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Shauna Gillies-Smith talks to  Cool Spaces host Stephen Chung about the Nelson Atkins Museum's landscape. Photo: Shauna Gillies-Smith

Shauna Gillies-Smith talks to Cool Spaces!  host Stephen Chung about the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s landscape. Photo: Shauna Gillies-Smith

The landscape architect Shauna Gillies-Smith has worked on only a handful of episodes of Cool Spaces! The Best New Architecture, a new PBS series focused on new architecture, but she’s not worried that landscape architecture is getting the short shift. The show’s host, Stephen Chung, was a classmate of Gillies-Smith at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and she says she is confident that he is sufficiently “interested in the allied disciplines.” The show, now premiering in local television markets, is organized around different typologies—the first few episodes have themes such as “Performance Spaces,” “Libraries,” or “Healing Spaces”—and focuses on three major new projects per episode. Although landscape architecture is not yet a featured theme, Gillies-Smith has been on screen or behind the scenes for some of the projects, and she’s a big believer in exposing the nondesign audience to design. “It’s as much an advocacy project as a beautiful interesting project about design” she says.

Gillies-Smith, who is the founding principal of ground  in Boston, is one of a team of experts whom Chung may interview on screen; the team may also include an engineer, a lighting designer, or an acoustician, depending on the project. Each expert talks about a different aspect of the project and tries to make it comprehensible to the general audience. “So, for example, I spoke on two different projects,” Gillies-Smith says. “One was the Nelson-Atkins Museum, and in that project it comes down to something very, very simple: the idea that the land was constructed.” Gillies-Smith walks the viewer through the way the landscape was shaped to accommodate a Dan Kiley garden next to the museum’s Stephen Holl addition: “The addition has a very strongly sculpted landscape that is primarily creating space so the building can poke out of the ground like a series of lanterns. A very simple idea, that the landscape was built around the buildings,”  she told us.

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This winter, we wrote about the inaugural outing of the North Coast Design Competition (NCDC), Designing Dredge: Re-Envisioning the Toledo Waterfront, and now the winners have been announced. The entrants were asked to envision a useful waterfront space that combined existing and future outdoor developments with dredged materials, and also to provide the placement and design of a research site for the testing and experimentation of dredge material among other possible uses. Garrett Rock’s winning proposal, Re-Frame Toledo, would use Toledo’s dredge material to create sites for the public while also suggesting a phytoremediation step in the dredging cycle to process the sediment for future land use and better water quality. Sean Burkholder, an assistant professor of landscape and urban design at the State University of New York at Buffalo and the founder of NCDC, said that each of the 21 entries showed a thorough understanding of the subject. Some dealt with the excess sediment associated with dredging by creating riverside parks and recreation; others sought to create new ways of dealing with this material.

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VALUE SUBTRACTED

BY ERNEST BECK

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From the June 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

When John Crespo, Student ASLA, was applying to master of landscape architecture programs a few years ago, his target list ranged far and wide, from Texas A&M to Kansas State, University of Illinois, and Cornell University. Admitted to all of them, Crespo opted for the more expensive Cornell, figuring that the school’s excellent academic program and vaunted reputation in landscape architecture might boost his career chances. Next spring, Crespo will graduate with a coveted Cornell degree, but he will also be saddled with an estimated $30,000 in student loans. “It was a calculated decision, because my biggest concern after leaving school was finding a job,” Crespo, 28, recalls about his decision. “I hope the Cornell name will provide me with some leverage and, down the road, the investment will pay off.”

Faced with rising tuition costs and shrinking financial aid opportunities, landscape architecture students are part of the wave of students across the country going deeper into debt to finance their education and professional goals. Some, like Crespo, are banking on that investment to further their careers, despite the debt load, while others are simply trying to obtain degrees that will open doors to their desired fields. Whatever the motive, the total student debt market, which includes private, variable-rate loans and federally backed fixed-rate loans, is surging. In 2013 it topped $1.2 trillion, after passing the $1 trillion mark only two years earlier. More than 70 percent of college seniors who graduated in 2012 from four-year colleges had debt from student loans, compared to 68 percent in 2008. And the average debt load for those graduating with bachelor’s degrees for the class of 2012 climbed to $29,400, up 25 percent from $23,450 in 2008, according to the nonprofit Institute for College Access & Success.

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Rich Haag with a clump of Equisetum, one of his favorite plants. Photo: Daniel Jost.

Rich Haag with a clump of Equisetum, one of his favorite plants. Photo: Daniel Jost.

