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Bostonians like to think they are smart. Maybe they’re right—they are certainly smart enough to know when to ask other people for help. On October 29, the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Boston’s mayor, Martin Walsh, announced a major international design competition called Boston Living with Water to address the threat of sea-level rise and coastal flooding. The competition, which is open and meant to be interdisciplinary, will unfold in two stages and focus on three sites representing three scales of challenge: Building (a condo structure in the North End), Neighborhood (100 acres in the Fort Point Channel District), and Infrastructure (Morrissey Boulevard, a multiuse transportation corridor). Phase 1 entries are due January 29, 2015, after which finalists will be selected to advance to the second stage. An award ceremony and exhibition will be held in June, including the award of $20,000 to the first-place team and $10,000 each to second- and third-place teams.

International competitions aren’t launched every day, but what was more unusual about the kickoff was its context—a new mayor, only 10 months into his first term, assuming regional leadership on climate change. The cities and towns of Greater Boston believe firmly that good fences make good neighbors; regional cooperation is pretty much nonexistent. But, as Walsh noted, “climate knows no municipal boundaries,” which makes his concurrent announcement of a regional climate initiative including 13 metropolitan area mayors seem downright historic. The mayor spoke at ABX, the annual building-industry convention hosted by the Boston Society of Architects, where he was surrounded by the city managers of Cambridge and Chelsea, as well as by the directors of seemingly every city and state agency in any way involved with climate, planning, or infrastructure. It was a scene that would have been unimaginable a year before Sandy. But then, even if Bostonians aren’t always quite as smart as they think, they are certainly quick studies.

Elizabeth S. Padjen is an architect and the former editor of ArchitectureBoston magazine.

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A monthly roundup of the news, dispatches, and marginalia that caught our eye.

In the October Queue, the LAM staff catches up with Canada, imagines Boston as the Venice of Massachusetts, finds Florida’s (new) secession threat alarming, reads the phrase “climate apartheid” for the first but probably not the last time, and orders some adult stickers.

CATCHING UP WITH…

Landscape Architecture Network explores the Canadian Museum of Civilization Plaza by Claude Cormier Associates (“How Sweet,” LAM, January 2013), whose graceful, undulating curves reflect the architecture as well as the Canadian environmental landscape.

Finalists were announced for the Van Alen Institute’s Future Ground competition for 30,000 vacant lots in New Orleans (“Take Aim At New Orleans’s Vacant Land”). Public presentations are scheduled for spring 2015.

SCAPE Landscape Architecture (“What Kate Orff Sees,” LAM, May 2012) was one of seven finalists for the 2014 Fuller Challenge aimed at creating holistic solutions from a multitude of disciplinary backgrounds to solve “humanity’s most pressing problems.”

Dredging and the energy manufacturing industry are at the heart of a recent New York Times Magazine cover story on lawsuits around Lousiana’s catastrophic land loss (“The Dredge Underground,” LAM, August 2014).

OUR WOBBLY WORLD

Future Lagos reports on a plan to protect Lagos, Nigeria, one of the world’s most populous (21 million) coastal cities, from the effects of climate change. Will a planned eight-kilometer “Great Wall of Lagos create an eco-urban utopia or “climate apartheid”?

A recent EU analysis says onshore wind is cheaper than other forms of energy when human health, the environment, and other “external” factors are added to the equation.

Several news outlets picked up on the release of ULI’s recent report on Boston, particularly the possibility of turning some of the city’s streets into Venice-like canals.

South Florida might become the 51st state in the union. Salon reports it could happen if Florida’s state government doesn’t start taking climate change seriously.

A new series of webinars on the National Disaster Resilience Competition (“Resilience by Design,” LAM, October 2013) and other resilience topics has been launched.

FIELD STUDIES

Are shared streets a great innovation for pedestrians, or a complete nuisance to motorists? Chicago will soon find out with its very first shared street to begin construction this winter.

Cascadian Farm, owned by General Mills, has launched a new “Bee Friendlier” campaign to promote the cultivation of wildflowers for our pollinator friends. But with Cascadian Farm making up only 3 percent of General Mills, some claim it’s not enough to offset the other 97 percent of bad bee practices.

How do you make a city center more pedestrian friendly? For Zurich, it limits how many cars can enter.

OUT AND ABOUT

On November 7, the New York Botanical Garden hosts a symposium on “The Changing Nature of Nature in Cities.”

Teresa Galí-Izard  (“Auckland Takes the Rosa Barba Prize”) is at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston on November 13, 2014, as part of its Landscape Lecture series to talk about her innovative works across Europe.

The public landscapes of Ralph Cornell are on view November 8 and 9 as part of The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s mini What’s Out There Weekend in Los Angeles.

Making LA is a one-day conference on November 7 to discuss “urgent issues that Los Angeles faces in the areas of water, transportation, density, and community.” Panelists include urbanist Mia Lehrer of Mia Lehrer + Associates, landscape architect Deborah Deets, of the City of Los Angeles’s Department of Public Works, and Hadley and Peter Arnold of the Drylands Institute, among many, many others. 

 Landscape photographer Mishka Henner will talk about “Looking Down, From Up Above” with Andrew Hammerand and Julian Roeder on Tuesday, November 4 at 5:00 p.m. at the Open Society Foundation in New York City. The talk is part of the Moving Walls 22 exhibition; Dutch Landscapes will be on view November 4, 2014–May 8, 2015.

DISTRACT ME FROM MY DEADLINE DEPT.

The all-too-familiar Archetypes of Studio. Which one are you?

These eco wall stickers help save the world one toilet flush at a time.

