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Archive for the ‘CLIMATE’ Category

INTERVIEW BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Greg Kochanowski documented the loss of his own home in the 2018 Woolsey Fire, which destroyed 110 of 217 houses in Seminole Springs, California. Photo by GK.

 

The Los Angeles-based designer Greg Kochanowski researches wildfire mitigation close to home.

 

Earth is a water planet. It is also, as Stephen J. Pyne has written, a fire planet. The Earth “has held fires as long as plants have lived on land,” Pyne recently wrote in Yale Environment 360. To remove fire from landscapes that have coevolved with it “can be as ruinous as putting fire into landscapes that have no history of it. The fires we don’t see—the fires that should be there and aren’t—are an index of ecological loss, like imposing a drought on a normally lush landscape.”

Greg Kochanowski knows well the losses that fires and their absence bring. As the studio director of the multidisciplinary design firm RIOS, Kochanowski had been investigating the effects of urbanization on the fire-adapted landscapes of Southern California for more than three years when the 2018 Woolsey Fire destroyed his home in Seminole Springs, California.

Now, Kochanowski has collected his research, as well as his experience of the Woolsey Fire, in The Wild, published last fall as part of the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design’s pamphlet series. The book explores the urban periphery of Los Angeles and the economic, cultural, and political pressures that have resulted in the city’s persistent peri-urban expansion and, consequently, the inevitability of ever larger, ever more deadly wildfires. Landscape Architecture Magazine spoke to Kochanowski shortly after the book’s release. His reVISION ASLA 2020 panel, “Fire Across the Pacific: Australia, California, and the Climate Crisis,” is available online.

LAM: What gave birth to the line of inquiry you’re tracing in the book?

Kochanowski: It was really the Rising Currents book that came out of the MoMA exhibition [Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront, 2011]. That was the first time that I had seen the global design community using their expertise to solve much broader problems. I was really inspired by it, but I was living in Los Angeles. Los Angeles has issues with sea-level rise, of course, but there was a lack of theorizing about the West. It was a very East Coast discussion. In the West, I was experiencing fires, and then it would rain and you would have floods, and then landslides, and it happened every single year. It was just this cycle. After a few years, I thought, no one’s talking about this. So, I began to look at the fire cycle, and had a session at the ASLA conference in 2018 on some of that initial research. And then my house burned down. Then I got really interested in fire. (more…)

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BY PATRICK SISSON

A high-tech greenhouse developer argues that preserving the agricultural landscape
requires a sustainable, scalable start-up.

FROM THE OCTOBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

One of the first things visitors will notice inside the sprawling AppHarvest complex—a 60-acre, 2.76-million-square-foot, 30-foot-high greenhouse in Morehead, Kentucky—is the blinding, almost antiseptic whiteness. A forest of tomato plants, green tendrils reaching up from nutrient-rich charcoal beds toward the glass roof, will soon be arranged in rows that stretch nearly a mile end to end. Walls, gutters, and flooring, all coated in white to reflect the sunlight, give the appearance of a soundstage.

“It’s just awe-inspiringly massive,” says Kentucky native Jonathan Webb, the company’s founder, about the experience of standing inside a space the size of 30 Tesla Gigafactories. Seedlings have already been planted, and by the end of the year, AppHarvest will be shipping the first of what it hopes will be an annual haul of 45 million pounds of fresh, Kentucky-grown tomatoes to grocers including Kroger, Walmart, and Costco. “We’re trying to use technology to align with nature and put nature first,” Webb says.

As its name suggests, AppHarvest views farming and food through a start-up lens. For Webb, who has a background in the solar industry, the central argument is sustainability. Tomatoes are grown year-round in a climate-controlled, chemical-free greenhouse using hydroponics, robotics, more banks of LED lights than a ballpark, and two species of wasps for natural pest control, resulting in significantly more produce per acre. Strategically placing one of North America’s largest greenhouses within a day’s drive of 70 percent of the U.S. population means less time between harvest and consumption, ideally resulting in a tastier tomato and less trucking emissions. Nearly $2 billion worth of tomatoes are currently shipped into the United States annually from farms and greenhouses in Mexico.