On a recent tour of the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island, Washington, Richard Haag, FASLA, told a group of us, students from the University of Washington, two stories about the demise of the Garden of Planes. The garden was the first stop in the famous sequence of spaces that Haag designed at the reserve, and it was erased a few years after it was completed.

One story involves a fox. “A fox used to have a den there,” Haag explained as we passed by a giant stump that, ironically, Haag preserved for its habitat value. “And every morning, the fox would come out and leave his morning offering right on top of the gravel pyramid,” at the center of the Garden of Planes, he said. “That’s one of the reasons they got rid of it.”

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L to R: John Bela, Blaine Merker, Mayra Madriz, Matthew Lister, Julia D Day. Courtesy Gehl Studio.
L to R: John Bela, Blaine Merker, Mayra Madriz, Matthew Lister, Julia D. Day. Courtesy Gehl Studio.

BY JENNIFER COOPER

When you hear about mergers of design firms, it usually involves a global conglomerate swallowing up a smaller office to obtain local clients and staff. You seldom hear about two firms coming together simply out of mutual interests, but that is how the principals of Rebar, in San Francisco, and Gehl Architects, of Copenhagen, describe their new venture together. The new U.S. entity, Gehl Studio, will keep those offices and have a new one in New York.

In their San Francisco space in the Mission, John Bela, ASLA; Blaine Merker, ASLA, of Rebar; and Helle Søholt of Gehl Architects talked about the impetus for joining offices, which began in March. Søholt cofounded Gehl Architects in Copenhagen with Jan Gehl 14 years ago based on Gehl’s research on people and the ways they use public space. Together they have worked on projects around the world for cities and organizations such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Until recent years, the firm focused primarily on large-scale planning but saw the need to prove their concepts to governments and communities in urban projects, as they did so successfully with New York’s public plaza and street improvements.

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BY JIMENA MARTIGNONI

TRANSIT: Buenos Aires

Peru Street, in Buenos Aires, was transformed into a pedestrian space. Courtesy Cecilia Garros Cardo.

From the June 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Walking around parts of Buenos Aires can be dizzying, with cars speeding down the large boulevards as people walking find themselves having to race from corner to corner to stay out of their way. But a central part of the city that was once quite chaotic is being tamed by two programs that give pedestrians and public transportation priority over cars. The programs—Metrobus, a new bus rapid-transit (BRT) network that is being implemented by the undersecretary of transportation, and Prioridad Peatón, or the Priority for Pedestrians Plan, implemented by the Ministry of Urban Development, both under the auspices of the city government—are recent parts of a long-term Sustainable Mobility Plan that’s making deteriorated parts of the city more navigable, more hospitable, and more appealing to those who want to walk rather than drive.

The Metrobus network has three different corridors in the city: Metrobus Juan B. Justo, which covers 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) and has 21 stops, was completed in 2011; Metrobus 9 de Julio runs along 3.5 kilometers (about two miles) and has 17 stops in the central area of the city; and Metrobus Sur, which has two different lines and a total length of 23 kilometers (14 miles) and 37 stops, and is still in construction in the southern area of the city.

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What is a public garden, and what is it for? The June issue of LAM looks at new works at the New York Botanical Garden and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, prefaced by a conversation on the public garden’s evolving mission with the landscape architects Sheila Brady, FASLA; Darrel Morrison, FASLA; Annette Wilkus, FASLA; Scott Scarfone, ASLA; Gary Smith, FASLA; and the New York Botanical Garden’s vice president for horticulture and living collections, Todd Forrest.

The Foreground sections look at new research on luring the bees to underused parts of Houston, student debt loads for landscape architecture graduates, fetching new transit design in Buenos Aires, and an update on Lawrence Halprin’s neglected Heritage Park Plaza in Fort Worth, Texas. The Species column this month offers up wild pigs and birch syrup, Goods has gorgeous outdoor fixtures, and the Books section reviews a pair of new releases on green infrastructure.

You can read the full table of contents for June 2014 or pick up a free digital issue of the June LAM here and share it with your clients, colleagues, and friends. 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 print issue from the 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 as well as o

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating some June pieces as the month rolls out.

Credits: Native Plant Garden: Ivo M. Vermeulen; Heritage Park Plaza: Elizabeth Meyer, Courtesy the Cultural Landscape Foundation; Native Flora Garden: Elizabeth Felicella; Species: Michelle Pearson; Laguna Gloria: Courtesy Reed Hilderbrand; Stone Mill: Elizabeth Felicella; Buenos Aires Transit: Cecilia Garros Cardo; Ethnobotanical: Francisco Gómez Sosa; Visitor Center: Aaron Booher, ASLA/HMWhite Site Architecture.
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