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BY JESSICA BRIDGER

In Zurich, the quest for something cool ends at the nearest badi.

In Zurich, the quest for something cool ends at the nearest badi.

From the June 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

It is hard not to feel extremely self-satisfied on a late summer afternoon in Zurich, relaxing in the sun. Not only because you perhaps just closed a multibillion euro-Swiss franc M&A deal but because you know that you live in a modern fairy-tale paradise of a city. Where else can you lie out suntanning on a weathered wooden deck, dark aquamarine lake sloshing under you, glass of rosé at your side, steps away from your office in the heart of the city? Zurich is an amazing city for many reasons, and the public baths, known as badis, along the river and lake are certainly not the least of them. If they sometimes seem as perfect as a mid-1990s Abercrombie & Fitch photo shoot with a European city backdrop, this is because they largely are. But this is no accident of urban fortune, nor is it an example of mysterious Swiss superiority. Zurich is a place that leveraged its fortunate position on a lake early, and from its hygienic beginnings to its recreational present, steps were taken to ensure high environmental and open space quality. All with a healthy dash of Swiss sophisticate lifestyle mixed in the blue-green watery bliss.

And what water it is. It is clean enough to swim in on a hot summer day. It is potable—Lake Zurich currently provides 70 percent of the city’s drinking water. It is clean enough to make ice cubes. It would seem to be alpine fortune, an accidental natural wonder, blissfully free of industrial and human effluent. Actually, starting in the mid-1970s, water treatment effectively reduced pollutants, including algae-blooming phosphorus, sickening E. coli, and chemical and biological contaminants. Water treatment plants, overflow sewers, and industrial pre-treatment transformed the water from typical urban filth to drinking water. As cities across the globe shift their focus to waterfronts as a public amenity instead of a site of industry, reclaiming urban space, Zurich’s badis have the power to inspire. Swiss bathing culture is deeply embedded, with everyone from former Swiss National Bank chairmen eating popsicles at Seebad Enge to teens and grandparents building sand castles alongside whiny toddlers. Continue Reading »

After 10 years of evolution, the green roof of the American Society of Landscape Architects is producing a new and varied crop. Photo courtesy of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

After 10 years of evolution, the green roof of the American Society of Landscape Architects is producing a new and varied crop.

We recently came across this piece by Brittany Patterson at E&E Publishing on green roofs in the nation’s capital and their enormous (and necessary) benefits, which was originally published behind E&E’s paywall. E&E, which does excellent daily reporting on climate change and energy issues, has kindly allowed us to repost the article in full.

 

NATION’S CAPITAL BECOMES GREEN ROOF CAPITAL TO FIGHT EXTREME HEAT, HEAVY STORMS

BRITTANY PATTERSON, E&E PUBLISHING, LLC, JUNE 9, 2015

Nestled on Eye Street in downtown Washington, D.C., near the heart of the bustling city lies the headquarters of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

From the front, the brick building looks like any other in the neighborhood, but take the elevator and a flight of stairs to the roof and you’ll find yourself surrounded by rows of green Sedum, blooming prickly pear cactus, and patches of lush butterfly milkweed and hare’s-foot clover. It’s almost possible to imagine you are sitting in the tranquil countryside, not just on the roof of a building covered in foliage.

As relaxing as they can be, green roofs are more than just easy on the eyes.

“Green roofs deliver multiple benefits for both combating heat and in the retention of stormwater,” said Kate Johnson, a program analyst with the District Department of the Environment (DDOE). “Both are issues we think are going to continue to be important in light of climate change. It’s projected to get hotter, and it’s projected we’ll have more extreme rain events.”

Continue Reading »

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Cardens, San Diego, a one-star SITES pilot project by Schmidt Design Group.

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, San Diego, a one-star SITES pilot project by Schmidt Design Group.

Today is a big day for what has long been known as the Sustainable Sites Initiative, now known as SITES, the rating system for developing sustainable landscapes. SITES is now under the administration of Green Business Certification Inc., or GBCI, based in Washington, D.C., which also runs the LEED rating system for buildings, after which SITES is modeled.

With this acquisition, GBCI is now taking applications for certifying landscape projects under the SITES v2 Rating System, and will also administer professional credentialing for the program.

SITES, begun a decade ago, was developed in a collaboration among the American Society of Landscape Architects (the publisher of LAM), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden. ASLA and UT, the owners of SITES, have transferred full ownership to GBCI. Its purpose is to guide development projects of all scales, from residential gardens to national parks, toward rigorous measures of stewardship for land and other resources. SITES certification criteria—refined through expert advice from professionals in numerous disciplines, case study examples, and more than 100 pilot projects—account for environmental factors in landscape design such as water use, stormwater handling, wildlife and habitat protection, air quality, and energy use, as well as human health and recreation. Forty-six projects so far have earned SITES certification. (ASLA members are eligible for discounts on all SITES materials and certification.)

“It’s exciting to see years of work developing and field-testing SITES culminate with the availability of this rating system,” said Frederick R. Steiner, FASLA, the dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin.

