Archive for the ‘ENVIRONMENT’ Category

BY ZACH MORTICE

University of Illinois at Chicago students’ birdhouse designs for the Chicago River. Photo courtesy Lendlease.

While working with a group of University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) industrial design students on their birdhouse design studio, Ted Wolff had a few pointers on how they should approach interior dimensions and ventilation. There should be enough room at its base for eggs, but not much extra. A slit that allows crosscurrent air circulation is good, but much bigger and cold winds might howl through the birdhouse in the winter.

“You want them to feel snug, if you will,” says Wolff, of Wolff Landscape Architecture. “That’s probably anthropomorphizing them a bit much.” (more…)

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THE SCHOOLYARD IS SICK

As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

BY JANE MARGOLIES

FROM THE JUNE 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Not long ago, the schoolyard of Eagle Rock Elementary, in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, was a sea of cracked asphalt. Now it has rows of budding trees that divide up the three-acre expanse, and there’s a large grassy area and little enclaves with stumps and log seating away from the hustle and bustle. By offering a variety of settings, the schoolyard gives students the ability to choose where and how they spend their time at recess. Claire Latané, ASLA, the Los Angeles-based ecological designer who led the renovation of the grounds, says it also should improve their mental health.

Latané believes supporting the mental health of students is key to their happiness and well-being. Her conviction is based on decades of academic research by others, her own experience analyzing and designing schoolyards, and her gut feeling about the topic, as both a designer and a mother. Despite all we know about the impact our surroundings have on us—and the progress being made to introduce therapeutic environments to health care facilities—schools aren’t being designed with mental health as a consideration, let alone a priority. They are defensive (and ever more so, even provisionally, given gun violence in schools). Many schools have as much charm as storage facilities these days, and the worst are, in their environmental design, practically penal.

Through advocacy, writing, and teaching, Latané is trying to change that reality. She has encouraged the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

AHBE’s Burbank Water and Power EcoCampus, Burbank, California. Courtesy MIG, photo by Sibylle Allgaier.

Calvin Abe, FASLA, the founder of Los Angeles-based AHBE, had been pondering the future for about two years, a process he’d put on hold for many months to sort out his own thinking on how he wanted his 30-plus-year-old firm to survive him and its other partners. For the firm’s legacy to continue, he’d have to let in new blood, and new opportunities. And that was the realization that convinced him to commit to a merger. “If I would continue to hang onto it, I would become obsolete, unless I allowed other leaders to come in and take the reins,” Abe says. In early 2019, AHBE and MIG, the multidisciplinary firm, announced they would join forces.

The merger of AHBE and the planning, design, and engineering company MIG is set to double down on the growth and development of Los Angeles, offering MIG more design “depth and capability” and giving AHBE’s legacy a sturdy institutional buttress, says Daniel Iacofano, FASLA, a founding principal of MIG. (more…)

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BY JARED BREY

A landscape design course for Ohio middle schoolers could open new doors to the profession.

FROM THE JUNE 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. 

 

Scott Mental is a sculptor and middle school teacher from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, a southeast suburb of Cleveland. Mental now lives and works about 65 miles due north of Columbus in a place called Bucyrus, which the mayor likes to call “the small city in the middle of everywhere.”

Between Chagrin Falls and Bucyrus, Mental made a few pit stops. In 2007, he earned a bachelor of fine arts in sculpture from Northern Michigan University. He stayed there until 2009 to work on a master’s in public administration, which he finished in 2010. Then he got an MFA in sculpture from the University of South Carolina in 2012 and, finally, a master’s in art education from Case Western Reserve University in 2015. At Bucyrus Middle School, where he has worked since 2015, his range of activities has not narrowed: He teaches art, coaches football and baseball, and advises both the art club and the yearbook committee.

In 2017, after the Bucyrus City Schools administration invited its staff to propose their own curricula for elective courses, Mental began leading a course in landscape design for seventh and eighth graders. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Michael Geffel’s Field Mechanics installation. The site is a former pasture, Christmas tree farm, and nursery. Photo by Michael Geffel, ASLA.

For a few years after his undergraduate studies in geography, Michael Geffel, ASLA, worked as a gardener, performing the most literally and conceptually reductive type of landscape maintenance—weeding.

But after a while, Geffel, now a visiting professor of landscape architecture at the University of Oregon, found his compositional hand here, even if it was glued to a Weedwacker. “Because we’re removing things that are aggregating, we feel we’re not changing anything,” he says. “We’re removing what’s accumulated and we’re trying to keep what’s there. But in the removal, and how we remove these things, there’s all the different outcomes in the landscape.”

It’s an idea he carried with him while in graduate school at the University of Virginia’s landscape architecture program, where Julian Raxworthy, another gardener turned landscape architect with transformative ideas about landscape maintenance, was then a visiting professor. Geffel pitched a thesis on “the generative capacity of maintenance and how it might be a design instrument,” he says, and was on his way. (more…)

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BY NATE BERG

A landscape architect and a biologist team up to counter urban biodiversity loss.

FROM THE JUNE 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

A hawk glides overhead. An egret perches alongside a pedestrian walkway. Butterflies flutter in the foreground. From across the spectrum of the animal kingdom they appear in the drawings and renderings of modern architecture and landscape projects, hinting at a harmony between the designed space and the natural world. The projects, these animal cameos suggest, are not just urban developments, but healthy and diverse habitats.

“I won’t say it’s a lie, but these are big promises,” says Thomas Hauck, a Berlin-based landscape architect and a professor at the University of Kassel, in Germany. Hauck understands these images are meant to be aspirational, to show an idealized version of the designs they represent. But, he argues, sometimes too many illustrative liberties are taken “without evidence,” especially when urban development is more likely to destroy animal habitat than create it.

Hauck isn’t saying the animals should be taken out of the renderings. Rather, he wants to ensure animals actually show up once the project is built. To make that happen, Hauck has teamed up with a biologist from the Technical University of Munich named Wolfgang Weisser. Together, they’ve developed a theoretical design approach called Animal-Aided Design that seeks to counteract the ways development harms urban biodiversity by deliberately designing projects to accommodate animal species from the start. Through the careful targeting of species most likely to inhabit a given area, their approach provides the habitat requirements those species need to thrive throughout their life cycle.

“People hang up nest boxes and wonder why they’re empty,” Weisser says. “It’s because everything else is missing.” (more…)

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Stave sections of trees native to Scotland, from a Scottish Gaelic alphabet. Image courtesy Laurel McSherry.

The Design with Nature Now conference at the University of Pennsylvania will celebrate the life and work of the pioneering landscape architect Ian McHarg this month with a slate of exhibitions and conference events held at the design school.

Among them will be an exhibition of works by the landscape architect and artist Laurel McSherry titled Laurel McSherry: A Book of Days that twins the valleys that defined Ian McHarg’s life—the River Clyde in his native Scotland and the Delaware in Philadelphia—and incorporates McSherry’s own meditative explorations of Glasgow through video, etchings, and sculpture. In this interview conducted by Lynn Marsden-Atlass, the executive director of the Arthur Ross Gallery, McSherry weaves a site-specific installation that encourages people to reconsider the prosaic landscapes that surround them.

Design with Nature Now takes place June 21–22, 2019, at the University of Pennsylvania. Laurel McSherry: A Book of Days will be on view from June 21 through September 15. (more…)

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