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Archive for the ‘HEALTHY COMMUNITIES’ Category

Sandra Albro’s Vacant to Vibrant initiative (detailed in “Lots of Opportunity”) converts vacant lots in struggling Great Lakes cities into rain gardens and bioswales. At an average cost of $18,000 each, they’re a fine-grained and tactical solution for reversing blight and helping beleaguered combined sewer systems from polluting the Great Lakes. As Albro, of Holden Forests & Gardens, observes, these neighborhoods were gradually disinvested from and abandoned, and have limited access to comprehensive public infrastructure improvements. As such, an equally piecemeal and gradual approach allows them to stabilize properties with desirable urban green spaces that can be wrapped into broader redevelopment efforts. An alternative to massive, centralized sewer upgrades that cost billions, this dispersed model of stormwater filtration turns an economic drain into an ecological engine.

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BY LISA OWENS VIANI

In Great Lakes cities, derelict parcels sponge up stormwater.

FROM THE AUGUST 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Eight years ago, Sandra Albro, a research associate in applied urban ecology at the Cleveland Botanical Garden (now Holden Forests & Gardens) began to think about opportunities lurking in the city’s vacant lots—in particular how to help cities with their water quality problems. During heavy rains, raw sewage from old, leaky, combined sewer-stormwater systems is often flushed into the Great Lakes, resulting in beach closures not fun for tourists. At the same time, in Cleveland, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; and Gary, Indiana—where populations have declined by as much as 40 to 50 percent since the 1950s—derelict houses and vacant lots have increased: 30,000 in Cleveland, 7,000 in Gary, and more than 6,000 in Buffalo.

Cleveland, Buffalo, and Gary are among 158 communities with permits from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to discharge treated wastewater into the Great Lakes. The agency has also charged them with implementing Long Term Control Plans under the Clean Water Act to eliminate discharges of untreated sewage from their combined system overflows. “It’s a funny thing,” says David Rankin, the executive director of the Great Lakes Protection Fund, a private nonprofit corporation that funds projects to build the health of the lakes. “Most of the time these systems do a great job of managing stormwater—they actually treat it. It was state-of-the-art Victorian engineering that dates back to the Industrial Revolution. But in heavy rains, some waste gets flushed out, too—and when you’re looking at more than 100 dischargers, it starts to add up.” According to the EPA, in 2014 the toll was an estimated 22 billion gallons of untreated wastewater discharged into the lakes.

Rankin says Great Lakes cities need to think differently about the problem—many are trying to find funding to build massive pipes. But with their populations declining, he suggests these cities should think about solutions that don’t involve tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. So when Albro came to him with her idea for using vacant lots to capture stormwater, the fund awarded her a small grant to develop a plan. She contacted 11 Great Lakes cities, (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The Upstate Archipelago proposal. Image courtesy Cornell Design, H+N+S, and SOAR (Strengthening Our Area Residents) of the Cornell University Cooperative Extension.

New York’s Erie Canal once projected a young nation’s power and commercial ambitions across half a continent. Connecting New York City and the Hudson River north of Albany all the way to the Great Lakes, at 363 miles long, it was the second largest canal in the world when it opened in 1825, and one of the most transformative infrastructure projects of America’s early history. It reduced bulk commodity costs by 90 percent, according to some estimates, and it’s been immortalized in stories and songs ever since.

But in the 201 years since it began construction, the canal has been leapfrogged by nearly every manner of freight and commodity transit: rail, road, pipelines, and even the now-navigable St. Lawrence River. Vessel traffic on the canal peaked in the early 1950s, and recreational boating peaked in 1989.

To reverse this slide, the New York State Canal Corporation is hosting the Reimagine the Canals Competition to re-envision how this feat of 19th-century land engineering can be better integrated into the 21st century. (more…)

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BY KATARINA KATSMA, ASLA

Traction believes landscape architecture is for the people, not just the elite.

FROM THE MAY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

In 2016, as a student at the University of Washington, Coco Alarcón won the ASLA Student Residential Design Award of Excellence for his project to improve public health by creating food gardens in a soggy, stressed neighborhood in Iquitos, Peru. He was also named a National Olmsted Scholar finalist that same year. Since then, Alarcón, who is Peruvian, has been working with a multidisciplinary collective he co-founded called Traction (formerly the Informal Urban Communities Initiative) to try to bring his ideas to fruition. Using research, community outreach, activism, and educational workshops, Traction works with people from communities where resources are scarce to create new social and physical infrastructure that promotes health, safety, and beauty for residents. LAM recently caught up with Alarcón to find out how his group’s work has progressed toward giving people, as he hopes, the motivation they need to transform their environments into equitable, healthy places.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

What are you working on now?
One of our projects is to design and construct a landscape architecture intervention in a slum community and measure the impacts on human, ecological, and environmental health. For example, we are documenting changes in human microbiome, water quality, mental health, and biodiversity of birds and amphibians—among other measurements—in the community to understand the effects of a productive community garden.