Webb argues he needs to go big to fight the dystopian farming practices of Big Agriculture, which run ever-larger industrialized operations that emit noxious levels of animal waste and fertilizers. Animals raised on huge CAFOs (concentrated animal feed operations), for instance, live in crowded misery, amid complexes that stain the landscape with so much ammonia and nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, and methane that children nearby developed elevated levels of asthma. Artificial structures of glass and steel the size of airport terminals can free up the land by concentrating production. It’s a pragmatic strain of tech utopianism that asks if the sacrifice of a small portion of the landscape can serve the greater good. (more…)

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BY LYDIA LEE

When designers need to calculate the environmental cost of projects, a new tech tool crunches the numbers.

FROM THE OCTOBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

For the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge project in Washington, D.C., landscape architects at AECOM made sure that the bridge’s adjacent 80-acre waterfront park would provide many environmental benefits: bioswales and rain gardens for treating stormwater, pollinator meadows, and extensive tree cover to reduce the urban heat island effect. But when they did a rough estimate of how long it would take for the carbon dioxide absorbed by the plantings to cancel out the carbon dioxide emitted from producing asphalt and concrete paving and from maintenance, they got a surprisingly high number: 39 years. Two other completed projects they investigated took even longer to become carbon neutral: 346 and 154 years. “It was pretty interesting—we had no idea we were that far off,” says Ignacio Bunster-Ossa, FASLA, the vice president of landscape architecture and urbanism for the Americas at AECOM.

These calculations can be done painstakingly by hand, but Bunster-Ossa’s group was able to get these results by using Pathfinder, a new carbon calculator and design tool designed specifically for landscape architects. The app’s developer, Pamela Conrad, ASLA, a principal at San Francisco-based CMG Landscape Architecture, has spent the past four years thinking about the carbon footprint of landscape projects. “A landscape looks green, so we assume that it’s good and that we do good things,” says Conrad. “But it has a unique carbon impact that is hidden to the eye—it’s only when we measure that we can fully understand this complex formula.” (more…)

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

Photo by Robin Hill.

From “An Emerald Necklace at 70 Feet” in the October 2020 issue by Timothy A. Schuler, about a green roof system at the University of Miami devised by ArqGEO and the Henry Company that can keep everything planted amid hurricane-force winds.

“Hurricane ready.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 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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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

FOREGROUND

 Miami’s Next Wave (Water)
In Miami Beach, Savino & Miller wrangles with local regulations that are designed to protect natural
resources but often clash with the advancing sea.

American Gothic 2.0 (Food)
A start-up launches with a very tech vision for enormous, centralized greenhouses and resilient food
systems, even if some of the details haven’t been worked out yet.

 FEATURES

The Plus Side
Carbon calculators for architecture can miss landscape benefits, so Pamela Conrad, ASLA, turned a
spreadsheet into Pathfinder, an app with landscape at its heart.

To the Core
At a tiny semiderelict site in Detroit, Julie Bargmann, ASLA, found a collaborator and an
urban forest that was waiting to be unearthed.

The full table of contents for October can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 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 October articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “The Plus Side,” City of Alameda, Recreation and Parks Department; “To the Core,” Chris Miele; “American Gothic 2.0,” AppHarvest; “Miami’s Next Wave,” www.shutterstock.com/imageMD; “A Way of Walking,” Katherine Jenkins.

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This fall, LAM will be highlighting professional and student winners from the 2020 ASLA Awards by asking designers to dive deep into one image from their winning project.

The Landscape of an Agreement: The Role of Regional and Geopolitical Landscape, Agriculture, and Religion in a Future Peace Agreement Between Palestine and Israel, by shelter_expanse, Professional Analysis and Planning Honor Award.

