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Archive for the ‘THE CLIENT’ Category

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

The Custer Beacon is the result of a years-long visioning process led by local landscape architects.

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

“It’s so incredibly simple, you almost wouldn’t recognize it as landscape architecture,” Tanya Olson, ASLA, a cofounder of Tallgrass Landscape Architecture, says of her firm’s latest project, the Custer Beacon. “And that’s why it’s kind of interesting, because we were involved for years before it got built.”

The Beacon, as it’s known, is a concert hall and “canteen” in Custer, South Dakota, a town of approximately 1,900 people situated in the far west part of the state in the scenic Black Hills. Opened in 2019, the venue occupies a pair of converted metal warehouses located a block off Custer’s main street, Mt. Rushmore Road. Custer is also Tallgrass’s home base, which gives the firm a unique understanding of the culture and rhythms of a small town that is dependent on summer tourism. (more…)

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Landscape architects answer the call to define our post-pandemic future.

FROM THE JUNE 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE

 

In late April, the magazine staff put out a call to landscape architects to tell us the intentions they are setting now for the future, and what they’ve learned working under the pandemic’s constraints that they might want to build on afterward.

We heard back quickly, with nearly 100 landscape architects weighing in within a few days, and a range of the responses fill the next several pages. While there were many different opinions about the experience of teaching, working, and learning remotely, several things poked up over and over. The need for enhanced communication and clarity—with colleagues and clients—was one of the most frequently cited lessons. Working from home has yielded seismic changes to design processes, with many landscape architects vowing to incorporate more geographical flexibility into their future practice and, notably, into hiring. Across the board, students expressed real anxiety about their employment prospects, underscoring an urgency already felt to find ways to retain early career designers and new graduates. Fewer cars, lower carbon emissions, less paper, and more time outside and with family were cited by nearly everyone as eye-opening, unexpected benefits. But for most respondents, the pandemic is a call to action. Sona Greenberg, ASLA, a midcareer professional from Seattle, put it like this: “We’ve worked within a flawed system for a long time. COVID-19 and adjacent world events have exposed these flaws to more of the world and thereby have offered us an opportunity to build something better, locally and globally.”

(more…)

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The latest episode of the Landscape Architecture Podcast from Michael Todoran, ASLA, takes a small step toward addressing what the profession of landscape architecture can do to act as counterweight against the most recent incidents of state-sanctioned violence against black Americans. Todoran’s guest is Kofi Boone, ASLA, a professor of landscape architecture at North Carolina State University, a Landscape Architecture Foundation board member, and a LAM contributor.

In this interview, Boone discusses his writing and lectures on the Black Lives Matter movement’s intersection with African American landscapes, some of which have been resurfacing amid protests over the recent police-involved murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and other black people. In this wide-ranging discussion, Boone and Todoran talk about what tools the profession of landscape architecture has to push back on systems of oppression that are now in full view, and the two pillars landscape architects must now take on: equity and climate change.

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BY BRIAN BARTH

Claude Cormier cracks a smile.

 

FROM THE APRIL 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When Claude Cormier, ASLA, and I pull up to Dorchester Square in Montreal, a man is leaning against the grand fountain, with its three Victorian bowls, all painted a very Victorian shade of green, smoking a cigarette. When we get out of the car, I realize it’s not a cigarette, but a joint. “If you want to buy pot in Montreal, this is where you do it,” says Cormier, in heavily accented English—and he begins to tell me the story of how his firm transformed this historic park into a place that winks at the past, while winking in a few other directions as well.

First developed in the 1860s, Dorchester Square is an oasis of ornate statuary (Queen Victoria; a military horse; and Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s first Francophone prime minister, are all commemorated) and manicured flower beds set amid regal edifices that testify to the city’s railroad-era wealth. Claude Cormier + Associés has been working on improvements to the park (as well as an adjacent green space, Place du Canada) since 2000. In 2015, the firm was selected to restore the northern end of Dorchester Square, a section of which had been lopped off long ago and repurposed for parking. There had not been a fountain in the park previously, but Cormier thought it would make a fitting focal point. Dorchester Square sits on top of an underground garage, and there was a load-bearing column positioned in just the right place to support a 30-foot-high steel fountain at the end of the park’s long axis. There was only one problem: The city said it needed a few extra feet to accommodate the tourist buses that embark from the adjacent block. Those few feet nixed the alignment with the supporting column.

