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Archive for the ‘TECH’ Category

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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BY KEVAN KLOSTERWILL

A custom geodesign process aims to help prototype solutions for the health of a rural watershed.

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Sam Ziegler, a corn-and-soybean farmer in southern Minnesota, had a chance to try out a new geodesign tool that could change the way he plants his crops. “It’s always on your mind what you can do better, but it’s hard to physically take an acre or a hundred out of production just to try something,” Ziegler says. “You can’t afford it. But this computer model allows you to play with things and get an understanding of what potentially would be the ramifications and benefits of switching things around.” The tool, operated with a touchscreen, was developed by a team of University of Minnesota (UM) researchers from the fields of landscape architecture, urban planning, economics, and soil and water science.

In the fall of 2013, the research team brought together about 40 community members, including farmers and environmental advocates, who were interested in improving the health of the Seven Mile Creek Watershed near Mankato, Minnesota. The group participated in a series of workshops that culminated with their generating alternative scenarios using an interactive computer model of the watershed. This investigation was supported by background layers such as aerial photographs, parcel lines, and topographic data that would feel familiar to regular users of geographic information systems. Using a 55-inch touchscreen, participants could assign various agricultural land uses to the landscape, including conventional corn and soybeans and perennial prairie grasses. “Basically, it was like painting a map, with some boundaries,” Ziegler says.

Once participants settled on a design, the geodesign program would analyze its environmental performance around various factors such as (more…)

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Technologist landscape architects rejoice—the November issue of LAM is packed with imagined scenarios, myth breakers, and tantalizing possible futures for urban design. Whether or not autonomous vehicles will allow for utopian cities of tomorrow depends on careful planning and policies today, says writer Brian Barth. And the future of autonomous vehicles might not look as green as we’re imagining. A new landscape by Ki Concepts on Honolulu’s Ford Island—site of the Pearl Harbor attack in World War II—weaves the richly layered history of the site into a sleek, cohesive design. And a new streetscape redesign by CRSA in the Sugar House business district of Salt Lake City turns a large thoroughfare into an inviting multimodal streetscape.

In Materials, Jane Berger discusses the stigma—and benefits—of the often-misunderstood bamboo. And in Tech, geodesign unites academics and agriculturists in the pursuit of the most optimal yield for their yearly crops. All this plus our regular Books, Now, and Goods columns. The full table of contents for November 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 November articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “The Retraining of Salt Lake City,” CRSA; “Before and After Pearl Harbor,” Alan Karchmer; “Dream Cars,” Illinois Institute of Technology; “Raising Canes,” OvS; “Models of Collaboration,” Len Kne. 

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

An asphalt coating could help cool Los Angeles. Will the benefits offset the costs?

FROM THE OCTOBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Initially, the product was for the military. Marketed as CoolSeal, the light gray-colored asphalt seal coat was developed to reduce the surface temperature of runways so that they would be less visible to infrared satellites. A few years ago, Greg Spotts, the assistant director of the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services, wondered what would happen if you painted every street in the city with CoolSeal. Could you reduce the urban heat island effect, a phenomenon that has been estimated to cost the city $90 million each year in energy bills?

Now, with $150,000 in public funding, Spotts is testing the coating at locations in each of the city’s 15 council districts. The coating, which is just 15 microns thick, goes on in a brilliant gray, far lighter in color than a typical asphalt street, though Spotts says it soon fades to more of a “battleship color.”

By this fall, all 15 streets should be complete, and according to the city’s asphalt testing lab, even in the afternoon on the hottest days, the surface temperature of the coated pavement is, on average, (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Improbable Botany. Illustrations by Jonathan Burton. Published/Curated by Wayward.

Wayward is a collective of landscape architects, architects, urban growers, artists, and other assorted creative types who design landscape installations for “exploring new models for how green space can work in cities,” says its founder, Heather Ring. The group’s experimental and often temporary projects emphasize creating “narrative environments that tell stories through the spaces.” The projects have included chromatic explorations of algae growth and weaving slow-growth sculpture from living trees.

It’s an outsider’s perspective on landscape design that might have earned Ring’s London-based band of designers the high school graduation accolade of “landscape architect most likely to commission a science fiction anthology,” because that’s just what Wayward has done.

Having raised nearly $16,000 during a successful Kickstarter campaign, Wayward will publish (more…)

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BY BRIAN BARTH

One practitioner defies the handicaps of building Information modeling for landscape, determined not to remain an exception.

FROM THE AUGUST 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Meghen Quinn, ASLA, has a secret. BIM—an acronym that puts moonbeams in the eyes of architects, but makes some landscape architects cringe—is her software of choice. BIM, shorthand for building information modeling, is the 3-D, data-rich software platform embodied by Revit, a product launched in 2000 by Charles River Software and acquired by Autodesk two years later. By 2012, 70 percent of architecture firms in North America reported using BIM, and in 2016 the American Institute of Architects reported that BIM was used for nearly 100 percent of projects at large firms.

It seems that so few landscape architects use BIM, however, that no one has ever bothered to collect the data. Its reputation in the field is as a clunky, building-centric, overly complex tool that has put up yet another barrier between landscape designers and architects.

Yet Quinn, who merged her San Francisco practice with the Office of Cheryl Barton in January, is all moonbeams. Well, mostly. “I never want to use CAD again,” she says. “Moving to BIM is like (more…)

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“In our language, we have a word; it means, ‘They have no ears.’ They don’t listen, and that’s what was happening.”

—Marisa Miakonda Cummings, Omaha tribe member

Brenda Williams, ASLA, has been working on tribal landscapes for 20 years, but it’s what she’s learned not to do that defines her reputation: Talk first. Her work is a lesson in when and how to listen, and what to do, and not do, with what you hear. Timothy A. Schuler follows Williams as she facilitates a new master plan for Blood Run, a sacred site carved by the state lines of South Dakota and Iowa and years of exploitation. The photojournalist Louise Johns documents the land and the people.

If you don’t live in New York City, you can be forgiven for not knowing Randall’s Island. It’s not a destination park like Governors Island or a national monument like Ellis Island. It’s where the city’s residents go to play games—right up against a sewage treatment plant and some of the city’s most monumental infrastructure. After years of neglect, the playing fields and recreational amenities get a jolt of energy from MPFP, Starr Whitehouse, and Mathews Nielsen, among others.

Also in this issue: A new wetland park for Wilmington, Delaware, has layers of challenge. Jeanne Haffner explores Lawrence Halprin’s unbuilt plans for the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C.; the artist Zaria Forman gives us a preview of her new series on Antarctic icebergs; and the first biography of the landscape architect James Rose asks as many questions as it answers. The full table of contents for August 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 August articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Game On,” Sahar Coston-Hardy; “Ears to the Ground,” Louise Johns; “Wrong Side of the River,” Doug Baker, University of Delaware; “Getting Paid,” Dorothee Brand/Belathée Photography; “Traces of Self-Exile,” Courtesy James Rose Center; “BIM There, Done That,” Patrik Argast and O|CB; overlay by LAM.

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