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Archive for the ‘SOIL’ Category

BY CAROL E. BECKER

An Australian town decides what to do with a spent quarry.

FROM THE JULY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Hornsby Quarry is like many quarries that roared with life in the 19th and 20th centuries and then suddenly fell silent because their resources were tapped out or became too expensive to extract. It is deserted today. The quarry, in Hornsby, New South Wales, Australia, has for a generation remained “the big hole in the ground”—300 meters roughly square, 100 meters to the bottom—and a major safety hazard that Hornsby Shire was forced to buy at the market rate of AU$25 million (about $16 million U.S.) after CSR Limited, a private company, ceased extracting hard rock basalt for road base material and gravel in 2001.

The Hornsby Shire Council acquired the quarry in 2002. Because it was built before reclamation laws and it was zoned as Local Public Recreation Land (technically called Open Space A) by the New South Wales Environmental Planning Act in 1994, CSR had no obligation to mitigate the site before ceasing operations, and the Shire was required by state legislation to buy it back. The huge cost of the land, set by the solicitor general, was ultimately reduced in court by AU$9 million, but the final price still cost each rate-holder (taxpayer) approximately $50 per year, for a total of 10 years, says Kurt Henkel, a landscape coordinator at Hornsby Shire.

The quarry will not remain dormant, however. Its stories—physical, historical, geographical—parallel the long development of Australia and are about to get a bold retelling. The vision for Hornsby Quarry (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

“Altitudes” reorients formerly disused ecologies for the production of local cash crops, organized vertically in the Selva Central region of Peru. Image courtesy Openfabric.

The coffee production industry is a “global economy with a local ecology,” says Francesco Garofalo of the landscape architecture studio Openfabric. The studio has a plan for a coffee-producing region of Peru that would align local cultivation practices with global distribution networks. Openfabric’s “Altitudes” plan steps back from coffee plantation monocultures to spread cash crop risk by encouraging production of a range of foodstuffs. The goal is to create more sustainable cycles of cultivation, production, and distribution.

The plan focuses on the Selva Central region of Peru, east of Lima, which straddles both the Andes and the Amazon River Basin. The local economy is intensely reliant on coffee production, but it’s a fragile and volatile market. Prices surge and plummet on a whim, vulnerable to small climatic shifts that can greatly affect yield. That makes life for the region’s coffee producers precarious.

And lately, temperatures in Selva Central have been rising because of climate change, causing (more…)

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

Image courtesy John Donnelly, ASLA/SCAPE.

From “Guardians of the Soil” in the July 2018 issue, about how tree grates enhance urban tree growth and soil quality.

“Geometric grates.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

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.

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It’s the beginning of July, which means the latest issue of LAM is here! You’ll find these stories inside:

FOREGROUND

 Urban Scanner (Interview)
Shannon Mattern’s book, Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media, uncovers the way information has shaped our cities.

The Hole Story (Parks)
Hornsby Quarry in New South Wales was thought too big to fill and too unsafe to leave open.
Now it could be a park.

Palms Out (Plants)
Palm trees may be iconic of Miami or Los Angeles, but they can
thrive in more—and colder—places than you may think.

FEATURES

The Old and the Neutral
In New Orleans, Hargreaves Associates weaves the hopeful future into
the industrial past in Crescent Park.

Two London Squares and a Theory of the Beige Hole
Sleek, tidy, generic: a critique of Fitzroy Place and Rathbone Square, two privately owned
public spaces in London’s West End.

Balancing Act 
In a wetter world, how do we weigh the need to adapt to the future
against the imperative to preserve the past?

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

Credits: “Two London Squares and a Theory of the Beige Hole,” londonsurvival/JOEHOOVER (londonsurvival.wordpress.com); “The Old and the Neutral,” Timothy Hursley; “Balancing Act,” Newport Restoration Foundation/Ashley Braquet; “Palms Out,” Botanics Wholesale; “The Hole Story,” Hornsby Shire Council; “Urban Scanner,” Michael K. Chen and Justin Snider, Michael K. Chen Architecture.

