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BY ZACH MORTICE

Discarded pesticide cans, photographed in 1972. By Daniels, Gene, photographer, Photographer (NARA record: 8463941) (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

In early March, the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), the trade group that represents professional landscape contractors and maintenance professionals, released a statement warmly embracing the new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in the hope that he would roll back pesticide regulations. Three weeks later, Pruitt gave them a strong positive signal. On March 29, ignoring the EPA’s own research, he signed an order denying a petition that would ban the use of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to memory loss and neurological damage.

NALP executives declined to comment on Pruitt’s rescinding the ban, because chlorpyrifos is no longer used by landscape contractors. (It has not been manufactured for nonagricultural use since 2000 because of the risks it poses to human health.) But NALP Vice President of Government Relations Paul Mendelsohn said in an email that the group’s goal in pushing back on pesticide regulations is to make sure its members, who purchase and use pesticides for much of their landscape maintenance work, have as many options as possible: “We have members who offer organic services, and others who use synthetic products,” Mendelsohn says. “Our goal is to strive for a regulatory environment that offers our businesses and their clients a choice in what products are used when providing services.”

NALP’s welcome for an EPA administrator who has spent much of his career suing the agency he now runs stands out among other landscape professional associations and conservation groups. Most have rejected Pruitt Continue Reading »

WET BARS

BY LYDIA LEE

San Francisco’s Exploratorium discovers its outdoor spaces.

FROM THE APRIL 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

One of the most popular exhibits at San Francisco’s Exploratorium is an immersive experience of the city’s iconic fog. When you walk along the 150-foot-long Fog Bridge by the artist Fujiko Nakaya, you disappear into a white mist generated by 800 tiny nozzles. “When everything is fogged up around you, it’s a wonderful ‘noticing’ tool,” says Tom Rockwell, the Exploratorium’s director of exhibits and media studio. “You notice the change in temperature, the air currents, the light.”

It’s fitting that the Exploratorium, one of the original hands-on museums, encourages visitors to engage directly with the wild. The foundation for its outdoor exhibits is a series of broad decks around the waterfront museum—more than an acre of hardscape—designed by the San Francisco firm GLS Landscape | Architecture. Notably, most of the outdoor areas are accessible by the public and don’t require a ticket for admission. They fulfill a state mandate for public waterfront access, but they are also an important part of the museum’s mission to connect with a much wider community beyond its paying attendees. The spaces are testing grounds for outdoor installations Continue Reading »

SEED BOMBS AWAY

BY ZACH MORTICE

A hydrogel-enabled seed bomb. Credit: U.S. provisional patent application No. 62/465,341. Nahin Shah | Martina Decker, Material Dynamics Lab.

The tools for tactical urbanism seem more likely to be developed in community center meeting halls and anonymous Internet forums rather than university laboratories. But at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), an architecture professor is working on ways to give impromptu urban vegetation efforts staying power with hydrogel seed bombs.

Martina Decker, who directs NJIT’s Idea Factory and Material Dynamics Lab, is combining seed bombs—balls of organic matter that protect and help seeds packed within them grow—with hydrogel granulates, polymers that are extremely hydrophilic, Continue Reading »

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

Photo by Charles Mayer Photography.

From “San Antonio Takes the Shot” by Jennifer Reut, in the April 2017 issue, about Stephen Stimson Associates and D.I.R.T. Studio’s attempts to restore a little Texas wild in the West at Phil Hardberger Park.

“Overlook vertigo.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

You can read the full table of contents for April 2017 or pick up a free digital issue of the April 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 700 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.

 

LAMCAST: SEA POWER

 

While most renewable energy advocates push for an inclusive “all of the above” approach that embraces solar panels, geothermal, and tidal power, there’s usually one method around which all others orbit. In Northern Europe and the North Sea, that’s wind power.

Dutch landscape architecture firm H+N+S has a plan to harness this potential by installing 25,000 wind turbines in the North Sea across 22,000 square miles, the focus of this month’s cover story, “Power Play 2050.” Over the next 33 years, they say the North Sea can generate 90 percent of power demanded.

H+N+S’s plan, dubbed “2050 – An Energetic Odyssey” and featured at the 2016 International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, is an economic development plan as well as a climate change plan. They predict booming and expanded ports (including an entire island dedicated to the manufacture and construction of wind power infrastructure) and a net gain of jobs, even after accounting for job losses in fossil fuel industries. It would be an incomparable build-up of energy infrastructure, but there’s also a conscientious sense of economical re-use and environmental sensitivity. As described in the video, oil pipelines will be co-opted for carbon sequestration, serving the fossil fuel burners that remain. And wind turbines will have to be designed so that they act as welcoming habitats for underwater plants and animals. These towers will be 12 miles out from shore so that they don’t ruin anyone’s seaward view, far enough away so that the curvature of the earth makes them mostly imperceptible.

“It can be done,” intones the video’s calm, precise BBC-documentary-style narration, “but only when a tailwind can be organized in the shape of realistic pricing or taxation of carbon dioxide that would provide the invisible hand of the market with green gloves.”

HARD CHOICES

BY MEG CALKINS, FASLA

Promising new alternatives to tropical hardwoods come with caveats.

FROM THE APRIL 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE

The past decade has brought an explosion in the use of tropical hardwood decking and furnishings in public, institutional, and commercial landscapes. Whereas wood decking was once largely the purview of residential landscapes, now it can be found in urban settings from the High Line to West 8’s sculptural Wavedecks. Tropical hardwoods are so durable, hard, and decay-resistant that they appear to be the ideal material, yet the impacts of using even hardwoods certified by the Forest Stewardship Council can be substantial and threaten the most critical ecosystems of our planet.

Wood is a renewable construction material if you compare the amount of time a wood member is in use to the amount of time it takes to grow a tree to yield a comparable piece. But that is not always the case. For example, it takes 90 years to grow a Handroanthus heptaphyllus tree to yield ipe lumber for deck boards, but the deck boards will likely not be in use for 90 years even if they are reclaimed, refinished, and reused.

As concern for the health of tropical forests is increasingly recognized in sustainable design thinking, alternatives to tropical hardwoods Continue Reading »

BY ZACH MORTICE

Image courtesy of LAF.

The Landscape Architecture Foundation has announced its first group of Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership recipients, whose research projects all involve the civic design and public policy implications of landscape architecture.

The four practicing landscape architects and academics announced in March will receive $25,000 to research their proposals for one year, with three months of that year dedicated to intensive full-time study. When the fellowships conclude Continue Reading »