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Archive for the ‘HISTORY’ Category

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 BRADFORD McKEE

Credit: Courtesy Museum of Walking/Angela Ellsworth.

Postcommodity, Repellent Fence, 2015. Image courtesy Museum of Walking/Angela Ellsworth.

From the upcoming February 2017 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Instead of a sensible and humane overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws to deal with current realities, we are apparently going to get a wall between the United States and Mexico. It was among the most outlandish promises of the Trump campaign, if only one of its rank xenophobic turns: a gigantic blockade stretching from the Pacific Ocean, through the Sonoran Desert, and down the Rio Grande River to the Gulf of Mexico, with fear as its mortar. During the first week of the new Republican-led Congress, the House Republican Policy Committee chair, Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana, told the Washington Post that legislators are looking for ways to begin work on such a wall under existing law and with American (not Mexican) money. The existing law Messer means is the Secure Fence Act of 2006, signed by President George W. Bush, which called for 700 miles of actual fencing and a “virtual fence” of beefed-up surveillance along the Mexico border. That work remains incomplete. Barriers block less than half of the 1,954 miles of international boundary. Theoretically, a resumption of building could begin to lock it all up later this spring.

The human effects of this simplistic idea will be mixed. A big wall will stop some population flow, but hardly all of it, and it will kill informal cross border commerce. Ecologically, though, it is likely to be a catastrophe. It will fragment habitat on a huge scale in one of the most biologically diverse parts of North America—the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas alone is said to have (more…)

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A lift behind the scenes helped bring the National Park Service into being.

A lift behind the scenes helped bring the National Park Service into being.

From the April 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In February 1916, the American Society of Landscape Architects met in Boston for its annual meeting. Among the reports entered into the proceedings was one of the Committee on National Parks. The committee was made up of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., Harris Reynolds, Stephen Child, Percival Gallagher, and Warren H. Manning, and it had been formed on the recommendation of ASLA President James Sturgis Pray in 1915, part of a groundswell of unease that had been brewing for several years over the fractured administration of the national parks.

The passage of the National Park Service Organic Act on August 25, 1916, established the park service and its mission, and though it has been amended many times, and threatened many more times than that, it remains, 100 years hence, our primary apparatus for preserving and interpreting the national parks. Ethan Carr, FASLA, the landscape historian and author of Wilderness by Design: Landscape Architecture & the National Park Service, writes that (more…)

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

Credit: Sahar Coston-Hardy.

Credit: Sahar Coston-Hardy.

From “Industrial Evolution” by Tom Stoelker, in the August 2016 issue, featuring the National Park Service’s management plan to unite industrial history with natural beauty at the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park in Paterson, New Jersey.

“A view above and below.”

—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 JULIAN RAXWORTHY

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From the July 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In my seminar on contemporary theories of landscape architecture at the University of Cape Town, I recently asked students, during the week allocated to discussing landscape urbanism, to choose a project from Africa that could be called “landscape urbanist.” One student chose the renovation of the Luanda waterfront in Angola. This project is an upgrade that could just as easily be described as conventional landscape architecture or urban design practice. That landscape urbanism seemed to just be landscape architecture to my students suggests how generic the term has become when considered in relation to implementation: It could be just about anything. Landscape urbanism is a vibe.

Landscape urbanism is an evocative term that has exercised great influence over academic design discourse in landscape architecture but has remained ambiguous in practical terms. One of its key propagandists, Charles Waldheim, Honorary ASLA, a professor at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, has attempted to provide a “general theory” for it in his new book Landscape as Urbanism, which, while engagingly going some of the way toward doing so, leaves the persistent question of “OK, but so what?” remaining.

Talking about landscape urbanism is more like (more…)

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BY MARK HOUGH, FASLA

Boston's Rose Kennedy Greenway has finally gotten what it always needed—time.

Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway has finally gotten what it always needed—time.

From the July 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Call it the Emptyway. That was the headline of a 2009 Boston Globe article lamenting the perceived failure of Boston’s Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, which had opened a year earlier atop the city’s infamous “Big Dig.” For years, the Globe had expressed concern over the greenway—over its design and the process that created it. The paper was not alone. Others in Boston, including many in the media and the design community, shared a sense that what was built fell short of what had been possible. After decades of dealing with the project, which buried what had been an elevated freeway into a tunnel running beneath downtown, everyone had expected something special. What they got, however, to many people was at best mediocre. The New Republic, in an otherwise glowing 2010 treatise on contemporary urban parks, declared that the greenway “is not merely bad, it is dreadful.”

Hyperbole aside, there was some merit to the early criticism of the greenway. Attendance in the park was slow during its first few years, and there were times when it did appear fairly empty. A common complaint was that the designers had not provided enough for people to do. There were things to look at and paths to walk along, but not much more. People expected immediate gratification after years of headaches caused by the project, which was plausible but unrealistic.

What many critics of the greenway didn’t recognize is that (more…)

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