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Archive for the ‘PLANNING’ Category

BY BRAULIO AGNESE

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After four decades, a prominent reminder of the effects of urban renewal in the nation’s capital is set to vanish.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

All cities bear scars, evidence of past planning decisions, made with the best of intentions, that affect urban space in negative ways over the following decades. For more than 40 years, Washington, D.C.’s northwest quadrant has suffered a particularly prominent one where the District’s downtown meets the Capitol Hill neighborhood to the east: A three-block-long, 200-foot-wide opening above the depressed Center Leg Freeway (I-395), which runs beneath the nation’s capital from New York Avenue down to the Southeast Freeway (I-695).

The opening—bounded by Massachusetts Avenue to the north, E Street to the south, 2nd Street on the east, and a handful of buildings along 3rd Street—is a remnant of the nationwide mid-20th-century effort to revitalize cities by bringing high-speed, multilane highways around and through urban cores. Extensive plans for the District included an interstate loop within the city that would stretch from the west end of the National Mall to the Anacostia River on the east. The eight-lane Center Leg Freeway, which skirts along the U.S. Capitol’s west side, was the second segment built.

North of Constitution Avenue, the section of D.C. the freeway would pass through was a largely black and mixed-European working-class neighborhood that had been in long decline as the city suffered from white flight and economic woes. (Partly in response to the District’s difficulties, a complete reorganization of local government in 1967 gave D.C. semiautonomous rule with its first mayor and City Council.) The area was considered blighted, and there was little effort to resist the project. But seven years after construction on the Center Leg Freeway began, (more…)

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BY MARK HOUGH, FASLA

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Ten Eyck Landscape Architects reimagines the campus at the University of Texas at El Paso.

FROM THE JANUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE

Christine Ten Eyck, FASLA, recalls driving across Arizona in the summer of 2012, talking on the phone with one of her clients at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). It was about a dream project: the opportunity to redesign the landscape of a historic university and create a major open space as its ceremonial heart. On the call, she was making the case to Greg McNicol, the school’s associate vice president for facilities management, that her firm, Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, based in Austin, Texas, should lead the project rather than be subconsultant to an architecture firm as had been the plan. Her argument was simple: The scope of the work was almost entirely landscape architecture.

Ten Eyck successfully persuaded administrators to give her firm the job, even though they were skeptical at first that a landscape architect could lead such a complex project. Notable among the people she won over was Diana Natalicio, who had been hired as UTEP’s first female president in 1988. During her tenure, (more…)

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In Sic Erat Scriptum, landscape architect and filmmaker Evan Mather argues that the Interstate Highway System that has reshaped the nation through epochal public works is not the project of technocratic 20th century humanist ambition, but something far more ancient and out of our control. Through fictionalized Grand Junction Bible College landscape urbanism instructor Melvin McNally (portrayed by Mather), his short film makes the pop-science case that the interstate is really the result of “biomigratory ecology rooted in ancient habitats and dominions.” That is, these roads follow dinosaur trails.

The video’s grainy film quality gives it an air of archival mystique that contrasts with sharp overlay maps of transit corridors throughout the millennia. Accelerated footage of miles of highway whirring past give way to fictionalized newspaper pages filled with dummy text in Latin telling of “Devil Lizards” unearthed during road construction.

There’s the interstate, which was preceded by the early 20th century highway system, which followed railroad lines. These lined up with pioneer wagon trails, themselves mapped to Native American trails, whose only purpose was to follow large mammal migratory patterns.  And concentrations of fossils found in clusters along these paths indicate these creatures were lured by “ancient dinosaur watering holes,” McNally says. It sounds like the prologue to a dusty paperback science fiction novel from the late 1950s. But broken down step by step, it seems reasonable. Foregrounded in acknowledgment of the Anthropocene age (the period of history where human activity is the strongest force affecting planetary ecosystems and geology), it questions whether we’re really writing our own novel, or instead cribbing notes from a story told long, long ago.

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The artist Josh Begley’s Best of Luck with the Wall video turns the 1,954-mile continent-spanning journey across the United States–Mexico border into a seven-minute tone poem. The border mostly exists in our lives as a contested political abstraction. But it’s an actual place, and even as the video races across the landscape (stitched together from 200,000 satellite images), viewers can see towns nestled up against the demarcation, agricultural fields in neat rows and wide circles, and hundreds of miles of the Rio Grande River, all set to a spare, jangling score. The politics of the day has brought the border into everyone’s living room, but a concise portrait of what the border actually is will still remain a cursory and ephemeral thing.

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REVIEWED BY GALE FULTON, ASLA

Landscape Architecture and Digital Technologies: Re-Conceptualising Design and Making

From the October 2016 Issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine

 

Warning: possible confirmation bias ahead.

