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Archive for the ‘ECOLOGY’ Category

BY ZACH MORTICE

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The Living Filtration System. Illustration by Living Filtration System.

It’s the habitat that most determines the health of any ecosystem, but it’s largely invisible to the naked eye. The soil under your feet, if it’s healthy, is filled with all manner of micro-organisms, bacteria, and fungi that break down organic matter into fresh dirt loaded with nutrients, and nourish the plants growing there. Soil is the building block for all healthy biomes, and a critical concern for all landscape architects. It’s also a finite resource that’s been continually degraded (more…)

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BY BRADFORD McKEE

Courtesy By Peretz Partensky from San Francisco, USA (I could see Russia) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Courtesy Peretz Partensky [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons.

From the upcoming December 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine

There can scarcely be any overstating the threat the Trump presidency poses to the interests of the landscape architecture community, which center ardently on the welfare of human society and ecology and the planet. If design is the sum of all constraints, as Charles and Ray Eames said, this presidency will be the greatest constraint many of us will work under in our lifetimes, on the order of anathema to everything landscape architecture has ever stood for. We have to get right to work and be very canny about it, or the Trump administration, along with a Congress controlled by some of the most venal people ever to lodge themselves into American politics, will be a disaster well beyond the many ways we can name even now.

During the campaign, Trump’s positions on public policy, such as they were—and fairly obscured by endless evidence of his career as a liar, a swindler, a bully, a bigot, and a sexual predator—did not, to me, warrant detailed study. They weren’t policies in any developed sense. (OK, there was the child-care one, but what was that?) They consisted largely of frequent impulsive eruptions calculated only to produce outrage among his disaffected rabble and people of greater composure, though different strains of outrage, for sure. However masterful he is at plucking a populace, in terms of governance I kept thinking of the line about the French revanchist and anti-Semite Paul Déroulède, who was said to have “the political vision of a child.” If you heard what I heard during Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention this summer, you got a gothic harangue of wild paranoia and vengeance. It was pure Tarantino. I found myself fantasizing that Ronald Reagan would appear in the form of a fireball to relay a few words from God.

No, what got my attention most then and since is the Republican Party platform. The section on natural resources begins on page 17. On oil drilling: “[W]e support the (more…)

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BY KYNA RUBIN

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Portland scientists tap the bryophyte Orthotrichum lyellii to test urban air quality.

From the October 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine 

For decades, mosses and lichens have been used to gauge forest health, and in Europe they have been used to measure and map urban pollution across countries. But a recent study of air quality in Portland, Oregon, is said to mark the first time that U.S. scientists have used moss to collect and map fine-grained data on toxic metals in the air of a city. “This kind of high-density sampling on a large area is unique, at least in North America,” says Bruce McCune, a professor of botany and plant pathology at Oregon State University who is not associated with the study. “It allows you to make inferences and find surprises that you wouldn’t otherwise.”

Sometimes those surprises are unpleasant. Earlier this year, harnessing the bryophyte Orthotrichum lyellii to test the air quality of communities throughout Portland, (more…)

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BY BRETT ANDERSON

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Forbes Lipschitz finds poetry in the catfish pond landscapes of the Mississippi Delta.

From the October 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine 

When Forbes Lipschitz, ASLA, was a senior at Pomona College, in Claremont, California, she created a series of larger-than-life portraits. The subjects were genetically modified animals. One portrays a sheep that, rendered bald by an injection, resembles a shar-pei. Another captures a goat bred to produce spider silk protein. “I was basically just interested in the moral ambiguity of biotechnology,” Lipschitz explains. “I was using the portrait as a means to reveal that complexity.”

The portraits constituted Lipschitz’s senior thesis at Pomona, where she studied environmental studies and art, a combo major she designed herself. The animal portraits are precociously accomplished feats of realism notably lacking in judgment. The fluoro-pig, for example, (more…)

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At LAM this month, we’re deep into Louisiana—with a jog over to the Mississippi Delta—as we get ready to head to New Orleans, where several thousand landscape architects and our friends will be gathered for ASLA’s Annual Meeting & EXPO from October 21 to 24. We’re looking at the state from many angles. So much progress has been made in New Orleans since 2005’s life-altering blow from Hurricane Katrina, it can be hard to get a clear picture as the city reconstitutes itself.

