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Archive for the ‘MATERIALS’ Category

BY ZACH MORTICE

A hydrogel-enabled seed bomb. Credit: U.S. provisional patent application No. 62/465,341. Nahin Shah | Martina Decker, Material Dynamics Lab.

The tools for tactical urbanism seem more likely to be developed in community center meeting halls and anonymous Internet forums rather than university laboratories. But at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), an architecture professor is working on ways to give impromptu urban vegetation efforts staying power with hydrogel seed bombs.

Martina Decker, who directs NJIT’s Idea Factory and Material Dynamics Lab, is combining seed bombs—balls of organic matter that protect and help seeds packed within them grow—with hydrogel granulates, polymers that are extremely hydrophilic, (more…)

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BY MEG CALKINS, FASLA

Promising new alternatives to tropical hardwoods come with caveats.

FROM THE APRIL 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE

The past decade has brought an explosion in the use of tropical hardwood decking and furnishings in public, institutional, and commercial landscapes. Whereas wood decking was once largely the purview of residential landscapes, now it can be found in urban settings from the High Line to West 8’s sculptural Wavedecks. Tropical hardwoods are so durable, hard, and decay-resistant that they appear to be the ideal material, yet the impacts of using even hardwoods certified by the Forest Stewardship Council can be substantial and threaten the most critical ecosystems of our planet.

Wood is a renewable construction material if you compare the amount of time a wood member is in use to the amount of time it takes to grow a tree to yield a comparable piece. But that is not always the case. For example, it takes 90 years to grow a Handroanthus heptaphyllus tree to yield ipe lumber for deck boards, but the deck boards will likely not be in use for 90 years even if they are reclaimed, refinished, and reused.

As concern for the health of tropical forests is increasingly recognized in sustainable design thinking, alternatives to tropical hardwoods (more…)

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April is, of course, World Landscape Architecture Month. This year, to mark the occasion, LAM is issuing a special supplement for young readers, called YOUR LAND. It offers a basic introduction to landscape and landscape architecture, a look at the methods and goals of the profession, a breakout of several intriguing types of projects, a career primer, and, not least, a glossary of landscape architecture terms! Our goal is plain: to encourage the making of more future landscape architects. For many people, landscape architecture is a second career choice after they have made their first, and one they like better—it’s mainly a matter of exposure to the wide range of things landscape architects do in their work. We figure sooner is better, so this supplement is free and available digitally for downloading. For limited quantities of bulk print copies for classrooms or other groups, e-mail discover@asla.org (shipping charges apply).

Our regular April issue is every bit as exciting, covering a range of bold work that is reshaping landscape architecture today. In the cover feature, Michael Dumiak reports on an audacious plan by H+N+S Landscape Architects in the Netherlands, led by Dirk Sijmons, to power the countries around the North Sea with wind energy by the year 2050. It’s a multinational endeavor that transcends bureaucracies as well as boundaries in hopes of making these countries fulfill the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which took effect last year, of holding the average global temperature to within 1.5 degrees Celsius of preindustrial levels by reducing emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases.

Back in North America, Jack Dangermond and his company, Esri, have done as much or more than anyone since the onset of the digital age to help decode the Earth’s landscape with the computational tools known as geographic information systems, or GIS. At this stage of his career, as Jonathan Lerner profiles, Dangermond is putting that might behind his Green Infrastructure Initiative, the goal of which is “to identify and secure the critical remaining large cores of relatively unspoiled landscape” on a national scale. It is a galactic attempt to counter (more…)

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

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Image courtesy of NUVIS Landscape Architecture.

From “White Water on Dry Land,” by Timothy Schuler in the February 2017 issue, on a drained lake’s second life as an eerily austere but powerful sculpture garden.

“Waves on still water.”

–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 finished and installed concrete cistern. Image courtesy of Concreteworks.

The finished and installed concrete cistern. Image courtesy of Concreteworks.

Hired to design the atrium courtyard of a San Francisco spec office building that features a canted glass roof that channels rainwater, David Meyer of Meyer + Silberberg Land Architects got a few simple instructions from the building’s architects at Pfau Long Architecture—the most interesting of which was to “do something with the water” that the roof would corral into a cascading stream, dripping into the atrium.

But that simple request kicked off a high-wire adventure that saw a three-ton concrete rainwater cistern installed in the courtyard, pushing concrete fabricators to their limits.

Meyer turned to the specialty concrete fabrication firm Concreteworks to manufacture the cistern at 270 Brannan, built by developers SKS. Meyer’s most important request? The cistern had to be one continuous piece. After delays from the general contractor, Meyer says, (more…)

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BY NEIL BUDZINSKI AND MATTHEW GIRARD

A forensic approach found the best decomposed granite solution for Kenyon College.

A forensic approach found the best decomposed granite solution for Kenyon College.

From the November 2016 Issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine 

Decomposed granite pavement (DG) is a textured and responsive paving material used on paths and plazas. Yet the quiet appearance of DG masks material and construction complexities that shape the outcome of the built work and belie what may appear to be a simple installation. In 2010, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), where we are senior associates, was hired to prepare a master plan for Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Over several years of our working with Kenyon to renovate its historic Middle Path, the challenges of this material were revealed and met through a program of design-phase mock-ups, manufacturer’s product development, and innovations in installation methods. We have learned several lessons regarding the product and the methods that change the way we specify and oversee the installation of this seemingly simple material.

Kenyon’s landscape is organized around Middle Path, a 3,600-foot-long walk made from a local river stone. The material of Middle Path, cherished for its color, texture, looseness, and sound, (more…)

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BY ANNE RAVER

Reed Hilderbrand overturns a century of casual destruction at Long Dock Park in Beacon, New York.

Reed Hilderbrand overturns a century of casual destruction at Long Dock Park in Beacon, New York.

From the March 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Ten years ago, Long Dock was a postindustrial ruins built on fill—the layered detritus of its past—that sprawled 1,000 feet across the tidal flats of the Hudson River at the foot of the boarded-up city of Beacon, New York.

Now, this same site, Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park, is a 23-acre expanse of meadow and wetlands shaded by cottonwoods and swamp maples, with a sculpted dock and quiet cove, where a kayak pavilion hovers like a dragonfly over the river’s edge.

Reed Hilderbrand has remediated and reshaped the flat landscape, transforming it to a series of earthen berms and reconfigured marshes that hold and filter stormwater and tidal surges in storms as brutal as Irene and Sandy.

“We were fully inundated four times during construction, so each time we lost ground,” Gary Hilderbrand, FASLA, said one midsummer afternoon, standing on the boardwalk that leads to the river’s edge. “But we also proved that the (more…)

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