One of the most perplexing aspects of landscape architecture education and practice that I’ve encountered is what I’ll grossly refer to here as representation. In the nearly two decades that I’ve been a student, professional, or involved in some capacity with teaching at the university level, I can think of no other domain as consistently polarizing than the critically important area of how landscape architects generate and communicate their ideas. Perhaps the most pernicious aspect of this issue is the ongoing divide between digital and analog processes—using the computer versus hand drawing. At first glance, one may likely assume this issue to simply be generational—older generations of designers were not educated in the use of the computer and so are less accepting of it than of those techniques and media with which they were trained. But, surprisingly, there seems to be a continued skepticism or distancing from advanced computational processes even by those of the postdigital generations, which is much more troubling given that these will be the future leaders of the discipline, and, as the authors of this book so effectively demonstrate, not embracing the digital in a robust way at this point significantly reduces the potential of the discipline to have the type of impact it aspires to have.

Landscape Architecture and Digital Technologies: Re-Conceptualising Design and Making, by Jillian Walliss and Heike Rahmann, both academics based in Australia, is a well-reasoned, well-written, and at times polemical book. It critiques landscape architecture’s failure to more fully embrace the potentials of digital media. It educates readers about the ways designers are using sophisticated digital processes right now in very real professional and academic projects and research. And it aspires for landscape architecture to leverage digital technology (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

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A recent design competition promised novel ideas for vacant land in New Orleans. It ended with some very unhappy participants.

 

From the October 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine

On Friday, March 6, 2015, the city of New Orleans posted more than 1,700 properties online and began auctioning them off. Most were vacant lots. The city was hoping to attract investors who could put these properties back into circulation, so to speak, in part to raise tax revenue and also to continue chipping away at the scourge of blight that had afflicted New Orleans since well before Hurricane Katrina.

Today, somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 lots sit vacant in New Orleans, about the same number as before the levees collapsed but significantly fewer than the 43,000 tallied in 2010. The city has employed a number of strategies to bring that number down, (more…)

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At LAM this month, we’re deep into Louisiana—with a jog over to the Mississippi Delta—as we get ready to head to New Orleans, where several thousand landscape architects and our friends will be gathered for ASLA’s Annual Meeting & EXPO from October 21 to 24. We’re looking at the state from many angles. So much progress has been made in New Orleans since 2005’s life-altering blow from Hurricane Katrina, it can be hard to get a clear picture as the city reconstitutes itself.

To lead things off, Elizabeth Mossop, ASLA, a practitioner and professor long based in New Orleans, captures the strategy for new water infrastructure, among other systems, in the city. The transformation in large-scale thinking alone is bracing, centered on recognizing water as the city’s greatest asset rather than its greatest threat. Another effort at structural change in New Orleans, the Future Ground competition, sought ways to deal with the expanses of vacant urban land, post-Katrina. Timothy Schuler, a LAM contributing editor, reports on the difficulty of reprogramming such a vastly changed environment and the disillusion of several design teams named finalists by the sponsors, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority and the Van Alen Institute. Farther south in Louisiana’s coastal zone, the residents of Isle de Jean Charles—considered to be among the first climate change refugees in the United States—are facing the simultaneous threats of sea-level rise and land loss. Brian Barth visited the community to learn how the New Orleans landscape architecture firm Evans + Lighter is helping residents manage a relocation effort inland, for which the federal government has awarded $48 million. Our cover story this month, by Brett Anderson of the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, is about the work of Forbes Lipschitz, ASLA, on the landscapes of catfish farms in the Mississippi Delta region. The region’s aquaculture holds benefits beyond providing fish to dinner tables. It’s economically important to a region where poverty rates are high, and it also serves as feeding grounds for migratory birds. Among landscape architects in Louisiana, perhaps none are so recognized for knowledge of its atmosphere as Jeffrey Carbo, FASLA. LAM staff writer Katarina Katsma, ASLA, visits three sites Carbo and his firm have designed to learn what he sees between the lines of his state.

There is much more in the Now section and other departments. And in the Back, don’t miss the critique Thaïsa Way, ASLA, delivers of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale or the review Gale Fulton, ASLA, writes of Landscape Architecture and Digital Technologies, by Jillian Walliss and Heike Rahmann. See you in New Orleans! The full table of contents for October 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 October articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “New Orleans Owns Its Water,” H+N+S Landscape Architects; “Grounded,” New Orleans Redevelopment Authority; “Let’s Beat It,” Julie Dermansky; “Catch of the Day,” Forbes Lipschitz, ASLA, and Justine Holzman, Associate ASLA; “Homing Instincts,” Chipper Hatter; “Life and Limb,” LandDesign/Denise Retallack; “Open Invitation,” Dredge Research Collaborative and Public Lab; “Water All Over Again,” Courtesy CPEX.

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