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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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A new film focuses on Jens Jensen.

From the April 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Jens Jensen didn’t care much for the White City. According to the new documentary Jens Jensen: The Living Green, he, along with the architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan, rejected the European influence of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and embraced the prairie and its ecology as the American landscape idiom. Today, many of his pioneering ideas about the use of native plants and landscape conservation have new currency. Jensen, who was born in Denmark but is closely associated with Chicago’s urban parks and midwestern landscape preservation, will be the subject of an Earth Day observance at the New York Botanical Garden. A screening of the documentary will be followed by a panel discussion with Darrel Morrison, FASLA; Robert Grese, ASLA; the filmmaker Carey Lundin; and Jensen’s great-granddaughter, Jensen Wheeler Wolfe.

Jens Jensen: The Living Green Film Screening and Panel Discussion at the National Building Museum, April 14, 2016, 7:00–8:30 p.m.

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BY PHILIP WALSH

The compensatory mitigation mandate opens a dynamic arena for landscape architects.

From the August 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

 

“Konk-la-ree!”

Or,

“O-ka-lee!”

The song of the red-winged blackbird, although instantly recognizable, is hard to put to words, as even Roger Tory Peterson, author of A Field Guide to the Birds, found. These syllables are his best efforts. The trilling, almost metallic-sounding warble evokes summertime, cattails, and the watery landscapes where Agelaius phoeniceus goes to breed.

But at this moment I’m not seeing cattails. I’m at the edge of a parking lot behind a pizza restaurant in a suburb north of Boston, looking at a large pit, about 10 feet deep, filled with Phragmites australis, the infamous invasive species that, along with purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), is the scourge of wetlands in the Northeast, choking out cattails and other native species that provide food to the bird population. A few spindly red maples have colonized the embankment, along with some riverbank grape (Vitis riparia), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), and Rosa multiflora, a pretty though sprawling shrub introduced to America in 1866 to provide rootstock for hybrid roses and now classed as a pest in many states. Despite the red-winged blackbird’s bright song, this is a dismal place, especially in the fading afternoon sunlight, a bit of wasteland left behind by development, one of millions of similar places across the country.

This blighted spot, however, is a mandated compensatory wetland mitigation under (more…)

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In August’s issue of LAM, Philip Walsh finds that landscape architects could work harder than they do to restore lost wetlands in the United States. Steven Litt, in Cleveland, reports on how Perk Park, an acre of oasis downtown, by Thomas Balsley Associates, is making the city look harder at the value of well-designed open space. And in Washington, D.C., Bradford McKee checks out the new national headquarters of the U.S. Coast Guard with two dozen acres of green roofs and gardens by Andropogon and HOK.

In the departments, the Harvard Graduate School of Design appoints Anita Berrizbeitia, ASLA, as the chair of landscape architecture and Diane Davis as the chair of urban planning; a look at the watchdogs who track down plant growers who infringe on someone else’s patents; and the winners of the Boston Living with Water Competition aimed at envisioning a resilient city come sea-level rise. All this plus our regular Now, Species, Goods, and Books columns. The full table of contents for August can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 200 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.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating August articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “The Return of the Swamp,” Lisa Cowan, ASLA/StudioVerde; “Freeze, Thaw, Flourish,” © Scott Pease/Pease Photography, 2012; “The Wetter, the Better,” Judy Davis/Hoachlander Davis Photography; “New Chairs, Subtle Shifts,” Courtesy Harvard Graduate School of Design; “Plant Sheriff,” Courtesy Bailey Nurseries; “Boston from the Ground Floor,” Designed by Architerra; Courtesy Boston Living With Water.

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Stone Brewing World Bistro & Cardens, San Diego, a one-star SITES pilot project by Schmidt Design Group.

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, San Diego, a one-star SITES pilot project by Schmidt Design Group.

Today is a big day for what has long been known as the Sustainable Sites Initiative, now known as SITES, the rating system for developing sustainable landscapes. SITES is now under the administration of Green Business Certification Inc., or GBCI, based in Washington, D.C., which also runs the LEED rating system for buildings, after which SITES is modeled.

With this acquisition, GBCI is now taking applications for certifying landscape projects under the SITES v2 Rating System, and will also administer professional credentialing for the program.

SITES, begun a decade ago, was developed in a collaboration among the American Society of Landscape Architects (the publisher of LAM), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden. ASLA and UT, the owners of SITES, have transferred full ownership to GBCI. Its purpose is to guide development projects of all scales, from residential gardens to national parks, toward rigorous measures of stewardship for land and other resources. SITES certification criteria—refined through expert advice from professionals in numerous disciplines, case study examples, and more than 100 pilot projects—account for environmental factors in landscape design such as water use, stormwater handling, wildlife and habitat protection, air quality, and energy use, as well as human health and recreation. Forty-six projects so far have earned SITES certification. (ASLA members are eligible for discounts on all SITES materials and certification.)

“It’s exciting to see years of work developing and field-testing SITES culminate with the availability of this rating system,” said Frederick R. Steiner, FASLA, the dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin.

Nancy Somerville, Honorary ASLA, the executive vice president and CEO of ASLA, said: “GBCI will take SITES to the next level and ensure its future growth and influence.”

A full news release on the SITES acquisition can be found here. For more information, visit sustainablesites.org.

Credit: Schmidt Design Group Inc.

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BY ADAM REGN ARVIDSON, FASLA

LeBleu's work in Mobile is seeking to balance industrial uses with natural and recreational uses at the ocean's edge.

LeBleu’s work in Mobile is seeking to balance industrial uses with natural and recreational uses at the ocean’s edge.

From the August 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Charlene LeBleu, FASLA, is an associate professor in the College of Architecture, Design, and Construction at Auburn University. For several years, she has been following the emerging discipline of marine spatial planning, which applies planning principles and community engagement to the world’s oceans. Along with her students, LeBleu has been working on a marine spatial plan for Dauphin Island Peninsula in Mobile, Alabama, where much of the confluence of historic, ecological, and industrial land uses takes place at and beyond the shoreline.

How would you describe marine spatial planning and how it differs from land-use planning?
Typical land-based planning focuses on how different types of users can exist next to each other and what’s the boundary and edge between them. The neat thing about marine spatial planning is the seasonal fluctuation of use. It links multiuse zones and limited-use zones so that a tourist can engage the edge, but then we may cut them off at certain times of the year when certain fish and other sea creatures are spawning. Marine spatial planning has this dynamic-ness built into it, so that it can reach out at a certain time, protect something, and then pull back and let other uses in.

(more…)

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