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BY JEFF LINK

A pilot study suggests playground equipment can provide social and emotional benefits for children with sensory disorders.

FROM THE JUNE 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Lucy Miller lost her sight when she was 16 and, in 1970, underwent one of the nation’s first corneal transplants. A procession of specialists flitted in and out of her recovery room—doctors, nurses, residents, fellows—but she recalls thinking that only the occupational therapist was interested in her as a person.

Shortly after her release from the hospital, she abandoned her plans to go to law school and headed to graduate school at Boston University to study occupational therapy. It wasn’t only the care and attention of her former occupational therapist who had led her to this decision. In the hospital, over several months when her eyes were surgically detached from her skull, she noticed her other senses had grown sharper. She wondered why, neurologically, this had happened, and was determined to find out. So, in her early twenties, still in graduate school, she embarked on a summer mentorship at the Torrance, California, clinic of Jean Ayers, the originator of a then-emerging field exploring the relationship between the sensory processing dysfunction and the behavior of children with disabilities.

Nearly half a century later, Miller, who is the clinical director of the STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder just south of Denver, has become one of the nation’s preeminent scholars on sensory processing disorder (SPD). This term is used to describe difficulty with “one or more of the sensory processes that occur along the neurological pathway, from detecting stimulation to regulating the input and output, to interpreting the sensations correctly, to responding accurately, and finally, to turning the sensory input into meaningful responses,” as she explained in her 2014 book, (more…)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

FROM THE JUNE 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

I’m not sure how many magazines with advisory boards actually put them to work, but at LAM, we meet with ours monthly by phone and find their advice invaluable. The LAM Editorial Advisory Committee (you can see its members on our masthead, page 6) is drawn from a cross section of ASLA’s membership. Each month, a different member leads the call, along with a backup, and those two people together set the agenda and lead the conversation. The topic is entirely of their choosing. Those of us on the magazine staff occasionally chime in, but mainly we listen.

A recent call was led by two early-career professionals who focused the conversation on the ways landscape history is taught in landscape architecture schools. In particular, they wanted to address the overwhelming bend in the history curriculum toward European design traditions and values. “We don’t see a lot of landscape architecture not designed by white men,” one said. “What do we accept as ‘high design,’ and how can we challenge how these [notions] are rooted in Eurocentric design principles?”

The question expands easily beyond high design to human spatial behavior, preference, and need. In any case, it’s an especially pertinent subject given the broad recognition within landscape architecture that the profession is overdue for diversification if it is to address the issues confronting the modern world. “In the past, landscape architecture history was taught along European garden types and sprinkled in other influences such as Chinese and Japanese gardens,” noted one of several committee members who is a university educator. “Now that it’s a global profession, people are talking about other influences. A lot of people elsewhere are trying to make sense of (more…)

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

Image courtesy Traction team members.

From “Where Least Matters Most” by Katarina Katsma, ASLA, in the May 2018 issue, an interview with Coco Alarcón, whose design collective Traction is forging new models of grassroots participatory design in the developing world.

“Floating garden framework.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

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.

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BY KATARINA KATSMA, ASLA

Traction believes landscape architecture is for the people, not just the elite.

FROM THE MAY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

In 2016, as a student at the University of Washington, Coco Alarcón won the ASLA Student Residential Design Award of Excellence for his project to improve public health by creating food gardens in a soggy, stressed neighborhood in Iquitos, Peru. He was also named a National Olmsted Scholar finalist that same year. Since then, Alarcón, who is Peruvian, has been working with a multidisciplinary collective he co-founded called Traction (formerly the Informal Urban Communities Initiative) to try to bring his ideas to fruition. Using research, community outreach, activism, and educational workshops, Traction works with people from communities where resources are scarce to create new social and physical infrastructure that promotes health, safety, and beauty for residents. LAM recently caught up with Alarcón to find out how his group’s work has progressed toward giving people, as he hopes, the motivation they need to transform their environments into equitable, healthy places.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

What are you working on now?
One of our projects is to design and construct a landscape architecture intervention in a slum community and measure the impacts on human, ecological, and environmental health. For example, we are documenting changes in human microbiome, water quality, mental health, and biodiversity of birds and amphibians—among other measurements—in the community to understand the effects of a productive community garden.

