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Archive for the ‘RESEARCH’ Category

BY ZACH MORTICE

Research by Samantha Solano, ASLA, and TJ Marston from the VELA Project.

New research from the VELA Project looks at gender equity in landscape architecture education.

 

Samantha Solano, ASLA, and TJ Marston have peeked under the hood of gender equity in landscape architecture once again. After their groundbreaking (and 2021 ASLA Professional Award of Excellence–winning) research initiative the VELA (Visualizing Equity in Landscape Architecture) Project, in which the team aggregated 17,000 data points on women in leadership roles, they’ve turned their lens to the pipeline for women educators.

In their original research project, Marston and Solano found that while 55 percent of landscape architecture graduates are women, only 15 percent of firms identify as women-led. “I kept hearing, ‘Yeah, we just need more women in the pipeline,’” says Marston, a visiting instructor at Florida International University’s landscape architecture school. Pulling data from professional associations and schools, this research initiative first examined professional practice (licensure, ASLA leadership, professional awards, and career phase) and created data visualizations that made their findings vividly and instantly clear. “We were surprised that the data showed that it wasn’t a pipeline issue,” Marston says. “There are plenty of women going in. We’re just losing them.”

In the academic realm, Marston and Solano saw many of the same dynamics at play. Just as licensure became a point of attrition for women in professional practice, gaining tenure in academia is also a restrictive hurdle for women, with fewer and fewer women represented in the upper echelons of academic leadership. (more…)

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BY ROXANNE BLACKWELL, HON. ASLA

Portland Mall Revitalization, ASLA 2011 Professional General Design Award of Excellence, designed by ZGF Architects LLP. Image courtesy ZGF Architects LLP.

FROM ASLA’S THE DIRT BLOG

 

The House of Representatives just passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which makes significant investments in the nation’s transportation, water, renewable energy, and broadband infrastructure. The legislation incorporates 13 of the transportation, water, and natural resource policy recommendations sent by ASLA’s Government Affairs team to the leaders of congressional transportation and infrastructure committees and the Biden–Harris administration.

The legislation includes a five-year reauthorization of transportation programs and dramatically increases funding for safe, active, and low-carbon transportation programs such as the Transportation Alternatives Program, the Safe Routes to School program, and the Complete Streets initiative.

The package creates new programs that will allow landscape architects to lead projects nationwide. These include the Healthy Streets initiative as well as programs to remove invasive plants, create habitat for pollinators on highway rights-of-way, and plan and design new wildlife crossings.

There are also some first steps to address the legacy of environmental and social inequities in cities created by highways that have divided communities for decades. The Reconnecting Communities program provides $1 billion to remove highways and reconnect communities through multimodal transportation options, boulevard-like green spaces, and new connections to economic opportunity. These are projects landscape architects are poised to lead.

The legislation increases funding for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Fund programs, which landscape architects will be able to access to help communities address their water quality and quantity issues.

The legislation will also create five new Stormwater Centers of Excellence. These will enable landscape architecture educators to explore new types of nature-based green infrastructure methods to improve existing designs and strategies for financing and rate setting, public outreach, and professional training. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

View of Utqiaġvik, Alaska, and the Chukchi Sea in February 2020. Photo by Chengxin Sha/Arctic Design Group, 2020.

Federally funded research will help set a baseline for how to build in the Arctic.

 

In Alaska, beyond the Arctic Circle in North Slope Borough, Indigenous communities practice subsistence whale hunting. To store the whale meat, tribal communities dig ice cellars in the permafrost, a major infrastructural feat, as a 50-ton whale can feed thousands. But as climate change melts permafrost, the cellars are failing, leading to spoiled food. Studies have indicated that climate change may be a factor, but soil conditions and development on top of cellars are also causing warming and potential failure. “We keep it there in trust for the community,” says Gordon Brower, the director of North Slope Borough Planning and Community Services and a member of the Iñupiaq Indigenous community. “To keep that type of meat secure and healthy, we need to evaluate our earthen storage shelters.”

How might designers augment ice cellars’ cooling capacity in ways that support Indigenous traditions, while contending with the Arctic’s position on the front lines of climate change? This question is just one part of the National Science Foundation-funded research by the University of Virginia’s Arctic Research Center, aimed at gathering data to determine the design parameters for Arctic infrastructure in an era of expanding development and climate change, says Leena Cho, an assistant professor of landscape architecture at UVA. Cho, her partner Matthew Jull, an associate professor of architecture, and a team of UVA researchers will install aquatic, meteorological, and geotechnical sensors in the North Slope Borough town of Utqiagvik. This data will help Cho and Jull formulate guidelines for building height, form, materials, and foundations, as well as wider urban planning concerns in the Arctic. (more…)

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FOREGROUND

Big Tree, Small World (Interview)
The author and entomologist Doug Tallamy’s new book, The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees, advocates for the environmental workhorse of trees.

One Big Picture (Water)
A comprehensive new map of the Colorado River Basin connects the watershed and the people.

FEATURES        

Licensure on the Line
After years of political attacks, the design professions are uniting to protect
against threats to professional licensure.

Worlds Away
Hidden in the leafy Washington, D.C., suburbs, Glenstone has been an insider’s destination for years. For a new expansion and outreach, PWP Landscape Architecture designed a landscape
for the confluence of big art and small moments.

The full table of contents for September can be found here.

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.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be posting September articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Worlds Away,” Glenstone; “Licensure on the Line,” LAM; “One Big Picture,” Pete McBride; “Big Tree, Small World,” Rob Cardillo Photography.

