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

Image courtesy Traction team members.

From “Where Least Matters Most” by Katarina Katsma, ASLA, in the May 2018 issue, an interview with Coco Alarcón, whose design collective Traction is forging new models of grassroots participatory design in the developing world.

“Floating garden framework.”

–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 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 May’s issue of LAM is here! You’ll find these stories inside:

FOREGROUND

Where Least Matters Most (Interview)
Coco Alarcón is using landscape architecture to help disadvantaged communities in his native Peru.

Between the Bents (Parks)
Something fun is happening under Toronto’s elevated expressway.

FEATURES

Vertical Oasis
Optima Camelview’s lush, green exterior is unexpected in arid Scottsdale, Arizona.
Bridge to Everywhere
The Harahan Bridge offers pedestrians and bikers a thrilling new way to cross the Mississippi River.
Let My Rivers Go
Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is still working to keep its head above water. Freeing its rivers could be the key.

All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. The full table of contents for May 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 May articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Bridge to Everywhere,” Big River Crossing Initiative; “Let My Rivers Go,” Zach Mortice; “Vertical Oasis,” Bill Timmerman; “Between the Bents,” Andrew Williamson; “Where Least Matters Most,” Courtesy Traction team members.

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BY WENDY GILMARTIN

Working in a multidisciplinary firm means every day is different.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

You certainly never get bored in a multidisciplinary office. A landscape architect might find herself reviewing federal endangered species listings, hydrology maps, or legal frameworks for land use planning in the daily shuffle, and these are just some of the diverse types of work likely to be present. Industrial mining methods, vernal pool construction, and high-rise plumbing systems could also come into play. The number of landscape architects working in these professional environments is growing as businesses find a competitive edge providing full, in-house services for site development projects that require expertise from designers but also from scientists, legal teams, and engineers. Four landscape architects at the center of these integrated office types share insights about collaboration, isolation, and the willingness to learn something new each day.

Interviews have been edited and condensed.

Weston & Sampson, Boston

Gene Bolinger, ASLA, Vice President

What are lessons learned from working in a multidisciplinary office for more than 25 years?

Staff at Weston & Sampson (clockwise from left): Elise Bluell, Associate ASLA; Cassidy Chroust, ASLA; Desmond Fang; Brandon Kunkel; and Farah Dakkak, Associate ASLA. Image courtesy of Weston & Sampson.

I came to Weston & Sampson through an acquisition, and I’ve been here since the fall of 1991. Weston & Sampson is an environmental and infrastructure engineering firm, and it’s one of those old, legacy northeastern firms. It’s been around since 1899. One of our larger clients is the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department, and at any given time, we have  eight to 10 projects under way with the City of Boston. We’re pushing up against 500 people in our organization and, again, we’re mostly in the Northeast, with the largest projects in Massachusetts, for sure. Just recently the firm went to a discipline-based structure—we’re actually six disciplines. One of the disciplines is the design discipline, and I manage the design discipline. I’ve become accustomed to working within a multidisciplinary realm, and I celebrate what’s great about it and try to take advantage of what’s great about it.

If you’re sitting back on your hands and you’re assuming that people are going to be delivering exactly what you want at the exact moment you want it, you’re so mistaken. So, that’s why you can’t let things (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Damon Rich talks about the planning approaches that recently earned him a MacArthur Fellowship.

FROM THE JANUARY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Damon Rich describes himself as a designer who uses the tool set of a community organizer. Rich says his goal at his design firm, Hector, with partner Jae Shin, and at his previous post as a founder of the Center for Urban Pedagogy, is to “[assemble] constituencies, trying to connect people so they can better exert political influence.” As a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship grant recipient, Rich will get a chance to see how an infusion of money ($625,000), translated through broad-based grassroots urban planning, can pull policy levers to make urbanism more equitable, healthy, and vital.

With Hector, his goal is to go into a neighborhood and uncover design elements that can offer multilayered meanings and associations to meet a wide range of needs. “I’m really excited to keep on finding ways to design things that really become social objects and social symbols,” Rich says. At the Newark Riverfront Park project, designed by Lee Weintraub, FASLA, during Rich’s tenure as the planning department director for the city of Newark, New Jersey, the color orange is used prominently in a boardwalk. The color references local schools’ heraldry and Newark’s municipal neighbors, East Orange and West Orange. It also works because it’s a neutral hue across local gang turfs. After it was built, a yoga instructor who teaches classes there complimented Rich for selecting this color because (unbeknownst to him) orange represents the water chakra.

Rich practices largely in the urban planning tradition, but he’s not careful about disciplinary lines. At the Center for Urban Pedagogy, he created users’ manuals for the city, working with marginalized communities that most need civic jargon translated into plain language. “I Got Arrested! Now What?” explains in graphic novel format how the justice system works, while “Vendor Power!” uses nearly wordless IKEA-like diagrams to show street vendors (who may be recent immigrants who don’t read English) how to comply with vending rules. Clear explanations of the city’s form, use, and regulations are part of his responsibility to (more…)

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Placing Martha Schwartz, FASLA, the past decade has been tricky to folks in the U.S. She has been teaching here, but otherwise has been anywhere else, working away. Now Schwartz has moved back to New York and says she wants to reconnect with her home ground. James Trulove talks with Schwartz in the July LAM about her practice and teaching, a focus on climate hazards, and recent work in China, where Trulove visited two projects in Beijing.

Liz Sargent, FASLA, doesn’t have a slick website or a press packet, but chances are you’ve probably been to one of the cultural landscapes she’s worked on, including nine U.S. World Heritage sites, 33 National Historic Landmarks, and more than 50 National Park Service sites. Kevan Williams takes a deep dive into her work documenting the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Being online means consenting to leaving a trail of personal data wherever we go, but what does consent mean when you’re in public space? Data-tracking furniture in our parks and cities can have a lot of community benefits, but is the technology way ahead of the privacy conversation? Brian Barth looks into the systems that are looking into us.

Also in this issue: podcasts for designers, not just about them; Meg Calkins, FASLA, on new sustainable concrete products; and just in time for your summer road trip, Jane Gillette reviews landscape architect Jack Williams’s Easy On, Easy Off: The Urban Pathology of America’s Small Towns, a book about how highways helped shape the country. The full table of contents for July 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 July articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Disrupting the Park Bench,” Melissa Gaston; “Context Clues,” Liz Sargent, FASLA; “Martha Schwartz, Reconnecting,” Sahar Coston-Hardy; “Concrete Minus Carbon,” Chicago Department of Transportation; “Reopened for Business,” EPNAC.COM; “Pictures in Sound,” Courtesy Mark Morris, ASLA.

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

Image Courtesy Topos Magazine 99.

Readers of the much-beloved magazine Topos will see a striking difference with the newest issue, its 99th, released in mid-June: a front-to-back redesign and editorial overhaul overseen by its editor-in-chief, Tanja Braemer. It is the first redesign of Topos since 2005. The new format, arriving in the title’s 25th year, slices its landscape-driven content in new ways and moves it closer to urban design and planning in its coverage of what Braemer calls “open-space culture.”

“I would like the urban disciplines to be more confident, to be more outgoing, and say, yeah, we are talking about free space,” (more…)

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