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Archive for the ‘RESEARCH’ Category

BY ZACH MORTICE

An illustration of Edmond Albius, by Antoine Roussin, 1863. Image courtesy of Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.

An online exhibit hosted by the New York Botanical Garden decodes plants’ relationships to Black people.

 

Of the five plants featured in the New York Botanical Garden’s online exhibition Black Botany: The Nature of Black Experience, some are cash crops typically associated with Black people and slavery, such as cotton and rice. Others highlight relationships that are less well-known. “We wanted to look at how Black culture is always simmered down to low and middlebrow culture, as opposed to scientific or higher-brow knowledge,” says Nuala Caomhánach, a former Mellon Fellow at the New York Botanical Garden and a current doctoral student in the history of science, who curated the show with Rashad Bell, a collection maintenance associate at the garden. Each plant shines a light on the intentional omission of comprehensive Black knowledge of botany and nature, as well as how Black people were often connected to these plants in the popular imagination by slavery.

Very simply, “plants aren’t neutral,” Bell says. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

New tools give landscape designers a better view of what’s thriving and what’s just surviving in the soil.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Republic Square in Austin, Texas, is one of the city’s most historic, sensitive, and heavily trafficked public green spaces. In the heart of downtown, it’s one of the original four public squares dating back to the city’s founding. In 1839, the city’s initial run of surveyed and platted blocks was auctioned off beneath what became known as the Auction Oaks. Recently revitalized by Design Workshop, the square is a broad public green and plaza outlined by native plantings and groves of trees, some of which are nearly 600 years old.

Matt Macioge, the director of operations for the Downtown Austin Alliance, which operates the park, wanted to protect this valuable place. He has a background in design and construction, so he could anticipate the typical array of maintenance issues, but with an added layer of complexity. “The plants within [these landscapes] are dynamic. They’re growing, they’re dying, they’re pollinating, they have seasonal changes and cycles,” he says. “You really need to be able to live and breathe with the plants with your operations manual.” Macioge says he wanted “world-class standards,” a maintenance regimen that would react and adapt to changes in both programming and ecology. (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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INTERVIEW BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Greg Kochanowski documented the loss of his own home in the 2018 Woolsey Fire, which destroyed 110 of 217 houses in Seminole Springs, California. Photo by GK.

 

The Los Angeles-based designer Greg Kochanowski researches wildfire mitigation close to home.

 

Earth is a water planet. It is also, as Stephen J. Pyne has written, a fire planet. The Earth “has held fires as long as plants have lived on land,” Pyne recently wrote in Yale Environment 360. To remove fire from landscapes that have coevolved with it “can be as ruinous as putting fire into landscapes that have no history of it. The fires we don’t see—the fires that should be there and aren’t—are an index of ecological loss, like imposing a drought on a normally lush landscape.”

Greg Kochanowski knows well the losses that fires and their absence bring. As the studio director of the multidisciplinary design firm RIOS, Kochanowski had been investigating the effects of urbanization on the fire-adapted landscapes of Southern California for more than three years when the 2018 Woolsey Fire destroyed his home in Seminole Springs, California.

Now, Kochanowski has collected his research, as well as his experience of the Woolsey Fire, in The Wild, published last fall as part of the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design’s pamphlet series. The book explores the urban periphery of Los Angeles and the economic, cultural, and political pressures that have resulted in the city’s persistent peri-urban expansion and, consequently, the inevitability of ever larger, ever more deadly wildfires. Landscape Architecture Magazine spoke to Kochanowski shortly after the book’s release. His reVISION ASLA 2020 panel, “Fire Across the Pacific: Australia, California, and the Climate Crisis,” is available online.

LAM: What gave birth to the line of inquiry you’re tracing in the book?

Kochanowski: It was really the Rising Currents book that came out of the MoMA exhibition [Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront, 2011]. That was the first time that I had seen the global design community using their expertise to solve much broader problems. I was really inspired by it, but I was living in Los Angeles. Los Angeles has issues with sea-level rise, of course, but there was a lack of theorizing about the West. It was a very East Coast discussion. In the West, I was experiencing fires, and then it would rain and you would have floods, and then landslides, and it happened every single year. It was just this cycle. After a few years, I thought, no one’s talking about this. So, I began to look at the fire cycle, and had a session at the ASLA conference in 2018 on some of that initial research. And then my house burned down. Then I got really interested in fire. (more…)

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FOREGROUND

Pained Plaza (Planning)
Three public spaces from midcentury Philadelphia have been earmarked for reinvention. Two have succeeded, but one, a space for public expression, remains in limbo.

