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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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GO! FISH!

BY KATHARINE LOGAN

sea wall _blog

New design for Seattle’s Elliott Bay Seawall will include habitat for young salmon and a glass-floored promenade to allow light into the ocean.

From the July 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Before Seattle grew up on its shores, Elliott Bay was a bluff-backed beach, with intertidal marshes and mudflats providing a complex and varied habitat for birds, fish, and marine invertebrates. Its sloping beaches offered salmon a safe passage through shallow waters, with plenty to eat along the way.

The growth of Seattle changed that. The developing city filled and leveled its waterfront behind a seawall built on densely spaced and creosote-blackened pilings. Deep, dark, and toxic, the urban shoreline repels migrating salmon out into the bay on a difficult journey where they become easy prey for other fish and marine mammals.

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BY MICHAEL DUMIAK

cylindre.sonore2

Cylindre Sonore. Photo by Sophie Chivet, copyright Atelier Bernhard Leitner, Vienna.

Probably not for the first time in his 40-year career, the Austrian architect Bernhard Leitner is explaining that he’s not a musician. “My background is in architecture. I’m an architect,” he says. “But I was always very interested in the musical experiments of people like Iannis Xenakis, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luigi Nono.”

Radical and moving experiments with acoustic engineering and composition, along with the sonic ferment of the late 1960s, absorbed Leitner so much that he decided to work with sound itself as a building and sculptural material, marking and filling and emptying spaces. When he was finally able to realize his works in outdoor environments, the landscape elements of chance and organic forms—blowing bamboo plants, say, or passing birds—added new dimensions to the designs.

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HAPPY FOURTH!

 Lincoln's Cottage sits on one of the highest points in DC. Copyright (C) National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Lincoln’s Cottage sits on one of the highest points in D.C. Copyright National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Tucked away among the 276 acres of the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home property in Washington, D.C., is a modest gothic revival home where Abraham Lincoln and his family went to escape the city’s oppressive summer heat.

President Lincoln's Cottage. Copyright © National Trust for Historic Preservation.

President Lincoln’s Cottage. Copyright National Trust for Historic Preservation.

It was here that Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, and it was here that he was sometimes seen walking the grounds at night, wrestling with the country’s most difficult problems in the years before the Civil War.

Paths away from the cottage thread through the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Copyright© National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Paths away from the cottage thread through the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Copyright National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The site, now known as President Lincoln’s Cottage, is managed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It’s important for its associations with Lincoln, but also for its significance as a walking landscape, one that witnessed and perhaps nurtured some of our most enduring ideas of what it means to be American.

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Cool relief from dull summer reading is here! The mid-summer issue of LAM focuses on the surprising history and ongoing threat posed to the storied town of Zoar, Ohio, by a 1930s levee; the public spirit of Máximapark designed by West 8, near Utrecht in the Netherlands; and Cliff Garten’s artistic take on civic infrastructure. Elsewhere, we look at city policies on urban farming; the planting designs of Richard Shaw in the harsh, arid highlands of Colorado; the strange relationship between the western fence lizard and the pesky black-legged tick; and a design by James Corner Field Operations on the Seattle waterfront meant to aid in the protection of the Pacific salmon. Kim Sorvig takes on Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership, by Andro Linklater, in Books, and Rachel Sussman shares a portfolio of her work from the instant cult favorite, The Oldest Living Things on Earth, in the Back. And of course, there’s more in our regular Books, Species, and Goods columns. Best of all, the July issue is FREE and easy (see below) for you this season.

You can read the full table of contents for July 2014 or pick up a free digital issue of the July LAM here and share it with your clients, colleagues, and friends. 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 July pieces as the month rolls out.

Credits: Redesign of Santo Domingo Riverside Neighborhood: INCONSERCA and Ana Báez Sarita; Planting Palette: D. A. Horchner; Ribbons: Jeremy Green; Seattle Seawall Detail: James Corner Field Operations; Zoar Levee: Ed Massery; Research Map: Jong Lee, Student ASLA; Bicyclists in Máximapark: Courtesy Johan De Boer—Vrienden Van Máximapark; Western Fence Lizard: Cary Bass/Wikimedia Commons.

THE QUEUE, JUNE 2014

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

This month’s issue of the Queue delights in OLIN Studio’s new digital magazine, absorbs the inevitable wave of backflow on Rebuild by Design, and ponders the goat invasion of Long Island.

 

CATCHING UP WITH…

 

OUR WOBBLY WORLD

FIELD STUDIES

 

DISTRACT ME FROM MY DEADLINE DEPT.

 

Shauna Gillies-Smith talks to  Cool Spaces host Stephen Chung about the Nelson Atkins Museum's landscape. Photo: Shauna Gillies-Smith

Shauna Gillies-Smith talks to Cool Spaces!  host Stephen Chung about the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s landscape. Photo: Shauna Gillies-Smith

The landscape architect Shauna Gillies-Smith has worked on only a handful of episodes of Cool Spaces! The Best New Architecture, a new PBS series focused on new architecture, but she’s not worried that landscape architecture is getting the short shift. The show’s host, Stephen Chung, was a classmate of Gillies-Smith at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and she says she is confident that he is sufficiently “interested in the allied disciplines.” The show, now premiering in local television markets, is organized around different typologies—the first few episodes have themes such as “Performance Spaces,” “Libraries,” or “Healing Spaces”—and focuses on three major new projects per episode. Although landscape architecture is not yet a featured theme, Gillies-Smith has been on screen or behind the scenes for some of the projects, and she’s a big believer in exposing the nondesign audience to design. “It’s as much an advocacy project as a beautiful interesting project about design” she says.

Gillies-Smith, who is the founding principal of ground  in Boston, is one of a team of experts whom Chung may interview on screen; the team may also include an engineer, a lighting designer, or an acoustician, depending on the project. Each expert talks about a different aspect of the project and tries to make it comprehensible to the general audience. “So, for example, I spoke on two different projects,” Gillies-Smith says. “One was the Nelson-Atkins Museum, and in that project it comes down to something very, very simple: the idea that the land was constructed.” Gillies-Smith walks the viewer through the way the landscape was shaped to accommodate a Dan Kiley garden next to the museum’s Stephen Holl addition: “The addition has a very strongly sculpted landscape that is primarily creating space so the building can poke out of the ground like a series of lanterns. A very simple idea, that the landscape was built around the buildings,”  she told us.

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