 

Image courtesy shelter_expanse.

“In our work we mostly try to investigate the relationships between people based on the land. We hope this image, in the form [of an] aerial panorama (like those of Heinrich Berann), succeeds in showing this by detailing two entangled populations making clear actions over the land, thus shaping their life and future. It is the landscape that delineates the ground for actions, the Judaean Desert at the foreground, and the Jerusalem Mountains at the back.”

“We always believe landscape can and must take a larger responsibility in society, toward greater equality and justice, with communal and spiritual aspects. But we were still surprised to find to what extent this is possible if one addresses the critical issues and sites with the right tools. In a region cultivated for thousands of years, landscape plays an enormous geopolitical role: People pray, live, and die for it. In a world torn by health and environmental crises, economic and political inequalities, we must come out into the land; leave behind the boutique work for a while. It should be based on a clear and universal set of principles.”

 —Matanya Sack, International ASLA, and Uri Reicher of shelter_expanse

 

The Palestinian–Israeli conflict in the West Bank is one of the world’s thorniest territorial disputes. The firm shelter_expanse, commissioned by Peace Now to look at the situation through the lens of landscape architecture, shows how considerations of topology, land use, and future development can inform negotiations by policy makers and analysts. The design team created a potential solution to the complex patchwork of overlapping claims based on its analysis of the region’s developed territories, agricultural lands, nature reserves, and heritage sites. Providing useful new data in the course of its research, the team created detailed maps of developed areas, turning up new communities not previously recorded. The resulting proposal is based on a vision for long-term stability and growth of a separate Palestinian nation and makes recommendations for specific land swaps between Israel and Palestine. The jury took note of the sensitive approach to the region, where “fights over ownership often neglect realities of the land itself,” and “the ability to de-settle land will hold lessons for flood-prone cities that face the prospect of retreat.”

—Lydia Lee

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This fall, LAM will be highlighting winning projects from the 2020 ASLA Awards by asking designers to dive deep into one image from their winning project.

Effecting Change to Avoid Disaster: Communicating Effective Wildfire Planning Strategies, by Design Workshop, Professional Communications Honor Award.

Prepared by Design Workshop, Inc., for CPAW.

“We were in need of a suite of graphics to effectively communicate to decision makers how the choices they make can help their communities mitigate the risks of wildfire. We wanted our audience to learn about different mitigation techniques to reduce wildfire risk to the structure and surrounding landscape.”

“The graphic showing the overlapping home ignition zones further makes the point that mitigation takes a collective response—particularly in areas of more dense development. Research shows that while a holistic, comprehensive approach is important for other aspects of wildfire safety, such as evacuations and response, the home ignition zone is a critical component for reducing structure losses and other property damage. These two scales of mitigation are not at odds; rather [they] work together when coordinated.”

—Carly Klein, Design Workshop, Inc., and Molly Mowery, Wildfire Planning International

 

Since 1970, wildfires have increased 400 percent in the United States, especially across the western states. At the same time, about 60 percent of new residential development is built along what is known as the wildland urban interface—a region particularly susceptible to highly damaging wildfires. Landscape architects increasingly need communication tools to help clients, public officials, and communities understand different wildfire mitigation strategies and include them in the planning and design process. In response to this need, Design Workshop created a series of graphics that underscore the importance of collective land use and wildfire mitigation decisions at the community scale, as well as the house, city, and regional scales. For example, a graphic on home ignition zones illustrates decisions that can be made in concentric circles moving from the house out to the surrounding area, including eliminating combustible material near the house, creating “fuel breaks” such as driveways and walkways, and maintaining a mix of appropriately spaced and pruned trees in the outermost zone around the home. “Armed with this visual toolbox of strategic risk-reduction methods,” the jurors concluded, “landscape architects are empowered to initiate conversations that would trade vulnerability for resilience.”

—Kim O’Connell

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