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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.

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

FROM THE MARCH 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

On August 29, 2005, the world saw what happened when a levee failed. A Category 3 hurricane slammed the Gulf Coast, 169 linear miles of federally constructed levees collapsed, and nearly 80 percent of New Orleans flooded, killing almost 1,000 people, the majority of them African American and over the age of 65. It was a wake-up call not just for New Orleanians but for lawmakers 2,000 miles away in California, who worried about their own state’s intricate system of ancient levees, which hold back the waters of the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta.

Covering an area the size of Rhode Island, the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta is an inland delta formed by the confluence of five major waterways, including the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. It stretches from just east of the San Francisco Bay north to Sacramento and south to Stockton and drains more than 50 percent of the state of California. It is also a highly engineered landscape, made up of winding canals, earthen levees, and terraced agricultural fields. Roads follow the sinuous levees, forming what, from the air, appears as a convoluted puzzle pieced together over eons by a deranged dissectologist.

The delta’s present-day morphology is the product of one of the largest land reclamation projects in U.S. history. In the late 19th century, farmers and land speculators drained more than 500,000 acres of wetlands in the delta, using the dredge material—much of it the spoils of industrial gold mining—to build human-made islands. In the 20th century, water conveyance projects such as the California State Water Project further severed the relationship between delta wildlife and its unique hydrology. “There is nothing about the delta that is like what it used to be,” explains Brett Milligan, an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of California, Davis, and a cofounder of the Dredge Research Collaborative. “The way water flows through it is entirely different. The channels have been widened; all the dendritic channels have been cut off. There’s no floodplain at all.” (more…)

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The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

Stewart.

From “The Big Deal” by Jared Brey in the March 2021 issue, about Stewart’s mixed-use plans for an 800-acre, 19th-century hospital district in North Carolina.

“Broughton sketchbook.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 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.

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The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

Image by Florence Low for California Department of Water Resources.

From “Toward Reclamation” in the March 2021 issue by Timothy A. Schuler, about how federal recognition of a critical ecosystem in California where five waterways collide can maintain the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta’s cultural heritage and ecological integrity.

“Flooded fields on the delta.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 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.

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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.

BY KATHARINE LOGAN

FROM THE JANUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Sourberry, red willow, redbud, sedge: These are some of the plants native to the meadows and creek sides of Mariposa County, at the mouth of California’s Yosemite Valley, where for thousands of years the women of the Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation have woven them into baskets—for gathering food, for cradling infants high and safe while the women work, and for receiving babies as they’re born.

Most recently, Miwuk basketry is the focus of a public art installation helping to inform Sacramento-based Atlas Lab’s development of a Creative Placemaking Master Plan for Mariposa County. As a demonstration project to invite community input while broadening perceptions of the possibilities for public art, the temporary installation is located beside a footbridge crossing Mariposa Creek, where once-plentiful native plants are now struggling in a landscape transformed by settlement. “The strength we have as landscape architects is to reveal these hidden histories,” says Atlas Lab’s founder and principal Kimberly Garza, ASLA. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Wheeling, West Virginia. Photo by Rebecca Kiger.

A landscape architect’s roots in Appalachia are the source for a new project from American Roundtable.

 

Appalachia Rising begins with a simple prompt for a place that’s been exploited and maligned for much of its modern history: “We can start by listening to what the people of West Virginia are interesting in seeing in the future.”

Nina Chase, ASLA, is the editor of Appalachia Rising, and what follows is both design document and policy paper, and part of the final project for the Architectural League’s American Roundtable series, which is focused on better futures for small and medium-sized towns. American Roundtable was supported by the Graham Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and Chase (a cofounder of the landscape architecture and urban design firm Merritt Chase and a West Virginia native) will host a presentation on January 27 on the team’s findings along with several of the contributors. In addition to Chase, the Appalachia Rising team consists of journalists, academic researchers, photographers, and documentary filmmakers, each working to “understand communities through their land and people and the ways in which the two have interacted to make place,” according to the introduction by the American Roundtable project director Nicholas Anderson. Each of the nine reports commissioned by the Architectural League is arrayed across five themes (public space, health, work and economy, infrastructure, and environment) to better enable comparisons across the nine regions studied for the project. Beginning with Appalachia Rising, each multimedia report will be available online. Chase and contributors Caroline Filice Smith and Elaine McMillion Sheldon will present their research on January 27 in a webinar at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. (more…)

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This fall, LAM will be highlighting professional and student winners from the 2020 ASLA Awards by asking designers to dive deep into one image from their winning project.

