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Archive for the ‘FEATURES’ Category

BY KIM O’CONNELL / PHOTOGRAPHY BY SAHAR COSTON-HARDY, AFFILIATE ASLA

Three new landscapes in Washington, D.C., honor the common soldier and fill gaps in the capital city’s memorial narrative.

FROM THE JUNE 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

On the National Mall, it’s unusual to feel as if you’ve stumbled upon a secret, sacred space. The nation’s history is an open book on this great expanse, a story told in granite and marble, if somewhat unevenly, through dozens of memorials to significant events and people. War is the dominant theme, with monuments that speak of large-scale sacrifice in places like the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Other Washington, D.C., memorials revere larger-than-life figures such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., and Dwight D. Eisenhower, the latter being the subject of a massive new Frank Gehry-designed memorial just south of the Mall, one of the most recent to undergo the multiyear, many-layered process of creating public space in the nation’s capital.

So it is somewhat surprising to come across one of D.C.’s newest memorials in a tree-lined grove set in a wetland—and that it is focused on a simple steel circle rising above the earth. Situated just beyond the famous cantilevered roof of the National Museum of the American Indian, this is the National Native American Veterans Memorial, which opened last fall to honor the long and underappreciated tradition of Indigenous military service. Although the memorial shares some traits with others in the capital city, where it’s not uncommon to see elemental shapes and enduring materials used as symbols, it’s part of a new wave of veterans’ memorials that seek to speak as much to the present and future as they do to the past.

Significantly, three recent memorials—the Native American memorial, the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, and the just-opened national World War I Memorial—also have things to say about the role of landscape architecture in elevating the voices of often-forgotten groups of people. They each focus on the common soldier’s experiences while making important civic connections to their surroundings. (more…)

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BY KARL KRAUSE

Designers and advocates reckon with the uneasy history of safety in environmental design.

FROM THE MAY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In 1285, King Edward of England issued the Statute of Winchester—a sweeping reform of law enforcement to curb rising crime across the country. To address highway robbery, the statute required a change to the environment: All landowners had to remove “bushes where one could hide with evil intent” within 200 feet of country roads—an early attempt to codify environmental design to improve safety that became the standard practice in English law enforcement for centuries.

The use of environmental design to address safety continues today with Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, more commonly known as CPTED (pronounced “sep-ted”). Along with calls for police reform and defunding, amplified in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, design activists such as the New Orleans-based Colloqate Design have demanded abolition of CPTED tactics that “criminalize Blackness under the guise of safety” and fail to address the underlying causes of crime. So how has CPTED, meant to replace traditional policing with community policing, come to be seen as oppressive? (more…)

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BY ELIZABETH KENNEDY LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT, PLLC; MANTLE LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE; MNLA; RDG PLANNING & DESIGN; AND SWA HOUSTON

Some say the retail street is down for the count—five landscape architecture firms say not so fast.

FROM THE APRIL 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Retail is the heart of American life. Dating back to the earliest U.S. towns and cities, commercial storefronts have been more than a place to purchase goods. At their best, they have been a central hub for exchanging news, a way to make a living for recent immigrants and women, and a source of new ideas and tastes. At their worst, commercial streets have been separate spheres with hard boundaries. In many neighborhoods, as new waves of residents have arrived, commercial streets have created and sustained communities.

Before the pandemic, there were many worrying reports of street retail’s demise, a consequence of the dominance of the digital economy. Many retail companies were shifting from emphasizing products to selling experiences, but that evolution vaporized overnight in March 2020. Today, the retail street is struggling. Online commerce has accelerated under the pandemic, and many small businesses have not survived the year without a steady flow of customers. Recent economic research forecasts up to 10,000 stores could close in 2021, and though it also predicts 4,000 openings, most of those will be concentrated in discount (think dollar-store chains) and grocery. In addition, surveys suggest that many who migrated to online-only shopping during the pandemic aren’t rushing back to in-store shopping after it ends. Sociable, vibrant street life will need an injection of energy and vision to meet the next moment.

