Category Archives: SOIL

Hog-Tied

In North Carolina, history, industry, and climate change work in tandem to create landscapes of toxic waste.

By Timothy A. Schuler 

A proposal created as a part of Design Week 2018 at NC State tied agricultural research and innovative waste management strategies into a larger greenway system for the town of Goldsboro. Image courtesy Andrew Harrell, Student ASLA; Adeline Lerner, Associate ASLA; Sarah Johnson, Student ASLA; James Popin; Simon Gregg; Celen Pasalar.

In Houston, it was the petrochemical plants. In North Carolina, it was the hog farms. In both places, churning floodwaters caused by recent storms were turned into a toxic stew that endangered local water resources and public health. Continue reading Hog-Tied

Giant Steps

In Yosemite National Park, new visitor infrastructure nurtures both the spectators and the sequoias.

By Jonathan Lerner 

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.

If you visit one of our national parks nowadays to commune with nature, you may find yourself having instead an experience of mass tourism. Many parks are huge. You’d expect plenty of elbow room. But much of any wilderness park is inaccessible to the public. Besides, people generally head for a few famous spots—you probably want to see those too—which quickly become overwhelmed. Attendance is up over the past few years. Infrastructure typically went in over decades, usually piecemeal, not by comprehensive plan, and for smaller crowds, so both visitor experiences and the places themselves become degraded. And the National Park Service has money problems. By 2017, the bill for deferred maintenance—apart from any new capacity—was $11.6 billion (see “Roads to Ruin,” LAM, February 2016).

Still, where it can, often with help from citizen conservancies, the park service is commissioning landscape architecture interventions to redress the gridlock and throngs. Most people will still find themselves among multitudes of strangers, but these redesigns can provide more authentically natural, less contrived interactions with the environment. The Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park was until recently a prime example of the problem. A project there, which opened to the public last summer, is a model response. Half of its $40 million cost was donated by the Yosemite Conservancy. It was designed by Seattle-based Mithun.

Mariposa Grove actually has two concentrations of the great trees, the lower grove and the upper grove. Before, when you reached the lower grove you were in a parking lot. Several giant sequoias were stranded there like islets in the sea of asphalt; you might not even have realized you’d arrived. This lot filled up early. Overflow traffic returned some seven miles on a winding, two-lane park road to Wawona, where there is a historic hotel, a convenience store, and a small Yosemite history museum. Visitors there caught a shuttle back to the grove. But Wawona had only “a makeshift drop-off for the shuttle and no parking infrastructure for the hundreds who would come through—quite a fiasco,” says Christian Runge, ASLA, a Mithun senior associate.

When you finally shuttled back to the lower grove, “there was a sense of confusion,” Runge says. “Wayfinding wasn’t clear. There were redundant loops of trails. They had to have rangers telling Continue reading Giant Steps

Great Lawn Vs. Grove

Milwaukee rushes toward a zero-sum choice that could eradicate a Kiley landscape.

By Zach Mortice 

The Marcus Center in 1970. Photo courtesy Joe Karr, FASLA, and the Cultural Landscape Foundation.

Dan Kiley developed his approach to landscape design in the wake of World War II. After designing the courtrooms for the trials of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, he explored the classical European gardens such as the Tuileries, Villandry, and Versailles, and  translated their allées, bosques, and hedgerows into modern expressions of landscape design. Channeling this tradition created “spaces with structural integrity,” Kiley wrote. Continue reading Great Lawn Vs. Grove

Here Comes Everybody

The final pier has opened. Brooklyn Bridge Park is all but complete.

By Anne Raver

Photo by Alex MacLean.

It was raining, so we crouched, rather than sat, in the grassy bowl that Michael Van Valkenburgh, FASLA, had envisioned as the centerpiece of the newly completed green space and playground on Pier 3, which, like most of the other piers in Brooklyn Bridge Park, sprawls over five acres, into the East River. Continue reading Here Comes Everybody

On Brazil’s Behalf

An excerpt from Depositions: Forest
Conservation and a Modern Ecology
By Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, ASLA

Araucárias, Paraná, ca. 1884. Photo by Marc Ferrez/Gilberto Ferrez Collection/Instituto Moreira Salles.

Speaking out against the military dictatorship of Brazil during the late 1960s and early 1970s had definite risks. Politicians, human rights advocates, artists, and intellectuals who publicly opposed the right-wing government’s programs of hyperdevelopment did so under threat of arrest, imprisonment, torture, and death. Many fled into exile. Roberto Burle Marx, the Brazilian landscape architect (1909–1994), had been a public figure for decades when, three years after the 1964 coup, he was appointed by the dictatorship’s first president, Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco, to a 24-member national cultural council. Continue reading On Brazil’s Behalf

Selections from the 2018 Student Awards

Exemplary entries are signs of their time.

By Zach Mortice

“Stop Making Sense” resists applying easily explicable narratives to the open question of nuclear waste storage. Image courtesy Andrew Prindle, Student ASLA, and Kasia Keeley, Student Affiliate ASLA.

The winning entries of the 2018 ASLA Student Awards offer solutions for extreme sites and surreal conditions, completely appropriate to the times in which they were crafted. Here is a selection of six award-winning student projects that greet such days with humanity, nuance, and rigor. Continue reading Selections from the 2018 Student Awards