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BY JARED BREY

Gulf State Park in Alabama is one of the largest public projects to be funded through the Deepwater Horizon settlement. Many more are coming.

FROM THE JANUARY 2022 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The Lodge at Gulf State Park is built directly into the dunes, so when you walk from the parking lot into the spacious lobby, you’re looking straight through the glass back wall of the hotel, across a stretch of white-sand beach, and out into the seemingly endless Gulf of Mexico.

For Alabama, whose precious few miles of beaches all but carry the state’s tourism economy, this was the essential goal of the Gulf State Park Enhancement Project: A view of the sea for visitors and, says Matt Leavell, the director of design and planning at the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development, “an experience of being in the dunes.”

But being in the dunes can mean a lot of things. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan swept across the dunes and destroyed the original lodge, which was built in the 1970s. In 2010, tar balls washed onto the beach as oil gushed from an underwater well operated by BP after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 workers. The night before the ribbon-cutting at the new lodge in 2018, as dune-grass plantings were still taking hold, strong winds blew about two feet of sand into an area between the lobby and the restaurant, and crews scrambled to shovel it away before the governor arrived at 8:00 a.m.

“There is something really unique about designing in a dynamic dunescape,” says Kate Tooke, ASLA, a principal at Sasaki, which did the landscape architecture work for the lodge while completing a master plan for enhancements throughout the state park. “Every other landscape you design in, you can sort of assume that the landscape is going to stay mostly where it is. But a dunescape is constantly changing. Dunes are growing, they’re shifting, wetlands are forming, and swales are forming in different places, and that’s part of a healthy dunescape, to have that growth and change over time.” (more…)

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

Photo by Billy Pope, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

From “Roll, Tide” by Jared Brey in the January 2022 issue, about Gulf State Park in Alabama, where compensation from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is flowing into coastal remediation projects.

“A new dune view.”

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

BY ROBERTO J. ROVIRA, ASLA

FROM THE DECEMBER 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Angular and lean, the new St. Pete Pier in St. Petersburg, Florida, folds its way for 1,380 feet from land to water. Under a bright, hot sun, even 10 feet may be just a few too many.

The pier’s many shifts, crossings, and cantilevers, made possible by more than 400 concrete pylons, make the journey seem rather effortless, however. This new addition to St. Petersburg’s urban infrastructure is more of a networked arrangement of spaces than a single object, the latter a fatal flaw that compromised the previous pier and contributed to its obsolescence and eventual demolition.

Subtle transitions allow the new pier’s architecture and landscape to take turns and communicate in a cohesive language while surfaces move up and down and laterally in plan and section. The roughly 3,000 feet from the beginning of the Pier District, which begins downtown, to the Pier Head building at the end aren’t all visible at once. Instead, the trip is divided into a series of manageable segments with plenty of respite along the way. Residents and tourists of all ages move along shared walks that begin with gateway elements consisting of an elaborate pergola, an outdoor market, and mature plantings preserved from the previous pier. Visitors quickly transition from downtown speed to park speed. Free trams share a curbless space and pass by varied programs that promote buy-local culture, public art that changes dramatically at night, sculptural play areas that integrate earthwork with native plantings, and a central civic plaza whose grand expanse and water features accommodate programming large and small.

New restaurants and pavilions allow one to pause, eat, listen to live music, people watch, get close to the water, and maybe even help sample it and learn something new about the bay at a nonprofit-run ecological discovery center. The broad palette of experiences leads to the Pier Head, where fishing is allowed and where beer is served (and in demand)—even on Mondays at 11:00 a.m.—at the rooftop bar. One may, in fact, decide to never get to the Pier Head, and the experience would not be the lesser for it given all the new options. (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 JARED BREY

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

How many things can a river do? The people of the Tennessee Valley have not finished asking.