We hope you’re not still on this London bridge when it opens.

Even Darth Vader is conscious about his carbon footprint.

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Many historic sites in Scotland, like Skara Brae, are extremely vulnerable to climate change. Courtesy Sylvia Duckworth via Wikimedia Commons.

The sudden loss of historic sites along coastal areas, and their just as sudden reemergence, are often among the unexpected consequences of sea-level rise. We recently came across this piece by Henry Gass at E&E Publishing on the vulnerabilities of Scottish historic properties to coastline erosion, and the inability of the existing regulatory structures to adapt to both the threats and opportunities it presents. This piece, originally published behind the publisher’s paywall, highlights some of these issues. E&E, which does excellent daily reporting on climate change and energy issues, has kindly allowed us to repost the article in full.

 

SCOTLAND FIGHTS TO KEEP ITS ANCIENT HISTORY

FROM VANISHING UNDER A RISING SEA

HENRY GASS, E&E PUBLISHING, LLC, AUGUST 1, 2014

A storm buried Skara Brae for centuries, and it would take a storm to unearth it again.

Roughly 5,000 years ago, a small community of farmers settled in the village on a small island off Scotland’s northeast coast. The villagers lived in geometrically identical stone houses, grew barley, raised cattle and sheep, and carved tools using volcanic rock from Iceland that washed ashore. Over 700 years, they built an ordered society until, archaeologists believe, the climate changed and powerful storms buried the village in water and sand.

Almost three centuries later, in 1850, another powerful storm tore into the island’s coastal dunes, revealing Skara Brae once more. Archaeologists have been excavating the site ever since, gaining detailed insights into the uniquely organized and comfortable Neolithic settlement. But now the climate is changing again, and it may not be long before Skara Brae is reclaimed by the ocean.

(more…)

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BY KATHARINE LOGAN

sea wall _blog

New design for Seattle’s Elliott Bay Seawall will include habitat for young salmon and a glass-floored promenade to allow light into the ocean.

From the July 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Before Seattle grew up on its shores, Elliott Bay was a bluff-backed beach, with intertidal marshes and mudflats providing a complex and varied habitat for birds, fish, and marine invertebrates. Its sloping beaches offered salmon a safe passage through shallow waters, with plenty to eat along the way.

The growth of Seattle changed that. The developing city filled and leveled its waterfront behind a seawall built on densely spaced and creosote-blackened pilings. Deep, dark, and toxic, the urban shoreline repels migrating salmon out into the bay on a difficult journey where they become easy prey for other fish and marine mammals.

(more…)

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A monthly roundup of the news, dispatches, and marginalia that caught our eye.

This month’s issue of the Queue delights in OLIN Studio’s new digital magazine, absorbs the inevitable wave of backflow on Rebuild by Design, and ponders the goat invasion of Long Island.

 

CATCHING UP WITH…

 

OUR WOBBLY WORLD

FIELD STUDIES

 

DISTRACT ME FROM MY DEADLINE DEPT.

 

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Interboro Partners

Interboro Team. Courtesy Rebuild by Design.

In the Hurricane Sandy destruction zone today, there were long-awaited exhales to accompany the end of the yearlong competition phase of Rebuild by Design, the federal post-Sandy recovery project. Scores of designers learned which of 10 multidisciplinary teams, and which of the teams’ ideas, will receive federal funding to help make the New York and New Jersey metropolitan region better adapted to fend off huge storms and rising seas in the future.

The announcements of winners were made in two rounds by Shaun Donovan, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, who also has served as chair of the federal Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force. Donovan, who is set to leave HUD imminently to become the director of the Office of Management and Budget upon his confirmation by the Senate, announced the winning projects for New York this morning at a public event on the Lower East Side. This afternoon, Donovan announced the winning New Jersey projects in the borough of Little Ferry.

For projects in New York, the winning teams, their project sites, and funding amounts are:

  1. The BIG Team, for its project, the Big U, a flood-protection system designed to run 10 miles around the lower half of Manhattan. Funding: $335 million.
  2. The Interboro Team, for its project, Living with the Bay: A Comprehensive Regional Resiliency Plan for Nassau County’s South Shore. Funding: $125 million.
  3. The team led by SCAPE/Landscape Architecture, for its project, Living Breakwaters, a series of constructed reef habitats along the south shore of Staten Island at Tottenville to slow storm surges and regenerate coastal ecology. Funding: $60 million.
  4. The PennDesign/OLIN team, for its project, Hunts Point Lifelines, a series of flood-protection and infrastructure strategies to protect the one-square-mile Hunts Point peninsula of the Bronx, the hub of a $5 billion annual food industry serving New York City. Funding: $20 million.
MIT

MIT CAU + ZUS + URBANISTEN. Courtesy Rebuild by Design.

For projects in New Jersey, the winning teams, their project sites, and funding amounts are:

  1. The team led by OMA, for Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge: A Comprehensive Strategy for Hoboken, which looks at a variety of ways to handle flash flooding and storm surges in Hoboken as well as in Weehawken and Jersey City. Funding: $230 million.
  2. The team MIT CAU + ZUS + URBANISTEN for New Meadowlands: Productive City + Regional Park. Funding: $150 million.

 

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A monthly roundup of the news, dispatches, and marginalia that caught our eye.

In this dispatch of the Queue, we tiptoe through the tweets of May, contemplate a trip to the high desert, and willingly give ourselves over to the United States Geological Service.

 

CATCHING UP WITH…

 

FIELD STUDIES

 

OUT AND ABOUT

 

DISTRACT ME FROM MY DEADLINE DEPT., TWITTER EDITION

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