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Archive for the ‘GARDENS’ Category

Olana, the estate and landscape designed by Frederic Church–America’s foremost landscape painter of the 19th century–might be the painter’s deepest and richest creative act.

This hillside on the banks of the Hudson River in Upstate New York was a work of art that became Church’s own studio for painting the landscapes that made him a national celebrity—a mutually reinforcing circle that tied this land to his fantastical, but finely grained, depictions of it. “I can make more and better landscapes in this way than by tampering with canvas and paint in the studio,” Church wrote of his stewardship of Olana.

As detailed in this summary of what led Church to the Hudson Valley and what kept him there, Church’s landscape accentuated the stunning beauty of one of the Hudson River Valley’s most dramatic sites. To accompany the Persian-themed house he built for his family starting in 1872, Church planted trees to frame views, added a system of carriage roads to ferry visitors from one to another, and installed a lake that echoed the shape of the river. For his house, he mixed colors he would use to paint its rooms on his own palette.

A new plan for Olana by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects won a 2017 ASLA Professional Award for Analysis and Planning for its sensitive approach to encouraging greater public engagement and its deep research into the site’s soil, hydrology, land use, and topography. The jury praised the plan for allowing the estate’s essential beauty to shine through, free of overwrought design and unnecessary flourishes.

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BY SARAH COWLES

In this installation by Terremoto, a carpet of pavers leads from the Rudolph M. Schindler Studio of the Schindler House into the courtyard, terminating in a circle of prickly pear cactus. Photo by Joshua White.

 A group exhibition of landscape architecture at the Schindler House, co-curated by Mia Lehrer and Priscilla Fraser.

Every May in Los Angeles, men in orange whack back the dry, gold grass, making a mandated measure of defensible space in a landscape of fires, earthquakes, and landslides. This year, though, brought relieving rains. The Hollywood Hills came in green after years of severe drought, yet the message remained fixed: We must continue to cut back, tear out this and put in that, and mulch it over with colored gravel.

In flush times, it is irresponsible to deny water to our gardens; in dry times, we are guilty if we indulge them. This austerity imperative severs our intimate connections to the land. Edicts are always prefixed with “low”: low-water, low-maintenance, low-impact, which is said to require merely an aesthetic attitude adjustment. Yet all this lowing denies us the everyday tending practices and attentions; our attention to growth, flowering, decay; our ability to watch a sweet-pea tendril spiral or to inhale the scent of wet soils.

The temptation is to flip the script: Be a lush. Resist the conservatism of conservation. Practice a radical (more…)

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Filmed over 18 months by Jim Richards Productions of Reston, Virginia, this time-lapse look into the construction of ASLA’s new home begins with a few swings of the sledgehammer by ASLA executive committee members and staff. Builders Coakley & Williams Construction installed green walls, opened up the roof for a three-story atrium, and dug into the earth to bury a stormwater collection cistern. The design by Gensler, with a lower-level garden by landscape architects Oehme, van Sweden, sets the Center for Landscape Architecture up to act as a leader in workplace design and ecological stewardship for decades to come.

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BY KATARINA KATSMA, ASLA

Sandra Clinton’s landscapes don’t stand out. They belong.

FROM THE MAY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. 

Sandra Clinton, FASLA. Credit: Bob Devlin.

“I’m a plant scientist first,” says Sandra Clinton, FASLA. She is quick to clarify it’s not the only thing that defines her work. “I’m an aesthetic designer. I design for what I think works together and what I think will survive.”

It’s the literal combination of landscape and architecture that Clinton, the president of Clinton & Associates in Hyattsville, Maryland, says defined her interests early on. “My entire childhood was spent watching my mother garden this incredibly intense garden.” Her mother, she says, was in an unspoken annual competition with the next-door neighbor for best landscape. While her mother focused on plants, her neighbor—who was an engineer—favored structures and pavement, and by the time Clinton reached the age of seven he would let her help with construction. “To me, you have to have the structure work and you have to have the plants work. My job is to make them work in proportion and combination and in concert with each other.” (more…)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

The storefront gallery. Image courtesy of LAM.

First, our thanks to the many members and supporters of ASLA who gave their pledges, time, and enthusiasm to help build a new home for us all, the Center for Landscape Architecture. We are holding its public opening this week. What’s especially nice is that the center is our beloved old home, our sweet, four-story, 12,000-square-foot brick box in Chinatown, D.C. It is beautiful.

Sixteen months ago, all 50 of us moved over to Metro Center, into half our usual footage (nobody died, though it’s boring over there). Back home on Eye Street, Coakley & Williams Construction blew out all the gypsum walls that cut up the insides of our building, pulled out half a puzzling scissor stair that, we’re told, wouldn’t meet code today, and found a lot of daylight in the three-story atrium it leaves behind.

The building was redesigned by Gensler. Our lower-level garden is by Oehme, van Sweden. We had such fun bringing it together. It went fast; the hard part to believe is that we began the project in 2014. The process was always focused on embodying the mission and vision of ASLA. We already had the ASLA Green Roof, by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, which opened in 2006 (more…)

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BY TIM WATERMAN

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has switched off the public life support to London’s embattled Garden Bridge, a tempestuous, contested, and deeply symbolic idea that will die tightly clutching a sheaf of contemporary perversions of the civic good, a cautionary portfolio of design’s worst addictions.

Its life charts a course through the sordid world of politics and displays how the ambitions of the nation–state and the re-emerging city–state have uncoupled from democracy and attached to unplaceable global flows of power and money. The people are left helpless in a muddle of endless doubt, misinformation, threat, and the magical thrall of consumer glamour and celebrity pull. All this (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

A hydrogel-enabled seed bomb. Credit: U.S. provisional patent application No. 62/465,341. Nahin Shah | Martina Decker, Material Dynamics Lab.

The tools for tactical urbanism seem more likely to be developed in community center meeting halls and anonymous Internet forums rather than university laboratories. But at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), an architecture professor is working on ways to give impromptu urban vegetation efforts staying power with hydrogel seed bombs.

Martina Decker, who directs NJIT’s Idea Factory and Material Dynamics Lab, is combining seed bombs—balls of organic matter that protect and help seeds packed within them grow—with hydrogel granulates, polymers that are extremely hydrophilic, (more…)

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