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Archive for October, 2013

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By Alex Ulam

In a lecture hall at New York University packed with politicians, planners, and students, an army of designers gathered Monday morning to show the initial stages of their ideas in the Rebuild by Design competition. The competition, for which 10 interdisciplinary design teams were chosen as finalists in August, is a project of the president’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force to generate ideas for protecting coastal communities from big storms such as Sandy, which struck the New Jersey shore one year ago this week, pummeled the New York metropolitan region, and caused more than $60 billion in damage in the United States alone. The competition runs through March. Proposals by winning teams will be eligible for funding by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and private-sector groups.

The Monday morning presentations, which were reprised at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark in the evening, were a much-awaited midpoint review of the process. For all the deep and lingering distress that Hurricane Sandy created—about 50,000 people are still homeless as a result of the storm—it appears that it has presented one of the most pivotal public moments for landscape architecture in decades, even a century.

 

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A few of Byxbee Park's hillocks remain where that had been about two dozen. Photo: Lydia Lee

A few of Byxbee Park’s hillocks remain where that had been about two dozen. Photo: Lydia Lee

By Lydia Lee

Byxbee Park is coming apart. The city of Palo Alto is not even pretending to try to hold it together.

Byxbee Park is one of several San Francisco Bay area parks that began as landfills. Starting in the 1960s, garbage dumps along the waterfront were converted to public recreation areas. In Palo Alto, the city hired the landscape architects Hargreaves Associates and the artists Peter Richards and Michael Oppenheimer in 1990 to create a unique collaboration of art and landscape design (LAM, August 2006). The 10 site-specific installations spoke to the area’s evolution over many eons of human use. The 29-acre park opened in 1991; it won a national ASLA Honor Award in 1993.

Now, as the city prepares to open the remaining landfilled area for public use next year, it is destroying several of the original park’s features.

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Looking north over the Main Post, old commissary building and parking lot, and Crissy Field marsh with  the San Francisco bay beyond.  Main Post Update to the Presidio Trust Management Plan, November 2010.

Looking northeast over the Main Post, old commissary building and parking lot, and Crissy Field marsh with the San Francisco bay beyond. Main Post Update to the Presidio Trust Management Plan, November 2010.

In San Francisco, much of the hotted-up dialogue around the unfolding redevelopment competition for Crissy Field can be pinned on filmmaker George Lucas and his proposal for a Lucas Cultural Arts Museum in the heart of the vaunted Presidio. The competition, to replace the old commissary building with a cultural institution on the Crissy Field site, includes two other contending proposals, but it’s Lucas’s recent sally in the New York Times that got people talking, and looking. To the Times, Lucas blasted the competition’s proposals and the sponsor, the Presidio Trust, for its handling of the redevelopment, and he threatened to take his project to Chicago (where his wife, Mellody Hobson, is the president of an investment firm) if it is rejected—a tactic that will be familiar to anyone who followed Lucas’s real estate tangles in Marin County.

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HOW TO FIX FARMING

Anna Claussen

Anna Claussen. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

We’ve been hearing a lot about the intersection of food production and landscape architecture lately, so we thought we’d contribute to the conversation by opening up our Q+A with Anna Claussen  from the October issue of LAM. Claussen talks about how her work in landscape architecture gave her the social and ethical tools as well as the practical chops to get things done in food policy. –Eds.

Two years ago, Anna Claussen, ASLA, left a Minneapolis urban design firm for the nonprofit world. She talked over lunch with Adam Regn Arvidson, FASLA, about her own rural roots and that a family that still farms made her want to take some responsibility for how food is grown and distributed. She landed at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, where she is dedicated to rethinking the food system, with the goal to create environmentally and economically sound rural communities. These days Claussen may find herself in the fields with midwestern farmers, on the phone with agriculture experts in Europe, or reviewing policy documents with an eye to the bigger landscape picture.

What are you and your colleagues at IATP working toward?
Dismantling a current agricultural system that is unsustainable and unjust. Where I intersect with that is on the ground with solutions to the policy issues and higher-level discussions about what’s not working—about how government is not supporting a system that is fair and sustainable. We start with farmers, so we can collect data, and we can work with them to understand what are the drivers, the motivators, and the barriers to changing landscape practices.

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LINES IN THE SAND

Photo by Nathan Burgess, Student ASLA

Photo by Nathan Burgess, Student ASLA

From the October 2013 issue of LAM:

By Adam Regn Arvidson, FASLA

Those lovely East Coast beaches with the fine white sand sloping into the ocean at a uniform distance from the hotels’ doorsteps are not at all natural. Nor are they stable. Every winter bulldozers or dredge boats visit the shoreline and dump more sand. In Virginia Beach, most of the sand comes from the constant dredging of Chesapeake Bay. Tourists are picky about the sand, and therefore so are the hotel, restaurant, and souvenir shop owners, but “beach nourishment,” as the sand-dumping practice is called, is expensive—and 65 percent of the cost is paid by the federal government.

The Dutch are experimenting with a different way of replenishing beaches, and an American landscape architecture professor is adapting those ideas to Virginia Beach.

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