FEATURES

Black Landscapes Matter
In the introduction to his new book (edited with Grace Mitchell Tada), the 2019 MacArthur Fellow and founder of Hood Design Studio in Oakland, California, argues for the power and visibility of landscapes designed and shaped by Black people.

The Dark Side of Light
Sensitive lighting design is one of the hidden assets of thriving public places, but designers worry that their work is increasingly being used to watch rather than illuminate.

The full table of contents for December 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 December articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Pained Plaza,” Sahar Coston-Hardy, Affiliate ASLA; “Black Landscapes Matter,” Hood Design Studio; “The Dark Side of Light,” Elizabeth Felicella.

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REVIEWED BY JUSTIN PARSCHER

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. 

 

Students should learn to draw by hand, to fly drones, to do interpretive dance, to do light construction. They should collaborate with social scientists, with soil scientists, with local community members, with their counterparts in New Zealand. They need to be able to craft policy, wrangle BIM data, construct dioramas, and plant green roofs. In the best-case scenario, there are only five years to fit this all in. What is crucial? What gets left out? And keep in mind the vast array of wicked problems converging on us while we try to figure that out.

The two new Teaching Landscape books put out by the European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools (ECLAS) give the reader an acute sense of the sheer scope of the mission landscape architecture educators take on. As the former ECLAS president Simon Bell explains in his foreword to the Routledge Handbook of Teaching Landscape, “This book originated in a deeply felt need by all ECLAS members for up-to-date materials to help them to teach. It must be said at the outset that we do not want all schools to be alike and to teach exactly the same things in the same ways—we want to maintain diversity.” The results reflect that. The topics of teaching range widely, from the theoretical to the applied, and from technology to writing. The end result is often difficult to treat as an actual handbook. With some exceptions, like Peter M. Butler’s useful primer for creating a service learning studio, the majority of the contributions are case studies of the authors’ own classes, usually without much context given as to the curriculum in which they sit. The overwhelming variety gives you the same sense of disbelief you have watching the finalists at the Westminster Dog Show: How are these things all related? And how would you judge them against each other? (more…)

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BY JESSICA CANFIELD, ASLA

Parametric modeling aids the design for a complex paving pattern at a corporate campus.

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When stepping off the city sidewalk and into the site of the Cummins headquarters building in Indianapolis, there’s an immediate sense of arrival into a distinct landscape. David A. Rubin, FASLA, the principal and lead designer at DAVID RUBIN Land Collective, says that the site is an expression of choice, with amenities for collaboration and contemplation, “allowing people the capacity to choose where to be most creative.” This could be in a cluster in the amphitheater, in movable seating, at an isolated bench, or around the long, Wi-Fi-enabled community table, dubbed the “High-Tech Harvest Table” by the design team.

Located in downtown Indianapolis, the Cummins DBU (shorthand for Cummins Inc.’s Distribution Business Unit headquarters) site spans a full city block. Along the site’s western edge is the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, a citywide bike and pedestrian path. Sweeps of vegetation planted atop elongated berms extend inward from here to guide circulation and, as Rubin describes it, to create a sense that the landscape was intentionally carved back to reveal the underlying hardscape. The main path, which zigzags east–west to connect the building entry and parking garage, widens at the heart of the site to become the central plaza. This multifunctional gathering space is framed by amphitheater seating and can accommodate performances and special events. Just adjacent is a communal work space, the Social Hub, where employees can bring their laptops and connect to power and Wi-Fi. A more secluded area, the Dell, offers benches for quieter work. These distinct subspaces are threaded together by a continuous two-toned paving pattern, creating a unified surface and visual identity for the site.

The eye-catching paving pattern, comprising alternating bands of light and dark concrete pavers, echoes the calibrated facade of the new Deborah Berke Partners building and is emblematic of a checkered flag, in reference to the Cummins diesel engine enterprise. The design team first explored concepts for the paving pattern through sketches and a 3-D model. According to Land Collective’s project manager, Henry Moll III, Affiliate ASLA, “Early studies included larger concepts of fading patterns and pixilation,” but ultimately they went with the more geometric and focused pattern. After selecting the two-toned scheme, the team turned to Grasshopper to further explore and refine the pattern’s scale and color distribution.

Grasshopper, which is now included in Rhino 6, is a visual scripting tool used for parametric modeling. In parametric modeling, design outcomes are created through the application of scripts, which establish and define relationships between components within given constraints. In a design workflow, a script can be used for ideation or for accomplishing a specific task. Moll describes Grasshopper as ideal for working with repetitive elements, because you can automate complex goals, which lends itself well to developing patterns. (more…)

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