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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When Jaz Bonnin, Heidi Brandow, Elsa Hoover, and Zoë Toledo walked through the doors of Harvard University’s Gund Hall, they weren’t aware they were making history. The women arrived at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) with diverse backgrounds and wide-ranging interests, from affordable housing to the spatialization of resource extraction. Still, the women had one thing in common: heritage that stretches back to well before Western contact. Brandow is Diné and Kanaka Maoli (known more commonly as Navajo and Native Hawaiian); Toledo is Diné; Hoover, of mixed Anishinabe and Finnish heritage; and Bonnin, of mixed heritage that includes Yankton Sioux and Blackfoot.

The students’ arrival at the GSD in fall 2019 marked the first time in the school’s nearly 100-year history that four students of Native ancestry have been enrolled at the same time. It’s an illustration of the near-total absence of Indigenous voices within the design and planning professions. For Brandow, a painter who is pursuing a master’s degree in art, design, and the public domain, such experiences are all too common. “As a Native person, being at Harvard, or anything you do, you accept that you’re probably going to be the first, or one of a handful of people,” she says. “You accept that Harvard is 500 years behind on this. But you also recognize that’s an opportunity to get the work done. To create these spaces, to increase visibility, to make this declaration of our presence and the necessity of more recruitment of Indigenous people.” (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

The movement for well-designed outdoor classrooms gets a push from the pandemic.

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When students returned to Portland Public Schools in Maine this fall, they did so in classrooms that looked at least somewhat like what many outdoor learning advocates have long envisioned: rings of tree stumps arranged in a forest clearing, chairs spread across grassy lawns, upturned buckets placed between raised garden beds. These makeshift learning spaces were a response not to the overwhelming evidence that outdoor education improves health and academic performance, but to the need to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

Caught between the risks of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of online learning, school administrators have embraced outdoor learning at an unprecedented pace. In the past, explains Sashie Misner, ASLA, a landscape architect and volunteer with Portland’s Rapid Response Outdoor Classroom Initiative, outdoor classroom projects “have been bottom up, working with a teacher who is interested in doing this. So you’re trying to convince the administration. Now, it’s the administration saying, ‘We really need this.’ So it’s a whole different thing, and you have to grab it and push it as far as you can.”

Misner is one of 21 volunteers helping schools identify potential locations for outdoor classrooms and think through issues such as access, acoustics, and shade. The pro bono effort, which is coordinated by the Portland Society for Architecture and the longtime green schoolyards advocate Laura Newman, was launched in July 2020 and is part of a larger, nationwide mobilization led by Green Schoolyards America.

(more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

The Custer Beacon is the result of a years-long visioning process led by local landscape architects.

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

“It’s so incredibly simple, you almost wouldn’t recognize it as landscape architecture,” Tanya Olson, ASLA, a cofounder of Tallgrass Landscape Architecture, says of her firm’s latest project, the Custer Beacon. “And that’s why it’s kind of interesting, because we were involved for years before it got built.”

The Beacon, as it’s known, is a concert hall and “canteen” in Custer, South Dakota, a town of approximately 1,900 people situated in the far west part of the state in the scenic Black Hills. Opened in 2019, the venue occupies a pair of converted metal warehouses located a block off Custer’s main street, Mt. Rushmore Road. Custer is also Tallgrass’s home base, which gives the firm a unique understanding of the culture and rhythms of a small town that is dependent on summer tourism. (more…)

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BY KAMILA GRIGO

Copenhagen’s stormwater detention roads are everything but.

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

As part of its climate change and urban flood mitigation strategy, Copenhagen aims to build 300 stormwater management projects over the next 20 to 30 years. Among the projects are a series of detention roads, entire streets redesigned to convey and detain rainwater locally to relieve the existing storm sewer system. It’s an ambitious target that reflects the city’s understanding that investment in these projects is a way of managing greater long-term risk to city infrastructure while providing citizens with multifunctional spaces in the short term.

The Sankt Kjelds Square and Bryggervangen by SLA is a pilot of the detention road concept. Completed in 2019, it comprises the entirety of the 2,300-foot-long Bryggervangen road and Sankt Kjelds Square, the roundabout in the middle. “It’s quite a simple project,” says Bjørn Ginman, a project director at SLA, who says that the fundamental concept is about seeing water move through the site. Rain gardens lining the pedestrian rights-of-way receive rainwater from sidewalks and the roofs of adjacent residential buildings, while road runoff is directed into larger infiltration ponds at the roundabout and at intersections, though not before an in-ground diverter (one of the municipality’s first applications in a public road context) deals with the most polluted first flush. (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

A student project reveals the paradoxes often embedded in public policy.

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Economic and environmental policies have a direct impact on the formation and maintenance of landscapes, but it can often take years for those impacts to be felt, or for a particular policy’s spatial consequences to be revealed. A recent student design research project attempts to make those implications more clearly and immediately visible.

The project On Riven Land by then-University of Toronto MLA candidate Aaron Hernandez, the winner of this year’s CELA Student Award for Creative Scholarship, analyzed land use within and adjacent to Ontario’s Rouge National Urban Park, a five-year-old park on the outskirts of Toronto. The project visualized the conflicts embedded in some of the park’s stated policy aims, namely the “maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity” as outlined in the Rouge National Urban Park Act. (more…)

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BY KIM O’CONNELL

With playgrounds off limits, Philadelphia’s Studio Ludo gets creative for low-income families.

FROM THE AUGUST 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In downtown Philadelphia, a colorful city development project is under way. The buildings are bright blue and orange, the gabled roofs patterned with triangles and chevrons. The front doors are sunflower yellow, and residents seem happy and content—at least as content as little plastic dinosaurs can be.

The project is Tube Town, a “city” made of toilet paper tubes, construction paper, markers, and glue. Tube Town is one of Studio Ludo’s new Play Packs, a resource created for families during the COVID-19 crisis, and the brainchild of the firm’s executive director, Meghan Talarowski, ASLA. In addition to providing 30 downloadable play and craft projects online—all imaginatively staged and photographed, as with the addition of the little dinos—the firm has worked with local community organizations to distribute play materials to families in need. “We thought, since we’re not doing outside projects right now, how do we bring play to families?” Talarowski says. (more…)

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BY MADELINE BODIN

Work on the nation’s most toxic sites has slowed.

FROM THE JULY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The nation’s most complex and extensive toxic waste sites are designated Superfund sites and have their cleanup overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For landscape architects, Superfund sites are complex problems, says Julie Bargmann, ASLA, a professor at the University of Virginia and the principal of D.I.R.T. Studio, a landscape architecture firm with several Superfund site projects in its portfolio. The work takes years to complete, and local stakeholders often struggle with strong, conflicting emotions, she says.

If you hear less about Superfund sites these days, it may be because less work is being done. (more…)

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