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Archive for the ‘THE BACK’ Category

As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish.

BY NICHOLAS PEVZNER, YEKANG KO, AND KIRK DIMOND, ASLA

FROM THE JUNE 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Renewable energy is a central element in the Biden administration’s climate plans, a response to President Joe Biden’s campaign goal of a 100 percent clean grid by 2035 and the promise of 10 million well-paying green infrastructure jobs. Renewable energy and the power sector must play a central part in this plan if the United States is to meet Biden’s ambitious new national climate target. The goal, released on Earth Day as part of a virtual international climate gathering ahead of the COP26 Climate Change Conference, is to achieve a 50 percent reduction in climate emissions by 2030 measured against 2005 levels. And clean energy transmission, generation, and storage have a major presence in the American Jobs Plan, the Biden administration’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal now making its way through Congress. All of this renewable energy would represent a major transformation of the landscape. What would it mean for landscape design, and what would the designer’s role be in such a major overhaul of the energy sector? (more…)

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REVIEWED BY LISA CASEY, ASLA

FROM THE APRIL 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Connecting children to public space outdoors had a watershed moment, a clarion call, in 2005 when Richard Louv published his now classic Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. A journalist with a gift for storytelling, Louv was able to take the facts of the disturbingly shrinking time that young people spend outdoors and wrap it in a way that sparked the imagination of parents, educators, and child advocates everywhere. Although landscape architects, planners, and environmental psychologists have observed, studied, and discussed these trends for decades, his clarity at a key inflection point opened a movement like that of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring or Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac.

However, there is something of an unspoken assumption around the original research and Louv’s framework in saying that the previous generation had better access to nature. Some did, as in the enthralling story that Kathryn Aalto shares in The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh of the eight-year-old A. A. Milne with his 10-year-old brother going on a long, unaccompanied ramble through the English countryside in the 1890s. Milne was the son of a progressive school headmaster and certainly had an exceptional childhood with such independence. Many of his contemporaries, at least half within the United States, were already in the workforce by age 14 according to the historian Robert Gordon. Young girls of the same age were in a different but no less dreary position of unending drudgery at home. The image of the carefree youth, which Mark Twain so eloquently captured in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer during this era, is ultimately one of privilege. In the early 20th century, fortunate boys living without the unending chores of a farm or factory hours in the city had more leisure time to explore the woods and streams. “The country road with barefoot boys, dogs, and fishing poles was an important part of early twentieth century small-town iconography,” notes Gordon, quoting Sinclair Lewis. The iconic youth in small towns was in various ways an elite group. How many prior generations of children of color and girls were never in Louv’s proverbial woods in the first place?

The editors of The Routledge Handbook of Designing Public Spaces for Young People focus on providing access and voice specifically to these groups of marginalized young people. Access, in particular, has been a central topic in the research and at conferences. There has also been increasing discussion around social justice. However, empowering voices within the process is a newer concept that brings a different set of challenges to the committed professional. (more…)

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BY HANIYA RAE

Trial and error yields a fluid sculpture for a public park.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In early 2020, the artist and landscape architect Falon Mihalic, ASLA, of Falon Land Studio was chosen to create Meander, a public art piece for Houston’s historic Market Square Park. The concrete and resin sculpture was to replace a beloved (but weathered) sculpture with something more modern and abstract, while also offering a place to sit for both adults and children and some additional light at night.

“Market Square Park is not a huge space, and it’s bound by things that I didn’t want to disturb,” says Mihalic, who is also the current chair of LAM’s Editorial Advisory Committee. “A previous iteration of Meander stretched into the paving, but they’re historic Freedmen’s Town pavers. So, we knocked out some planting beds to keep the historic elements intact.” (more…)

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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish.

BY KATHARINE LOGAN

FROM THE JANUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Sourberry, red willow, redbud, sedge: These are some of the plants native to the meadows and creek sides of Mariposa County, at the mouth of California’s Yosemite Valley, where for thousands of years the women of the Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation have woven them into baskets—for gathering food, for cradling infants high and safe while the women work, and for receiving babies as they’re born.