Peat/Land: Strategies for Restoration, Design, and Planning of North Carolina Peatlands, by Madalyn Baldwin, North Carolina State University, Student Analysis and Planning Honor Award.

“Paludiculture isn’t a well-known concept, but I only wanted to dedicate one graphic to introducing and explaining it, so the aim of creating this graphic was to fit in as much information as possible while trying to keep it legible. My goals were to create a graphic narrative that provided a definition and overview of the concept, explain the existing agricultural conditions and spatial relationship to peatland as well as what is produced here, give specific examples of crops that could be produced by adopting paludiculture practices, and use icons introduced earlier in the project to reference the specific restoration strategies and steps toward implementation. Overall, I was hoping this graphic would read as an infographic for paludiculture, answering the following questions: What is it, how and where can it be implemented or adopted, and what are the benefits?

Madalyn Baldwin, Student ASLA

 

Peat—decomposed plant matter that accumulates in boggy landscapes—sequesters a large proportion of the world’s carbon compared to its relatively small percentage of coverage, yet it is often used for energy production or simply drained to convert peatland to farmland. What if peatland were viewed less as an agricultural impediment than a climate-restorative opportunity? That’s the question addressed in this study of Fair Bluff, North Carolina, which was built on drained peatland, and was subjected to heavy flooding in recent hurricanes. By relocating Fair Bluff’s downtown from its current low-elevation site to higher ground, residents would gain a central peat park that would celebrate the region’s high water table while embracing better climate resilience that aligns with the disaster recovery plan. Here, innovative strategies for monetizing carbon storage would encourage preservation and restoration of peatlands, with increased public access and education programs to build visibility and instill the value of this natural resource. Encouraging paludiculture (wetlands agriculture) would promote peatland regrowth, and the new public park would offer tangible and long-term ecological benefit to residents in the region.

—Haniya Rae

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This fall, LAM will be highlighting professional and student winners from the 2020 ASLA Awards by asking designers to dive deep into one image from their winning project.

The Landscape of an Agreement: The Role of Regional and Geopolitical Landscape, Agriculture, and Religion in a Future Peace Agreement Between Palestine and Israel, by shelter_expanse, Professional Analysis and Planning Honor Award.

 

Image courtesy shelter_expanse.

“In our work we mostly try to investigate the relationships between people based on the land. We hope this image, in the form [of an] aerial panorama (like those of Heinrich Berann), succeeds in showing this by detailing two entangled populations making clear actions over the land, thus shaping their life and future. It is the landscape that delineates the ground for actions, the Judaean Desert at the foreground, and the Jerusalem Mountains at the back.”

“We always believe landscape can and must take a larger responsibility in society, toward greater equality and justice, with communal and spiritual aspects. But we were still surprised to find to what extent this is possible if one addresses the critical issues and sites with the right tools. In a region cultivated for thousands of years, landscape plays an enormous geopolitical role: People pray, live, and die for it. In a world torn by health and environmental crises, economic and political inequalities, we must come out into the land; leave behind the boutique work for a while. It should be based on a clear and universal set of principles.”

 —Matanya Sack, International ASLA, and Uri Reicher of shelter_expanse

 

The Palestinian–Israeli conflict in the West Bank is one of the world’s thorniest territorial disputes. The firm shelter_expanse, commissioned by Peace Now to look at the situation through the lens of landscape architecture, shows how considerations of topology, land use, and future development can inform negotiations by policy makers and analysts. The design team created a potential solution to the complex patchwork of overlapping claims based on its analysis of the region’s developed territories, agricultural lands, nature reserves, and heritage sites. Providing useful new data in the course of its research, the team created detailed maps of developed areas, turning up new communities not previously recorded. The resulting proposal is based on a vision for long-term stability and growth of a separate Palestinian nation and makes recommendations for specific land swaps between Israel and Palestine. The jury took note of the sensitive approach to the region, where “fights over ownership often neglect realities of the land itself,” and “the ability to de-settle land will hold lessons for flood-prone cities that face the prospect of retreat.”

—Lydia Lee

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