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INTERVIEW BY BRADFORD MCKEE

In his new book, Doug Tallamy looks at oaks as a life force.

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In two influential books, the entomologist Douglas W. Tallamy has spread a message of people-powered biodiversity, to say that if humans have crowded out nature across the world, they can also invite it back in at close range. Tallamy, who is 70 and lives in southeastern Pennsylvania, is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he joined the faculty in 1981 and has led or coauthored 104 published research studies on the behavior and chemistry of insects. In 2007, his book Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants hatched a mission to persuade home gardeners to think big about the buffets they can create for animals just outside any door as bulwarks against ecological decline. He expanded that project in 2020 with Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard, which became a New York Times best seller.

Tallamy’s latest book, The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees (published, like the others, by Timber Press), puts his message through a different prism, that of the genus Quercus, which includes 435 species of oaks around the world, 91 of them in North America, where they are superlative among trees as sources of food and shelter in their environments. He details the oak’s life cycle through the 12 months of the year. “Unfortunately, the diverse web of life that is associated with oaks goes unnoticed and thus unappreciated by most homeowners,” Tallamy writes. Many homeowners, indeed, are ready to cut down oaks to avoid raking leaves, though he explains that raking is not only unnecessary but to be strongly discouraged, given the high value of oak leaf litter as microhabitat. Once again his gift to readers, in plainspoken prose, is to help them see the familiar in nature and find the unseen.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Bradford McKee: In The Nature of Oaks, as in your earlier books, you’re bringing science and natural history to the household conversation—

Doug Tallamy: That’s the goal!

BM: —though scientists who do academic research and also do public advocacy so regularly are exceptions in most fields. What’s driving your mission? (more…)

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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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FOREGROUND

Talking Points (Planning)
The WELL Community Standard is touted as the new sustainability checklist, but is it just landscape architecture in new clothes? Reed Hilderbrand tries it out at a Florida megaproject, Water Street Tampa.

Let the Graveyard Grow (Maintenance)
In Brooklyn, New York, Green-Wood Cemetery’s parklike setting and open lawns have become a pandemic destination. Behind the placid view, the horticultural staff races to stay ahead of climate change.

FEATURES

Soldier Stories
Three new veterans memorials break from the visual language of war to make a place for those who served and lived. Butzer Architects and Urbanism, Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, and DAVID RUBIN Land Collective each found an approach that ties the past to the present.

Back to Basics
When Waterfront Toronto announced that the Google offshoot Sidewalk Labs would be designing an urban techtopia on a prime 12-acre site, brows were raised. Now the project is canceled—a casualty of public resistance and pandemic funding—and the city looks to what’s next.

The full table of contents for June can be found here.

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.

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

Credits: “Soldier Stories,” Sahar Coston-Hardy, Affiliate ASLA; “Back to Basics,” Picture Plane for Heatherwick Studio for Sidewalk Labs; “Talking Points,” Reed Hilderbrand; “Let the Graveyard Grow,” Green-Wood/Art Presson.

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

Photo by Arup.

From “Whose Eyes on the Street?” by Karl Krause in the May 2021 issue, about how critics of crime prevention through environmental design are reshaping the role designers play in making communities safer.

“A new light on community engagement.”

 

–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 KARL KRAUSE

Designers and advocates reckon with the uneasy history of safety in environmental design.

FROM THE MAY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In 1285, King Edward of England issued the Statute of Winchester—a sweeping reform of law enforcement to curb rising crime across the country. To address highway robbery, the statute required a change to the environment: All landowners had to remove “bushes where one could hide with evil intent” within 200 feet of country roads—an early attempt to codify environmental design to improve safety that became the standard practice in English law enforcement for centuries.

The use of environmental design to address safety continues today with Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, more commonly known as CPTED (pronounced “sep-ted”). Along with calls for police reform and defunding, amplified in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, design activists such as the New Orleans-based Colloqate Design have demanded abolition of CPTED tactics that “criminalize Blackness under the guise of safety” and fail to address the underlying causes of crime. So how has CPTED, meant to replace traditional policing with community policing, come to be seen as oppressive? (more…)

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

Photo by Tim Griffith.

From “The Best Medicine” by Lydia Lee in the April 2021 issue, about GLS Landscape | Architecture’s new Stanford Hospital landscape, which connects patients to lush and varied gardens and orchards, aiding their recoveries.

“A path with purpose.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

You can read the full table of contents for April 2021 or pick up a free digital issue of the April LAM here and share it with your clients, colleagues, and friends. 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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