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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

A projector and some creative programming make a way for landscape architecture students to connect safely.

FROM THE MAY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

More than a year into remote learning, Zoom has proven itself to be an adequate stopgap for basic instruction in university classrooms. Many design students even have benefited from the platform’s ability to collapse distance, making it possible to engage with students, guest lecturers, and critics from anywhere. Where Zoom is woefully insufficient, says Roberto Rovira, ASLA, the chair of the landscape architecture department at the Florida International University (FIU) School of Architecture (SOA), is in enabling the kinds of side conversations and ambient observations that are so much a part of the studio experience. “Those incidental conversations, the peripheral awareness of how someone is solving something, [are] why we have studio environments in the first place,” he says. (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

National echoes underscore the power of a memorial to the victims of a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona.

FROM THE APRIL 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Since at least the 1870s, Tucson’s El Presidio Plaza, located between the Pima County Superior Court and Tucson City Hall, has been a place of gathering, commemoration, and civic participation. Numerous monuments and memorials—to the original presidio, to veterans of World War II, to John F. Kennedy—dot the mostly paved plaza. The latest, and largest, memorial is titled The Embrace, and it commemorates the mass shooting on January 8, 2011, in which then-Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot and six people, including a federal judge, were killed.

Designed by the Los Angeles-based architecture and landscape firm Chee Salette with the visual artist Rebeca Méndez, the memorial uses the language of landscape to create spaces of reflection while also preserving the historic civic axis between the courthouse and city hall. It consists of a mirrored pair of angular reflecting pools protected by rising berms that feature bands of Mt. Moriah stone and native Sonoran plantings. In the spaces created by the berms, which extend toward one another like open arms, curved steel walls tell the story of the shooting through symbols rather than a traditional narrative. From a distance, the tapered landforms frame the entrance to the courthouse. “It’s like a collar, framing the face,” says Tina Chee, ASLA, who runs the firm with her husband, Marc Salette. (more…)

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BY ALEX BOZIKOVIC

Support grows for a proposal to convert Toronto’s University Avenue into a park.

FROM THE MARCH 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

The center of Toronto, a city of almost three million, is becoming increasingly crowded. So how can the city answer the need for public space? By remaking streets. A scheme by the landscape architects PUBLIC WORK proposes converting half of Toronto’s University Avenue into a linear park, and the idea has gained momentum.

In November, two not-for-profit organizations, Evergreen and the Michael Young Family Foundation, unveiled the proposal, called University Park, to the public. Adam Nicklin, a cofounder and principal at PUBLIC WORK, says the design knits together a system of existing green spaces into a cohesive whole. “It’s a chance to reimagine a great street which doesn’t perform its highest civic function,” he says, and create “a 90-acre system of parks right in the heart of the city.” (more…)

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BY BRIAN FRYER

The Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation moves closer to permanently memorializing historic injury in Idaho.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

For centuries, it was tradition each January for several thousand members of the nomadic Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation to gather at a bend in the Bear River near the borders of Idaho and Utah. Tribal leader Darren Parry says the Shoshone called the place Boa Ogoi. Bands of the tribe would share stories, use the natural hot springs, and perform the “warm dance” to hasten the coming of spring.

In the mid-1800s, as more settlers came to the area now known as Cache Valley, there were intermittent conflicts with the Indigenous people there. On January 29, 1863, a detachment of the U.S. Army Cavalry attacked a group of Shoshone that had remained at Boa Ogoi after the annual gathering, killing nearly 400 men, women, and children in one of the largest mass murders of Native Americans in the United States. (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

In Colorado, outdoor dining concepts are grounded in pragmatism—and the latest public health research.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Cities around the country have held design competitions over the past several months, inviting ideas from designers and planners for how to “winterize” outdoor dining. Many of the resulting concepts, however, have been criticized for being impractical or too expensive, partially because of the vacuum created by the typical competition process, in which design teams receive a brief and proceed with limited feedback.

A program run by the state of Colorado in partnership with the Colorado Restaurant Association and the Colorado Restaurant Foundation offers an alternative model. Launched in October, the program has two components. The first is a $1.8 million pot made up of public and private funds that is available to locally owned restaurants (corporate-owned chains are not eligible). The second is a series of design concepts developed for specific spatial conditions, such as sidewalks, parking stalls, closed streets, and rooftops. Where the Colorado initiative diverges from a design competition is in its collaborative and interdisciplinary nature. Each concept was developed during a one-day charrette by a team of landscape architects, architects, and engineers, as well as public health experts, restaurateurs, general contractors, product suppliers, and government officials, all of whom were grouped and assigned one of nine pre-identified conditions by the event organizers. (more…)

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BY JARED BREY

A new grant funds an effort to catalog the commemorative landscape.

FROM THE JANUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In 2017, Karyn Olivier, a Philadelphia-based artist and associate professor of sculpture at Temple University, wrapped a 20-foot-high monument to a minor Revolutionary War battle in her neighborhood park in mirrored acrylic. It reflected back the image of whoever walked past it. It amplified a nearby sculpture of the 17th-century abolitionist Francis Daniel Pastorius. At certain angles, it disappeared altogether. Olivier was hoping the project would help her neighbors see the park in a new way, and that it would say something about “the fragmentary nature of how history is revealed to us.”

“How do we make monuments porous? How do we make them malleable?” Olivier asks. “What does it mean for me to become the monument?”

Olivier’s piece was part of a citywide exhibition, curated by the Philadelphia-based public art and history studio Monument Lab, which grew out of the work of Paul Farber and Ken Lum, two fine arts faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design. The show asked Philadelphians to think about what would make an appropriate monument for the contemporary city. The exhibition unexpectedly coincided with the infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which formed partly in opposition to the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. In the three and a half years since, the conversation about America’s monuments—whom they commemorate, who builds them, and why—has only broadened. (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

On a cramped site, Superjacent conjures a forest and one of L.A.’s first shared streets.

FROM THE JANUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

If all goes according to plan, over the next year a forest will spring up in South Central Los Angeles on what today looks more like a desolate traffic island than a buildable city lot. The woodland is a vital part of Isla Intersections, a 54-unit supportive housing development designed by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects with the landscape architecture firm Superjacent. The dense plantings are intended as a “living lung,” strategically designed to reduce air and noise pollution by 25 and 40 percent, respectively.

“Because we’re dealing with a site that’s super urban and a freeway that is elevated, the design strategy is really to create kind of an umbrella over that site, a dome of green that will catch particulate matter before it goes into homes and people’s lungs,” explains Claire Latané, ASLA, an assistant professor of landscape architecture at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, who consulted on the project while at Studio-MLA. (more…)

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