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BY ZACH MORTICE

The West Bottoms Flats site is bisected by a narrow street, scaled as an intimate alley with landscaping. Image courtesy BNIM.

In Kansas City, the private sector is helping pick up the tab for green infrastructure in a new residential development.

 

Since 2010, Kansas City, Missouri, has been subject to a federal consent decree, to begin properly capturing sewage and stormwater before it flows into rivers and streams. It’s a consequence of the city’s overwhelmed combined sewer system, which covers 58 square miles. From 2002 to 2010, the system produced 1,300 illegal overflows, putting approximately 6.4 billion gallons of untreated sewage into waterways annually.

Notably, this is the first time a municipal water federal consent decree has allowed the use of green infrastructure, according to Andy Shively, a special assistant to the City Manager Troy Schulte, who works on issues relating to the consent decree. And the developer-driven West Bottoms Flats mixed-use residential complex designed by Kansas City-based BNIM is shaping up to be an influential test case for ways the private sector can grapple with public sector failure toward water quality goals.

Landscape architects at BNIM have designed the flats’ green infrastructure capacity to absorb excess stormwater as a series of placemaking amenities “in order to prevent it from being [value-engineered] from the project,” says Cheryl Lough, the director of BNIM’s landscape architecture studio. (more…)

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ON BRAZIL’S BEHALF

BY CATHERINE SEAVITT NORDENSON, ASLA

Araucárias, Paraná, ca. 1884. Photo by Marc Ferrez/Gilberto Ferrez Collection/Instituto Moreira Salles.

 FROM THE OCTOBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Speaking out against the military dictatorship of Brazil during the late 1960s and early 1970s had definite risks. Politicians, human rights advocates, artists, and intellectuals who publicly opposed the right-wing government’s programs of hyperdevelopment did so under threat of arrest, imprisonment, torture, and death. Many fled into exile. Roberto Burle Marx, the Brazilian landscape architect (1909–1994), had been a public figure for decades when, three years after the 1964 coup, he was appointed by the dictatorship’s first president, Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco, to a 24-member national cultural council. For Burle Marx, the decision to join the council was ethically freighted. He accepted with one clear objective: to save the Brazilian landscape.

In a new book, Depositions: Roberto Burle Marx and Public Landscapes Under Dictatorship (University of Texas Press, 2018), Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, ASLA, brings forth a series of 18 frankly activist speeches, or depositions, that Burle Marx delivered as a member of the council. They target, among other things, the unchecked destruction of Brazil’s forests for raw materials and agriculture. He surveyed the progression of environmental tragedy with a deep knowledge of botany and ecology, an intricate alertness to policy, and always appealing to a Brazilian pride in its national landscape patrimony.

“The way I read his depositions, Burle Marx is positioning an argument that’s against the economic development theory of the regime,” Seavitt Nordenson told me recently. “Sometimes they listen to him and sometimes they don’t. But he’s on the inside and he’s arguing passionately, because he’s been working on the cultural project of the Brazilian landscape for so long.” Seavitt Nordenson notes that in these speeches of 50 years ago, Burle Marx touches on two huge problems of today, anthropogenic impacts affecting climate and the loss of biodiversity. “They’re very clear—they’re jocular speeches, often funny, and have so much spontaneity—and he manages to communicate a serious message to an audience that has significant political power.”

This excerpt of Depositions includes a brief introduction by Seavitt Nordenson to three depositions on forests, followed by her translations of the depositions themselves.

 —Bradford McKee

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It’s the first of October, which means the latest issue of LAM is here! You’ll find these stories inside:

FOREGROUND

All Over the Place (Almost) [Travels]
Where the projects are (and aren’t) that appeared in the magazine in the past year.

Brand New (Office)
Rebranding your practice—large or small—involves more than just changing your name.

Fuller Blast (Water)
The redesigned fountains at Longwood Gardens reinvent a crumbling
relic with cutting-edge infrastructure.

Concrete Crops (Food)
In Philadelphia’s Center City, Thomas Paine Plaza takes on new life as a mini-farm.

Step by Step by Step (Planning)
Everybody takes the stairs in Pittsburgh.

FEATURES

Where the Water Was
Anne Whiston Spirn, FASLA, has made West Philadelphia—
and the water that flows beneath it—a life’s work.

Hydro Power
MKSK makes public space out of river infill in Columbus, Ohio,
drawing a whole new generation downtown.

Science to Design
Biohabitats’s mission is nothing less than healing the Earth.

Lower Here, Higher There
The Belgian landscape designer Erik Dhont creates modern gardens inspired
by the minds of the Old Masters.

All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. 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 posting October articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Hydro Power,” MKSK; “Science to Design,” Stuart Pearl Photography; “Lower Here, Higher There,” Jean-Pierre Gabriel; “Where the Water Was,” Sahar Coston-Hardy, Affiliate ASLA; “Step by Step by Step,” Merritt Chase; “Fuller Blast,” Jaime Perez; “Concrete Crops,” Viridian Landscape Studio; “Brand New,” Gensler/Ryan Gobuty.

