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Archive for the ‘RECREATION’ Category

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 ZACH MORTICE

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s plan for the Hirshhorn’s Sculpture Garden. Image courtesy Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

At the Hirshhorn, a preservation row tests the bounds of unity between building and landscape.

 

The Hirshhorn Museum’s Sculpture Garden is a cloistered 1.5-acre art landscape just across Jefferson Drive SW from the museum. Stepped into the earth and filled with modern sculpture arranged in intimate outdoor rooms, it’s a definitive change of pace from the broad civic expanse of the National Mall, though no less significant as it’s the only Smithsonian entity with “Sculpture Garden” in its official name, per the law that established the institution.

The sculpture garden was originally designed by the Hirshhorn Museum’s architect, Gordon Bunshaft. His initial sculpture garden was a harsh, wide expanse of hardscape and gravel when it opened in 1974, centered on a 60-foot-wide rectangular reflecting pool. In 1977 the Smithsonian enlisted Lester Collins to soften the landscape and make it more hospitable, especially during Washington, D.C.’s sweltering summers. When the new landscape opened in 1981, it was with additional lawn and shade cover recessed into the ground—a more layered experience of concrete walls that cordoned off and defined outdoor rooms for the quiet contemplation of sculpture. Collins selected trees with an intense sculptural presence (weeping willows, weeping beeches, ginkgoes, dawn redwoods) and was lauded for his progressively accessible design, nearly a decade before the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

But the museum’s new plan for a revised landscape by the artist and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto is drawing the attention of landscape advocates who charge that the changes proposed will alter the relationship between the landscape and Bunshaft’s monumental ring of aggregate concrete, two elements of the museum campus that were conceived as one. With the new landscape, the Hirshhorn (the staff is quick to point out that only 15 percent of museum visitors make a visit to the sculpture garden) hopes to offer art lovers more programmatic flexibility in the garden and the chance to host larger, more performance-driven events. (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 LISA OWENS VIANI

Congress puts permanent cash behind the Land and Water Conservation Fund and improvements to national parks. C-SPAN screen capture by LAM.

FROM THE UPCOMING SEPTEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

On July 22, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Great American Outdoors Act, a milestone law to lock in permanent federal funding for public lands and parks. President Trump signed the measure August 4, having been persuaded several months ago to support it by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, who is up for re-election this year. On the day the House passed the Senate’s version of the bill, approved in June, by a vote of 310 to 107, the president said on Twitter: “We must protect our National Parks for our children and grandchildren. I am calling on the House to pass the GREAT AMERICAN OUTDOORS ACT today. Thanks @SenCoryGardner and @SteveDaines for all your work on this HISTORIC BILL!”

In 1964, back in the days of broader bipartisanship than it currently manages, Congress passed the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), with the goal of safeguarding the country’s natural resources by using revenues from offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction activities. Every year, $900 million was supposed to pour into the fund to protect national parks and forests, waterways, and wildlife refuges, and to provide matching grants for state and local parks and recreation projects. But since its inception, the fund has expired twice and has had to be reauthorized repeatedly. It has never been fully funded, with the exception of two years during the Clinton administration. “It was considered a win to get even half of it,” says Daniel Hart, ASLA’s federal government affairs manager.

In 2019, the LWCF finally received permanent reauthorization, giving resource managers and community planners cause for celebration. But the reauthorization did not include a permanent cash flow, meaning that funding would continue to be a challenge as it would depend on repeating rounds of appropriations, which were not always assured. Now the Great American Outdoors Act has remedied the problem by permanently funding the LWCF. (more…)

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TEXT BY SARAH COWLES / PHOTOGRAPHY BY DINA OGANOVA

The hidden dimensions of a city during the COVID-19 pandemic.

FROM THE JULY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In the middle of March, I join a friend for a trip to Tbilisi National Park, one of Georgia’s 15 national parks, and a dense and parallactic forest of mossy Fagus orientalis, Ilex colchica, and Taxus baccata. We search the red-brown carpet for spring flowers: purple Primula vulgaris, chartreuse Helleborus caucasicus, and Petasites albus. We drive through rain showers to the town of Tianeti; we observe highway workers gather under marshrutka (bus) shelters for birzha, the ritual sharing of strong spirits and snacks.

“That does not look like social distancing,” I tell my friend.

We stop at the café in Tianeti village. “Can we get dambal khacho?” I ask. It’s a local mountain blue cheese, served warm on hot bread with ghee. “Shansi ara, axali kanoni!” (No chance, new law!) She brings takeaway instant coffee and cream puffs to the sidewalk.

As we descend the congested Georgian Military Highway in the Aragvi valley toward Tbilisi, hundreds of trucks straddle the verge and pavement, idled cargoes of produce and mineral water from Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia. Drivers sleep, piss, pace, and make repairs; the normal delays at the alpine Georgian–Russian border, now exacerbated by the crisis. I dodge the oncoming cars and curse. On this highway, there’s no margin of error, no guardrails; driving is all wit, no wisdom.

“Don’t go out unless absolutely necessary. If you have a high fever and cough, consult a doctor. We wish you health!” reads an SMS from Mtavroba (the Georgian government). The streets are already empty of cars; only the buzz of mopeds prevails.

In Tbilisi, it is Gizhi Marti (crazy March); the lion and the lamb are fighting every day. Cold Caucasus winds slice the plateaus at night. I wake to silence and snow. Had the city cooled in the slowdown? With fewer cars and a decrease in air pollution, is there now new space in the atmosphere for precipitation? On the news, bearded monks in black Ford F-350s and Toyota Land Cruiser Prados circle Republic Square, scattering holy water in the slush to combat the virus; the first salvo in a split-screen battle over containment and cure, between faith and science, the church and the state. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The American Gardens stamps. Image courtesy the U.S. Postal Service.

A new series of stamps celebrates the diversity of public gardens.

 

Showcasing the diversity of American landscapes, past legacies of cultural stewardship, and the skills of generations of landscape architects, the U.S. Postal Service recently released the “American Gardens” stamp series, commemorating 10 landmark gardens across the nation. The gardens, many of them created by historically significant designers and makers, raise the visibility of landscape design in the American cultural realm by putting them into our hands and mailboxes every day, everywhere. The stamps were designed by Ethel Kessler and feature photos by Allen Rokach, a former director of photography at the New York Botanical Garden.

The stamps are a reminder of the vital role the outdoors offers during the COVID-19 quarantine, says U.S. Postal Service Director of Stamp Services Bill Gicker. “Time spent in nature, especially a beautiful and cared for garden landscape, can be very uplifting and rejuvenating—just what many people can use at this time,” he says. (more…)

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