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Archive for the ‘HISTORIC LANDSCAPES’ Category

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

In Montreal, a giant, multiyear art installation blends technology and history.

FROM THE JUNE 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

The face appears like an apparition. Ghostly white and mottled by leaves, it floats, disembodied, turning to look at viewers as they walk along the Old Port of Montreal toward the old clock tower, where a 30-foot-high woman floats as if in water. These giant video projections are two of 24 mesmerizing tableaux created as part of Cité Mémoire, conceptualized by the visual artists Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon and the playwright Michel Marc Bouchard for the 375th anniversary of the founding of the city.

Beginning each night at sundown, the installation tells the story of Montreal through a series of five- to seven-minute vignettes, each of which features an influential (if sometimes obscure) character from the city’s history. The filmed scenes are projected onto buildings, trees, and cobblestone alleyways, and viewers, armed with a mobile app and headphones, make their way through the city, listening to the characters’ thoughts and an original score. (Inspired by Chicago’s Crown Fountain, for which the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa projected the faces of some 1,000 residents onto twin glass block towers, the faces in the trees belong to 375 modern-day Montrealers.)

Developed over five years, the $18 million project debuted in spring 2016. (Funding has come from a variety of government grants and corporate sponsors.) This May, the city unveiled four new stories. Unlike so many video mapping installations, Cité Mémoire eschews frenetic and brightly colored lights and instead treats the often intimate, sometimes harrowing scenes more like “animated murals,” in Lemieux’s words, (more…)

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BY GWENETH LEIGH, ASLA

Wraight + Associates and Taylor Cullity Lethlean have domesticated a waterfront in Auckland, New Zealand (though you can still smell the fish).

FROM THE JUNE 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

For more than 30 years, shipping activity within historic ports has been in rapid decline. Facilities are often relocated to larger and more modernized harbors where the machinery is bigger, the roads are closer, and the waters are deeper. Left behind is a postindustrial waterfront that’s seen by the city as an opportunity for a glamorous maritime makeover. But in the effort to maximize development profits, these face-lifts often erase the industrial beauty marks that make these places unique. In their place, generic recipes are followed for creating comfortable waterfront living: one part cobblestone street, two parts pedestrian walkway, a healthy dose of waterside eateries, with a dash of history through a moored two-mast schooner. The experience may be clean and comfortable, but it’s also terribly bland.

The Wynyard Quarter waterfront in Auckland, New Zealand, is different. It’s a landscape that (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The most important question related to the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago’s South Side doesn’t have that much to do with its architecture.

It is instead: What kind of landscape stewardship can a presidential museum and library offer? To be located in Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted’s Jackson Park, the project already has a heap of canonical landscape history to contend with. So can the Obama library make a great park greater?

The answer is… (more…)

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The battle to document and save old trees that may have once marked Native American trails.

Congratulations to Timothy A. Schuler, editor of LAM’s NOW section and a frequent contributor to the magazine. He is the 2017 recipient of the Forest History Society’s John M. Collier Award for Forest History Journalism, which recognizes excellence in reporting on forest or conservation history. Tim’s winning article, “Searching for a Sign”—about the strangely bent trees once used as trail markers by Native Americans—originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of LAM.

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

The National Map is a feat of modern-day cartography. It also reveals our country’s shifting priorities.

FROM THE APRIL 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Lisa Orr, ASLA, was 11 years old when she attended her first West Virginia funeral. Her great-grandmother, Susan Bolyard Summers, had died at the age of 102 and was being buried in the family cemetery, behind a little country church called Mount Zion. Orr’s family drove the hour and a half from Morgantown, in the northern part of the state, to rural Preston County, winding through a tangled warren of hills and hollows and passing a dozen other hilltop cemeteries before reaching their destination.

The trip made a lasting impression on Orr. Preston County was so unlike her life in Morgantown: The landscape was as breathtaking as it was formidable. “It’s hard to explain how rugged the territory is,” she says, speaking from her office at West Virginia University (WVU), where she teaches landscape architecture. “It’s like a mini-Grand Canyon everywhere you go.” It illuminated the hardscrabble life that her great-grandmother had lived, living on foraged chestnuts and whatever else would grow in Preston County’s rocky soil. And it gave Orr her first glimpse into the role these cemeteries played in local people’s lives.

Caring for these places, she learned, was part of many families’ cultural heritage, including her own. “Part of my grandmother’s life was just visiting cemeteries,” she says, (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

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31st Street Harbor in Chicago, by Site Design Group and AECOM. Image courtesy of Rose Yuen Photography.

The Obama Foundation on January 30 announced the selection of three landscape architecture firms to work on the Obama Presidential Center on the South Side of Chicago—a nationally renowned firm, a regional Chicago powerhouse headed by a native South Sider, and a lesser-known firm that has worked on previous presidential library landscapes.

The New York-based Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the 2016 ASLA Landscape Architecture Firm Award recipient and designer of the landscape of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, will lead the group. Chicago’s Site Design Group joins the team, offering extensive experience with the Chicago Park District, which, controversially, turned over the presidential library’s site to the city so that it could be transferred to the Obama Foundation. Finally, Living Habitats, also based in Chicago, rounds out the team, having designed the green roof landscape of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Arkansas. These three firms will work with Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Interactive Design Architects on a narrow slice of land at the western edge of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s Jackson Park, the site of the 1893 World’s Fair, next to Lake Michigan. Site Design Group is a (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

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The abandoned Michigan Central Station in Detroit. Image courtesy of Zach Mortice.

In a city beset by a nearly incomparable foreclosure crisis and 20 square miles of vacant land, there’s been a growing understanding that landscape architecture and Detroit are perfect for each other. But in 2017, the city will unveil a handful of new proposals on how the discipline can grow back healthy urbanism in the Motor City.

Detroit announced early this month that, after an RFP process, it is awarding a total of $1.6 million across four project teams to plan landscape and streetscape improvements including green stormwater management and infrastructure upgrades. Each team will focus on a group of neighborhoods, (more…)

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