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Archive for the ‘LAM MAGAZINE’ Category

As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

Click above for a full PDF of the translated text with English text available below.

BY BRIAN BARTH

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

In March of 2016, the landscape architect Ron Henderson, FASLA, had the rare opportunity to visit Mcity, the autonomous vehicle research center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His entourage, which included Nilay Mistry, ASLA, as well as an architect, a transportation engineer, a social scientist, and an attorney, signed in at a gatehouse worthy of a military facility. They were then relieved of all cameras and recording devices—“It’s like a top-secret corporate espionage kind of place,” Henderson says—before being escorted on a brief tour of a 16-acre test track composed of every road condition imaginable: bridges, tunnels, gravel roads, bike lanes, railroad crossings, roundabouts, graffiti-defaced road signs, faded lane markings, a main street with parallel parking, and a short stretch of freeway. “They even have a little Potemkin village of fake storefronts,” Henderson says.

At Mcity, a consortium of academic researchers, government agencies, and corporate entities are sorting out how to make autonomous transportation a reality. Henderson was surprised to learn that trees may not be part of the equation. “We learned that vegetation interferes with the signals between the cars,” he says. “So they cut down the trees at the test track. One of the engineers jokingly said to us, ‘If we had our druthers, we would just cut down all the trees.’ The landscape architects in the group (more…)

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BY MARGARET SHAKESPEARE

A sophisticated stormwater system elevates Philadelphia’s Girard Avenue interchange.

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Around the world, cities are demolishing, burying, or capping their elevated freeways, but an interstate in Philadelphia provides a possible alternative—one in which the highway stays up but connectivity, open space, and water quality are still prized. In redesigning three miles of Interstate 95 north of Center City Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation planned 27 acres of park and open space, and the first phase of the $1 billion project, due for completion by 2027, incorporates examples of green infrastructure. According to AECOM, the prime consultant on the project, landscape design and green infrastructure accounted for between 5 and 7 percent of the first phase’s total budget.

At the Girard Avenue Interchange, I-95 runs parallel to the Delaware River two blocks away. Rather than whisking stormwater runoff directly into the river, overtaxing an already burdened municipal system, or funneling a deluge into a rock pit, AECOM and other experts devised a treatment scheme of basins, weirs, bioswales, and rain gardens. Ten planted acres can capture the first inch of runoff (more…)

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BY JANE BERGER

There’s a lot to love about bamboo.

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Thousands of lucky San Franciscans will soon be walking through a bamboo forest on their way to and from towering glass buildings in the city’s Mission District. Groves of giant Japanese timber bamboo (Phyllostachys bambusoides) are a stunning horticultural statement in a 5.4-acre park atop the new Transbay Transit Center, scheduled for completion later this year. It’s just one more sign of bamboo’s increasing popularity, despite its bad reputation.

The park, long and skinny, is 70 feet aboveground and extends four blocks, with public access by bridges that connect with adjacent skyscrapers, by gondola from street level, or by escalator, elevators, and stairways inside and outside the building. Adam Greenspan, ASLA, a partner at PWP Landscape Architecture, explains that no matter what level people are on, “we wanted them to see that there was an inhabitable landscape up on the roof.”

The dominant feature of the Transit Center is a light tower that extends from the grand concourse at street level up to the roof, where its glass dome is surrounded by bamboo. Greenspan says he selected Japanese timber bamboo because it allows for “transparency and translucency,” and when you’re inside the building, “you get a bit of filtered light through foliage and through stems and culms.” Up on the roof is a “transparent scrim of green.” The bamboo is planted in a concrete basin about four feet deep, which sequesters the bamboo’s rhizomes so they (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

An asphalt coating could help cool Los Angeles. Will the benefits offset the costs?

FROM THE OCTOBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Initially, the product was for the military. Marketed as CoolSeal, the light gray-colored asphalt seal coat was developed to reduce the surface temperature of runways so that they would be less visible to infrared satellites. A few years ago, Greg Spotts, the assistant director of the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services, wondered what would happen if you painted every street in the city with CoolSeal. Could you reduce the urban heat island effect, a phenomenon that has been estimated to cost the city $90 million each year in energy bills?

