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Archive for the ‘THE BACK’ Category

BY PHILLIP FERNBERG, ASSOCIATE ASLA, AND BRENT CHAMBERLAIN

Advancements in Artificial Intelligence creativity should make us rethink the future of landscape architecture practice.

FROM THE AUGUST 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

If you were to thumb through old issues of Science magazine, once you hit 1967 you would come across an obscure article coauthored by Allen Newell, an esteemed pioneer of artificial intelligence research, arguing for the validity of a new discipline called computer science. In the article, Newell and his colleagues Alan J. Perlis and Herbert A. Simon address some fundamental objections within academia to the idea that the study of computers was, in fact, a science or even a worthwhile pursuit. The questions are simple but fundamental: Is there such a thing as computer science? If so, what is it?

As you read the objections and their respective responses, you might begin to think as we did about the similar line of questioning that has been employed in landscape architecture. Substitute the computer speak with our own professional jargon and you have near carbon copies of themes from licensure advocacy meetings, ASLA conferences, or academic treatises on the state of the discipline. Computer science and landscape architecture have a surprising amount in common. They are both relatively new (at least in the official sense), they have both evolved in significant ways over the past century, and they both have been in an ongoing existential discussion about their position amid peer disciplines. This is nice to know but not revelatory.

Yet the intersection gets more interesting. One of the objections in the article states: “The term ‘computer’ is not well defined, and its meaning will change with new developments, hence computer science does not have a well-defined subject matter.” The authors’ reply is astute and resonant: “The phenomena of all sciences change over time; the process of understanding assures that this will be the case. Astronomy did not originally include the study of interstellar gases; physics did not include radioactivity; psychology did not include the study of animal behavior. Mathematics was once defined as the ‘science of quantity.’” So too is the phenomenon of landscape architecture; it just happens to work on an accelerated timeline. The field is ever shifting, retooling, and reassessing our place as our understanding of our medium and our instruments evolves. Before Olmsted, landscapes were gardens rather than systems; before Ian McHarg’s Design with Nature, those systems were not intertwined with ecology; before CAD, GIS, or Adobe, our only tools were pen and paper. (more…)

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BY LYDIA LEE

A new design for San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Plaza may succeed where others have fallen short.

FROM THE JULY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In the 1970s, Harvey Milk turned San Francisco into a symbol of hope for LGBTQ+ people everywhere. One of the first openly gay politicians in the United States, Milk was assassinated in 1978. Since then, the city has been without a substantive memorial to one of its most iconic figures. After a four-year effort to redesign a tiny memorial plaza next to a transit stop failed to gain traction, the San Francisco office of SWA has restarted the process by surveying the community about the kind of memorial it wants. “We had to back up and ask these fundamental questions about how to memorialize Harvey,” says SWA’s Daniel Cunningham, the project manager and design lead. (more…)

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

Photo by Aaron Williams, ASLA.

From “Artist’s Block” by Patrick Sisson in the June 2021 issue, about Aaron Williams, ASLA, whose COVID-19 quarantine hobby has him carefully re-creating Lego replicas of Madison, Wisconsin, architecture.

“The Lego workbench.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 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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 Designing for Just and Multifunctional Energy Landscapes

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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