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Archive for the ‘PRESERVATION’ Category

BY ZACH MORTICE

The most important question related to the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago’s South Side doesn’t have that much to do with its architecture.

It is instead: What kind of landscape stewardship can a presidential museum and library offer? To be located in Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted’s Jackson Park, the project already has a heap of canonical landscape history to contend with. So can the Obama library make a great park greater?

The answer is… (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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BY ZACH MORTICE

Joshua Tree National Park in California, where the park’s signature Joshua trees are threatened by climate change. Photo by Zach Mortice.

The national parks advocacy nonprofit—created by the federal government—is pushing back against the new administration on all fronts.

In the months since Donald Trump’s election, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), a nonprofit parks advocacy group, has taken aim at oil and gas drilling bills and rule changes from Republican majorities in Congress, draconian budget cut proposals from the White House, and a host of Trump-appointed agency administrators who’ll affect the health of the national park system. It’s even addressed the coarsening public rhetoric around basic civil rights granted to American citizens. These are all issues Theresa Pierno, NPCA’s president and CEO, sees as under assault by a cast of characters including climate-change deniers, pollution bystanders, and resource-extraction enthusiasts. All are newly empowered with Trump in the White House.

There’s a bill in Congress to ease rules that limit drilling for oil, gas, and minerals in national parks. And this month, LAM editor Brad McKee wrote about revisions to the Department of the Interior’s stream protection rules that make it easier for companies to dump mining waste into streams and waterways. The NPCA has opposed all of these moves.

When the Trump administration ordered the Department of the Interior (DOI), the parent agency of the National Park Service (NPS), to stop tweeting (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

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31st Street Harbor in Chicago, by Site Design Group and AECOM. Image courtesy of Rose Yuen Photography.

The Obama Foundation on January 30 announced the selection of three landscape architecture firms to work on the Obama Presidential Center on the South Side of Chicago—a nationally renowned firm, a regional Chicago powerhouse headed by a native South Sider, and a lesser-known firm that has worked on previous presidential library landscapes.

The New York-based Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the 2016 ASLA Landscape Architecture Firm Award recipient and designer of the landscape of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, will lead the group. Chicago’s Site Design Group joins the team, offering extensive experience with the Chicago Park District, which, controversially, turned over the presidential library’s site to the city so that it could be transferred to the Obama Foundation. Finally, Living Habitats, also based in Chicago, rounds out the team, having designed the green roof landscape of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Arkansas. These three firms will work with Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Interactive Design Architects on a narrow slice of land at the western edge of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s Jackson Park, the site of the 1893 World’s Fair, next to Lake Michigan. Site Design Group is a (more…)

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BY BRAULIO AGNESE

Art by Katarina Katsma, ASLA. Photo courtesy By Shenandoah National Park from Virginia [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Photo illustration by Katarina Katsma, ASLA. Photo courtesy Shenandoah National Park from Virginia [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

On Dec. 28, 2016, then-National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis signed “Director’s Order #21: Donations and Philanthropic Partnerships,” the latest update to the agency’s guidance on engagement in public–private partnerships and the appropriate acceptance of support from the private sector. Originally issued in 1998 and then revised in 2006 and 2008, the directive’s newest version received backlash from several quarters after the NPS released a draft version for a 45-day public comment period in late March 2016. (Jarvis retired from the NPS on Jan. 3, 2017. Michael Reynolds, former deputy director of operations, is serving as acting director until a permanent appointee is named.)

The draft generated a strong negative response from preservation groups, government-focused nonprofits, and corporate watchdogs, which pointed out the greatly expanded possibilities for corporate visuals (such as wraps on NPS vehicles), warned of logos on national treasures, and expressed the worry that park managers would become active solicitors for commercial sponsorships. Scenic America, devoted to preserving the “visual character of America,” partnered with Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert, a nonpartisan, nonprofit initiative for keeping “commercial culture within its proper sphere,” to spread the word about the draft. The NPS received 350 comments on the directive, 80 percent of which were negative, Commercial Alert estimated in a September letter.

In its press release announcing the finalization of the order, the NPS notes that the revised order arose from a desire to “better align the bureau with (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

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The abandoned Michigan Central Station in Detroit. Image courtesy of Zach Mortice.

In a city beset by a nearly incomparable foreclosure crisis and 20 square miles of vacant land, there’s been a growing understanding that landscape architecture and Detroit are perfect for each other. But in 2017, the city will unveil a handful of new proposals on how the discipline can grow back healthy urbanism in the Motor City.

Detroit announced early this month that, after an RFP process, it is awarding a total of $1.6 million across four project teams to plan landscape and streetscape improvements including green stormwater management and infrastructure upgrades. Each team will focus on a group of neighborhoods, (more…)

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BY ANNE RAVER, PHOTOGRAPHY BY FREDERICK CHARLES

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Preserving farmland is not enough if it doesn’t stay in the hands of farmers.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2016 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE

A gorgeous October morning in the Hudson Valley and people are out leaf peeping, but not Chris Cashen, a farmer.

Every week, on the outskirts of Hudson, 120 miles north of New York City, Cashen and his crew load about 1,300 pounds of organic vegetables—baby bok choy, salad greens, Japanese turnips, sweet potatoes, Tuscan kale—onto a truck headed for a food pantry hub in Long Island City.

The hot, dry summer meant they had to irrigate from the nearby creek, but the vegetables are beautiful and tasty.

A few miles south, Ken Migliorelli zigzags over the potholed roads between his hilly orchard in Tivoli and the flat sandy fields of his cropland in Red Hook. A Valentine’s Day freeze took out all his stone fruit this year—no peaches, nectarines, or cherries—and a hard frost in May reduced his apple crop by 30 percent. (more…)

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