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Archive for the ‘RESEARCH’ Category

BY BRIAN BARTH

One practitioner defies the handicaps of building Information modeling for landscape, determined not to remain an exception.

FROM THE AUGUST 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Meghen Quinn, ASLA, has a secret. BIM—an acronym that puts moonbeams in the eyes of architects, but makes some landscape architects cringe—is her software of choice. BIM, shorthand for building information modeling, is the 3-D, data-rich software platform embodied by Revit, a product launched in 2000 by Charles River Software and acquired by Autodesk two years later. By 2012, 70 percent of architecture firms in North America reported using BIM, and in 2016 the American Institute of Architects reported that BIM was used for nearly 100 percent of projects at large firms.

It seems that so few landscape architects use BIM, however, that no one has ever bothered to collect the data. Its reputation in the field is as a clunky, building-centric, overly complex tool that has put up yet another barrier between landscape designers and architects.

Yet Quinn, who merged her San Francisco practice with the Office of Cheryl Barton in January, is all moonbeams. Well, mostly. “I never want to use CAD again,” she says. “Moving to BIM is like (more…)

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BY MIMI ZEIGER

A new biography of James Rose explores his difficult brilliance.

FROM THE AUGUST 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

“Words! Can we ever untangle them?” reads James Rose’s opening salvo in Pencil Points. Appearing in the definitive journal of modernist design thought, the landscape designer’s 1939 essay rejects preconceived ideas of formal or informal design and makes the case for an organic and materials-based approach—an argument approaching revelation at a time when Beaux-Arts methodologies held sway.

Reading the text today, Rose’s words cut through the decades, carrying with them equal doses of wit, creativity, and frustration with the status quo. An uncompromising designer from his time in and out of Harvard (he was expelled in 1937, later returned but never graduated) to his death in 1991, Rose is the subject of the latest volume of the Masters of Modern Landscape Design series published in association with the Library of American Landscape History and the University of Georgia Press. It’s the first biography dedicated to the landscape architect, who although a prolific writer throughout his career and author of four of his own books, has yet to receive the kind of canonical recognition bestowed on his Harvard classmates Garrett Eckbo and Dan Kiley.

As director of the James Rose Center for Landscape Architectural Research and Design—a nonprofit located at Rose’s Ridgewood, New Jersey, home—the book’s author, Dean Cardasis, FASLA, is well-placed to untangle the competing forces of Rose’s career. Few of Rose’s works survive in their original form, and a spare eight are presented as illustrated case studies—a fraction of the more than 80 projects produced in his lifetime. Much of the book is devoted to advocating for Rose’s achievements while trying to (more…)

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BY MEG CALKINS, FASLA

New technologies can reduce the environmental footprint of the most-used construction material.

FROM THE JULY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Concrete in the 21st century promises to be a more sustainable material, and given the nine billion metric tons used globally each year, it must be. Portland cement, the binding agent in ordinary concrete, has a very high carbon footprint, resulting in just under one ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) released for every ton of cement produced. With 4.2 billion metric tons of the binder used each year worldwide, cement production is responsible for nearly 8 percent of total global carbon emissions. The high lime content of ordinary portland cement contributes about two-thirds of cement’s CO2 impact through the process of limestone calcination. The other one-third of CO2 released is from combustion of fossil fuels.

Technologies to improve the carbon footprint of concrete are currently in the early stages of development, but some, including carbon sequestration in concrete and substantial reductions of cement using energetically modified cement, are now commercially available. Concrete surface products for paving and walls to scrub air pollution, as well as new self-healing concrete products, are also worth investigating. We have heard about some of these innovations for a decade or more in the research community, but many are finally being brought to market—some more quickly than others. Europe is ahead of the United States in the adoption of these technologies, largely because of more rigorous clean air and carbon reduction initiatives.

New technologies in any field can take a long time to move from the laboratory to the marketplace, but (more…)

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BY BRIAN BARTH

Cities are getting “smarter.” But are they getting wiser?

FROM THE JULY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

“Oh, no. My phone is dead. Better head to the park.”

Walk past the basketball court down at Anita Stroud Park, toward the little creek below, and you might find a gaggle of teens clustered around a very modern-looking bench that would seem more at home outside a coffee shop in Soho than in a tiny neighborhood park next to I-77 on the north end of Charlotte, North Carolina.

