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We are very honored to be finalists in 2014 American Magazine Awards for General Excellence in the Special Interest category, especially considering the excellent other magazines in the group: Modern Farmer, Los Angeles Magazine, Inc., and the Hollywood Reporter.

The whole point of remaking Landscape Architecture Magazine over the past four years has been to bring out of relative obscurity the huge range of the difficult and inventive work that landscape architects are doing to put our treatment of this planet on a better path. The work is happening at all scales. It happens around small creeks, gardens, town streets, and playgrounds on up to whole watersheds, transit systems, and shorelines.

Landscape architects are wise and dedicated people, and many of their best efforts come through in the ways they gather knowledge across a range of other arts and sciences and factor it in to the reality they know better than anyone: What land can and cannot sustain. The thinking is adventurous, and the stories are so good they practically tell themselves. They just need a home, and that’s what the whole LAM staff strives to give them. Of course, we could not do it without our loyal readers or the amazing support we have here at ASLA, which sees LAM as one of the numerous ways it can work to keep pushing  landscape architects to the front of the game in design and environmental stewardship.

 

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

In this dispatch of the Queue, the staff reads up on the latest on the troubled National Flood Insurance Program, considers the legacy of Bunny Mellon, and indulges in a little nostalgia.

 

CATCHING UP WITH…

    • Slate (via Climate Desk) has an article on “Flood Zone Foolishness,” detailing how the very states most at risk are blocking reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program. In the November 2013 issue, we ran an interview with the project lead on the plan that recommended changes to the program (“The Risk Picture”) and the likely uptick in consumer premiums.
    • Lawrence Halprin (posthumously), along with Lawrence Noble (sculptor) and George Lucas (owner), will receive the Henry Hering Memorial Medal for Art and Architecture from the National Sculpture Society (founded 1893) for their outstanding collaboration on the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio in San Francisco.

 

FIELD STUDIES

 

OUT AND ABOUT

    • Deadline approaching for this radically hybrid art/geography/landscape/performance event: The Anthropocene, Cabinet of Curiosities Slam, to be held at the University of Wisconsin–Madison November 8–10, 2014. The conference will feature a keynote address from Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History and Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change.
    • The Cultural Landscape Foundation unveils its 2014 season of events, which includes What’s Out There Weekends in Miami, Richmond, Virginia, and Los Angeles; the Garden Dialogues series; and a land-art theme for Landslide.
    • The Middle East Smart Landscape Summit 2014 will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, May 6–7, 2014.

 

DISTRACT ME FROM MY DEADLINE DEPT.

Frontier Town: A Tent Camp for Children in the Urban Wild D MET Design (Elizabeth Skrisson and Joel Schmidt) in collaboration with Sarah Lapinski. Photo Credit:  David Lewinski

Frontier Town: A Tent Camp for Children in the Urban Wild. D MET Design (Elizabeth Skrisson and Joel Schmidt) in collaboration with Sarah Lapinski. Photo Credit: David Lewinski

There’s a lot going on in Detroit, despite what you might read in the papers, including quite a bit at the intersection of landscape architecture, urban art, and public space. The open call for the 2014 DLECTICITY competition caught our eye for its intriguing approach to activating Detroit’s sometimes beleaguered city streets.  This is the second year for the competition and we hear that multi-disciplinary teams of all kinds are forming now. Accepted projects are funded up to $2,500 and there are honorariums as well. The description from the website is below, and the deadline is March 31. For more info, see the DLECTRICITY competition’s website. 

DLECTRICITY is back and ready to see more of your work! For two electrifying nights in 2012, DLECTRICITY brought thousands of people into Midtown Detroit to experience 35 projects by local, national and international artists. 25 of those projects were selected from an open call. This fall, DLECTRICITY will again transform Midtown with site-specific installations of light, video, performance, interactive engineering and nonconformist architecture. From lasers to dance, robots to 3D mapping, we want to see what you create. We challenge you to animate historic buildings, turn streets into oceans – the city landscape is your canvas. Now is the chance to show Detroit, and the world, what you can do!

DLECTRICITY is looking for projects that will activate the outdoor, nighttime landscape of Midtown Detroit’s Woodward Corridor including:

+ Light art
+ Video art
+ 3D video mapping projects
+ Multimedia installations
+ Projects that use technology for interactivity and community engagement
+ Works that utilize mobile platforms (smartphones, tablets)
+ Performance (art, dance, theater, music)
+ Talks and workshops
+ Kid-friendly and/or educational
+ The unexpected

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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