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Archive for the ‘RESEARCH’ Category

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

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Mapping the historic dunes hidden beneath the surface of Chicago.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

A few years ago, Mary Pat McGuire, ASLA, became fascinated by the South Side of Chicago—or rather, with what was beneath it. She was flying back to the East Coast often, leaving from Midway Airport, and she started to notice “really interesting patterns along the coastline that looked like stripes, ridges along the shore. They were some kind of remnant,” she says, describing the landscape south of the city. “I just started to wonder, ‘What’s really going on here? What was this place?’”

McGuire, an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was already familiar with the South Side’s more recent history of white flight, shuttered industry, and disinvestment. Now, she became interested in the area’s geologic history, and how it might be put to work. The landforms she spied from the air prompted McGuire to look at early soil maps made by the U.S. Geological Survey. What she found were (more…)

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Five Borough Farm: Measure Your Goodness isn’t so much a primer on New York City urban farming, but a plan to codify all the things urban farming can do. An initiative by the Design Trust for Public Space (covered in the November 2014 issue of LAM), Five Borough Farm advocates for a citywide urban agriculture policy and plan that can help urban farmers make the case for why what they do is important.  It’s a data collection tool kit developed hand in hand with urban farmers that offers simple best practice checklists that take the cheery notions of regeneration seen in urban farming and turn them into quantifiable data: food grown, education programming offered, food waste diverted.

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BY BRIAN BARTH

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3-D Scanning and the holographic landscape.

FROM THE JANUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE

It’s been more than a decade since Google Earth put 3-D mapping in the hands of anyone with an Internet connection. Now, armchair map geeks can fly through the skyline of virtually any city in the world to check out, say, the architecture of the Louvre or take a virtual stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries using Google Street View. The ability to cost-effectively produce such imagery on a global scale stems in part from advances in 3-D scanning, a term of art that encompasses LiDAR (light detection and ranging), drone-based photography, ground-penetrating radar, and other advanced imaging technologies.

Three-dimensional scanning has become so inexpensive and user-friendly that design firms are starting to experiment with it. Architects and engineers use it to help create as-built drawings of bridges and buildings and for “clash detection” when designing additions or renovations of historic structures. Urban planners use it as a visualization tool when modeling different development scenarios. Anything that can be 3-D scanned can be 3-D printed, and (more…)

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BY JESSICA BRIDGER

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The Arctic could be the next hot place to live.

FROM THE JANUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE

The dock screeches and groans, the noises of cold metal in cold air. It is dawn as 14 students, two instructors, and one journalist board the Langøsund. The boat sits in the Adventfjord in the High Arctic. Barren gray slopes, crusted with snow on their peaks, rise from the glassy surface of the sea. The sky’s colors are reflected in the fjord, a mirror of this strange, cold place.

The mission is an experiment in design education: an expedition for serious research about the human settlement potential of Arctic places. We motor out into the water, leaving Longyearbyen (population 2,144), bound for Barentsburg (population 471). Both towns lie on Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago, halfway between the Norwegian mainland and the North Pole. Longyearbyen is said to be the northernmost town with a permanent population in the world.

Leena Cho double-checks the zipper on her poppy-red jacket as the boat makes headway. She grins at the students; (more…)

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In Sic Erat Scriptum, landscape architect and filmmaker Evan Mather argues that the Interstate Highway System that has reshaped the nation through epochal public works is not the project of technocratic 20th century humanist ambition, but something far more ancient and out of our control. Through fictionalized Grand Junction Bible College landscape urbanism instructor Melvin McNally (portrayed by Mather), his short film makes the pop-science case that the interstate is really the result of “biomigratory ecology rooted in ancient habitats and dominions.” That is, these roads follow dinosaur trails.

The video’s grainy film quality gives it an air of archival mystique that contrasts with sharp overlay maps of transit corridors throughout the millennia. Accelerated footage of miles of highway whirring past give way to fictionalized newspaper pages filled with dummy text in Latin telling of “Devil Lizards” unearthed during road construction.

There’s the interstate, which was preceded by the early 20th century highway system, which followed railroad lines. These lined up with pioneer wagon trails, themselves mapped to Native American trails, whose only purpose was to follow large mammal migratory patterns.  And concentrations of fossils found in clusters along these paths indicate these creatures were lured by “ancient dinosaur watering holes,” McNally says. It sounds like the prologue to a dusty paperback science fiction novel from the late 1950s. But broken down step by step, it seems reasonable. Foregrounded in acknowledgment of the Anthropocene age (the period of history where human activity is the strongest force affecting planetary ecosystems and geology), it questions whether we’re really writing our own novel, or instead cribbing notes from a story told long, long ago.

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

The battle to document and save old trees that may have once marked native American trails.

The battle to document and save old trees that may have once marked native American trails.

 From the November 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine

Six months before the stock market crash that plunged the country into the Great Depression, Richard Gloede, a landscape architect and the owner of a nursery in Evanston, Illinois, wrote a letter to General Abel Davis, the chair of the Cook County Forest Preserve’s advisory committee. He implored Davis for help in protecting the “old Indian trail trees” along the shores of Lake Michigan. “I have located on the North Shore alone over one hundred and have photographed, measured them according to size, condition, which way they point by compass, etc.,” Gloede wrote in a letter dated March 22, 1929. “It seems to me that these trees should be put in the best of care and kept so.”

The trees in question, often referred to as trail marker trees, would not have been hard to find. Each made two roughly 90-degree bends so that a portion of the trunk grew horizontally, (more…)

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BY JEFF LINK

The military–medical complex is looking at environmental approaches to treating trauma.

From the November 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine 

This past summer, Fred Foote met me in front of Naval Support Activity Bethesda, the home of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C. We set out for an early look at the Green Road, a half-mile path and a 1.7-acre woodland garden being built along the banks of a stream that winds through the sprawling campus.

Foote is a retired navy neurologist who is an adjunct assistant professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). He also has the title of scholar at an outfit in Baltimore called the Institute for Integrative Health. During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, (more…)

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