Now, with $150,000 in public funding, Spotts is testing the coating at locations in each of the city’s 15 council districts. The coating, which is just 15 microns thick, goes on in a brilliant gray, far lighter in color than a typical asphalt street, though Spotts says it soon fades to more of a “battleship color.”

By this fall, all 15 streets should be complete, and according to the city’s asphalt testing lab, even in the afternoon on the hottest days, the surface temperature of the coated pavement is, on average, (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE / PHOTOGRAPHY BY KYLE JEFFERS

Mixed-income housing alone can’t change public housing residents’ lives. So Gary Strang is putting the landscape to work.

FROM THE OCTOBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Correction appended.

The first thing you notice is all the cars. The Potrero Hill housing projects occupy a strange landscape divided by Jersey barriers and concrete retaining walls that carve up the site’s topography. Endless rows of cars are parked along its curving streets and in front of 62 three- and four-story barracks-style buildings that step down the steep hill. It’s the first indication that this isolated, often forgotten section of the city is not that well connected to the thriving, upscale urbanism of San Francisco that surrounds it. “The beautiful green landscape, the Corbusian dream, just becomes parking,” says Gary Strang, FASLA, the founder of GLS Landscape | Architecture, the firm that was hired to radically reshape this place.

For Curteesha Cosby, who lives at Potrero, these parked cars are sometimes a refuge of last resort. When she’s walking her kids to school at 7:00 a.m. and hears gunfire, she hits the ground and rolls her children under them till it ends. She says she hears shooting nearly every day. She’s exhausted by Potrero. “I just want people to be happy and everyone to be safe,” she says. Her cousin was gunned down in the housing complex a few days before we spoke. Edward Hatter, the executive director of the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, a nonprofit serving the area, tells me the community is waiting for the retaliatory violence that often follows shootings.

Potrero Terrace and Annex has long been one of San Francisco’s most dysfunctional large-scale public housing developments. Residents complain of (more…)

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REVIEWED BY GALE FULTON, ASLA

FROM THE OCTOBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

To listen to some mainstream urbanists today, you have to wonder what body of theory, if any, they are paying attention to in order to make what often seem hopelessly naive and homogeneous proposals for new urban developments. Admittedly, this group is often the same bunch who don’t have time for impractical theorization because they are out there doing real work, but some idea about “good” city form obviously drives their approach. Unfortunately, many of the theories in circulation stem from a belief that the city is nothing more than a problem to be solved—it’s too dense, or not dense enough; gray and dirty rather than green; impervious and polluting; unjust and inequitable; or not living up to that crowning achievement of being “walkable.” Obviously, most if not all of these criticisms can be leveled at cities in one place or another at one time or another, but what are the implications for the urban imagination of designers if this is the only lens through which the city (arguably the greatest cultural artifact ever produced) can be viewed—a massive problem which must be “restored” to some nostalgic, fictional notion of the healthy city? And, more optimistically, what new propositions, pedagogies, and disciplinary alignments are necessary to overcome these narrow worldviews and begin to engage the phenomenon of urbanization in a more compelling and realistic way?

In his new book Landscape as Infrastructure, Pierre Bélanger, ASLA, an associate professor of landscape architecture and a codirector of the Master in Design Studies Program in Urbanism, Landscape, and Ecology at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, lays the groundwork for such an approach. Assembling a decade of design and scholarly research, Bélanger provides readers with a much-needed alternative history of urbanization (primarily in mid- to late 20th and early 21st-century North America), as well as a survey of the contemporary forces that drive urbanization patterns today. These aspects of the book are complemented by an account of the accompanying epistemological shifts brought about by new understandings of complexity and ecology as well as a resurgence of (more…)

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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

Click above for a full PDF of the translated text with English text available below.

BY NATE BERG

FROM THE OCTOBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Among Southern California landscape architecture firms, Los Angeles-based Studio-MLA (formerly Mia Lehrer + Associates) is arguably highbrow. Known for public spaces like the 1,300-acre Orange County Great Park and Vista Hermosa Park in an underserved section of Los Angeles, and transformative master plans for infrastructuralized landscapes like the Los Angeles River and the Silver Lake Reservoir, the firm has a serious approach to the needs of Southern California and the services landscape architecture can provide. It’s complex, civic-minded work built out of decades of engagement in the community.

So it’s somewhat unexpected to see some of Studio-MLA’s recent work (more…)

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