“The city said, get rid of your fountain and design something else,” Cormier tells me, patting the fountain. “And I thought, no, I’m not taking out the fountain.” (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. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

BY JONATHAN LERNER

FROM THE APRIL 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Milwaukee’s city-sponsored recreation program was established in 1911 for the purpose of benevolent social engineering. Its goal was the civic integration of burgeoning, and mostly poor, European immigrant populations. It offered classes in the English language and U.S. citizenship, as well as arts and industrial crafts, sports, clubs, and other entertainment. In some locations there were showers and, during the Depression, workshops for repairing one’s own shoes. These programs were frankly geared toward acculturation and the transmission of mainstream ethics such as team spirit and wholesome presentation; a 1918 list of tips for staff advises that each neighborhood location “must have its own yell and song,” and to “instruct young men to remove hats upon entering buildings.”

The recreation program was placed within the school system, an atypical arrangement. It’s still there today, as the Department of Recreation and Community Services of the Milwaukee Public Schools. Over time, this department acquired the use—and responsibility for maintenance—of 52 neighborhood parks, called playfields. Most were constructed between 1912 and 1974, occupy around three acres each, and are pretty bleak. Typically, they have space for sports such as basketball and softball, a field house with restrooms, maybe a patch of grass. Some have amenities for younger kids—wading pools, slides, and swings. At about 20 of the parks, the department now runs free, drop-in Summer Playground activity programs. Inner-city Milwaukee is still immigrant rich, though ethnicities have changed. Many residents are Hispanic, most of Mexican origin. Some are Asian, including a relatively large Hmong community. And more than 35 percent of city residents are African American, descended not of immigrants, but of migrants who moved north around midcentury for plentiful jobs. Milwaukee was an industrial powerhouse then, but no more. The poverty rate approaches 30 percent. One index of the economic situations of kids who use the playfields is that last year the Summer Playgrounds served them nearly 29,000 free meals—lunch and supper, five days a week.

As Milwaukee’s fortunes fell, the playfields deteriorated. Many now are simply expanses of cracked and heaving asphalt with no shade, broken play equipment, backboards minus hoops, boarded-up field houses, and hostile accretions of chain-link fencing. Custer Playfield, for example, “was a very dark place,” says Beth Rosenow; she’s a neighborhood safety coordinator for Safe & Sound, a nonprofit that tries to build bridges between communities and the police. “People were afraid of who was hiding behind a bush. Nobody used the park unless it was for drinking, smoking weed, a place for kids to hide and do inappropriate things—teenagers, young adults.”

In 2014, Blake Theisen, ASLA (then with SAA Design Group, now the principal owner of Parkitecture + Planning), was hired to conduct a facilities assessment. His report ran to 861 pages. “It showed we had $25 million in identified projects,” says Lynn Greb, the recreation department’s senior director. “Like, holy cow! And that was all just for replacement, not development or design.” Realizing that the department was unequipped to define a comprehensive strategy, Greb hired Pam Linn, FASLA, as recreation facilities project manager, the first-ever landscape architect on the public school system’s staff. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Image courtesy ASLA.

A long-planned guide on construction documents for landscape architects is aimed at experienced and emerging professionals alike.

 

This week, ASLA’s Professional Practice Committee has released  The Landscape Architect’s Guidelines for Construction Contract Administration Services, which offers practitioners guidance to ensure that landscape projects are constructed in accordance with their contract documents. The guide is especially aimed at younger practitioners and emerging professionals starting their own firms, who may have less experience executing built work. “We decided that what we really needed was something that provided someone who is opening a business a basic understanding of where the risks and liabilities, as well as the responsibilities, lay,” says (William) Dwayne Adams Jr., FASLA, an Arizona-based landscape architect, and the editor of the guide.

The guide is arranged chronologically through the life of a project, and it presents the construction process from the perspective of not just landscape architects, but also the client and the contractor. Adams says that construction contract administration responsibilities often get delegated down to younger practitioners without much experience, and because of this, it’s necessary to provide greater context on what project partners are working through. “So what you have is a very parochial view of the world, that the landscape architect is pre-eminent in all the matters of site construction,” he says. But in reality, “you’re a team member, and you need to know what the other members of your team do.”

(more…)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

With regular business upended by the novel coronavirus, landscape architecture principals plot, wait, and wonder.

 

There was a moment on Friday, March 13, when the novel coronavirus changed everything at the office, says Annette Wilkus, FASLA, the founding partner of SiteWorks in Manhattan. “I walked in on Friday, and one of the staff who’s usually solid had this look in her eye and said, ‘Annette, it’s getting really crazy.’” By Monday the 16th, everyone at SiteWorks was working from home, the day that schools, businesses, and Broadway were closing and the S&P 500 fell by 12 percent, the Dow by 13. New York City was bracing for what would swell into the country’s largest wave of COVID-19 cases.

Around the country at the same time, principals of landscape architecture firms were hurrying to get people home to work safely while they sorted out office logistics, took the pulses of clients and their projects, and mentally packed for a weekend that could last months—just as spring was arriving to cold climates where construction otherwise would be firing up. (more…)

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