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

FROM THE OCTOBER 2016 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

“It’s happening again.” That was a repeated phrase May 27 on Twitter as a deluge of water came downhill on Main Street in Ellicott City, Maryland, carrying cars and garbage and ruining businesses that had rebuilt after a similar flood in 2016. This time, the historic town received more than seven inches of rain within a few hours; a Maryland National Guardsman was killed as he tried to help a woman rescue her cat.

Ellicott City has known flooding since its founding, though it now comes from above the town rather than creeping up from the Patapsco River below. Our editorial in October 2016 explains the problem, which officials still, apparently, have not been able to fix.

——

Main Street in Ellicott City, Maryland, has reopened, its historic storefronts repaired for the moment but its bigger problems unsolved. On July 30, almost six inches of rain fell in two hours right atop the 244-year-old former mill town—now a shopping and dining destination—which is built into a tight granite valley atop a network of streams that flow into the Patapsco River. The flood was a surprise. The water came not from the river but from upland, where suburban development in recent decades has hardened the ground. Main Street turned into a torrent within minutes. Dozens of people who had gone out to shop or eat had to be rescued, and two people died. The water shoved around a couple hundred cars and gouged out the streetscape, baring the infrastructure beneath about 100 ruined businesses. (more…)

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BY ANNETTE WILKUS, FASLA

Large trees and steep slopes can work together—but it takes thought.

FROM THE APRIL 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

It’s interesting to watch the evolution of planting design alongside our profession’s affection for steep slopes. Using steep landforms allows us, as designers, to create dramatic rooms in small places. In any urban environment, the use of landform has become increasingly important to expanding our environment without increasing the square footage of its footprint. Slopes greater than 3:1 have become the sweetheart of the landscape architecture world—­and the steeper the better.

As space becomes smaller and landforms become steeper, clients are requesting larger plants that provide an instant landscape. The bigger the tree or shrub, the better. So we see a lot of enormous plants placed into sharp slopes as a standard practice.

In our practice, we’ve seen steep landforms become a challenge for contractors when installing large root balls, trying to establish the plants, and maintaining them during the warranty period. We’ve also seen misunderstandings among designers over the relationship between (more…)

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University of Virginia Landscape Architecture Chair Bradley Cantrell, ASLA, sees the future of landscape design as a spectrum of interactions between technologies that sense the environment, model and simulate it, and then finally affect the physical world—all without constant human input and monitoring. As argued in his March 13 LAM Lecture (and in his recent book Responsive Landscapes, written with Justine Holzman, ASLA), the future of landscape architecture is one of designing protocols for how natural systems behave, and tuning these algorithms and eventually the land itself, thus loosening the stranglehold static and monofunctional infrastructure has on the planet.  “It’s not about us controlling every aspect,” he says. “It’s about us setting a range of ways those behaviors can act within.”

Cantrell’s research is grounded in the previous century’s cutting-edge modeling and simulation methods, like the Army Corp of Engineers Mississippi River Basin Model in Clinton, Mississippi, which modeled the entire rivershed, scaled down to a mere 200 acres. From there, Cantrell details contemporary research that is equal parts computational and material, honing ever more granular data points toward more accurate models. For example, there’s USC Assistant Professor Alexander Robinson’s Office of Outdoor Research, Landscape Morphologies Lab work, which uses an articulated robot arm to scrape out dust-mitigating landforms at California’s Owens Lake. Cantrell’s own inquiries involve test bed river basin models that deposit sediment via the variable flow of water, which he has been able to manipulate as though it were a geologic 3-D printer, expanding and cutting back sediment deposit “land” where it’s desired. The resulting topographies are scanned and converted into point-cloud maps.

Cantrell’s approach pushes landscape architecture’s prevailing infrastructure fixation until it ricochets out of the physically imposing world of concrete and culverts and into abstract data, underpinning the omnipresent ways we reengineer ecologies with quantitative facts. The biggest challenge for modeling and simulating dynamic environments, Cantrell says, is not gathering all the requisite data, but getting it to interact in a way that matches reality. At its core, it’s a call for new levels of observational rigor: first, to observe all the factors that make an ecosystem function, and then to understand how those factors work together to create a landscape.

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