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Archive for the ‘ECOLOGY’ Category

BY BRADFORD MCKEE

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Image courtesy of iLoveMountains.org [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

FROM THE UPCOMING MARCH 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE

Among the very early priorities of the new Republican-controlled Congress was to give the greenest of lights to any corporation—corporations being people—that wants to blow off the top of a gorgeous Appalachian mountain for coal, throw the spoils into the nearest headwaters, ruin the stream, ruin much downstream, and destroy a spectrum of wildlife, not to mention human life, in the process.

The instrument was a joint resolution of the House and Senate that pulled back the Stream Protection Rule, a long-sought goal of the Obama administration to prevent mountaintop removal for mining, which took effect on January 19, Obama’s last day as president. Its reversal by Congress was presented to President Trump on February 6. The resolution kills the Obama rule, which (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

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Mapping the historic dunes hidden beneath the surface of Chicago.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

A few years ago, Mary Pat McGuire, ASLA, became fascinated by the South Side of Chicago—or rather, with what was beneath it. She was flying back to the East Coast often, leaving from Midway Airport, and she started to notice “really interesting patterns along the coastline that looked like stripes, ridges along the shore. They were some kind of remnant,” she says, describing the landscape south of the city. “I just started to wonder, ‘What’s really going on here? What was this place?’”

McGuire, an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was already familiar with the South Side’s more recent history of white flight, shuttered industry, and disinvestment. Now, she became interested in the area’s geologic history, and how it might be put to work. The landforms she spied from the air prompted McGuire to look at early soil maps made by the U.S. Geological Survey. What she found were (more…)

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BY BRADFORD McKEE

Credit: Courtesy Museum of Walking/Angela Ellsworth.

Postcommodity, Repellent Fence, 2015. Image courtesy Museum of Walking/Angela Ellsworth.

From the upcoming February 2017 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Instead of a sensible and humane overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws to deal with current realities, we are apparently going to get a wall between the United States and Mexico. It was among the most outlandish promises of the Trump campaign, if only one of its rank xenophobic turns: a gigantic blockade stretching from the Pacific Ocean, through the Sonoran Desert, and down the Rio Grande River to the Gulf of Mexico, with fear as its mortar. During the first week of the new Republican-led Congress, the House Republican Policy Committee chair, Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana, told the Washington Post that legislators are looking for ways to begin work on such a wall under existing law and with American (not Mexican) money. The existing law Messer means is the Secure Fence Act of 2006, signed by President George W. Bush, which called for 700 miles of actual fencing and a “virtual fence” of beefed-up surveillance along the Mexico border. That work remains incomplete. Barriers block less than half of the 1,954 miles of international boundary. Theoretically, a resumption of building could begin to lock it all up later this spring.

The human effects of this simplistic idea will be mixed. A big wall will stop some population flow, but hardly all of it, and it will kill informal cross border commerce. Ecologically, though, it is likely to be a catastrophe. It will fragment habitat on a huge scale in one of the most biologically diverse parts of North America—the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas alone is said to have (more…)

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BY TIM WATERMAN

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The genius temporum of Martí Franch’s Girona landscapes.

FROM THE JANUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE

“I really want to make the whole city like this,” says Martí Franch of Estudi Martí Franch (EMF), speaking of his vision of designing the green infrastructure of Girona, Spain, through a process of enlightened and engaged landscape management. We are sitting in his office, among shelves full of models and a table full of drawings. With us are Marc Rosdevall, a landscape architect with the City of Girona and the project’s director, and Marta Costa-Pau, a reporter from the local newspaper who is eager to report on the most recent transformations EMF’s work has wrought on Girona, and, in an amusing bit of journalistic circularity, to interview me to find out why this work is of interest and important to an American journalist and his landscape architecture audience.

Girona is a city in Catalonia with a population of roughly 100,000, situated in the rocky green foothills of the Catalonian Coastal Ranges at the confluence of four small rivers. The landscape is typical scrubby Mediterranean maquis, studded with stone pines (Pinus pinea), holm oaks (Quercus ilex), and the inevitable and omnipresent formal Italian cypresses (Cupressus sempervirens), which have an air of nervous, attendant stiffness in the loosely informal Catalonian landscape, like butlers at a barn dance. When I visit in late spring, (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

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All photos by Jose Ahedo.

Over the course of two years, the Spanish architect Jose Ahedo visited livestock farming landscapes in eight countries: Mongolia, China, Paraguay, Germany, India, Bolivia, New Zealand, and the Azores Islands in Portugal. He traveled 90,000 miles by plane, 9,000 miles by car, 23 miles by boat, nine miles by horse and camel, and—most excruciatingly for a vertigo sufferer like Ahedo—56 miles by hot air balloon. Documented through his photography and funded by a $100,000 Harvard Graduate School of Design Wheelwright Prize Fellowship, his travels kept him on the move for 103,000 miles.

Ahedo selected these disparate locations so that he could witness the extreme “asymmetry,” he says, in how cultures in different places with different levels of development produce livestock. “You have people that move on horses, and (more…)

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This presentation of the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) Realities and Realms colloquium examines how landscape architecture is ingesting computation, robotics, and the reams of data that designed environments now produce second by second. In two lecture videos titled Realities and Realms: Responsive Technologies in Ecological Systems, the GSD invites practitioners, researchers, and academics to envision how “anthropogenic perception and technological mediation” will meet in landscape design. (more…)

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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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