Another project focuses on the collection of literature, local experiences, and interviews with experts from different disciplines to understand the role that landscape architecture has on the pandemic of vector-borne diseases related to the Aedes aegypti mosquito, including Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. (more…)

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It’s the first, which means May’s issue of LAM is here! You’ll find these stories inside:

FOREGROUND

Where Least Matters Most (Interview)
Coco Alarcón is using landscape architecture to help disadvantaged communities in his native Peru.

Between the Bents (Parks)
Something fun is happening under Toronto’s elevated expressway.

FEATURES

Vertical Oasis
Optima Camelview’s lush, green exterior is unexpected in arid Scottsdale, Arizona.
Bridge to Everywhere
The Harahan Bridge offers pedestrians and bikers a thrilling new way to cross the Mississippi River.
Let My Rivers Go
Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is still working to keep its head above water. Freeing its rivers could be the key.

All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. The full table of contents for May can be found here.

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.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be posting May articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Bridge to Everywhere,” Big River Crossing Initiative; “Let My Rivers Go,” Zach Mortice; “Vertical Oasis,” Bill Timmerman; “Between the Bents,” Andrew Williamson; “Where Least Matters Most,” Courtesy Traction team members.

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University of Virginia Landscape Architecture Chair Bradley Cantrell, ASLA, sees the future of landscape design as a spectrum of interactions between technologies that sense the environment, model and simulate it, and then finally affect the physical world—all without constant human input and monitoring. As argued in his March 13 LAM Lecture (and in his recent book Responsive Landscapes, written with Justine Holzman, ASLA), the future of landscape architecture is one of designing protocols for how natural systems behave, and tuning these algorithms and eventually the land itself, thus loosening the stranglehold static and monofunctional infrastructure has on the planet.  “It’s not about us controlling every aspect,” he says. “It’s about us setting a range of ways those behaviors can act within.”

Cantrell’s research is grounded in the previous century’s cutting-edge modeling and simulation methods, like the Army Corp of Engineers Mississippi River Basin Model in Clinton, Mississippi, which modeled the entire rivershed, scaled down to a mere 200 acres. From there, Cantrell details contemporary research that is equal parts computational and material, honing ever more granular data points toward more accurate models. For example, there’s USC Assistant Professor Alexander Robinson’s Office of Outdoor Research, Landscape Morphologies Lab work, which uses an articulated robot arm to scrape out dust-mitigating landforms at California’s Owens Lake. Cantrell’s own inquiries involve test bed river basin models that deposit sediment via the variable flow of water, which he has been able to manipulate as though it were a geologic 3-D printer, expanding and cutting back sediment deposit “land” where it’s desired. The resulting topographies are scanned and converted into point-cloud maps.

Cantrell’s approach pushes landscape architecture’s prevailing infrastructure fixation until it ricochets out of the physically imposing world of concrete and culverts and into abstract data, underpinning the omnipresent ways we reengineer ecologies with quantitative facts. The biggest challenge for modeling and simulating dynamic environments, Cantrell says, is not gathering all the requisite data, but getting it to interact in a way that matches reality. At its core, it’s a call for new levels of observational rigor: first, to observe all the factors that make an ecosystem function, and then to understand how those factors work together to create a landscape.

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By Thomas Pintaric [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Our bags are packed and our schedules loaded for the 2017 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO. Find us at the following events, sessions, or in the EXPO hall manning the Landscape Architecture Magazine booth at ASLA Central. You can stop by for a chat or to pick up some of our awesome swag.

  • On Friday, October 20, the LAM staff will be in attendance for the annual LAMMYs presentation (aka the LAM Advertising Awards), which celebrates excellence in our magazine’s advertising.
  • Editor in Chief Bradford McKee, Managing Editor Maggie Zackowitz, and Senior Editor Jennifer Reut will be on hand Saturday and Sunday, October 21 and 22, speaking with members and professionals at Meet the Editors. Spots are still open, so if you’re itching to tell us about that amazing new project, be sure to sign up for a 15-minute session.
  • Monday morning, October 23, at 10:00 a.m., Jennifer Reut will be leading a session with Diane Jones Allen, ASLA, and Gary Strang, FASLA, on Deconstructing Gentrification: Understanding and Accommodating Change in Urban Communities (MON-B10).
  • And Monday afternoon Brad McKee will be on hand at the annual awards ceremony to present the winners of the coveted Bradford Williams Medal, honoring the year’s best landscape architecture writing.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter or Instagram @landarchmag throughout the meeting—remember to use the hashtag #ASLA2017! If you see us in a session or event, be sure to say hello—we love to meet our readers and hear what they think about the magazine and the blog.

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