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Archive for the ‘BOOKS’ Category

BY ZACH MORTICE

São Paolo is a small aquaponics farming settlement where residents and visitors gather medicinal compounds from the surrounding jungle. 2100: A Dystopian Utopia—The City After Climate Change, by Vanessa Keith/StudioTEKA (New York: Urban Research, 2017). Courtesy of Terreform.

In the not-so-distant future, what remains of São Paulo is something like an ecoresort medical crop farm for ewoks. People from all over the world travel to its lush, frequently flooded rain forest and set up shop in ovular pods in the treetops connected by open-air skywalks. They farm fish, grow sugarcane, and harvest rare, medicinal compounds from the surrounding jungle. Crews deconstruct the old city, leaving more room for this life-saving flora to reassert itself.

A continent away, the city of Phoenix, Arizona, is also in the process of unbecoming. Residents of its single-family houses are cannibalizing their neighborhoods at the stern urging of statist security forces. (Let’s say something like United Nations troops, perhaps wearing black helmets instead of blue ones.) The nation’s sixth-largest city will be shrunk to a tiny fraction of its former size to make way for more massive solar energy farms that dominate the desert landscape. Former Arizonans are invited to move themselves along with the bricks and mortar of their communities to a burgeoning megacity in Vancouver. Some people don’t want to go, and are meeting in secret to talk about what to do if they’re forced.

Those companion (but tonally opposed) visions of the future begin with the same book, Vanessa Keith’s 2100: A Dystopian Utopia—The City After Climate Change, published by Terreform’s Urban Research, Michael Sorkin’s publishing imprint. It envisions a world where (more…)

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Elizabeth Meyer, FASLA, the Merrill D. Peterson Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia School of Architecture, will be at the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture on March 9, 2017.

We are delighted to announce the first event in the Landscape Architecture Magazine Lecture Series, a program we’ve been cooking for a while now. The LAM Lecture Series will bring together design professionals, educators, and thinkers in conversation around provocative issues in the field of landscape architecture. From the beginning, we’d hoped to land Elizabeth Meyer, FASLA, as our inaugural speaker, and we are very pleased she’ll be joining us on March 9 at 7:00 p.m. in conversation with our own LAM Editor Brad McKee. Meyer will be speaking at the new ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture in Washington, D.C., about her ongoing engagement with the idea of beauty in landscape architecture, in a talk titled, Beyond Sustaining Beauty: Aesthetic Entanglements with Climate Change Science.”

Meyer’s talk will build on several years of thinking and writing on landscape and aesthetics, and we thought we’d post the two foundation essays she wrote on the topic as a kind of primer for Thursday’s talk. The first, “Sustaining Beauty: The Performance of Appearance,” appeared in the magazine in October 2008 (originally published in the Spring 2008 Journal of Landscape Architecture), and remains one of our most requested reprints. More recently, Meyer published “Beyond Sustaining Beauty: Musings on a Manifesto,” in Values in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design: Finding Center in Theory and Practice, edited by M. Elen Deming. We think both essays, and the talk she’ll give at the Center, will be topics of conversation for a long time to come.

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Hever Castle Maze, Kent, UK, 1904. Courtesy Hever Castle & Gardens


Yew Maze, Hever Castle & Gardens, Kent, UK, 1904. Courtesy Hever Castle & Gardens

Labyrinths and mazes are meandering ways to get from one place to another. As such, they’ve mostly been placed in the arena of baronial garden follies like topiary: trimmed hedges, a gazebo at its center, some ducks in a pond, and a high five once you’ve successfully traversed from point A to B. But author Francesca Tatarella has found that labyrinths’ persistence over time and their geographic pervasiveness are clues to a much deeper truth. In her book Labyrinths and Mazes: A Journey Through Art, Architecture, and Landscape (Princeton Architectural Press, 2016), she sees them as a set of existential questions we ask ourselves. “Labyrinths help us draw closer to mystery, and stave off the fear that the unknown creates in us,” she writes. “They deal with questions such as: Should I even start a journey if I don’t know where it will take me? Will I get lost if I head down an unknown path? And if I do get lost, will I be able to find my way back?”

By navigating a labyrinth’s contours and completing its choreographed rituals of movement, she believes we can master a small bit of our inner world, (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

An abandoned island is the Venice Lagoon. Local Code by Nicholas de Monchaux, published by Princeton Architectural Press 2016.

An abandoned island in the Venice lagoon. Local Code by Nicholas de Monchaux, published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2016.

