San Francisco bay beyond.  Main Post Update to the Presidio Trust Management Plan, November 2010.

Looking northeast over the Main Post, old commissary building and parking lot, and Crissy Field marsh with the San Francisco bay beyond. Main Post Update to the Presidio Trust Management Plan, November 2010.

In San Francisco, much of the hotted-up dialogue around the unfolding redevelopment competition for Crissy Field can be pinned on filmmaker George Lucas and his proposal for a Lucas Cultural Arts Museum in the heart of the vaunted Presidio. The competition, to replace the old commissary building with a cultural institution on the Crissy Field site, includes two other contending proposals, but it’s Lucas’s recent sally in the New York Times that got people talking, and looking. To the Times, Lucas blasted the competition’s proposals and the sponsor, the Presidio Trust, for its handling of the redevelopment, and he threatened to take his project to Chicago (where his wife, Mellody Hobson, is the president of an investment firm) if it is rejected—a tactic that will be familiar to anyone who followed Lucas’s real estate tangles in Marin County.

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LINES IN THE SAND

Photo by Nathan Burgess, Student ASLA

Photo by Nathan Burgess, Student ASLA

From the October 2013 issue of LAM:

By Adam Regn Arvidson, FASLA

Those lovely East Coast beaches with the fine white sand sloping into the ocean at a uniform distance from the hotels’ doorsteps are not at all natural. Nor are they stable. Every winter bulldozers or dredge boats visit the shoreline and dump more sand. In Virginia Beach, most of the sand comes from the constant dredging of Chesapeake Bay. Tourists are picky about the sand, and therefore so are the hotel, restaurant, and souvenir shop owners, but “beach nourishment,” as the sand-dumping practice is called, is expensive—and 65 percent of the cost is paid by the federal government.

The Dutch are experimenting with a different way of replenishing beaches, and an American landscape architecture professor is adapting those ideas to Virginia Beach.

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HOW SWEET

LAM-Jan2013-SugarBeachSkyline

From the January 2013 issue of LAM:

By Daniel Jost, ASLA

 It’s 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or, as they say here in Toronto, a balmy 27 degrees. Stephanie McCarthy leans back in a white Adirondack chair and digs her feet into the sand. On Canada’s Sugar Beach she’s just a short walk from her downtown apartment, though as she sits in the shade of a pink umbrella, it seems a little unreal. “It feels like you’re somewhere tropical,” she says, “like a minivacation.”

There are plenty of signs that this is Canada. The CN Tower rises just behind us, and there’s a maple-leaf-shaped fountain full of kids. But if you get a good seat, and angle yourself just right, all you see is sand, water, and sky.

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Debris floats in New York’s East River. Brennan Cavanaugh/Flickr

FEMA isn’t the only federal agency helping places affected by Superstorm Sandy. The Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has provided $5.3 million in funds through its Emergency Watershed Protection program.

NRCS has distributed the money equally between its state offices in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia—each is getting $480,000. Local sponsors can apply for funding for projects to get rid of storm debris from waterways and to restore places that have been scoured or washed away by floods. Funds are available for both public and private property. NRCS will pay up to 75 percent of a project’s total cost, and the sponsor is responsible for the rest. Local offices may also use the money for purchasing floodplain easements.

If you are involved in restoration efforts, also be sure to check out NRCS’s online portal Atlantic Coastal Restoration. It has information on stabilizing sand dunes and revegetating shorelines and is linked into the USDA’s wonderful PLANTS Database.

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