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BY KYNA RUBIN

Decoding Japanese garden design one stone at a time.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

“Squat and move it counterclockwise, clockwise, repeat, and repeat again,” Tomohiko Muto says as he motions to the American landscape professionals gamely trying to move a chunk of Columbia River Gorge basalt. The centerpiece rock they’ve selected for their project forms a natural water basin, the result of a depression created at the break point of columnar basalt. The stone’s heft eventually requires a dolly.

Under the guidance of Muto and other instructors from Japan, the students are engaging in tactile learning at a new program developed, in the main, by Sadafumi Uchiyama, ASLA, the curator at the Portland Japanese Garden (PJG) in Portland, Oregon.

Like many of his predecessors in Japan, Uchiyama hews to tradition in the Japanese gardens he creates. But his latest endeavor reveals an iconoclastic bent. Through an unusual seminar first offered this past summer as part of the PJG’s new International Japanese Garden Training Center, he hopes to debunk the long-held myth that (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

A 360-degree photo of Santa Marta. Photo by José Duarte.

Renowned for their ad hoc flexibility, material economy, and compositional resourcefulness, Rio de Janeiro’s favelas can be treasure troves for urbanists. Unplanned, unsanctioned, and often unmapped, they mutate (adding a story, turning a ground floor into a shop, switching from sheet metal to concrete as soon as owners come into a few more Brazilian reals) at a pace unseen in the affluent global north. But these communities are located far away from most of the world’s stock of urban design expertise.

Last spring, to bridge this divide, Penn State landscape architecture professor Timothy Baird and architecture professor José Duarte taught a new studio that engaged students in the study of one Brazilian favela via virtual reality (VR) technology. The studio, which paired architecture students with landscape architecture students, posited VR as a proxy for expensive site visits. “Developing countries can’t always afford consultants because of the distance and difficulty to travel,” says Baird, who recently became chair of the landscape architecture department at Cornell University.

The virtual reality environment in which these students designed was constructed after Duarte and a crew of Brazilian students traveled to Rio de Janeiro’s Santa Marta favela before the semester began. They took thousands of still images, 360-degree videos and photos, and collected (more…)

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If the design of our environments is a text that can be used to decode hidden meanings and obscured institutional values and biases, then design is a tool that’s equally up to the task of picking apart these inequities. That’s the intent of the second edition of the Black in Design Conference at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, subtitled “Designing Resistance, Building Coalitions,” and previewed by LAM earlier this month. Hosted by the Harvard GSD African American Student Union, the conference, held October 6-8, documents the effects of the African diaspora across the globe and the design fields, and questions the barriers and inhibitions to agency this community still faces. Its goal? More “radical and equitable futures.”

Across 10 hours of the conference, filmed and posted here, the organizers hear from a wide swath of design professionals, including planners, architects, artists, and landscape designers, such as Walter Hood, ASLA, and Diane Jones Allen, ASLA.

 

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

Image courtesy of Stephen Stimson Associates.

From “Remnant to Whole” in the October 2017 issue, about the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s new design school and landscape, by Stephen Stimson Associates.

“Connecticut River Valley landscape visualized.”

–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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BY JENNIFER REUT

An emerging platform for design activism braces for the future.

FROM THE OCTOBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

It can be difficult, even in the face of powerful evidence, for designers to accept responsibility for the role the profession has played in reinforcing the boundaries of race and class that shape urban lives, not just the spaces in which they’re lived. “As designers and planners, we have neglected these communities,” says Lindsay Woodson, a recent graduate of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (GSD) in urban planning.

Woodson is talking about neighborhoods like Sandtown in Baltimore, or Ferguson, Missouri—historically segregated communities that are disproportionately affected by police violence. In 2014, Woodson and fellow Harvard graduate student Marcus Mello began a project that would illuminate the systemic crosshairs in which (more…)

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BY SARAH COWLES

At Washington University, students document and memorialize a landscape in flux.

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

The crane whined, the cable tightened, the tree swayed, and the crowd murmured. But Tree B5, an 80-year-old, 85-foot-tall, 15-ton Quercus palustris, did not budge from its place in the Brookings allée. Earlier, a crew used high-pressure hydro-excavation tools and a giant vacuum to daylight the oak’s filigree of roots, and arborists jumared up with four cable slings to steady the crown. The audience in front of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis was transfixed by this massive marionette, anticipating the moment the formidable machine might pluck it like a weed. After the failure of the initial tug, the crew phoned the crane supervisor to ply more tension, and yet some grounding force would not let go. B5 was defiantly planted.

Choreographing this potent—and at times absurdly moving—tree-removal ceremony was Jesse Vogler, Affiliate ASLA, a 21st-century Fitzcarraldo and an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts. Vogler and his team of students thought this act of landscape demolition (more…)

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When the landscape architects at Mahan Rykiel Associates found themselves with uprooted trees they couldn’t fit back onto a newly designed and built mixed-use building site, they offered them to a local Baltimore middle school in the Locust Point neighborhood. But after talking with the principal of Francis Scott Key Middle School, they quickly realized that there was an opportunity for a much deeper collaboration than simply donating some foliage.  So the landscape architects began designing a school yard with four different types of learning environments, to aid what they call “STEM-based environmental education.” Project Birdland will be the first phase of a partnership between Mahan Rykiel Associates and Francis Scott Key Middle School. Students will work with a biologist and the fabricators at Gutierrez Studios to design and build birdhouses for endangered and threatened bird species. From the outset, the project gives students an introduction to the humancentric world of design and craft and also to the creation of habitats for their neighboring fauna.

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