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BY ARTHUR ALLEN

At the Lawrence Berkeley National  Laboratory's cool pavement showcase, research associate Jordan Woods measures solar reflection levels with an albedometer. Credit Lawrence Berkeley National  Laboratory/Roy Kaltschmidt

At the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s cool pavement showcase, research associate Jordan Woods measures solar reflection levels with an albedometer. Credit Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory/Roy Kaltschmidt.

From the March issue of LAM:

At the Greenbuild conference in Philadelphia in November, the National Asphalt Pavement Association booth featured a provocative report, packaged as a little booklet by three engineers at Arizona State University. The report concluded that, contrary to what federal scientists and green building promoters have been saying, light-colored roofs and pavements were not necessarily superior to dark-colored ones, environmentally speaking, and might even do more harm than good.

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Courtesy Tim Cone/Environmental Film Festival.

Courtesy Tim Cone/Environmental Film Festival.

This year’s urban-themed Environmental Film Festival has an interesting angle for landscape architects. The Washington, D.C.-based festival, now in its 22nd year, will be showing 200 films on a program titled Our Cities, Our Planet that focuses on sustainable cities and the impact of urbanism on our environments. The festival is primarily documentaries, but it also includes experimental films, shorts, children’s films, archival gems (some with live orchestral accompaniment), and works in progress. Many of the screenings during the weeklong festival, which runs March 18–30, 2014,   are free, and include panel discussions with filmmakers and activists. Below is just a selection of the films that caught our eye (with the EFF program descriptions), and a full program and schedule can be seen here.

WATERMARK. From  Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier, and the photographer Edward Burtynsky, who collaborated on the 2006 film, Manufactured Landscapes, Watermark transports us all over the world, revealing the extent to which humanity has shaped water and how it has shaped us.

THE HUMAN SCALE. For 40 years, the Danish architect Jan Gehl has studied human behavior in cities, starting with what he calls “Life Between Buildings.” Gehl has documented how modern cities repel human interaction and argues that we can build cities in a way that takes human needs for inclusion and intimacy into account. In Copenhagen, Gehl has inspired the creation of pedestrian streets and bike paths and the organization of parks, squares, and other public spaces throughout the city.

RIVERS AND TIDES: ANDY GOLDSWORTHY WORKING WITH TIME. Acclaimed around the world for his site-specific earthworks, beautiful and ephemeral sculptures in the open air made of ice, mud, leaves, driftwood, stones, and twigs, Andy Goldsworthy thinks incessantly about “the veins that connect things.”

THE HUMAN TOUCH (clips). Ten years after making Rivers and Tides, Riedelsheimer and Goldsworthy started a new collaboration, exploring more aspects of Goldsworthy’s work and how it has changed  over the years.

SAND WARS. Sand seems quite insignificant, yet those grains of  silica surround and affect our lives. Every house, skyscraper, and glass building, every bridge, airport, and sidewalk depends on sand.What are the consequences of intensive beach sand mining for the environment and the neighboring populations?

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BOTANY, WIRED

Specimens of the Tiliaceae Family. United States National Herbarium (US).

Specimens of the Tiliaceae Family. United States National Herbarium (US).

The United States National Herbarium was founded in 1848, and it now holds five million specimens, with a particular strength in type specimens. Housed in the botany collections of the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History (NMNH), the herbarium’s collection is now part of a new crowdsourcing project that allows anyone with Internet access to view and transcribe data from specimens and contribute to the expansion of the herbarium’s collections database. It’s a terrific way to engage with plants as historical artifacts, design objects, and, of course, as botanical specimens, while essentially doing important work for the Smithsonian from the comfort of your own device.

After registration, which requires no special credentials or knowledge, you can begin transcribing the text from the labels into a web form. The data you enter, once approved, becomes part of the specimens’ record. Sylvia Orli, an information manager from the department of botany who helps facilitate the NMNH’s program, says the transcription project is part of a global effort to digitize natural history records. Within the NMNH, the department of botany is among the first to use the new crowdsourcing transcription tool, and several other units within the Smithsonian are participating as well.

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"Work" by Alex Kwa from The Noun Project

Work by Alex Kwa from the Noun Project.

From the March issue of LAM:

For most of the past several years, there has not been much to say on the employment front for landscape architects, or for the design and construction industry in general, except that nobody was hiring. And that’s a very short story to tell. But by mid-February, there were definite signs of a steady upward trend in the hiring of landscape architects. Of course, this sort of thing must be said somewhat warily, so as not to jinx or overstate it, but designers themselves offer the proof.

In the first week of February, there were 80 jobs listed on ASLA’s JobLink site; 61 of them were placed in January (most are listings that stay up for 30 days). The last time listings ran this high was 2008; there were about 90 ads placed in both January and February of that year. And we all know what happened over the following several months as the housing market nearly brought down the entire financial system. In January of 2009, there were 14 ads placed; the January number stayed in that range through January 2013, when there were 22 ads.

The jobs listed recently have been diverse. A few public agencies are hiring, and so are design/build firms, landscape contracting companies, small design offices, and global multidisciplinary firms. The destination is no longer just China or bust; there are firms all over the country looking for new people.