Nancy Somerville, Honorary ASLA, the executive vice president and CEO of ASLA, said: “GBCI will take SITES to the next level and ensure its future growth and influence.”

A full news release on the SITES acquisition can be found here. For more information, visit sustainablesites.org.

Credit: Schmidt Design Group Inc.

THE EXPRESS LANE

BY ZACH MORTICE

Chicago's elevated rail park, The 606, was conceived and funded as transit infrastructure.

Chicago’s elevated rail park, the 606, was conceived and funded as transit infrastructure.

From the April 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

For a relatively new landscape typology, elevated rail parks suffer from no shortage of claims about what they can do for cities. Namely, they can renovate decaying infrastructure, add green space to dense urban areas, improve public health by offering more opportunities for exercise, and honor, rather than demolish, historic industrial landscapes in neighborhoods under immense pressure to remove them.

Beyond New York’s famous High Line, a new generation of elevated rail parks is adding a very practical use to the list, one quite divorced from typical ideas about recreational park use: They can become transit and commuter corridors.

Newly opened this weekend, Chicago’s new elevated rail park, called the 606 (named for the first three digits of Chicago zip codes), will offer landscaped paths to harried bicycle commuters and recreational amblers alike. The park will run 2.7 miles on the former Bloomingdale freight rail line, which has been closed since the 1990s, from the far west side almost to the River North central business district. It is said to be the first such park to combine pedestrians and cyclists along its whole length. The landscape design is by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

Continue Reading »

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Our cities' aging populations require new approaches to urban planning.

Our cities’ aging populations require new approaches to urban planning.

From the June 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In December 2013, a massive ice storm crippled Toronto, killing 27 people and knocking out power for 600,000 Ontario residents. Without electricity, elevators in Toronto’s residential high-rises stopped working, and many elderly people were trapped. “I know that there were elderly women up on the 18th floor in a tower near our office who were trying to make tea on a little gas burner,” recalls Patricia McCarney, the director of the Global Cities Institute (GCI) at the University of Toronto. “The elderly were going between two floors to help each other for four days while they didn’t have power. They were actually having small tea parties up on these high floors! So there is a social capital out there, but if that went on any longer, who’s going to take groceries up to them? Who knows they even live there?”

McCarney’s story illustrates both the vulnerability and resiliency of our cities’ older people, a population that planners and designers of all types must increasingly account for. As the world becomes more urbanized, those urban centers are rapidly aging. In the next 25 years, the number of New Yorkers older than 65—currently 12 percent of the population—is expected to increase by 50 percent. According to a recent GCI report, the number of people in the world over 65 years of age will increase 183 percent by 2050, and according to the AARP, most of those elderly want to age in place rather than move to a traditional retirement community.

But building more “age-friendly” cities will be difficult without reliable city-level data about health care, housing, infrastructure, and other quality-of-life indicators. “City data is often either nonexistent or it’s very weakly constructed,” says McCarney, explaining that global statistics for things like mortality rates are often presented at the country, not city, level. McCarney and her team worked with 20 different cities, including London, Shanghai, Helsinki, Dubai, Boston, and Johannesburg to develop a standardized set of 100 indicators organized around themes like safety, recreation, governance, and urban planning. The result, published in May 2014, was ISO 37120, Sustainable Development of Communities—Indicators for City Services and Quality of Life, the first international standard for city-level data. Continue Reading »

The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

BEDIT_F1-GovsIsland_Schenck-Governors-Island-2013_12_04_1044

Mark Handforth’s Painted Phone art installation on Governors Island. Credit: Timothy Schenck.

From “Treasure Island” by Jonathan Lerner, in the June 2015 issue, featuring the recently completed first phase of Governors Island in New York City, designed by West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture.

“I love the trail from the plane’s lights in this eerie night shot of Governors Island. It’s as if it’s circling the Statue of Liberty.”

—Chris McGee, LAM Art Director

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.

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June’s issue of LAM looks at the tough choices that landscape architecture firms, such as Sasaki Associates and OLIN, must face when updating for a new era; the rustic landscape of a house in Northern California by Lutsko Associates, a winner of a 2013 ASLA Professional Honor Award; and we visit New York City’s biggest secret, Governors Island, the first phase of which opened to the public last year with designs by West8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture.

In departments, Michael Cannell interviews the computer scientist Ioannis Karamouzas about the anticipatory nature of people in crowds; New York State’s new “unwanted” list of invasive plants, fish, invertebrates, and vertebrates outright bans the use of some fan favorites; and Louisville’s tree canopy is disappearing by approximately 54,000 trees a year, according to a new report by the Davey Resource Group. All this plus our regular Now, Species, Goods, and Books columns. The full table of contents for June can be found 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 June articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Treasure Island,” © Iwan Baan; “The Shelter of Oaks,” Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA; “Crowd Computing,” Ioannis Karamouzas; “Don’t Bring It Here,” “Flowering Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) Somewhere in Massachusetts, USA” by Liz West is licensed under CC by 2.0; “A Canopy in Crisis,” Courtesy Davey Resource Group.

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