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BY PHILLIP FERNBERG, ASSOCIATE ASLA, AND BRENT CHAMBERLAIN

Advancements in Artificial Intelligence creativity should make us rethink the future of landscape architecture practice.

FROM THE AUGUST 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

If you were to thumb through old issues of Science magazine, once you hit 1967 you would come across an obscure article coauthored by Allen Newell, an esteemed pioneer of artificial intelligence research, arguing for the validity of a new discipline called computer science. In the article, Newell and his colleagues Alan J. Perlis and Herbert A. Simon address some fundamental objections within academia to the idea that the study of computers was, in fact, a science or even a worthwhile pursuit. The questions are simple but fundamental: Is there such a thing as computer science? If so, what is it?

As you read the objections and their respective responses, you might begin to think as we did about the similar line of questioning that has been employed in landscape architecture. Substitute the computer speak with our own professional jargon and you have near carbon copies of themes from licensure advocacy meetings, ASLA conferences, or academic treatises on the state of the discipline. Computer science and landscape architecture have a surprising amount in common. They are both relatively new (at least in the official sense), they have both evolved in significant ways over the past century, and they both have been in an ongoing existential discussion about their position amid peer disciplines. This is nice to know but not revelatory.

Yet the intersection gets more interesting. One of the objections in the article states: “The term ‘computer’ is not well defined, and its meaning will change with new developments, hence computer science does not have a well-defined subject matter.” The authors’ reply is astute and resonant: “The phenomena of all sciences change over time; the process of understanding assures that this will be the case. Astronomy did not originally include the study of interstellar gases; physics did not include radioactivity; psychology did not include the study of animal behavior. Mathematics was once defined as the ‘science of quantity.’” So too is the phenomenon of landscape architecture; it just happens to work on an accelerated timeline. The field is ever shifting, retooling, and reassessing our place as our understanding of our medium and our instruments evolves. Before Olmsted, landscapes were gardens rather than systems; before Ian McHarg’s Design with Nature, those systems were not intertwined with ecology; before CAD, GIS, or Adobe, our only tools were pen and paper. (more…)

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BY KATHARINE LOGAN

FROM THE AUGUST 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Across the Yukon River from Dawson City, up around 64 degrees latitude, the Top of the World Highway wends its way over 65 miles of unglaciated landscape to the border with Alaska. Unlike the Yukon Territory’s typical highways, which track the river valleys, Top of the World runs along a ridgeline. For hundreds of miles in all directions, travelers look out over forested valleys, subalpine meadows, distant mountain ranges, and spectacular vistas that comprise the traditional lands of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in people.

Long before Top of the World was graded and graveled and designated a territorial highway, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in walked this path on seasonal journeys between the river and the mountains—hunting caribou, harvesting berries and wild rhubarb, gathering for celebrations, telling stories. When gold prospectors began arriving in the late 1890s, the leader of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Chief Isaac, growing concerned for the heritage of his people, entrusted their songs, dances, and gänhäk (dancing stick, a symbol of their culture) to a related branch of the larger Hän nation. Top of the World is the route along which this treasure was taken into the mountains for safekeeping.

More than 3,400 miles to the southeast, the traditional lands of the Saugeen First Nation form part of Ontario’s Mixedwood Plains Ecozone, once temperate deciduous forest, and now the most populous and commercially and industrially productive region in Canada. A three-hour drive from Toronto, at the base of the Bruce Peninsula (where a popular national park protects the region’s last unbroken stand of forest), the Saugeen River flows into the eastern edge of Lake Huron. Upstream of the river mouth, in a 100-acre park on Saugeen First Nation’s reserve, a stone amphitheater and 20 acres of terraced gardens overlook the wide river valley. Built in the 1970s with nearly a million tons of locally quarried limestone, the project, known as the Creator’s Garden, was created as a place to foster understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. As a setting for gatherings, ceremonies, music, and theater, the site welcomes thousands of visitors a year. But over the decades, it has fallen into disrepair.

These two landscape interventions—Top of the World and the Creator’s Garden—at different scales and in different bioregions, are each the subject of recent, landscape architect–guided master plans. Through both their substance and processes, these plans illustrate the potential for the profession to help heal the injustice and strife that stem from the colonial history of North America. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

A puzzle-like model of the Mississippi River Basin helps to reveal connections.

FROM THE AUGUST 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

This month, on the riverside terrace of a former pump house in Columbus, Indiana, an exaggerated topographic model of the Mississippi watershed will be installed. It is a hardier object than models meant for conference rooms or museum galleries. In fact, the model’s designer, Derek Hoeferlin, Affiliate ASLA, encourages visitors to pour a glass of water, or beer, over the landscape, to see how much pilsner the Ohio River can take, or how many ounces of stout it requires to overtop the Missouri River. Or, “if it’s coming from the Northwest,” Hoeferlin says, “it might be an IPA.”

Installed as part of this year’s Exhibit Columbus, a biennial celebration of the Indiana city’s trove of midcentury modern architecture, the model is split into six lobes that fit together like puzzle pieces, representing the Mississippi and its tributary watersheds. It’s an extension of a long-term effort to create an atlas of the Mississippi River Basin, in which Hoeferlin is working to map the basin at a variety of scales and examining the control measures that make the watershed a tool for commerce. The installation, dubbed Tracing Our Mississippi, also includes expository boards, and Hoeferlin plans to host public programming themed on Indigenous rights to the land and water with artists from opposite ends of the Mississippi watershed: Angie Tillges from Minnesota and Monique Verdin from Louisiana. (more…)

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