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HIGH FIVE, HIGH LINE

The final section of the High Line, the Rail Yards, opened this week. Photo by Alex Ulam.

The nature is wilder and the views more spectacular along the new and final section of the High Line, which opened to the public this past Sunday, fittingly on the same day of the People’s Climate March. Surrounding me was one of the largest expanses of open skyline in Manhattan. Underfoot was a landscape consisting of rusted rails, wildflowers, and scrappy wild grasses fluttering in the wind—an example of the original self-seeded raw landscape that took hold after the trains stopped running in 1980. Photographs of this scrappy bit of urban nature played a critical role in the campaign to save the abandoned elevated rail trestle and convert it into a unique public park 30 feet above Manhattan’s busy streets. Until the opening of the new section, the journey along the High Line primarily ran through narrow canyons of buildings and offered mostly snapshot views of the streets below. Part of the charm was not knowing what was ahead, playing hide-and-seek with the city beneath your feet while discovering hidden gardens and outlooks that the High Line’s design team of James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Piet Oudolf had designed along the old rail trestle. Continue Reading »

HAVE TREE, WILL TRAVEL

BY KEVAN WILLIAMS

A torreya sapling growing in North Carolina and a photograph of its parent tree.

A torreya sapling growing in North Carolina and a photograph of its parent tree.

From the September 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

For more than 200 years, naturalists and plant enthusiasts have come to the woods along the Altamaha River in south Georgia, searching for a horticultural holy grail: a wild Franklinia alatamaha, William Bartram’s “lost camellia.” First discovered by the famed naturalists John and William Bartram in 1765 at a single site near Darien, Georgia, and seen only a handful of times since, a wild specimen of the plant was last conclusively identified in 1803. Franklinia is considered extinct in the wild, and the species has survived only in propagation: All living plants are descendants of seeds collected by the Bartrams and grown in their Pennsylvania garden. But many aficionados have continued the search for a surviving wild plant, ignoring the seeming finality of extinction. I’m wandering through woods repeating the exercise in the Altamaha Wildlife Management Area, but the Franklinia I’m seeking aren’t wild, as such. They’re an outplanting of two dozen nursery-grown plants, attempted by the staff of the Nature Conservancy to see whether Franklinia could still survive in Georgia.

My guides are Alison McGee, the Southeast Georgia conservation manager for the Nature Conservancy, and her husband, Rob Sutter, a conservation ecologist, who lead me down a dusty dirt road to the conservancy’s experiment site. We park near a campground frequented by hog hunters and venture off into the woods, clad in orange. For a couple of hours we wander through a maze of saw palms, searching without success. All the signs seem to be there. There are tattered strands of survey tape hanging from a few of the trees, and machete wounds mark others, but there are no Franklinia. The planting should have had a marker—“That’s the way we usually find rare species these days,” Sutter says—but we can’t find it. Was it kicked over, hidden under the saw palms, or are we looking in the wrong spot? McGee takes home two hog skulls as a consolation prize, signs of one migrant species that seems to be doing well here.

Continue Reading »

Digital Tools for uncovering LA's local water potentials

Divining L.A. will fund a geospatial tool for uncovering L.A.’s local water potential. Courtesy the Arid Lands Institute.

The Twitterverse has been alive lately with pleas for votes in the #LA2050 competition, and a few projects have caught our attention for their wider reach and alignment with landscape architecture’s goals. The competition, now in its second year, receives support from the Goldhirsch Foundation and GOOD magazine, and will award grants in five categories: Play, Connect, Learn, Create, and Live. We were pleased to see projects based around the L.A. River (“A River to Live By,” June 4, 2014) make appearances in various categories, along with a project, Divining L.A.: Resilient City Design for the Next Hundred Years, from the Arid Lands Institute (“Drylands Design for L.A.,” January 14, 2014) with Mia Lehrer Associates and a pretty robust team of L.A. water-savvy agencies and firms. Awardees will be selected by a jury as well as the public vote, and the winners in each category can receive up to $100,000 for their project from either public voting or jury selection. That’s a total of $1 million on the table for community projects. Anyone can vote, once registered, and residence in Los Angeles is not required. Voting closes Tuesday, September 16, 2014, at noon (PDT), so read up on the projects and cast your vote. Have a landscape architecture project in the mix for LA2050? Tell us about it in the comments.

UNEARTHED AND UNFORGOTTEN

BY JONATHAN LERNER

Now viewed across the lawn and meadow, the houses evoke the settlement's rural character.

Now viewed across the lawn and meadow, the houses evoke the settlement’s rural character.

