Archive for the ‘RESEARCH’ Category

BY ZACH MORTICE

The Nuestro Lugar park in North Shore, California, by KDI. Photo by KDI.

THE INAUGURAL CLASS OF KNIGHT FOUNDATION PUBLIC SPACES FELLOWS INCLUDES TWO LANDSCAPE DESIGN ORGANIZATIONS.

 

A new fellowship from the Knight Foundation focused on public space is putting landscape designers front and center. Of the seven Knight Foundation Public Spaces Fellows, two are designers with an emphasis on landscape. The foundation announced in June that Walter Hood, ASLA, of Hood Design Studio and Chelina Odbert of the Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) will each receive $150,000. Other grantees are public parks officials, social scientists, and more, who in all will receive more than $1 million.

The goal is to promote work that engenders civic engagement for all citizens, connecting communities, “drawing people out of their homes and encouraging them to meet, play, and discuss important issues, while finding common ground,” the foundation said. (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Jill Desimini on her new book, From Fallow: 100 Ideas for Abandoned Urban Landscapes.

FROM THE AUGUST 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

As a rule, Americans are wizards at making waste disappear. Trash magically vanishes from the curb, wastewater disappears with a flush. But there is one by-product of our current economic system that cannot be disposed of with a snap of our fingers (or with infrastructure): vacant land. When a piece of property is abandoned, it cannot be bagged up and thrown away.

Jill Desimini, ASLA, has spent more than 10 years documenting vacancy across the United States as a senior associate at Stoss Landscape Urbanism and as an associate professor of landscape architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, where her research focuses on spatial strategies for shrinking cities. In her most recent book, From Fallow: 100 Ideas for Abandoned Urban Landscapes (2019), Desimini marries a decade of documentation with more speculative imaginings that take the form of simple, evocative drawings.

It is a catalog of both existing states and potential changes. Desimini presents each separately, to free the design possibilities from any “direct political, economic, ecological, and sociocultural” context and leave them to imagining. “A vacant lot is not one thing, even though we tend to think of it as such,” she writes in the book’s introduction. “Terrains have different scales, elevations, adjacencies, uses, climates, and cultures. And just as no one territory is the same, so no one idea is sufficient.”

I spoke to Desimini about the new book. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. (more…)

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FOREGROUND

Atlas of Abandonment (Interview)
Jill Desimini, ASLA, discusses her new book on vacancy.

One Fish, More Fish (Habitat)
Scott Scarfone, ASLA, is working on his own time to conserve brook trout,
sometimes swimming upstream.

FEATURES

Home Away From No Home
Brice Maryman, ASLA, has spent the past few years studying homelessness from a landscape perspective and learning that understanding it precedes design.

Tunnel Vision
When the time came to retire a big coal transport depot in Sydney, residents mobilized to keep the site public, which their predecessors had been unable to do a century ago.

The Lawn Is Gone
For clients with a house in Los Angeles, a big, boring patch of grass was not working. When the landscape designer Naomi Sanders was done, you’d never know it had been there.

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

Credits: “Home Away From No Home,” Brice Maryman, ASLA; “The Lawn Is Gone,” Jennifer Cheung; “Tunnel Vision,” Rebecca Farrell for North Sydney Council; “Atlas of Abandonment,” Jill Desimini, ASLA, published by ORO Editions in From Fallow; “One Fish, More Fish,” Scott Scarfone, ASLA.

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

Image by Nadine Schütz.

From “Sound Gardens” in the July 2019 issue by Michael Dumiak, about the acoustical designer Nadine Schütz’s use of landscapes as a filter and echo chamber for ambient sound that defines each landscape.

A plan for wind, rain, and sun.”

–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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WHAT’S IN A NATIVAR?

BY CAROL BECKER

And what isn’t? Designers and pollinators are finding out.

FROM THE JULY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Common buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is a medium-sized shrub that is appealing in sunny areas of the landscape because of its glossy green leaves; unusual fragrant, round, spiky flowers; and rust-red fall color. It’s especially useful in wet areas and rain gardens where it absorbs excess water and even tolerates standing water. Hummingbirds and butterflies favor the plant for its nectar, and 24 species of birds seek it out for its small, round nuts that persist into winter. This native of the Midwest and East Coast is easily grown and little bothered by pests in the garden. Yet it is not commonly used in built landscapes. Although everything else about this shrub is right, its growth pattern and size are not. The straight species can be quite large at 12 feet high or more, and it has an annoying habit of sending branches in all directions, so it looks willy-nilly rather quickly if it’s not pruned regularly and often.

But here come Sputnik, Sugar Shack, and Fiber Optics, cultivars of buttonbush that represent a tamed C. occidentalis. Cultivars are plants produced by selective breeding or vegetative propagation to achieve better traits for the landscape. Fiber Optics is a species mutation discovered by an inventory employee in the bare-root fields of Bailey Nurseries, says the company’s public relations and communications specialist, Ryan McEnaney. Bailey trialed the plant, a process that takes several years, and brought it to market in 2017. It has a reliably smaller size at five to six feet high and a branching habit that keeps it compact and rounded, while retaining all the desired features of the straight species.

The Fiber Optics buttonbush is what is known as a nativar. The term is not scientific but has value to the industry in (more…)

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THE SCHOOLYARD IS SICK

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.

BY JANE MARGOLIES

FROM THE JUNE 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Not long ago, the schoolyard of Eagle Rock Elementary, in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, was a sea of cracked asphalt. Now it has rows of budding trees that divide up the three-acre expanse, and there’s a large grassy area and little enclaves with stumps and log seating away from the hustle and bustle. By offering a variety of settings, the schoolyard gives students the ability to choose where and how they spend their time at recess. Claire Latané, ASLA, the Los Angeles-based ecological designer who led the renovation of the grounds, says it also should improve their mental health.

Latané believes supporting the mental health of students is key to their happiness and well-being. Her conviction is based on decades of academic research by others, her own experience analyzing and designing schoolyards, and her gut feeling about the topic, as both a designer and a mother. Despite all we know about the impact our surroundings have on us—and the progress being made to introduce therapeutic environments to health care facilities—schools aren’t being designed with mental health as a consideration, let alone a priority. They are defensive (and ever more so, even provisionally, given gun violence in schools). Many schools have as much charm as storage facilities these days, and the worst are, in their environmental design, practically penal.

Through advocacy, writing, and teaching, Latané is trying to change that reality. She has encouraged the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Michael Geffel’s Field Mechanics installation. The site is a former pasture, Christmas tree farm, and nursery. Photo by Michael Geffel, ASLA.

For a few years after his undergraduate studies in geography, Michael Geffel, ASLA, worked as a gardener, performing the most literally and conceptually reductive type of landscape maintenance—weeding.

But after a while, Geffel, now a visiting professor of landscape architecture at the University of Oregon, found his compositional hand here, even if it was glued to a Weedwacker. “Because we’re removing things that are aggregating, we feel we’re not changing anything,” he says. “We’re removing what’s accumulated and we’re trying to keep what’s there. But in the removal, and how we remove these things, there’s all the different outcomes in the landscape.”

It’s an idea he carried with him while in graduate school at the University of Virginia’s landscape architecture program, where Julian Raxworthy, another gardener turned landscape architect with transformative ideas about landscape maintenance, was then a visiting professor. Geffel pitched a thesis on “the generative capacity of maintenance and how it might be a design instrument,” he says, and was on his way. (more…)

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