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Archive for the ‘SCHOOLS’ Category

Martha Schwartz, FASLA, began her lecture last fall at the University of Southern California School of Architecture with a dire warning, and an invitation to play.

In “Beyond Practice” (her comments start at 13:08), she began by outlining the ecological imperative that climate change and carbon emissions place on landscape designers and the rest of the world: the exceptionally long tail of ocean warming, and methane bubbles released from melting permafrost that clog the atmosphere.

From there, it’s a quick exposition of Schwartz’s carefree straddling of the art and landscape architecture worlds. She recounts her 1979 Bagel Garden, when she designed the garden at her Boston home with only materials she could purchase on her block: bagels, purple flowers, and purple aquarium gravel. That act of strident whimsy prompted LAM editor Grady Clay to put this project on his magazine’s cover, bordered in neon pink and hand-drawn bagels. It was an early curation of “native” landscape materials combined with boundary-pushing art installations. “It’s a Dada piece. It’s Duchamp’s toilet,” she says. And it also made her name in landscape architecture.

A survey of Schwartz’s contemporary work (detailed further in this month’s cover story) demonstrates her continued emphasis on offering users quirky art objects to interact with, such as the train-cart seating at Manchester’s Exchange Square, and the gawking polygonal pavilions at Fengming Mountain Park in the Chinese city of Chongqing. This narrow slice of her work shows off a wild range of cultural conditions and aesthetic treatments. There are gritty, postindustral reuses, razor-sharp Libeskind-esque angles, and meditative contemplations of vernacular materials and forms.

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BY JAMES TRULOVE

Back from a dozen years in London, the designer is focusing on climate and the world she has made her home.

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM “MARTHA SCHWARTZ, RECONNECTING” IN THE JULY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. FOR THE FULL ARTICLE, PLEASE SEE THE MAGAZINE.

Martha Schwartz, FASLA, and her business partner and husband, Markus Jatsch, last year relocated from London to Brooklyn, though the London office remains the headquarters of their firm, Martha Schwartz Partners. Schwartz continues to teach at the Harvard Graduate School of Design—though her projects have taken her firm just about everywhere but the United States. James Trulove, a former editor of LAM, who has known Schwartz for years, joined her and Jatsch, who is trained as an architect, for a conversation to find out what prompted the move and where Schwartz is directing her design and teaching now.

James Trulove: You now have offices in New York, London, and Shanghai. I guess there are many opportunities for a landscape architect in China given the enormous amount of construction that is taking place. What is it like to work there?

Schwartz: Unfortunately the quality of much of the built work is poor, (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The completed Manitoga pavilion. Photo by Vivian Linares.

On a ridgeline next to a rock quarry pond at the campus of Manitoga, the home and studio of the industrial designer Russel Wright, there’s a whirling, biomorphic mass of modular figures—not quite human and not quite animal, but distinctly organic. They’re organized into a rough, habitable dome, holding each other aloft, tiptoe to fingertip. It’s a wide-eyed exploration of the architectural pavilion’s status as a fertile middle ground between sculpture and architecture.

This pavilion, part of Manitoga’s artist residency program, was designed and built by (more…)

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BY LYDIA LEE

San Francisco’s Exploratorium discovers its outdoor spaces.

FROM THE APRIL 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

One of the most popular exhibits at San Francisco’s Exploratorium is an immersive experience of the city’s iconic fog. When you walk along the 150-foot-long Fog Bridge by the artist Fujiko Nakaya, you disappear into a white mist generated by 800 tiny nozzles. “When everything is fogged up around you, it’s a wonderful ‘noticing’ tool,” says Tom Rockwell, the Exploratorium’s director of exhibits and media studio. “You notice the change in temperature, the air currents, the light.”

It’s fitting that the Exploratorium, one of the original hands-on museums, encourages visitors to engage directly with the wild. The foundation for its outdoor exhibits is a series of broad decks around the waterfront museum—more than an acre of hardscape—designed by the San Francisco firm GLS Landscape | Architecture. Notably, most of the outdoor areas are accessible by the public and don’t require a ticket for admission. They fulfill a state mandate for public waterfront access, but they are also an important part of the museum’s mission to connect with a much wider community beyond its paying attendees. The spaces are testing grounds for outdoor installations (more…)

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BY JANE ROY BROWN

How designers of Boston’s outdoor classrooms arrived at a “Kit of Parts” that really works.