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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. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

Click above for a full PDF of the translated text, with English text available below.

BY BRIAN BARTH

FROM THE JUNE 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

The design industry’s #MeToo moment arrived in March, when the New York Times published allegations of sexual misconduct against the architect Richard Meier. A total of nine women have come forward to paint a picture of decades of lecherous behavior that was well known to senior members of Meier’s firm, who did little to intervene.

The uncomfortable spotlight on the culture of prominent architecture firms has created an opportunity to bring once-private conversations among women at design firms into a wider arena. “We all knew our industry was not immune,” says Megan Born, ASLA, a landscape architect and partner at PORT Urbanism in Philadelphia. “Not only are women typically the ones being harassed, they are often tasked with the responsibility of understanding the problem and finding solutions. I think everyone in the field needs to look at this together and decide it is an issue they want to take on.”

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), surveys have found that up to 85 percent of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment at work. A recent survey of nearly 1,500 architects by the Architects’ Journal, a British publication, found that one in seven women at design firms had experienced sexual harassment in the previous year. In light of recent events, the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, which has long focused on highlighting the contributions of women in the design professions, is working with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to develop new ethical guidelines aimed at curbing sexual misconduct and petitioning state licensing boards to mandate ongoing sexual harassment training as a requirement for maintaining licensure. There’s no data available to clarify the scope of the problem in landscape architecture, but among a half-dozen women in the profession interviewed for this article about their personal experiences, none said they’d never experienced uncomfortable behavior of a sexual or gendered nature in the workplace. None had experienced, or knew of, instances of Harvey Weinstein-level harassment. But as Evalynn Rosado, the director of business development and operations at DLANDstudio Architecture + Landscape Architecture in New York, put it, “People are very, very quiet about that once it has happened.” (more…)

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SELECTIONS FROM THE 2018 STUDENT AWARDS

BY ZACH MORTICE

“Stop Making Sense” resists applying easily explicable narratives to the open question of nuclear waste storage. Image courtesy Andrew Prindle, Student ASLA, and Kasia Keeley, Student Affiliate ASLA.

The winning entries of the 2018 ASLA Student Awards offer solutions for extreme sites and surreal conditions, completely appropriate to the times in which they were crafted. Here is a selection of six award-winning student projects that greet such days with humanity, nuance, and rigor.

Stop Making Sense: Spatializing the Hanford Site’s Nuclear Legacy

General Design: Honor Award

Composed of a pair of inscrutable concrete bunkers that are 1,000 feet long and dug 60 feet into the earth, “Stop Making Sense” by Kasia Keeley, Student Affiliate ASLA, and Andrew Prindle, Student ASLA, pushes aside dominant narratives about how our nation treats and digests nuclear waste.

“We didn’t want to give people answers, and we didn’t want to force a perspective,” Keeley says. “What we wanted to do was raise questions and incite curiosity.” (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Aerial photo of damaged homes along the New Jersey shore after Hurricane Sandy. Photo credit: Greg Thompson/USFWS, Wikimedia Commons.

The Union of Concerned Scientists’ recent report on the economic damage and displacement that sea-level rise flooding will unleash called for investments “in a range of coastal adaptive measures,” such as “the protection of wetlands, and barrier islands, and other natural flood risk reduction methods” and other “natural infrastructure.” That puts the onus of surviving sea-level rise very clearly on landscape architects.

The report, Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate, which the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) compiled with help from the real estate website Zillow, shows the consequences of sea-level rise in the short and long term, down to the state, city, and zip code levels of granularity. Released in June, it estimates lost houses, lost home value, lost tax base, and lost population by the years 2035 and 2100. (more…)

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It’s the beginning of July, which means the latest issue of LAM is here! You’ll find these stories inside:

FOREGROUND

 Urban Scanner (Interview)
Shannon Mattern’s book, Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media, uncovers the way information has shaped our cities.

The Hole Story (Parks)
Hornsby Quarry in New South Wales was thought too big to fill and too unsafe to leave open.
Now it could be a park.

Palms Out (Plants)
Palm trees may be iconic of Miami or Los Angeles, but they can
thrive in more—and colder—places than you may think.

FEATURES

The Old and the Neutral
In New Orleans, Hargreaves Associates weaves the hopeful future into
the industrial past in Crescent Park.

Two London Squares and a Theory of the Beige Hole
Sleek, tidy, generic: a critique of Fitzroy Place and Rathbone Square, two privately owned
public spaces in London’s West End.

Balancing Act 
In a wetter world, how do we weigh the need to adapt to the future
against the imperative to preserve the past?

All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. The full table of contents for July 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 posting July articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Two London Squares and a Theory of the Beige Hole,” londonsurvival/JOEHOOVER (londonsurvival.wordpress.com); “The Old and the Neutral,” Timothy Hursley; “Balancing Act,” Newport Restoration Foundation/Ashley Braquet; “Palms Out,” Botanics Wholesale; “The Hole Story,” Hornsby Shire Council; “Urban Scanner,” Michael K. Chen and Justin Snider, Michael K. Chen Architecture.

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