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Archive for the ‘ART’ Category

BY ZACH MORTICE

AECOM’s plan turns the riverbed into an outdoor activities park. Image courtesy of the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering and AECOM.

The big conundrum of the Los Angeles River—that it is so imposing yet so divorced from the city—shows in the visions for its future proposed in early June by seven architecture, engineering, and landscape architecture firms. The occasion was the Los Angeles River Downtown Design Dialogue, a pro bono charrette that took place on the 10th anniversary of the city’s original master plan for the river. The design firms showed ways that visitors could step down to its shallow waters, although the concrete-lined waterway runs so low at times it can seem more like a quasi-natural splash pad. But the most fascinating plans marginalized the typically modest amounts of water in the river almost entirely.

There are no immediate plans to execute any of the projects. Rather, Gary Lee Moore, the city engineer of Los Angeles, described the charrette as an opportunity to (more…)

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The artist and landscape designer Patricia Johanson sees her ecologically driven, site-specific artworks as a way to weave together two disciplines that seemed to have parted ways a long time ago: science and art. She imagines them to be “parallel explorations” that share the same goal (exploring and interpreting the world), gone about in different ways. “In a way, we’re like inchworms,” she says in an interview from 2010. “We’re out on a twig, feeling around, testing the air. Where do we go from here? What can we learn? And you begin to look at these things, and you begin to discover the world. I think that’s what scientists do, and I think that’s what artists do.”

Johanson grants herself the opportunity to try it both ways. Her Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility in Petaluma, California, clocks in to perform all the progressive landscape-as-infrastructure functions asked of it. It’s a sewage treatment plant, and a park with three miles of trails whose wetlands help filter and clean Petaluma’s water. It’s also a wetland wildlife habitat where visitors set up easels and sketch the landscape, part of which playfully resembles a mouse (with two beady little eyes that are islands in a pond) from above.

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The completed Manitoga pavilion. Photo by Vivian Linares.

On a ridgeline next to a rock quarry pond at the campus of Manitoga, the home and studio of the industrial designer Russel Wright, there’s a whirling, biomorphic mass of modular figures—not quite human and not quite animal, but distinctly organic. They’re organized into a rough, habitable dome, holding each other aloft, tiptoe to fingertip. It’s a wide-eyed exploration of the architectural pavilion’s status as a fertile middle ground between sculpture and architecture.

This pavilion, part of Manitoga’s artist residency program, was designed and built by (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

In Montreal, a giant, multiyear art installation blends technology and history.

FROM THE JUNE 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

The face appears like an apparition. Ghostly white and mottled by leaves, it floats, disembodied, turning to look at viewers as they walk along the Old Port of Montreal toward the old clock tower, where a 30-foot-high woman floats as if in water. These giant video projections are two of 24 mesmerizing tableaux created as part of Cité Mémoire, conceptualized by the visual artists Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon and the playwright Michel Marc Bouchard for the 375th anniversary of the founding of the city.

Beginning each night at sundown, the installation tells the story of Montreal through a series of five- to seven-minute vignettes, each of which features an influential (if sometimes obscure) character from the city’s history. The filmed scenes are projected onto buildings, trees, and cobblestone alleyways, and viewers, armed with a mobile app and headphones, make their way through the city, listening to the characters’ thoughts and an original score. (Inspired by Chicago’s Crown Fountain, for which the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa projected the faces of some 1,000 residents onto twin glass block towers, the faces in the trees belong to 375 modern-day Montrealers.)

Developed over five years, the $18 million project debuted in spring 2016. (Funding has come from a variety of government grants and corporate sponsors.) This May, the city unveiled four new stories. Unlike so many video mapping installations, Cité Mémoire eschews frenetic and brightly colored lights and instead treats the often intimate, sometimes harrowing scenes more like “animated murals,” in Lemieux’s words, (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Rosetta S. Elkin Live Matter exhibition and publication, Harvard Radcliffe Institute, with support from Harvard Arnold Arboretum, 2015. Image courtesy of Rosetta Elkin.

On April 20, the American Academy in Rome announced its class of 2017–2018 Rome Prize recipients, which includes the landscape architects Rosetta Elkin and Alison Hirsch with Aroussiak Gabrielian.

Chosen by a jury chaired by the architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis (and featuring the landscape architects Lisa Switkin of James Corner Field Operations and David Fletcher), Elkin, Hirsch, and Gabrielian will join a multidisciplinary cast (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Landscape architects are visualizing the future of renewable energy.

Landscape architects are visualizing the future of renewable energy.

FROM THE MARCH 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

I first began to see the signs outside Sioux City, Iowa, along Interstate 29. They were white with big black letters: “Have Pride in Our Community.” The words were arranged around a central graphic of a wind turbine circumscribed by a red circle, a diagonal line through the middle. Just beyond the signs, and the farmhouses whose owners had put them up, were the real thing. Dozens of them. Giant, spinning turbines as far as the eye could see. Their presence gave the homes a sense of existing in occupied territory.

Wind turbines—and opposition to them—are an increasingly common reality, not just in Iowa but throughout the United States. According to Department of Energy statistics, wind energy generation quadrupled from 2001 to 2006 and did so again by 2011. By 2015, the United States was producing 190 million megawatt hours of energy by harnessing the wind, compared to just 5.5 million megawatt hours in 2000. Most of this capacity has been constructed in the heart of the country, where wind is plentiful. Iowa, with an installed capacity of 6,917 megawatts, is the national leader when it comes to in-state wind energy generation. Wind accounts for 36 percent of the state’s energy needs.

Assuming that the United States continues to devote land and other resources to large-scale wind and solar power (and experts believe it will, despite the election of Donald Trump, owing to market pressures), (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

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In Owens Lake, a land art installation draws on 100-year-old history while providing critical habitat.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

When NUVIS Landscape Architecture was hired to assist the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) with its dust mitigation effort at Owens Lake (see “Dust to Bust,” LAM, October 2012), Perry Cardoza, ASLA, was given a list of objectives. Foremost, any design needed to tamp down the dust that had become a public health hazard, but it also would have to meet very specific habitat goals and help the department meet its water-use reduction targets. (LADWP has used up to 95,000 acre-feet of water annually for dust mitigation.) What was not on the list was any mention of land art.

“In everyone’s mind, this was going to be a hiking trail with a parking lot,” says Cardoza, an executive vice president at NUVIS. “We would have gravel and wetlands and some salt grass, and [we] would call it a day.” The project evolved, however, and the completed landscape, which opened to the public in April 2016 and won an Award of Excellence from the ASLA Southern California Chapter the same year, falls right into the land art tradition, even as it fulfills its mandate as an ecological booster.

Located on a tiny parcel—at 700 acres, the parcel is still just 1 percent of the lake’s total area—near the lake’s northeast boundary, the design includes a monument-like shade structure and a series of plazas and interpretive kiosks that are connected by four miles of walking paths. For Cardoza, what pushes the work into the realm of land art are its 14 (more…)

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