BY JAMES R. URBAN, FASLA
Most projects don’t have a soil scientist as a consultant, which leaves landscape architects to make important field decisions during construction. We need to specify soil moisture as part of the process of installing and compacting soils, and managing soil moisture is a critical part of plant establishment afterward. Working with wet soils can damage the performance of those soils, and allowing root balls to dry out can create tree stress problems that may affect tree growth far beyond the guarantee period.
Soil, grading, and planting specifications often require that soils not be delivered, worked, or graded when wet, muddy, or dry. Some specifications include references to soil moisture, using terms such as optimum soil moisture, field capacity, wilt point, or saturated. What do these terms mean? And how can landscape architects in the field, with no time to send samples to a lab, determine how moist the soil is?
Landscape architects need to understand soil moisture terms so they can make their specifications accurate and defensible.
Continue Reading »
Posted in CLOSE-UP, LAM MAGAZINE, PLANTS, SOIL, WATER | 2 Comments »
ALI’s high-resolution geospatial model maps stormwater as potential groundwater augmentation supply in the San Fernando Valley. Courtesy ALI.
Back when we first took note of the Arid Lands Institute (ALI) in the October 2012 issue of LAM, co-founder Hadley Arnold was talking about the William Turnball Drylands Design Competition: An Open Ideas Competition for Retrofitting the American West. In a partnership between Woodbury University, where ALI is based, and the California Architectural Foundation, Arnold envisioned an ideas competition that would promote “placing design in the ring with science and policy” in order “to find a radical, pugnacious beauty in new water thinking.” The competition resulted in an exhibit on Drylands Design at the Los Angeles Art and Design Museum, among other activities.
Now they’re back and they have a new program, titled “Divining LA: Drylands City Design for the Next 100 Years.” The initiative focuses on Los Angeles, and brings many of the ALI’s primary concerns to bear on the region, primarily the variablity of water sources and flows and the impact of climate change on hydrology. Architect has a posted a piece from its December issue on ALI, and the work of Hadley Arnold and her partner Peter, to bring attention to L.A.’s complex water profile.
ALI will take its show on the road in January and February to Kansas, Utah, and Montana but you can also hear Hadley Arnold talking about L.A.s groundwater on KCRW’s venerable “Which Way LA?”
Posted in CLIMATE, ENVIRONMENT, FORWARD, LAM MAGAZINE, WATER | Tagged Arid Lands Institute, Hadley Arnold | Leave a Comment »
I wouldn’t call 2013 the Year of the Bike in the United States, but only because I hope that 2014 will be an even better one. It was a pretty great year, though. Two of the biggest American cities added bicycle sharing programs. New York City opened its Citi Bikes system in May with 330 stations; by year’s end, nearly 100,000 people had bought a year’s subscription to the system, and by October, the system had recorded 42,000 trips a day. Not bad! Chicago started its Divvy bike system in June with 3,000 bikes at 300 stations between Cicero Avenue and Lake Michigan, and is planning on 4,000 bikes by this spring. The new Bay Area Bike Share started in late August in San Francisco. It was considered a slow start by some measures, but then many people in the city are already married to their own bicycles. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in December that the Municipal Transportation Agency, which has counted cyclists around town since 2006, found that by 2013, cycling had risen by 96 percent. One September evening during rush hour, more than 1,200 people were counted on bikes at the corner of Fifth and Market Streets.
What could be the downside to all of this? I honestly don’t know, but for some people, there seems to be one—usually grounded in irrationality. A perfectly benign technology that runs on calories, presents almost no harm to anyone, that is cheap and environmentally sound, fast, convenient, and, not least, very enjoyable will inevitably make people uptight for their own reasons. Dorothy Rabinowitz, of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, finds Citi Bikes depressing to no end because she thinks it’s socialist and ugly. You could grant her those points and she still sees no benefits. Rob Ford’s bike hatred helped him become the mayor of Toronto. Adrian Fenty’s bike love helped unseat him in Washington, D.C. Many people in cities greet bikes as you might an invasive species.
Continue Reading »
Posted in IDEAS, LAM MAGAZINE, LAND MATTERS, PEOPLE, TRANSPORTATION | Tagged bicycles, bike, bikes, Complete Streets, St. Louis | Leave a Comment »
The focus is on Philadelphia in the new issue of LAM, with stories on four projects by OLIN Studio in their hometown as well as pieces on the city’s green infrastructure, new habitats at the zoo, special-use parks, and a hardworking new green space on the Penn campus by Andropogon. All this along with the regular features in Goods, Now, and Species, a fresh look at André Le Nôtre’s legacy, and a new book on the work of Hargreaves Associates. Read the full table of contents for January here or preview the digital issue of the January LAM here.
All in? You can buy the current issue of the magazine at more than 200 bookstores including many university and independents as well as at Barnes and Noble. You can also purchase single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio. Want more? Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options. Check in with the LAM blog as we’ll be ungating some of the January issue as the month rolls out.
Image credits: Cover, © OLIN/Sahar Coston-Hardy; Rodin Museum, © OLIN/Sahar Coston-Hardy; Shoemaker Green, Andropogon Associates; Palette, Steven Gierke, ASLA/Courtesy Hoerr Schaudt; Museum of Freeway Art, SWA Group; Sister Cities Park, Todd Mason at Halkin Architectural Photography.