To lead things off, Elizabeth Mossop, ASLA, a practitioner and professor long based in New Orleans, captures the strategy for new water infrastructure, among other systems, in the city. The transformation in large-scale thinking alone is bracing, centered on recognizing water as the city’s greatest asset rather than its greatest threat. Another effort at structural change in New Orleans, the Future Ground competition, sought ways to deal with the expanses of vacant urban land, post-Katrina. Timothy Schuler, a LAM contributing editor, reports on the difficulty of reprogramming such a vastly changed environment and the disillusion of several design teams named finalists by the sponsors, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority and the Van Alen Institute. Farther south in Louisiana’s coastal zone, the residents of Isle de Jean Charles—considered to be among the first climate change refugees in the United States—are facing the simultaneous threats of sea-level rise and land loss. Brian Barth visited the community to learn how the New Orleans landscape architecture firm Evans + Lighter is helping residents manage a relocation effort inland, for which the federal government has awarded $48 million. Our cover story this month, by Brett Anderson of the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, is about the work of Forbes Lipschitz, ASLA, on the landscapes of catfish farms in the Mississippi Delta region. The region’s aquaculture holds benefits beyond providing fish to dinner tables. It’s economically important to a region where poverty rates are high, and it also serves as feeding grounds for migratory birds. Among landscape architects in Louisiana, perhaps none are so recognized for knowledge of its atmosphere as Jeffrey Carbo, FASLA. LAM staff writer Katarina Katsma, ASLA, visits three sites Carbo and his firm have designed to learn what he sees between the lines of his state.

There is much more in the Now section and other departments. And in the Back, don’t miss the critique Thaïsa Way, ASLA, delivers of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale or the review Gale Fulton, ASLA, writes of Landscape Architecture and Digital Technologies, by Jillian Walliss and Heike Rahmann. See you in New Orleans! 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 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 October articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “New Orleans Owns Its Water,” H+N+S Landscape Architects; “Grounded,” New Orleans Redevelopment Authority; “Let’s Beat It,” Julie Dermansky; “Catch of the Day,” Forbes Lipschitz, ASLA, and Justine Holzman, Associate ASLA; “Homing Instincts,” Chipper Hatter; “Life and Limb,” LandDesign/Denise Retallack; “Open Invitation,” Dredge Research Collaborative and Public Lab; “Water All Over Again,” Courtesy CPEX.

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Credit: ASLA 2016 Professional General Design Honor Award. Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl / Lim Shiang Han.

Credit: ASLA 2016 Professional General Design Honor Award. Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl / Lim Shiang Han.

 

Resilience is a word that has become fixed in the lexicon of landscape architecture, and for good reason. Resilience means, among other things, protecting the 80 percent of the world’s population living near a coast from the onslaught of natural disasters and climate change—and there are rising hazards inland, too. It also brings increasing equity to the valuable roles of landscape architects. There’s a ton of information out there on how communities can become more resilient. To help navigate it, ASLA recently released Resilient Design, a web guide that documents the importance of focusing on resilience (for the human and nonhuman worlds) and offers case studies organized into six general areas to show adaptations that try to anticipate the worst of circumstances. The guide, which was reviewed by several professionals deeply involved in resilience issues, emphasizes layered defenses rather than “heavy-handed infrastructure projects.”

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BY BETSY ANDERSON, ASSOCIATE ASLA

A stormwater retrofit makes space for a new park on Puget Sound.

A stormwater retrofit makes space for a new park on Puget Sound.

From the September 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

A ferry ride away from Seattle, Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula is a deeply lobed fjordscape whose 216 miles of shoreline have provided the perfect laboratory for development of so-called end-of-pipe stormwater solutions: space-saving treatment occurring at the bottom of the watershed, near aging municipal outfalls. These stormwater retrofits were most recently tested in Manchester, a close-knit village piled up at the peninsula’s eastern edge. Here, a former gas station site was recruited to treat 100 million gallons of polluted stormwater each year, before it enters Puget Sound.

Tucked between homes and businesses and adjacent to a busy swimming beach, the half-acre parcel now known as Manchester Stormwater Park inspired the project team—a cadre of Kitsap County staff plus engineers and landscape architects from Parametrix, N. L. Olson & Associates, and GeoEngineers—to take a multifunctional approach. “People really wanted a green space here,” says Jens Swenson, ASLA, a landscape architect for Parametrix who led the hardscape, lighting, and plant design for the park.

The green space was hard-won. Funded by a million-dollar grant from (more…)

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