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Two very different, but very Berlin urban parks are featured in the new issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine. The former Templehof airport is now a beloved and highly desirable 900-acre open space. With multiple factions and agendas competing to decide its future,  GROSS.MAX landscape architects have some interesting moves to make.  Nearby, Park am Gleisdreieck, designed by Atelier Loidl, makes places to play while incorporating the  scars from World War II.  Back in Brooklyn, the Olmsted and Vaux-designed and Moses-altered  Prospect Park welcomes a new skate rink, Lakeside. The elegant design brings together the old and new, including a new structure by Williams/Tsien.  “I haven’t done extensive research on this,” says Prospect Park’s Christian Zimmerman, FASLA, “but I can’t think of another project in the country that implements such a massive, modern-designed structure, and does historic preservation, and does ecological restoration all in one in a landmark park.”

In the departments, Kevan Williams looks at  products for making barriers that serve as habitat along fragile coasts; Workstation offers a survey of how (and why) landscape architects might use 3-D printers,  and Climate looks at new strategies for coastal restoration around the San Francisco Bay. All this plus our regular features in Species, Books, Goods, and Now. You can read the full table of contents for March or pick up a  digital issue of the March  LAM 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 and Noble. You can also purchase single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio. 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 on the LAM blog, Facebook page,  and Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating some of the articles from  the  March issue as the month rolls out.

Credits: Lakeside/Prospect Park aerial,  Michael Moran/Otto;  Shadeworks, Matt Annabel, Associate ASLA; 3-D terrain model, Peter Summerlin, Associate ASLA; Gleisdreieck,  Atelier Loidl; Templehof master plan, Templehofer Freiheit; ReefBLK, Coastal Environments, Inc.; Cool pavements research, Lawrence Berkeley National  Laboratory/Roy Kaltschmidt; San Francisco Bay beach, Peter Baye.
Frack Blog 2

A Pennsylvania village. Photo by Kim Sorvig.

We’re pretty jazzed that the venerable Utne Reader picked up our article on fracking  for its March issue. “Welcome to Frackville” by Kim Sorvig appeared in the June 2013 issue of LAM, and it’s part of Utne’s themed issue on global climate and environmental issues. Utne’s recognition of Sorvig’s piece helps to underscore the ways in which the work of landscape architecture is becoming increasingly critical to cities, regions, and nations that are feeling the effects of fast-unfolding environmental issues and climate change. Here, Sorvig heads to Pennsylvania to try to piece together the many facets of fracking in the landscape.

The ground is pockmarked with pads and pits, the sky aflame with waste gas flaring from tall stacks, visible for miles. “I’ve been to public meetings where drillers say they don’t want to flare; they’d rather be more green,” White says. But new wells are still flared for the first few weeks, when gas may be contaminated. Lack of pipeline and storage capacity may also result in burn-offs. Below us, a flare towers directly over a high-school running track.

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THE QUEUE, FEBRUARY 2014

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

In this dispatch of the Queue, the LAM staff reads up on the politics of space, urban parks in Mexico, an extraordinary gift of land in California, why architects talk funny, and way too much more.

OUR WOBBLY WORLD

Alexis Madrigal’s piece on California’s water problem is being heavily circulated, but in case  you haven’t seen it, the Atlantic has it posted in full.

Also all over the interwebs is Elizabeth Kolbert talking about her new book, the Sixth Extinction. “We are effectively undoing the beauty and the variety and the richness of the world which has taken tens of millions of years to reach,” Kolbert tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross.  “We’re sort of unraveling that…. We’re doing, it’s often said, a massive experiment on the planet, and we really don’t know what the end point is going to be.”

Do our green urban policies actually undermine social equity? Tom Slater fires a shot across the bow of the advocates for urban sustainability and resiliency, and asks, Who gains? Who loses?

FIELD STUDIES

Recognition for the groups, including TCLF, Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, and the Minnesota chapter of Docomomo US,  who rallied to save M. Paul Friedberg’s modern landscape, Peavey Plaza.

Lorena Martínez, the mayor of Aguascalientes, Mexico, finds that the new 8 mile long linear park park, La Línea Verde, solves a host of urban problems, from asthma to crime. Cityscope talks to the mayor and the citizens about what it took.

Via Grist, Brentin Mock interviews Clarice Gaylord, who was in charge of the EPA’s first effort to deal with issues of environmental justice–under the Bush administration.

Instead of selling his 300 acres of highly valuable land near Silicon Valley–the number $500 million was thrown out there–Walter Cottle Lester willed his family farm to the state to be preserved as an agricultural park. No playgrounds, no swimming pools, no basketball court, just wide open space.

Via PlaceswireEsri’s ArcGIS opens up its platform to the public and puts reams of government data, including the EPA’s, into the public’s hands.

DISTRACT ME FROM MY DEADLINE DEPT.

Photographs by artist/geographer Trevor Paglen of never before-seen-surveillance sites cracks open the hidden landscapes of intelligence gathering.

So very cool new Multiplicity project from Landscape Forms and Fuseproject lets designers play with street furniture.

Translation, please: “Interrogating the hermeneutic potentiality of the urban fabric’s boundary conditions is the key to intervening in the city’s morphology. The phenomenological nature of a building and its neighborhood is enhanced by ludic acts of horizontality.”

How to make pennyfloors, with much chortling in the comments about cost per square foot.

The world without people is a little bit creepy.

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