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For the cover story of LAM’s August issue, Jennifer Reut, an associate editor at the magazine, goes on safari in Louisiana with the Dredge Research Collaborative, a loosely joined group of designers and one journalist spellbound by the huge, hidden power of dredging waterways for shipping or flood control, and all of its odd side effects. It began as almost a science fiction-type pursuit, though one member of the collaborative, Tim Maly, explains, “As we began to research the present of dredge, our wild ideas were routinely falling short of reality.”  Also in this month’s features, Jonathan Lerner surveys the outsized ambitions of Joe Brown, FASLA, who just retired from AECOM, the multinational design firm to which he welded the fortunes of the beloved landscape architecture firm EDAW in an acquisition nine years ago—to applause that was scarcely universal. And on the riverfront of Newark, Jane Margolies explores the degrading past and the brighter future of an old industrial site turned into Riverfront Park, with a boardwalk done in sizzling orange, by Lee Weintraub, FASLA.

In Foreground, we have the refashioning of certain large green roofs into farms; the balancing of goodness and financial prudence required to make social-impact design viable; and the layered dynamics of marine spatial planning as practiced by Charlene LeBleu, FASLA, at Auburn University. In Species, Constance Casey writes about the respectable labors of the mole—even if it can be a gardener’s scourge. In the Back, landscape architects in Denver suggest their personal favorite spots to visit during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in November. And of course, there’s more in our regular Books and Goods columns.

You can read the full table of contents for August 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 August pieces as the month rolls out.

Credits: Concrete Mattresses—Jennifer Reut; Orange Boardwalk—Colin Cooke Studio; Joe Brown—Kyle Jeffers; Rooftop Gardening—Chicago Botanic Garden; The Women’s Opportunity Center—Bruce Engel, Sharon Davis Design; Marine Spatial Planning—Charlene LeBleu, FASLA; Mole—www.shutterstock.com/Marcin Pawinski; 9th Street Historic Park—Kyle Huninghake; Marché aux poulets—Camille Sitte, circa 1885.

BY MELISSA RAGAIN

Gallery display of Lane Barden's Linear City.

Linear City by Lane Barden, on view at the WUHO Gallery in Los Angeles. Courtesy of Luke Gibson Photography.

Los Angeles is fascinated with the improbability of its own existence in an otherwise depleted landscape. As a behemoth system, it has had an almost Faustian capacity to sustain itself by diverting resources away from smaller, less powerful systems. This summer, the Los Angeles Forum produced a show, now on view at the WUHO gallery, with the work of Lane Barden, whose 50-foot-long series of aerial images follows the flow of cars, water, and shipping containers through the city. It’s paired with Joseph K. Lee and Benedikt Groß’s The Big Atlas of L.A. Pools, which delivers exactly what it promises: a catalog of all 43,123 swimming pools in the city of Los Angeles. These projects together address the more subtle flows and stoppages of L.A.’s common-pool resources, using water as a metaphor for global movement and the uneven distribution of capital.

Barden’s piece, Linear City, focuses on the city’s arterial flows. Barden, a professional architectural photographer, has produced an aerial homage to the deadpan aesthetics of Ed Ruscha’s Twenty-Six Gasoline Stations from 1963, but without the humor. It’s a cumulative panorama of the Alameda Corridor railroad, Wilshire Boulevard, and the glorified ditch that is the current Los Angeles River.

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THE QUEUE, JULY 2014

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

This month’s issue of the Queue lauds the re-emergence of smart print magazines for landscape architecture,  admires a new restorative space behind bars, questions how friendly “bee-friendly” plants really are, and considers a trip to Reno…again.

 

CATCHING UP WITH…

 

FIELD STUDIES

    • Magazines are the new black! First there was Reframe, and now there’s LA+, a new print publication from PennDesign that wants to bridge the gap between trade magazines and academic journals. The aim of the publication is to provide content that is more than just “designers talking to other designers.”
    • Navigating the (policy) waters: Two recent reports from the Natural Resources Defense Council offer road maps for cities to “integrate comprehensive urban water efficiency strategies into state revolving funds and Clean Water Act compliance.”

 

OUT AND ABOUT

 

 

DISTRACT ME FROM MY DEADLINE DEPT.

 

BY JESSICA BRIDGER

Venetian bridge with Biennale banner.

Venetian bridge with biennale banner.

Rem Koolhaas, the director of the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, calls for the “end of starchitects” and a refocusing on capital-A architecture, which is usually marked by insecurity and ideological cliquishness. While no one, not even the chief starchitect himself, could remove this high school mentality, Koolhaas did succeed in wrangling what is usually a messy biennale of murky disconnection into a unified exhibition of buildings and their contexts. This approach is a switch for Venice and turned the biennale into an introspective, research-driven look at architecture and influence. With any luck, it will resonate into the future and bring more analysis within the building disciplines of what we build, beyond Internet posts of the latest and greatest, as architecture and landscape increasingly draw themselves into the greater task of urbanism.