Posted in LAM MAGAZINE | Tagged André Le Nôtre, Andropogon, Barnes Museum, Code for America, green infrastructure, Hargreaves Associates, Hoerr-Schaudt, OLIN, Philadelphia, Rodin Museum, Shoemaker Green | Leave a Comment »
BY JONATHAN LERNER
The Treetop Trail gives small primates a radically different experience of zoo life. Credit: CLR Design/Arbuckle Industries.
A generation ago zoos were static, passive, and effectively two-dimensional. We were on one side of the window—or fence or moat—and the animals on the other. Depending on how naturalistic or pretty the exhibits happened to be, this formula was more or less dispiriting to both parties. Now a master plan being implemented at the Philadelphia Zoo upends all that; indeed, staffers there call it not a master plan but a “transformation plan.”
It revamps visitor circulation and amenities and addresses stormwater management. But its salient feature is a network of trails throughout the property, including elevated ones that snake through the trees. These let animals travel from the buildings where they live to outdoor exhibit spaces. Different species have access to sections of the trails and the places they lead sequentially, like a time-share. This design strategy, described as animal rotation and flex habitat, has been tried in small iterations at zoos in Atlanta; Louisville, Kentucky; Cleveland; and elsewhere. But Philadelphia’s is the first-ever campus-wide application—“a very big step,” says Jon Coe, FASLA, one of the designers. He explains that the approach rests on understanding that “an animal’s natural territory is not so much an area of land or water, but rather a network of trails connecting key resources.”
Philadelphia’s zoo—the country’s oldest, opened in 1874—has only its original 42 acres. Last spring, its children’s facility was relocated, leaving “a huge part of our usable area open for rethinking,” zoo Chief Operating Officer Andy Baker says. “What if that became a destination for animals that already live at the zoo rather than a new stand-alone exhibit?” An animal traditionally occupies a single location for years, but this “creates a radically different experience by giving them this opportunity to travel and explore.”
Continue Reading »
Posted in HABITAT, LAM MAGAZINE, PARKS, RECREATION, WILDLIFE | Tagged CLR Design, Landscape Architecture, Philadelphia, zoo | Leave a Comment »
Landscape Architecture Magazine comes out 12 times a year, but we like to call it a quarterly that comes out monthly. In other words, we pack a lot into each issue for ASLA members, subscribers, and readers who pick up LAM at their local bookstore. But what a lot of our online readers don’t know is that, four times a year, we give digital issues of LAM away for free. As luck would have it, December’s excellent issue is one of those times. Here’s a little preview of what you can find in the free December issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine:
Photo credits: Grand Park, Jim Simmons; Wind Map, HINT.FM/Wind; Streetmix, Code for America; Alfred Caldwell’s rooftop garden, Hedrich-Blessing Collection, Chicago History Museum; Magic Garden, Nic Barlow; Playground wood frame, Straub + Thurmayr Landscape Architects and Urban Designers.
- L.A.’s Grand Park by Rios Clementi Hale Studios is the big civic park that street-shy Los Angelenos can, and do, actually use.
- James Sipes, ASLA, reports on the convergence of data visualizations and mapping.
- Canada’s Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning helps communities literally see climate change’s effects on their own towns.
- Folk art is often situated in some of the most unique and ephemeral vernacular landscapes around. Kevan Williams finds out what it takes to preserve and restore these unique places.
- Graduate students from Washington University work the food chain from the farming end and discover the link between “city” and “country” is much more complicated than they’d thought.
- Also, essays on starlings, Code for America’s Streetmix interface, clean energy as urban form maker, a “risky” schoolyard renovation, a restored rooftop garden in Chicago, and a study of communal property ownership. All this, plus our regular Goods and Books columns and LAM’s annual product guide.
Posted in LAM MAGAZINE | Tagged Landscape Architecture Magazine, Rios Clementi | 1 Comment »
BY MIMI ZEIGER
You’ve likely heard of William Mulholland. There’s a ridgetop road in the Santa Monica Mountains, Mulholland Drive, named after him that offers breathtaking views of the Los Angeles basin and was the namesake of a David Lynch movie. Tall tales and mythologies swirl around Mulholland, the civil engineer who founded the Los Angeles Aqueduct and brought water to the desert. The aqueduct, which opened on November 5, 1913, and recently celebrated its centennial, would eventually become the water half of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and Mulholland’s life would transform into legend. But if the story of L.A. water is well known, what of the power supply, the last letter in LADWP? That’s the question posed by the exhibition LADWP Power, on view at the Los Angeles headquarters of the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI) through February 2014.
The one-room show, presented on three touch screens and two walls of the center, examines the overlooked electrical infrastructure that seamlessly, almost invisibly, illuminates and drives Los Angeles. “The DWP is iconic and welded to the city’s culture,” says Matthew Coolidge, who founded CLUI in 1994 and is its director. “Mythologized through various media, such as the film Chinatown, it’s part of the noir history of L.A.”
Continue Reading »
Posted in ART, CITIES, ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, REGION, WATER | Tagged LADWP, Los Angeles | Leave a Comment »