At the end of 2020, we asked five landscape architecture firms to reimagine, in the biggest way, the next world for retail. We asked each firm to choose a street they knew well and to quickly sketch out a few ideas of what that retail street might become and write a short statement. No constraints were placed except that the street should appeal to the same constituency that it currently serves—no displacement, and no big-box retail. The results, on the pages that follow, chart a way forward. (more…)

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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish.

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

FROM THE MARCH 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

On August 29, 2005, the world saw what happened when a levee failed. A Category 3 hurricane slammed the Gulf Coast, 169 linear miles of federally constructed levees collapsed, and nearly 80 percent of New Orleans flooded, killing almost 1,000 people, the majority of them African American and over the age of 65. It was a wake-up call not just for New Orleanians but for lawmakers 2,000 miles away in California, who worried about their own state’s intricate system of ancient levees, which hold back the waters of the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta.

Covering an area the size of Rhode Island, the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta is an inland delta formed by the confluence of five major waterways, including the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. It stretches from just east of the San Francisco Bay north to Sacramento and south to Stockton and drains more than 50 percent of the state of California. It is also a highly engineered landscape, made up of winding canals, earthen levees, and terraced agricultural fields. Roads follow the sinuous levees, forming what, from the air, appears as a convoluted puzzle pieced together over eons by a deranged dissectologist.

The delta’s present-day morphology is the product of one of the largest land reclamation projects in U.S. history. In the late 19th century, farmers and land speculators drained more than 500,000 acres of wetlands in the delta, using the dredge material—much of it the spoils of industrial gold mining—to build human-made islands. In the 20th century, water conveyance projects such as the California State Water Project further severed the relationship between delta wildlife and its unique hydrology. “There is nothing about the delta that is like what it used to be,” explains Brett Milligan, an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of California, Davis, and a cofounder of the Dredge Research Collaborative. “The way water flows through it is entirely different. The channels have been widened; all the dendritic channels have been cut off. There’s no floodplain at all.” (more…)

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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish.

BY JANE MARGOLIES

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When the novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, gave away more than $4.1 billion at the end of 2020, she didn’t bestow funds upon Ivy League schools and other elite universities that are often the recipients of large gifts. Instead, Scott, whose fortune comes from shares of Amazon stock she received after her divorce, handed out money to a handful of community colleges, among many other deserving institutions, based on the “vital services” such groups provide, as she wrote in a Medium post.

Community colleges also came up recently in connection with Dr. Jill Biden, the new First Lady, after a Wall Street Journal opinion piece criticized her for using the honorific before her name because she is not a medical doctor. Biden, whose doctoral dissertation was on maximizing student retention in community colleges, has long taught at such colleges and plans to continue to do so now that she and her husband, President Joseph Biden, have moved into the White House.

Community colleges may be making news of late, but these institutions, open to all and costing a fraction of the tuition of four-year colleges, have long played a crucial role. They are the places where many Black, Latinx, low-income, and first-generation students embark on higher education. And they are often stepping-stones for high school graduates who haven’t yet decided what they want to do with their lives. Smaller classes allow students to get individual attention from professors who focus on teaching, not their own research. Community colleges offer two-year associate’s degrees or certificate-based programs, and from there students can transfer to four-year schools to continue their education. Several community colleges have programs in landscape design or related fields, but they are not always perceived as channels into the profession of landscape architecture.

The profession, long dominated by white males from comfortable backgrounds, now seeks to be more inclusive and diverse. Students who come from community colleges to four-year schools can bring fresh perspectives that can broaden and enrich the practice of landscape architecture. Some argue that it is precisely students like these that the profession needs. But how does that transition play out in practice? Let’s look at New Jersey for clues. (more…)

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

Photo by Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA.

From “From the Outside In” in the February 2021 issue by Brian Barth, about how one of the nation’s most progressive affordable housing policies in San Francisco is creating landscapes that embrace low-income neighbors.

“Courtyard play.”

–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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