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Archive for the ‘HABITAT’ Category

In Sic Erat Scriptum, landscape architect and filmmaker Evan Mather argues that the Interstate Highway System that has reshaped the nation through epochal public works is not the project of technocratic 20th century humanist ambition, but something far more ancient and out of our control. Through fictionalized Grand Junction Bible College landscape urbanism instructor Melvin McNally (portrayed by Mather), his short film makes the pop-science case that the interstate is really the result of “biomigratory ecology rooted in ancient habitats and dominions.” That is, these roads follow dinosaur trails.

The video’s grainy film quality gives it an air of archival mystique that contrasts with sharp overlay maps of transit corridors throughout the millennia. Accelerated footage of miles of highway whirring past give way to fictionalized newspaper pages filled with dummy text in Latin telling of “Devil Lizards” unearthed during road construction.

There’s the interstate, which was preceded by the early 20th century highway system, which followed railroad lines. These lined up with pioneer wagon trails, themselves mapped to Native American trails, whose only purpose was to follow large mammal migratory patterns.  And concentrations of fossils found in clusters along these paths indicate these creatures were lured by “ancient dinosaur watering holes,” McNally says. It sounds like the prologue to a dusty paperback science fiction novel from the late 1950s. But broken down step by step, it seems reasonable. Foregrounded in acknowledgment of the Anthropocene age (the period of history where human activity is the strongest force affecting planetary ecosystems and geology), it questions whether we’re really writing our own novel, or instead cribbing notes from a story told long, long ago.

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BY KATARINA KATSMA, ASLA

An obsession with epiphytes leads to an ASLA Student Award.

An obsession with epiphytes leads to an ASLA Student Award.

From the December 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Brandon Cornejo, Student ASLA, wants to use epiphytes—plants that grow on other plants or materials and derive their nutrients from the air—to green the world. His project, “Feasibility Study of the Integration of Epiphytes in Designed Landscapes,” won the Award of Excellence in Research in the 2016 ASLA Student Awards. It measured whether rabbit’s foot fern (Davallia fejeensis), a type of epiphyte, could grow on building materials typical to the urban environment. With just a few cuttings, (more…)

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

Image courtesy of California American Water.

Image courtesy of California American Water.

From “River Reroute” by Lisa Owens Viani in the November 2016 issue; a look at Rana Creek Design’s plans to swap a riverbed for a parallel-running creek so that sediment can be removed from a dam nearing the end of its useful life.

“Busy beavers. . .”

–Chris McGee, LAM Art Director

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 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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The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM. 

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Photo by Forbes Lipschitz, ASLA

From “Catch of the Day” by Brett Anderson, in the October 2016 issue, featuring Forbes Lipschitz’s deep dive into catfish farms and Mississippi Delta foodstuffs.

“Drone’s-eye view.”

–Chris McGee, LAM Art Director

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 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 BRETT ANDERSON

bedit_lamoct16_catfish

Forbes Lipschitz finds poetry in the catfish pond landscapes of the Mississippi Delta.

From the October 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine 

When Forbes Lipschitz, ASLA, was a senior at Pomona College, in Claremont, California, she created a series of larger-than-life portraits. The subjects were genetically modified animals. One portrays a sheep that, rendered bald by an injection, resembles a shar-pei. Another captures a goat bred to produce spider silk protein. “I was basically just interested in the moral ambiguity of biotechnology,” Lipschitz explains. “I was using the portrait as a means to reveal that complexity.”

The portraits constituted Lipschitz’s senior thesis at Pomona, where she studied environmental studies and art, a combo major she designed herself. The animal portraits are precociously accomplished feats of realism notably lacking in judgment. The fluoro-pig, for example, (more…)

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Margie Ruddick and Thomas Rainer talk about their new books on wild landscape design.

Margie Ruddick and Thomas Rainer talk about their new books on wild landscape design.

From the July 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In the past several months, Thomas Rainer, ASLA, and Margie Ruddick have each published books centered around notions of designing “wild” landscapes in the public realm to help restore ecological diversity in urban settings. Ruddick’s book is Wild by Design: Strategies for Creating Life-Enhancing Landscapes (Island Press, $45), and Rainer’s is Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes (Timber Press, $39.95). We invited the two to ASLA’s offices to talk about the project they have in common. This interview has been edited and condensed.

Why did you each decide to write books on wildness in landscape design?

Margie Ruddick: I didn’t actually think of my work as wild at all until Anne Raver wrote this piece, “In Philadelphia, Going Green or Growing Wild?” [about Ruddick’s home garden, in the New York Times], and then I started to get e-mails from people all around the world, and I realized: This is wild gardening.

Thomas Rainer: It felt like a good place to be, and we [Rainer and his coauthor, Claudia West, International ASLA] are both plant geeks. We had a lot of practical problems to work out in terms of how to (more…)

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BY ADAM REGN ARVIDSON, FASLA

Milwaukee cleans up the Menomonee Valley but keeps it working.

Milwaukee cleans up the Menomonee Valley but keeps it working.

From the April 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Menomonee means wild rice, and that is the original story of this river. Flowing just 33 miles across southeastern Wisconsin, it joins with two other smallish rivers (the Milwaukee and the Kinnickinnic) just before Lake Michigan to create a freshwater estuary—a back bay to the great lake. The estuary and valley were hunting, fishing, and rice harvesting grounds. Then European settlers came and saw this could also be a good spot for shipping, fixing, and building things.

The Valley, as it is often called, is a four-mile by one-half-mile swath of Menomonee River lowland that industrialized rapidly in the late 1800s. It became home to the great Milwaukee Road’s machine and repair shops—140 acres of railyards and mechanic sheds. In the first half of the 20th century, a middle-class resident of the neighborhoods north and south of the Valley could walk to a job that paid a living wage. Crossing the pedestrian bridges to the railyard, he would likely barely notice the stagnant, channelized, trash-strewn watercourse below.

In the 1980s, following a storyline familiar among midsized cities in the Midwest, the industries began to leave—and leave their messes behind. The Valley became a 1,200-acre scar on the city. “It was buildings that were falling down. It was environmental contamination. It was 60,000 cars driving by on the freeway looking at this property,” says Dave Misky, who has been leading the Valley’s (more…)

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