From the September 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Nearly 50 years ago, a cluster of old houses, set slightly askew, was “discovered” in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood. They had been surrounded and concealed by newer structures aligned to the modern street grid. These modest cottages were the last physical trace of Weeksville, a self-sufficient farming settlement founded by freed African Americans after slavery was outlawed in New York in 1827.

An organization soon coalesced to document the history and preserve the structures. These years later, the newly completed Weeksville Heritage Center has wider ambitions: both to celebrate the area’s black history and to foster its present-day cultural vitality. The historic houses have been restored and are joined by a dazzling new building with exhibition, performance, research, and classroom spaces. Between them is an outdoor area meant for active programming and historical interpretation. Elizabeth J. Kennedy, ASLA, the designer, says, “One challenge was to make the historic land use patterns apparent.” Another was to reveal the idiosyncratic route of long-erased Hunterfly Road, originally a Native American footpath, which the old houses had fronted.

Continue Reading »

LAM_Sep2014_Drought-OpeningSpread

For our September cover story, Bill Marken, Honorary ASLA, traveled through California to report on the effects of the persistent drought that is gripping the state. His coverage continues online this month with a series of reports on landscape architects and designers about the effects they’re witnessing from the drought and how it is influencing their practice.

We’ll be posting these below every couple of days throughout the month of September, so check back or follow us on Twitter (@landarchmag) for updates.

 


 

NORA HARLOW

“Today, the East Bay is better prepared than it has ever been to cope with a severe drought.”

—Nora Harlow, East Bay Municipal Utility District, Oakland

 

 

 


 

CATHY DEINO BLAKE

Stanford University’s diverse and self-sufficient water supplies are in better shape now than those of neighboring communities…

—Bill Marken on Cathy Deino Blake, Stanford University, Palo Alto

 

 

 


 

MIA LEHRER

“Sometimes I feel like I’m the Ambassador of Dry.”

—Mia Lehrer, Mia Lehrer + Associates, Los Angeles

 

 

 


 

CHRISTY EDSTROM O’HARA

“Drought is a great opportunity to rediscover design.”

—Christy Edstrom O’Hara, California Polytechnic State University,
San Luis Obispo

 

 

 

 


 

SUSAN VAN ATTA

Susan Van Atta can take the long view on dry periods in Santa Barbara…

—Bill Marken on Susan Van Atta, Van Atta Associates Inc., Santa Barbara

 

 

 


 

Glen Dake

GLEN DAKE

“Politicians don’t want to talk about water. There’s never good news. Water is always going to be scarcer and cost more.”

—Glen Dake, DakeLuna Consultants, Los Angeles

 

 

 


NEW IN SEPTEMBER’S LAM

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Drought is said to be too many nice days in a row. Well, in California, three years of nice days has curdled into sheer dread. In the Features section of our September issue, Bill Marken, a frequent LAM contributor and a former editor of Sunset, takes a road trip through California to witness the effects of the drought, which is crippling in certain places and seemingly not such a big deal in others, and to comment on the efforts, or lack thereof, to help soften the drought’s blows. In Mexico, a memorial to victims of the drug war struggles to honor the local impact of this complex, global tragedy. When the ever-encroaching tides threatened an iconic Norman Jaffe house in the Hamptons, LaGuardia Design Landscape Architects pulled it back from the brink and garnered an ASLA Award of Excellence in Residential Design. The landscape historian Thaisa Way takes Michael Van Valkenburgh’s words to heart when she looks at Chicago’s Lurie Garden, by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol with Piet Oudolf, 10 years after it opened beside Lake Michigan.

Also in this issue: The new landscape design for the Weeksville Heritage Center unearths the site’s past as a freedmen’s settlement; the ongoing efforts to contain sudden oak death’s spread (efforts which, it turns out, may be helped by the California drought); ecologists on the cutting edge of assisted migration who argue that it’s the only way to save the trees; and a brief history of pushback on Rails to Trails conversions. All this plus the regular goodies in Species, Goods, Books, and Now. The full table of contents for September can be read 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 September pieces as the month rolls out.

Credits: The Lurie Garden, The Lurie Garden; Assisted Migration, Torreya Guardians; Weeksville Heritage Center, Nic Lehoux Architectural Photography for Caples Jefferson Architects; Sudden Oak Death, Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension; Memorial to the Victims of Violence in Mexico, Sandra Pereznieto; LaGuardia Associates Perlbinder House, Erika Shank; San Luis Reservoir, Peter Bennett/Green Stock Photos. 

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