For 10,000 years the Tennessee River has both sustained human civilizations and attended their demise. One of the biggest rivers in the United States, the Tennessee is also among the most biodiverse, with some 230 species of fish and 100 species of freshwater mussels. In the 18th century, Cherokee, Creek, and Chickasaw tribes flourished in East Tennessee. Later the river was used to expel Indigenous people from the land along the Trail of Tears after the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Its bridges were burned during the Civil War, its soils stripped of nutrients, its banks eroded. After the federal government created the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in the 1930s, the river was asked to do ever more: to stop flooding, first and foremost; to generate electricity for thousands of unlit rural miles; to navigate boats and barges along its U-shaped course; to produce nitrates for war munitions and fertilizer for its depleted soils; to host landscapes of leisure and recreation; to make one of the country’s poorest regions prosper.

Now the Tennessee River is asked to be a park from its source to its mouth. (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 STEPHEN ZACKS

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The state of Virginia has regulated landscape architecture as a profession since 1980, certifying practitioners through its professional occupational agency. In 2010, landscape architecture became a licensed profession in the state.

A few bills attempted to deregulate or lower the level of regulation back to certification, but none of them made it out of legislative committee. Around 2011, Republican then-Governor Robert McDonnell set up a commission to eliminate regulations in general, including of professions such as landscape architecture and interior design. Members of the Virginia chapter of ASLA persuaded the governor to remove landscape architects from the list.

Robert McGinnis, FASLA, an associate principal at Kennon Williams Landscape Studio and a member of the Virginia ASLA chapter’s government affairs committee, says that interior designers and landscape architects get targeted because people don’t know what they do. “They see the word landscape and think we put trees in the ground.” (more…)

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

Courtesy Glenstone Museum.

From “Worlds Away” by Glenn Dixon in the September 2021 issue, about PWP Landscape Architecture’s Glenstone museum outside Washington, D.C., where landscapes that shift through the seasons complement monumental sculpture.

“Inside out pond garden.”

–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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BY KATHARINE LOGAN

FROM THE AUGUST 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Across the Yukon River from Dawson City, up around 64 degrees latitude, the Top of the World Highway wends its way over 65 miles of unglaciated landscape to the border with Alaska. Unlike the Yukon Territory’s typical highways, which track the river valleys, Top of the World runs along a ridgeline. For hundreds of miles in all directions, travelers look out over forested valleys, subalpine meadows, distant mountain ranges, and spectacular vistas that comprise the traditional lands of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in people.

Long before Top of the World was graded and graveled and designated a territorial highway, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in walked this path on seasonal journeys between the river and the mountains—hunting caribou, harvesting berries and wild rhubarb, gathering for celebrations, telling stories. When gold prospectors began arriving in the late 1890s, the leader of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Chief Isaac, growing concerned for the heritage of his people, entrusted their songs, dances, and gänhäk (dancing stick, a symbol of their culture) to a related branch of the larger Hän nation. Top of the World is the route along which this treasure was taken into the mountains for safekeeping.

More than 3,400 miles to the southeast, the traditional lands of the Saugeen First Nation form part of Ontario’s Mixedwood Plains Ecozone, once temperate deciduous forest, and now the most populous and commercially and industrially productive region in Canada. A three-hour drive from Toronto, at the base of the Bruce Peninsula (where a popular national park protects the region’s last unbroken stand of forest), the Saugeen River flows into the eastern edge of Lake Huron. Upstream of the river mouth, in a 100-acre park on Saugeen First Nation’s reserve, a stone amphitheater and 20 acres of terraced gardens overlook the wide river valley. Built in the 1970s with nearly a million tons of locally quarried limestone, the project, known as the Creator’s Garden, was created as a place to foster understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. As a setting for gatherings, ceremonies, music, and theater, the site welcomes thousands of visitors a year. But over the decades, it has fallen into disrepair.

These two landscape interventions—Top of the World and the Creator’s Garden—at different scales and in different bioregions, are each the subject of recent, landscape architect–guided master plans. Through both their substance and processes, these plans illustrate the potential for the profession to help heal the injustice and strife that stem from the colonial history of North America. (more…)

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