Most recently, Miwuk basketry is the focus of a public art installation helping to inform Sacramento-based Atlas Lab’s development of a Creative Placemaking Master Plan for Mariposa County. As a demonstration project to invite community input while broadening perceptions of the possibilities for public art, the temporary installation is located beside a footbridge crossing Mariposa Creek, where once-plentiful native plants are now struggling in a landscape transformed by settlement. “The strength we have as landscape architects is to reveal these hidden histories,” says Atlas Lab’s founder and principal Kimberly Garza, ASLA. (more…)

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TEXT BY MIMI ZEIGER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHAD RESS

As the country confronts economic stalemate, Chad Ress’s photographs prompt comparisons with imperfect efforts to rebuild in the past.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

On February 17, 2009, less than a month after his inauguration, President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. A stimulus bill meant to jump-start the nation’s flatlined economy, the Recovery Act, as it was popularly known, promised nearly $800 million to state and local governments for the funding of “shovel-ready” projects.

The following year, the Ojai, California–based photographer Chad Ress stood on a dry lake bed in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and watched a tractor maneuver boulders into totemic piles in New Hogan Lake in Valley Springs, California. He was there to document a project funded by ARRA. The resulting photograph is almost boring. The frame captures signs of California’s epic drought; what was once covered in water is now dust. The sky is nearly white. Yet that line of rocks was evidence of money at work.

The book America Recovered (Actar Publishers, 2019) pairs Ress’s photographs with snippets of text that he pulled from recovery.gov, the government-sponsored and now-defunct website that listed each of the public works funded by ARRA. Although the site was taken down in 2016, a mothballed version can be found in the Library of Congress archive. The recovery.gov site didn’t show photos or drawings, just obtuse project descriptions of what might get done and a dollar amount. The unheroic list was meant to demonstrate transparency, but it had all the charm of bureaucratic efficiency married to a partisan political climate (the Republican-controlled Senate at the time aimed to minimize many achievements of the Obama administration).

The website struck Ress as an important counterpoint to the archive of images amassed during the Great Depression by Roy Stryker, who launched the documentary photography division of the Farm Security Administration under New Deal legislation. Photographers including Walker Evans, Gordon Parks, and Dorothea Lange were assigned to photograph America under economic hardship. Their cameras captured how people were living, government buildings, factories, and places of worship. Parallel documentation undertaken by the Works Progress Administration celebrated the monumentality of new public works—such as the majestic Hoover Dam photographed by Ansel Adams.

“I wanted to explore those disconnects between what I could read on recovery.gov and what I could see,” Ress says. “I was hoping that the language would align with what I could photograph, but that only happened once: New Hogan Lake, Valley Springs.” (more…)

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BY PATRICK SISSON

A new landscape architecture docuseries goes behind the scenery.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

“It’s hard to tell the story of the L.A. River without flying through it,” says Michael Todoran, a landscape designer, lecturer, and podcast host. Along with his students at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, in January Todoran began filming “Superfisky: The Allure of the Urban Wild,” the first episode of Larchitect, a docuseries devoted to landscape architecture. This in-progress episode focuses on Kat Superfisky, a landscape designer, ecologist, and educator working to restore the natural beauty and native plant life on the shores of the mostly concrete-lined waterway. When the landscape, specifically the Los Angeles River, is a supporting character in your story, visual exposition becomes critical. The best solution was a helicopter shot that showed the true breadth and boundless energy of this body of water. (more…)

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REVIEWED BY JUSTIN PARSCHER

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. 

 

Students should learn to draw by hand, to fly drones, to do interpretive dance, to do light construction. They should collaborate with social scientists, with soil scientists, with local community members, with their counterparts in New Zealand. They need to be able to craft policy, wrangle BIM data, construct dioramas, and plant green roofs. In the best-case scenario, there are only five years to fit this all in. What is crucial? What gets left out? And keep in mind the vast array of wicked problems converging on us while we try to figure that out.

The two new Teaching Landscape books put out by the European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools (ECLAS) give the reader an acute sense of the sheer scope of the mission landscape architecture educators take on. As the former ECLAS president Simon Bell explains in his foreword to the Routledge Handbook of Teaching Landscape, “This book originated in a deeply felt need by all ECLAS members for up-to-date materials to help them to teach. It must be said at the outset that we do not want all schools to be alike and to teach exactly the same things in the same ways—we want to maintain diversity.” The results reflect that. The topics of teaching range widely, from the theoretical to the applied, and from technology to writing. The end result is often difficult to treat as an actual handbook. With some exceptions, like Peter M. Butler’s useful primer for creating a service learning studio, the majority of the contributions are case studies of the authors’ own classes, usually without much context given as to the curriculum in which they sit. The overwhelming variety gives you the same sense of disbelief you have watching the finalists at the Westminster Dog Show: How are these things all related? And how would you judge them against each other? (more…)

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