A pair of USB ports on a console on the front of the bench provides juice from the solar panel mounted at lap level between the seats. Who wouldn’t want to hang out at a bench like this? It certainly catches the eye of passersby. What these kids might not realize, however, is that this bench is watching them back. Underneath that solar panel is a small Wi-Fi enabled sensor that sends data back to an office building in East Cambridge, Massachusetts. Anyone who passes within 150 feet of the bench with a Wi-Fi enabled mobile device in their pocket is picked up by the sensor and (more…)

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BY TRENT OKUMURA, ASLA, AND MICHAEL TODORAN

How to specify complex paving patterns to deflect urban heat from solar exposure.

FROM THE JUNE 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. 

Designers are challenged by climate change as they attempt to mitigate urban heat, but among the biggest factors are the thermal properties of the very building materials they use in new developments, not least their paving surfaces. The material and color of paving make a critical difference in either contributing to or neutralizing heat gain brought by the sun (as do roofs, which typically involve simpler, monolithic material choices). Darker paving creates a hotter microclimate but lower glare, and lighter paving creates a cooler microclimate and higher glare. The sweet spot in specifying paving lies in brokering a balance between thermal and visual comfort.

The crucial metric is solar reflectance (SR), which is a measurement of (more…)

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Please pardon the fish smells. The landscape architects at Taylor Cullity Lethlean and Wraight + Associates were trying not to cutify the waterfront of Auckland, New Zealand, too much with their master plan for 86 acres of port. So you get a park, a promenade, a playground, and outdoor dining, but you also get the sights and smells of an active fishing sector and the noises of maritime industry up close. The North Wharf Promenade and Silo Park won the Rosa Barba Prize at the Eighth International Biennial of Landscape Architecture in Barcelona in 2014 for the ways it takes waterside work at face value but makes room for people to relax and play. Our correspondent in Sydney, Gweneth Leigh, ASLA, tells this month how it came together.

You may have read in the New York Times last week about China’s push to be first in the world in developing artificial intelligence systems for things like speech recognition, rescue missions, and warfare. The newly appointed chair of landscape architecture at the University of Virginia, Bradley Cantrell, ASLA, and two colleagues recently wrote a paper in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution about prospects for deploying AI and “deep learning” systems in ecological restoration and management, based on several approximate examples they found currently in action. LAM invited Kristina Hill, an associate professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning and urban design at the University of California, Berkeley, to query the authors’ assumptions and, ultimately, ethical questions around such projected uses for AI, such as: Is a human-induced machine responsible for the effects of its actions, or is the human?

Back in 2008 the Atlanta BeltLine, the ambitious linear park planned to ring around the city, was just getting off the ground. LAM dispatched Jonathan Lerner to survey the role this unique trail might play. Today, big sections of it have been built—though it’s by no means complete—and enthusiasm for its impacts is far from universal. And Lerner has gone back to Atlanta to survey the victories, the asymmetries, and the mixed emotions surrounding the project.

In Books, don’t miss the review of two new books on logistics, by Gale Fulton, ASLA, an associate professor and chair of landscape architecture at the University of Tennessee, and what it reveals about the ways logistics not only shapes our landscapes, but has become them. The full table of contents for June 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 ungating June articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Ecology on Autopilot,” Bradley Cantrell, ASLA; “The Wharf at Work,” Simon Devitt; “A Thousand Moving Parts,” Jeff Keesee; “In Search Of,” Courtesy HBB Landscape Architecture/Jed Share Photography; “Tame the Sun,” Courtesy SWA Group; “Yonkers Uncorked,” Christopher St. Lawrence.

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

The National Map is a feat of modern-day cartography. It also reveals our country’s shifting priorities.

FROM THE APRIL 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Lisa Orr, ASLA, was 11 years old when she attended her first West Virginia funeral. Her great-grandmother, Susan Bolyard Summers, had died at the age of 102 and was being buried in the family cemetery, behind a little country church called Mount Zion. Orr’s family drove the hour and a half from Morgantown, in the northern part of the state, to rural Preston County, winding through a tangled warren of hills and hollows and passing a dozen other hilltop cemeteries before reaching their destination.

The trip made a lasting impression on Orr. Preston County was so unlike her life in Morgantown: The landscape was as breathtaking as it was formidable. “It’s hard to explain how rugged the territory is,” she says, speaking from her office at West Virginia University (WVU), where she teaches landscape architecture. “It’s like a mini-Grand Canyon everywhere you go.” It illuminated the hardscrabble life that her great-grandmother had lived, living on foraged chestnuts and whatever else would grow in Preston County’s rocky soil. And it gave Orr her first glimpse into the role these cemeteries played in local people’s lives.

Caring for these places, she learned, was part of many families’ cultural heritage, including her own. “Part of my grandmother’s life was just visiting cemeteries,” she says, (more…)

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