How designers of Boston’s outdoor classrooms arrived at a “kit of parts” that really works.

From the May 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

 “Ms. Thompson, what’s a log?” The question came from a kindergartener in a Boston elementary school in 2006, after his teacher (not her real name) read a story to the class about a possum hiding in a hollow log.

As shocking as the question may sound, teachers all over the country have fielded similar ones for years. By 2005, when Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods launched the term “nature-deficit disorder” into everyday use, generations of kids in some city neighborhoods had had no experience of woods, never mind logs.

Last Child in the Woods has sent all kinds of communities scrambling to offer some experience of nature to their children, and many of them have focused, logically enough, on schoolyards. As more landscape architects join the push to transform crumbling asphalt schoolyards into landscapes for play and learning, they might do worse than to take a page from the Boston Schoolyard Initiative (BSI).

(more…)

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LAMmar15_diykiddocover

A program by the Trust for Public Land lets kids design their own schoolyards.

From the March 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

“There is poop going into the East River,” the teacher says, sprinkling black specks onto a cutaway model consisting of buildings, streets, and sewer pipes. It is week three of design class at P.S. 15, the Roberto Clemente School, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and a group of third graders is participating in the New York City Playgrounds Program, which, led by the Trust for Public Land (TPL), transforms asphalt inner-city schoolyards into community parks.

The teacher, Maddalena Polletta, who is TPL’s participatory design educator, is describing how storms can overwhelm New York City’s combined stormwater–sewer system and cause it to overflow. Seated around Polletta in a semicircle, the children are wide-eyed. “Your playground is impervious, which means that nothing can get through,” Polletta explains, using the model to demonstrate how the school’s asphalt yard contributes to the stormwater runoff, which is one of New York City’s biggest environmental problems.

After the Sewer in a Suitcase lesson (so called because the model is designed to fit into a suitcase for transportation to different schools), the children discuss a list of potential amenities and design features for the new park they are helping to design. The list includes a basketball court, a butterfly garden, a trampoline, and even a Jacuzzi—an amenity that to date has not been installed in a TPL park. The students talk about replacing part of the asphalt schoolyard with a different hardtop surface. “What if we fall and hit our face?” asks a boy dressed in a gray hooded sweatshirt. “What if we fall and scrape our knees?” asks a girl who stands up to address the class. “Okay, so this is a grass class,” Polletta says, summarizing the students’ sentiments.

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After barely a decade, Chatham University’s landscape architecture program gets the ax.

After barely a decade, Chatham University’s landscape architecture program gets the ax.

From the March 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The decision, announced in a posting on the web page for Chatham University’s Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program, was rather sudden: “As of June 2014, Landscape Architecture degree programs at Chatham have been closed.” David Wilson, Associate ASLA, a 2014 graduate of the MLA program and a past ASLA student president, says there had been rumors the closure would happen, so it wasn’t a total surprise, though the speed with which a decision was made “did come as a bit of a shock.”

The MLA program at Chatham, located in the heart of Pittsburgh, is relatively new, having first been accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) in 2007. Many people considered it fitting, even inevitable, to have a landscape architecture program at a school that headlines its environmental ethos and that, when it was the Pennsylvania College for Women, had counted Rachel Carson, the environmentalist and author of Silent Spring, among its graduates.

Chatham had long offered a master’s degree in landscape studies, and in 2000, members of ASLA’s Pennsylvania–Delaware Chapter began talking to administrators of Chatham College (the school achieved university status in 2007) to see whether they would be interested in hosting a landscape architecture program, recalls Lisa Kunst Vavro, ASLA, the current trustee for the chapter. The program won approval in 2003; Michael Leigh, who was faculty at the landscape studies program at the time, worked with the college to develop the program. Shortly afterward, in January 2004, Kunst Vavro became the acting director and won accreditation in 2007 after three years of what she describes as “blood, sweat, and tears.”

(more…)

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