Another project focuses on the collection of literature, local experiences, and interviews with experts from different disciplines to understand the role that landscape architecture has on the pandemic of vector-borne diseases related to the Aedes aegypti mosquito, including Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. (more…)

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It’s the first, which means March’s issue of LAM is here! You’ll find these stories inside:

FOREGROUND

The Tiny Menace (Ecology)
The shot hole borer is having a deadly impact on California’s trees.

Raleigh Finds Its Inner Self (Planning)
New plans for downtown in Raleigh, North Carolina, could help move the
sprawling city beyond its complicated past.

Mind, Soul, Design (Palette)
The landscapes of Virginia Burt, FASLA, are grounded in practicality.

FEATURES: GGN PORTFOLIO

Drawn Together
The pursuit of excellence is embedded in the culture of GGN.

The Streets Are Back
CityCenterDC restores a historic downtown grid that had vanished for years
beneath a convention center.

Promised Land
GGN’s landscape for the National Museum of African American History and Culture
is both leveling and welcoming.

 Extended View
For the University of Washington’s Lower Rainier Vista,
GGN finishes a job that John Charles Olmsted started.

All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. The full table of contents for March can be found here.

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.

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

Credits: “The Streets Are Back,” Catherine Tighe; “Promised Land,” Alan Karchmer/NMAAHC; “Extended View,” GGN; “Drawn Together,” GGN; “The Tiny Menace,” Courtesy the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens/Maxx Echt; “Mind, Soul, Design,” Richard Mandelkorn; “Raleigh Finds Its Inner Self,” City of Raleigh.

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We figured the cover to this year’s ASLA Awards issue would be timely, but not by a measure of days. We were thinking months and years. The project by Studio Outside of its Galveston Island State Park project, which won a 2017 ASLA Professional Award for Analysis and Planning, shows the gradual progress happening these days with the design of coastal sites given the realities of climate change. As the issue arrived in the mail the past week, Hurricane Harvey swamped Galveston and wasted a huge piece of the Texas Gulf Coast. (Zach Mortice talked to Studio Outside for LAM this weekend as the storm moved in and lingered.)

Along with Studio Outside in our September Awards issue are several dozen projects that heap brainpower on the urgent landscape priorities of today. Out of the 295 projects submitted to the Student Awards, 26 winners were chosen, and 38 Professional Awards were selected from the 465 submissions. In addition, the ASLA Honors highlight the many professional contributions recognized by the society, including the winner of this year’s Landscape Architecture Firm Award, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol.

As always, the digital edition of the September 2017 Awards issue is FREE,  and you can access the free digital issue of the September LAM here and share it with your clients, colleagues, and friends. You can also buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. Single digital issues are available for only $5.25 at Zinio or you can 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.

Credits: [Professional Award images only] Storm + Sand + Sea + Strand—Barrier Island Resiliency Planning for Galveston Island State Park, Studio Outside/Google Earth; Birmingham Residence, Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA; Digital Library of Landscape Architecture History, Benjamin George, ASLA; Klyde Warren Park, Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA; Fluid Territory: A Journey into Svalbard, Norway, Kathleen John-Alder, ASLA.

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BY ZACH MORTICE

City sewer maintenance trucks get a new graphic rebranding. Image courtesy of group projects.

City officials in San Jose, California, have an environmental graphics and public art project they hope will reduce sewer clogs from fats, oils, and grease that residents put down their kitchen sinks—and it only costs $60,000, a tiny fraction of the millions of dollars it would take to update existing infrastructure to handle more cooking waste. The project, called FOG Waste (FOG stands for fats, oils, and grease) was designed by Brett Snyder, an associate professor of design at the University of California, Davis, and Claire Napawan, an associate professor of landscape architecture at UC Davis, who practice together under the name group projects.

When fatty waste is disposed of in a sink or drain, it can solidify and block sewer lines, causing raw sewage to back up into homes, yards, and streets and potentially affect local watersheds. (You might remember the viral footage of the bus-sized ball of fat discovered in a London sewer, dubbed the “fatberg.”) In San Jose, that means raw sewage in San Francisco Bay, causing havoc in local aquatic ecosystems and posing health risks for residents.

The main design challenge for Napawan and Snyder was developing a graphic identity that could educate people on (more…)

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