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Archive for the ‘MATERIALS’ Category

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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Stone masonry work in progress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Credit: By USCapitol [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Construction has been brisk across most of the country the past year, but material costs are not bad and are expected to hold steady this year, if not drop a bit more, given falling fuel prices and weakness in China and elsewhere. But the construction labor market is tightening; construction wages will likely need to go up, and some areas may see labor shortages. All this info comes in an excellent roundup on the shape of the current construction economy over at Equipment Today. Rod Dickens called on economists from the Associated Builders and Contractors, the National Association of Home Builders, the Portland Cement Association, the Associated General Contractors of America, and IHS Global Insight. Take the forecasts as you will, but the remarks on the current status of the market are as informed as any report card you’ll likely find. The full rundown is here.

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

The coming conflict between two Separate environmental issues.

The coming conflict between two separate environmental issues.

From the July 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Correction appended March 2, 2015.

People often equate energy efficiency with environmental sensitivity, but a recent trend in LED lighting, namely, the uptick in what’s known as blue-rich white light, has the potential to divorce these goals and put the lighting industry on a collision course with those aiming to design healthful public spaces.

Over the past several years, an increasing number of LED manufacturers are turning to blue-emitting diodes, which are coated with phosphor to produce a clean, white light. Blue LEDs can handle higher-than-average power densities, which greatly increase efficiency. The technology is so revolutionary that the physicists who developed it received the Nobel Prize. But blue LEDs also pose a threat to the welfare of wildlife and human beings.

Light in the blue spectrum (between 460 and 480 nanometers) isn’t bad during the day; in fact, it helps our bodies produce the hormone serotonin. At night, however, it prevents our bodies from producing another hormone, melatonin, which regulates sleep. According to the National Cancer Institute, a lack of melatonin may contribute to breast cancer in women. Blue light also has been shown to disrupt animals’ circadian rhythms, which mimic our own, and cause adverse effects in animal behavior. (more…)

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BY THOMAS CHRISTOPHER

Unmown "Habiturf" looks soft and slightly tousled. Photo: Mark Simmons, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Unmown “Habiturf” looks soft and slightly tousled. Photo: Mark Simmons, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

From the May 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Clipped-grass turf is the most heavily used material in most American landscapes. The NASA researcher Cristina Milesi used satellite imagery to estimate that lawn occupies some 49,000 square miles of the United States, and it’s increasing by roughly 600 square miles per year, according to a study conducted by Paul Robbins and Trevor Birkenholtz of Ohio State University’s Department of Geography.

Yet, since the 1950s, landscape architects have typically ceded decisions concerning this vast area to turf-industry technicians. Turf became an industrial product after World War II. Which grass to use was dictated by mowers, sprayers, blowers, and spreaders, and choices were limited to a very few varieties of grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) and hybrid Bermuda grasses (Cynodon spp.), that lent themselves to chemical maintenance. Today, though, new alternatives are emerging that landscape architects can use to create healthier and more aesthetically dynamic models for what a domestic grassland can be—a source of environmental renewal rather than an ecological villain. It will also please the increasing numbers of clients who dislike not only the sterile monotony of conventional turf and its high maintenance costs, but also, more critical, the threat that the required maintenance chemicals pose to kids, animals, and communities.

(more…)

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