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University of Virginia Landscape Architecture Chair Bradley Cantrell, ASLA, sees the future of landscape design as a spectrum of interactions between technologies that sense the environment, model and simulate it, and then finally affect the physical world—all without constant human input and monitoring. As argued in his March 13 LAM Lecture (and in his recent book Responsive Landscapes, written with Justine Holzman, ASLA), the future of landscape architecture is one of designing protocols for how natural systems behave, and tuning these algorithms and eventually the land itself, thus loosening the stranglehold static and monofunctional infrastructure has on the planet.  “It’s not about us controlling every aspect,” he says. “It’s about us setting a range of ways those behaviors can act within.”

Cantrell’s research is grounded in the previous century’s cutting-edge modeling and simulation methods, like the Army Corp of Engineers Mississippi River Basin Model in Clinton, Mississippi, which modeled the entire rivershed, scaled down to a mere 200 acres. From there, Cantrell details contemporary research that is equal parts computational and material, honing ever more granular data points toward more accurate models. For example, there’s USC Assistant Professor Alexander Robinson’s Office of Outdoor Research, Landscape Morphologies Lab work, which uses an articulated robot arm to scrape out dust-mitigating landforms at California’s Owens Lake. Cantrell’s own inquiries involve test bed river basin models that deposit sediment via the variable flow of water, which he has been able to manipulate as though it were a geologic 3-D printer, expanding and cutting back sediment deposit “land” where it’s desired. The resulting topographies are scanned and converted into point-cloud maps.

Cantrell’s approach pushes landscape architecture’s prevailing infrastructure fixation until it ricochets out of the physically imposing world of concrete and culverts and into abstract data, underpinning the omnipresent ways we reengineer ecologies with quantitative facts. The biggest challenge for modeling and simulating dynamic environments, Cantrell says, is not gathering all the requisite data, but getting it to interact in a way that matches reality. At its core, it’s a call for new levels of observational rigor: first, to observe all the factors that make an ecosystem function, and then to understand how those factors work together to create a landscape.

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Images are the work of invited panel participants as noted. Collage courtesy UVA School of Architecture.

A UVA panel looks for ways landscape can lead the way in a city shaken by intolerance.

The Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017, welcomed white supremacy, resulted in the murder of a counterprotester, Heather Heyer, and changed that city and a great many residents and members of the University of Virginia (UVA) community. There were torch burning, Nazi symbols, and chants of “Jews will not replace us” in the public spaces of what’s often painted as an idyllic Southern college town. That dichotomy will be the topic of a panel and presentation moderated by the UVA Architecture Assistant Professor Elgin Cleckley at UVA later this week. “Landscape Perspectives for Future Publics” will gather eight landscape designers, academics, and writers to present their visions of Charlottesville’s future and to consider the landscape implications of race. The presentation will occur on April 20 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at UVA’s Campbell Hall.

Presenters will offer rapid-fire imagery illustrating past/present/future triptychs for Charlottesville.

Participants will include: (more…)

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

Photo by Jerry Bauer.

From “Battered, But Not Broken” by Timothy A. Schuler in the April 2018 issue, about the consoling post-hurricane recovery of Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest.

“Vegetation devastation.”

–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 ZACH MORTICE

The Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates plan uses a series of intensely programmed pavilions at the park’s urban edge. Image courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

Update 4/10/2018: The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has chosen Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates’ plan as the competition winner. 

At 22 acres on a prime Detroit River site southwest of downtown, the future West Riverfront Park could become the city’s new civic front yard.

A design competition hosted by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has collected a short list of plans to fill this need, with work by GGN, James Corner Field Operations, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), and Hood Studio making the cut. The winner will be determined by jury later this month. Several of these plans deal with the site’s relative surrounding vacancy and lack of connection to active, urban uses by building up dense layers of programming, but differ on whether the park is to be a regional centerpiece or one notable amenity along the Detroit RiverWalk’s miles-long string of them.

West Riverfront Park is part of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy’s larger plan to rejuvenate 5.5 miles of the Detroit Riverfront. East of downtown Detroit, 3.5 miles of the RiverWalk is already complete, featuring entertainment and event spaces, sculpture gardens, cultural venues, parks, and hotels. At the confluence of downtown, Corktown, and Mexicantown, the West Riverfront Park sits near some of the city’s most dramatically resurgent (and stable) neighborhoods. But the park site has been largely barren for decades. Previously, a hulking warehouse for the Detroit Free Press dominated the site. It was privately owned and closed off to the public for about (more…)

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It’s the beginning of April, which mean’s LAM’s World Landscape Architecture Month issue is here! You’ll find these stories inside:

FOREGROUND

Maintenance Matters (Office)
Maintenance is all about relationships. And money.


Slope Style (Materials)

Pointers and pitfalls for planting trees on steep grades.

Royal Treatment (Gardens)

The art of bonsai is easier to see in Rhodeside & Harwell’s new pavilion at the
National Bonsai & Penjing Museum.

FEATURES

Ethic and Aesthetic
The acequia—a centuries-old irrigation technology—is ideal for stormwater management
at a New Mexico house.

Scale Factor
SWA combines beauty and security at Mexico’s University of Monterrey.

Parisian Accents
Three new parks anchor regeneration projects near the city’s periphery.

Out of Time
The past and the present merge in a new language for commemorating slavery at
Valongo Wharf, the largest slave port in the Americas.

THE BACK

Soft Power in Moscow
Public spaces devoid of politics are a new idea in Moscow. You could even call them revolutionary.

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

Credits: “Parisian Accents,” Atelier Jacqueline Osty & Associés; “Out of Time,” Sara Zewde; “Ethic and Aesthetic,” Kate Russell; “Scale Factor,” SWA Group/Jonnu Singleton; “Maintenance Matters,” Josef Gutierrez, ASLA; “Slope Style,” SiteWorks; “Royal Treatment,” Allen Russ Photographer; “Soft Power in Moscow,” Iwan Baan, courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Image courtesy of the collection of Nicholas de Monchaux.

California is omnipresent in the world of science fiction. George Lucas filmed Star Wars: A New Hope in Death Valley, and the redwood forests of northern California sat in for the forest moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi. Perhaps the most influential sci-fi document in terms of futurist urbanism, Blade Runner, showed us the megacity Los Angeles with its rain and neon-slicked streets unmistakably reminiscent of a polyglot Chinatown. Larry Niven’s Ringworld books drew their prescription for a sun-orbiting space station—a million miles tall and 600 million miles across—from California’s own impressive history of infrastructural development.

Because of its historic reputation as the final, unspoiled end to the American Western horizon, California has always looked ahead into bracingly new futures. But as espoused by a studio to be taught at the University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design, unpacking California’s contributions to sci-fi urbanism and landscapes is also a look back.  BLDGBLOG’s Geoff Manaugh and the Berkeley architecture and urban design professor Nicholas de Monchaux will lead this Studio ONE master’s program, which will begin next school year.

“We have already terraformed one world whether we like it or not,” says de Monchaux. “We are living science fiction to some extent. We might as well acknowledge it and mine it.” Their studio asks: (more…)

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

Image courtesy Rosetta S. Elkin.

From “Covered Ground” by Bradford McKee in the March 2018 issue, on Rosetta Elkin’s research into how the smallest plants can have a big impact in our landscapes.

“The big little.”

–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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