In his new book, Local Code: 3,659 Proposals About Data, Design, and the Nature of Cities, the University of California, Berkeley architecture and urban design professor Nicholas de Monchaux develops new tools for the mass customization of underused and vacant urban lots, highlighting the limits of inflexible systems thinking. His book charts a way forward with an eye on past failures, and new possibilities founded in corrective measures that have proved to work.

American cities’ first encounters with data, he writes, happened after World War II. That’s when protocomputing power, developed by the military and Cold War consultancies such as the RAND Corporation, merged with tabula rasa modernist urban planning. These binary solutions to complex built environments (remembered most vividly as Robert Moses-style urban renewal that tore down anything old and dirty) became what de Monchaux calls (more…)

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Along with the rest of the country this month, LAM is celebrating the centenary of the National Park Service. Our particular franchise on pride in the park service is that ASLA, which publishes LAM, can claim a good deal of paternity in its creation, as detailed in our April issue. A hundred years later, we travel to a couple of the most famous parks, Grand Canyon and Grand Teton, to look at the challenges that landscape architects encounter in keeping these treasured assets balanced between their wild popularity and fragile ecologies. We visit one of the newer national parks, the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park in New Jersey, to look at how geological beauty and an industrial legacy fit together in an urbanized setting. Looking back at the Mission 66 design program of the mid-20th century, we discover the tensions the park service has in preserving a certain zeitgeist, in which some auto-centric features, in particular, are not universally loved.

There is a lot of other great stuff in this issue: Three landscape architecture firm principals share their approaches to requests for proposals or qualifications by clients, in Office. A report on a new vision for the beleaguered Westside, long an African American stronghold in Las Vegas, finds a mix of hope and anxiety for residents, in Planning. If you want to master a not-even-a-footprint ethos on public lands, ask the Burning Man festival organizers how it’s done. And this month’s book review is about Beyond the City: Resource Extraction Urbanism in South America, by Felipe Correa. And don’t miss our regular Now, Species, and Goods columns. The full table of contents for August 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 ungating August articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Surge Time,” National Park Service/Michael Quinn; “Industrial Evolution,” Sahar Coston-Hardy; “Hit Delete,” Hershberger Design; “Wild Rides,” National Park Service, Yosemite Research Library; “Mind Your RFPs and Qs,” Big Muddy Workshop; “Wary of Change,” Kirsten Clarke Photography; “Mission 66 Hits 50,” Google Earth; “Vanishing Act,” Andrew Miller.

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BY JULIAN RAXWORTHY

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From the July 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In my seminar on contemporary theories of landscape architecture at the University of Cape Town, I recently asked students, during the week allocated to discussing landscape urbanism, to choose a project from Africa that could be called “landscape urbanist.” One student chose the renovation of the Luanda waterfront in Angola. This project is an upgrade that could just as easily be described as conventional landscape architecture or urban design practice. That landscape urbanism seemed to just be landscape architecture to my students suggests how generic the term has become when considered in relation to implementation: It could be just about anything. Landscape urbanism is a vibe.

Landscape urbanism is an evocative term that has exercised great influence over academic design discourse in landscape architecture but has remained ambiguous in practical terms. One of its key propagandists, Charles Waldheim, Honorary ASLA, a professor at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, has attempted to provide a “general theory” for it in his new book Landscape as Urbanism, which, while engagingly going some of the way toward doing so, leaves the persistent question of “OK, but so what?” remaining.

Talking about landscape urbanism is more like (more…)

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Margie Ruddick and Thomas Rainer talk about their new books on wild landscape design.

Margie Ruddick and Thomas Rainer talk about their new books on wild landscape design.

From the July 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In the past several months, Thomas Rainer, ASLA, and Margie Ruddick have each published books centered around notions of designing “wild” landscapes in the public realm to help restore ecological diversity in urban settings. Ruddick’s book is Wild by Design: Strategies for Creating Life-Enhancing Landscapes (Island Press, $45), and Rainer’s is Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes (Timber Press, $39.95). We invited the two to ASLA’s offices to talk about the project they have in common. This interview has been edited and condensed.

Why did you each decide to write books on wildness in landscape design?

Margie Ruddick: I didn’t actually think of my work as wild at all until Anne Raver wrote this piece, “In Philadelphia, Going Green or Growing Wild?” [about Ruddick’s home garden, in the New York Times], and then I started to get e-mails from people all around the world, and I realized: This is wild gardening.

Thomas Rainer: It felt like a good place to be, and we [Rainer and his coauthor, Claudia West, International ASLA] are both plant geeks. We had a lot of practical problems to work out in terms of how to (more…)

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