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BY MEG CALKINS, FASLA

New technologies can reduce the environmental footprint of the most-used construction material.

FROM THE JULY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Concrete in the 21st century promises to be a more sustainable material, and given the nine billion metric tons used globally each year, it must be. Portland cement, the binding agent in ordinary concrete, has a very high carbon footprint, resulting in just under one ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) released for every ton of cement produced. With 4.2 billion metric tons of the binder used each year worldwide, cement production is responsible for nearly 8 percent of total global carbon emissions. The high lime content of ordinary portland cement contributes about two-thirds of cement’s CO2 impact through the process of limestone calcination. The other one-third of CO2 released is from combustion of fossil fuels.

Technologies to improve the carbon footprint of concrete are currently in the early stages of development, but some, including carbon sequestration in concrete and substantial reductions of cement using energetically modified cement, are now commercially available. Concrete surface products for paving and walls to scrub air pollution, as well as new self-healing concrete products, are also worth investigating. We have heard about some of these innovations for a decade or more in the research community, but many are finally being brought to market—some more quickly than others. Europe is ahead of the United States in the adoption of these technologies, largely because of more rigorous clean air and carbon reduction initiatives.

New technologies in any field can take a long time to move from the laboratory to the marketplace, but (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 TRENT OKUMURA, ASLA, AND MICHAEL TODORAN

How to specify complex paving patterns to deflect urban heat from solar exposure.

FROM THE JUNE 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. 

Designers are challenged by climate change as they attempt to mitigate urban heat, but among the biggest factors are the thermal properties of the very building materials they use in new developments, not least their paving surfaces. The material and color of paving make a critical difference in either contributing to or neutralizing heat gain brought by the sun (as do roofs, which typically involve simpler, monolithic material choices). Darker paving creates a hotter microclimate but lower glare, and lighter paving creates a cooler microclimate and higher glare. The sweet spot in specifying paving lies in brokering a balance between thermal and visual comfort.

The crucial metric is solar reflectance (SR), which is a measurement of (more…)

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BY RACHEL DOVEY

For Alaska’s Anan Wildlife Observatory, Suzanne Jackson designs around the attraction: bears.

FROM THE JUNE 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. 

Suzanne Jackson spent nearly 30 years as a landscape architect at the Aspen, Colorado, office of Design Workshop, channeling her passion for backcountry hiking into habitat restoration and open space preservation. But it was when Jackson reconnected with her former colleague Barth Hamberg that things began to get, well, wild. Hamberg manages the landscape architecture program for Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska, the largest national forest in the nation. In 2014, he offered Jackson a two-year post.

Jackson was charged with creating a master plan for the Anan Wildlife Observatory, which is located on a remote peninsula in Tongass’s Wrangell district and accessible only by boat or floatplane. It’s a steeply sloping temperate rain forest of spruce, hemlock, and huckleberries, and the pools and waterfalls of Anan Creek support one of the region’s largest pink salmon runs. That means a lot of hungry predators gathering to feast: black bears, grizzlies (called brown bears locally), (more…)

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You can almost watch it come to life on the page: In the sprawl of Bangkok, an illegal dump the size of a large city block was scraped clean, sculpted, and planted thickly with 60,000 trees, many of them quite small. It now looks thick as a rain forest, with an elegant skywalk overhead and cobras on the ground (which is why you’d use the skywalk). This remarkable reforestation project, called the Metro-Forest, by Landscape Architects of Bangkok, repatriates more than 275 species once common enough locally, as James Trulove reports, that sections of the city around it bear their names. Thick as it appears, it’s only getting started. The plan is for the trees to engulf the skywalk in their canopy.

How to describe the vindication of taking an embarrassed site and bringing back some form of its original dignity? “Strangely exciting,” is how Gwendolyn McGinn, Associate ASLA, puts it to the reporter Anne Raver in this issue. McGinn, of Studio Outside, in Dallas, is working at the Tylee Farm in Texas, not far from Houston. The farm holds what is left of southern post oak savanna that was overturned and grazed nearly to death since the mid-1800s. With Studio Outside’s founder, Tary Arterburn, FASLA, and Amy Bartell, a project manager, she is working to restore the many ecological segues the site once had for newish residential owners who want to live well—as long as their land does, too.

Also in this issue: Staff writer/editor Katarina Katsma, ASLA, writes about the interlocking of plant science and aesthetics in the designs of Sandra Clinton, FASLA, in the mid-Atlantic; Jeff Link looks at the fine points of poured-in-place rubber playground surfacing; Karl Kullmann considers the new heights of drone mapping; and Jane Gillette reviews City of Refuge: Separatists and Utopian Town Planning by Michael J. Lewis, a book that will leave you thinking about squares. 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 ungating May articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Control of the Canopy,” Rungkit Charoenwat; “Side Pocket,” By oinonio [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr; “Along for the Ride,” Gwendolyn McGinn, Associate ASLA; “Color and Cushion,” Site Design Group; “The Right Fit,” Huguette Row.

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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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