Category Archives: Materials

For Crows, By Humans

Walter Hood reflects on what corvids can teach us.

By Anjulie Rao

Photo of artistic model of a crow's nest hanging from a tree.
Hood Design Studio incorporated bottle caps into the crows’ nests to explore the idea of humans as scavengers. Photo by Liz Ligon, courtesy Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Crows—although they share a predilection for scavenging human food waste alongside other urban avian “pests” such as pigeons—carry a more mischievous reputation. The National Audubon Society cites their incredible intelligence and documented cases of the birds using tools, holding grudges, and performing funerals. Continue reading For Crows, By Humans

Mind the Gaps (and Curves) with Precast Concrete

Getting the best from precast concrete requires a little flexibility. 

By John Payne, ASLA, and James Dudley

The first prototype of the precast piece is what will determine the mold form. Photo courtesy SiteWorks.

Precast concrete, which is concrete that is cast into its final form before it is installed, has long been used in architecture and engineering for myriad forms and applications. These include bridge trusses, ornamental cladding, and prestressed beams. The casting process takes place within the regulated confines of a facility, with tightly controlled concrete mixes and material ingredients resulting in greater control and consistency, making it a real attraction to both designers and builders. Continue reading Mind the Gaps (and Curves) with Precast Concrete

(Re)making the Grade

At the University of Pittsburgh, a Complete Street caps a series of student-centered outdoor spaces.

By Timothy A. Schuler

North of the student union, a new, permeable plaza provides space for events as well as informal gatherings. Photo by Denmarsh Studios/LBA.

In the mid-1950s, the fast-growing University of Pittsburgh acquired two historic properties: the Hotel Schenley, built in 1898, and the Schenley Apartments, built between 1922 and 1924. The buildings were renovated for use as dormitories—and later, in the case of the hotel, a student union—but the spaces around them were left largely untouched, updated over the years to meet local codes but otherwise given little thought. Continue reading (Re)making the Grade

Your Stuff Is Coming (Someday)

Supplies are short and prices are bonkers. What’s behind the issues in the supply chain, and when will they end?

By Bradford McKee

An Alpine crew installing granite pavers at a new park near Hudson Yards. Photo by Dylan Peck, Alpine Construction & Landscaping Corporation.

Don’t worry, it’s not just you. The supply chain chaos that has dogged the whole economy the past couple of years is hitting every point of the uniquely perishable process of building landscapes. Continue reading Your Stuff Is Coming (Someday)

Unbuilt to Last

An Oakland, California, waterfront redevelopment plan hit a few bumps before Einwiller Kuehl took it apart.

By Lydia Lee / Photography by Eric Einwiller

Part of the old warehouse has been repurposed into a super-deep porch.

On a bright Saturday afternoon in mid-October, a party was going on at Township Commons, one of the newest parks in the San Francisco Bay Area. Actually, four events were going on simultaneously across the Oakland, California, park’s four and a half acres, overlooking the glittering waters of the bay: Behind the large hill at the western end, with a view of San Francisco in the distance, a small family gathered around a folding table; at the other end by the café/market, people dressed in sober attire were attending a private catered event; on the main deck, five couples were taking a salsa class; and next to the hill, a handful of roller skaters in bright outfits were practicing some groovy moves. Continue reading Unbuilt to Last