Koolhaas united the biennale, titled Fundamentals, around the history of modernity over the past century. The most successful national pavilions, all following the modernity theme, gave nation-specific takes on modern life and situated architecture within that context. Connecting architecture to political, cultural, and economic forces is important, but embedding these factors within geographic and environmental contexts is essential, and largely nothing of the sort was done.

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Beneath many older cities across the globe are mysterious worlds hidden from sight since the Industrial Revolution. Rivers, once lifelines to wealth, were exiled underground as they became breeding grounds for disease. Burying rivers solved the sanitation issues of the times, but the aging infrastructure today falls short of modern needs and cuts off humans from nature. Caroline Bâcle, the writer and director of the new film Lost Rivers, which follows the stories of these forgotten waterways, spins an intriguing narrative of the rivers themselves but also of how people might connect with them. I spoke with Bâcle, who is based in London, about her experiences during the project and what Lost Rivers could mean to cities today.

How did you get the idea to make a film about these “lost rivers”?
My producer Katarina [Soukup, founder of Catbird Productions] and I—I think she stumbled upon it first, on the website of Andrew Emond. The film kind of opens with him. He’s a photographer who was living in Montreal but is in Toronto now, and he basically went into the underground of Montreal and took photos of its lost waterways. We were just fascinated by his website and thought, “Oh, my gosh, there are rivers under Montreal, my hometown. How incredible.” We thought it was a unique thing to Montreal, that it was only our city, and we had this amazing, incredible, mysterious history. And so originally we thought, “Oh, we have to make a film, or do something important about Andrew and his work or about the history of Montreal,” and we just developed the idea, and the minute we started doing any kind of remote research on “lost rivers,” we found that it was a part of urban history around the world. So the subject kind of opened up to something much bigger.

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BY JESSICA BRIDGER

Visitors roam the Urban by Nature exhibits on opening day.

The landscape architect Dirk Sijmons wants to make a double point with the name of “his” biennale—the 6th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR)—which opened in late May. Sijmons called the event Urban by Nature to suggest both that it is in our nature to be urban (implying a certain inevitability to our urbanization, now at an unprecedented and alarmingly fast rate) and that our urban areas are, in fact, natural. To Sijmons, humans are undeniably as natural as the world’s flora and fauna, and so are carbon emissions and border crossing checkpoints—it is time to acknowledge as much and to become more explicitly responsible actors in this unified scheme. This is integral to the work of Sijmons and the ethos of the biennale, and it is reminiscent of the epigram on Stewart Brand’s final Whole Earth Catalog: “We can’t put it together. It is together.”

The IABR is a research biennale, where projects are meant to fulfill the curator’s, in this case, Sijmons’s, position or point of view. The research focus also lets the IABR have a scope and effect beyond the biennale’s boundaries—as opposed to what commonly goes on at the Venice Architecture Biennale or a conference. The research comes from an open call for projects and from the IABR’s own test labs or “Project Ateliers.” These test labs investigate and propose ways to tackle issues at specific sites, this year in Texel, BrabantStad, and Rotterdam. Work from the Project Ateliers appears in the biennale along with work chosen from more than 500 international submissions. It’s this continuity between the test sites and the outside work that gives the IABR its lasting quality and that benefits the broad abstract topics the biennale tends to tackle, such as 2009’s Open City or Making City in 2012.

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NATURE’S SALARY

BY JONATHAN LERNER

Flooded agricultural land in payment for ecological services approach in interior Southern Florida.

From the July 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Low dikes separate pastures on the Florida cattle ranch Jimmy Wohl’s father bought in 1962, when Jimmy was 12. Jimmy runs the 5,200-acre spread now, driving his pickup along the dikes with a rifle ready on the dashboard. “I’m not a killer of everything, but if we see wild hogs I’m going to shoot them,” he says, pointing to a berm the feral animals have torn up while rooting for grubs. “That’s where all the exotic weeds will start growing,” he explains. “This really galls me. I’ve worked hard to keep these slopes grassy so when it rains it doesn’t cause all kinds of ruts.”

Rain and dikes—and invasive species, too—are often on Wohl’s mind. His ranch is about 100 miles south of Orlando in the peninsula’s sparsely populated middle. It’s an area nowadays referred to as the North Everglades, though in its primeval state the terrain was not a “river of grass” like the true Everglades, but pine flatwoods and palmetto scrub skeined with marshy creeks. It absorbed the seasonally heavy tropical rains and then trickled the water south into vast Lake Okeechobee and beyond into the Everglades proper. But over the past century, to dry out acreage for ranches, citrus groves, sugarcane fields, and other industrial-scale farming, landowners and government entities patched together a labyrinth of ditches and dikes, pumps and canals that thoroughly disrupted the region’s natural hydrology. In a climate this wet, “it is the agriculturalists’ mantra to get rid of water,” Wohl says. “We were taking what was considered wasteland and making it an economic driver, the salad bowl of the United States throughout the winter. Everybody kept throwing dollars down here, saying, ‘Drain more land, cut more canals.’”

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