Archive for the ‘ACCESSIBILITY’ Category


Produced and directed by Austin Allen, an associate professor at Louisiana State University, Claiming Open Spaces is a documentary on the perception of parks, in cities such as New Orleans and Detroit, from the cultural perspective of the African Americans who use them. As noted by a young Walter Hood, ASLA, the cultural makeup of the communities that use city parks is often left out of planning and programming, which can alienate the people meant to use them. This lapse comes up in interviews with residents who fondly remember a neighborhood park before it was redesigned and with kids who wonder why they are constantly hounded by police for simply enjoying time in the park.

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Set-asides for women-owned firms are a paradox.  some can move you ahead. others are just a headache.

Set-asides for women-owned firms are a paradox. Some can move you ahead. Others are just a headache. Credit: Greeen/shutterstock.com

From the February 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Andrea Cochran, FASLA, the San Francisco-based landscape architect, has received the Cooper Hewitt’s National Design Award, the ASLA Design Medal, and many other honors. But despite her prominence, she says, she still sees sexism affecting the profession. “It’s not overt, but it’s there,” says Cochran, explaining that it is precisely her success that makes her aware of the problem. “If you asked me when I was in my 20s if I had ever experienced sexism, I would have laughed at you,” she says. “But then you get to a certain point in your career and you realize there is a glass ceiling.” In her experience, “It’s still hard to get certain types of jobs, some of the bigger jobs, if you’re a woman.”

So Cochran supports programs that require prime contractors on public projects to award a percentage of the work to “women business enterprises,” or WBEs. “If being a WBE helps me get a job, that’s fine,” says Cochran, her voice rising, “because there are lots of other jobs I would have gotten if I were a guy.”


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TRANSIT: Buenos Aires

Peru Street, in Buenos Aires, was transformed into a pedestrian space. Courtesy Cecilia Garros Cardo.

From the June 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Walking around parts of Buenos Aires can be dizzying, with cars speeding down the large boulevards as people walking find themselves having to race from corner to corner to stay out of their way. But a central part of the city that was once quite chaotic is being tamed by two programs that give pedestrians and public transportation priority over cars. The programs—Metrobus, a new bus rapid-transit (BRT) network that is being implemented by the undersecretary of transportation, and Prioridad Peatón, or the Priority for Pedestrians Plan, implemented by the Ministry of Urban Development, both under the auspices of the city government—are recent parts of a long-term Sustainable Mobility Plan that’s making deteriorated parts of the city more navigable, more hospitable, and more appealing to those who want to walk rather than drive.

The Metrobus network has three different corridors in the city: Metrobus Juan B. Justo, which covers 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) and has 21 stops, was completed in 2011; Metrobus 9 de Julio runs along 3.5 kilometers (about two miles) and has 17 stops in the central area of the city; and Metrobus Sur, which has two different lines and a total length of 23 kilometers (14 miles) and 37 stops, and is still in construction in the southern area of the city.


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"Say Manure!" -Rich Haag. (Photo by Daniel Jost)

“Say Manure!” -Rich Haag.
(Photo by Daniel Jost)

AUSTIN, TEXAS—The Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture conference began on Wednesday with a rousing and hilarious rant by Richard Haag, the 89-year-old landscape architect from Seattle best known for his design of Gas Works Park and his early advocacy for edible plants. The speech veered in numerous directions. At one point Haag polled the audience to see what topics they wanted him to focus on, and, to his surprise, they chose trees. Some of the most memorable lines and moments:

“I have known for 50 years that landscape architecture is the fine art of visual swindles.” [Arguing that no rendering can truly capture the landscape in all its complexity.]

“Landscape architecture is the only profession that embraces nature as a lover. Biophilic, we were biophilic before they started combining words like that.”

On the landscape architecture profession: “Right now we’re on the top. We have what I call the power of procreation. But it can be threatened by other technologies moving in, and we damn well better take control of it.”

“Every idea you have, give it away, because you get a better one in return.” (more…)

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Private homes are rarely accessible to people in wheelchairs. Jackie Simon, a real estate agent from Montgomery Village, Maryland, hopes to change that. “We still allow our single-family homes to be built with front porches and steps at every entry,” Simon lamented in the August 6 Washington Examiner.  “If your neighbor is having a PTA meeting in her home and you [are] a wheelchair user, you can’t go to that meeting,”

Simon is part of the “Visitability” movement, which aims to eliminate barriers that make it difficult for disabled people to find housing and visit the homes of friends, family members, and neighbors. Concrete Change, an organization at the center of the movement, argues that all new homes should have three simple features: at least one entrance without stairs, a half bathroom on the main floor, and interior doors with 32 inches or more of clearance space.

You can read more about visitability on the group’s web site and in a pamphlet put together by the University of Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning. A few localities, including Pima County, Arizona, have adopted visitability requirements for new houses. But some have questioned mandating visitability. Click the following links to read about concerns raised by prominent New Urbanists and the National Association of Homebuilders.

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From the June 2012 issue of LAM:

Rian K. Long

By Elizabeth S. Padjen

Brick, beans, and cod—you know we’re talking about Boston. But nobody bakes beans anymore, and the feds have clamped down on cod fishing. Now, even brick is under siege. In the country’s most famous walking city, the dominance of the venerable paving material has been challenged by the decidedly more pedestrian concrete and asphalt.

Leading the attack on brick sidewalks is the city’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities (CPD), which believes that clay pavers do not—and, perhaps more important, cannot—meet the guidelines established by the state’s access code and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Both codes require continuous smooth walking surfaces with no variations greater than a quarter of an inch. Although brick sidewalks are blamed for tripping hazards and obstacles to canes used by the blind, the most frequently cited concern is wheelchair vibration—a sensation similar to the buh-bump, buh-bump rhythm familiar to anyone who has ever pulled a wheeled suitcase over uneven pavers or driven over cobblestone.


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From the May 2012 issue of LAM:

2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design

Ten ways the new ADA regulations will affect landscape architects.

By Daniel Jost, ASLA

A major upgrade to the fine points of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has gone into effect, and landscape architects will have to take note of the many changes that will affect their work. March 15 was the compliance deadline for revised standards of the ADA that were issued by the U.S. Department of Justice in September 2010. The new standards include a number of changes that will significantly affect the design of landscapes and public spaces and, in the process, make many more types of activities available to people with disabilities. (more…)

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