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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 UJIJJI DAVIS, ASLA

FROM THE OCTOBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

“Ideas don’t land—they emerge,” Julie Bargmann, ASLA, began.

On the corner of Grand River and Warren Avenues in Detroit’s Core City stands a cluster of renovated postindustrial buildings, rising starkly amid the remnants of a long-quieted commercial corridor. Within the cluster are the new Ochre Bakery, Magnet restaurant, and a web of small new offices and enterprises. Anchoring the cluster at the center is Core City Park.

In design and execution, Core City Park is an urban woodland. It formalizes Detroit’s naturalized typologies with a true sense of care and intentionality. The park expertly blurs the sense of boundaries through a grove of deciduous trees and an intermittent carpet of ferns and native violets. The site is furnished with found relics and leftover construction materials, all of which establish clearings and seating areas within the groves. An industrial rail line rumbles occasionally across the street.

In the traditional sense of landscape architecture, where there are outdoor rooms with specific programs, this space allows you to break away without leaving the park. Core City Park distributes lush green clusters that frame and link together a network of groves and clearings to characterize a wilderized landscape within a fixed urban typology. Grand River Avenue and the surrounding buildings create a permeable edge that helps Core City Park blur the binaries of public and private, open and intimate, wild and formal. The urban yet natural duality of this park speaks to an effective landscape marriage that fully invites the Detroit context (and discontext) to liven and expand a central green space. (more…)

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BY RACHEL DOVEY

In Akron, Ohio, investment in the civic commons sparks a dialogue about social equity.

FROM THE OCTOBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Summit Lake in Akron, Ohio, is a glacial landmark shaped like a lopsided figure eight. It sits along a continental divide, so its waters flow both north toward Lake Erie and south toward the Mississippi River. “Not many cities have this kind of asset,” says Kyle Lukes, ASLA, a senior landscape architect with Environmental Design Group in Akron.

The residents who live next to the lake haven’t always seen it that way, though. In 2016, Akron was one of five cities chosen for Reimagining the Civic Commons, a $40 million effort with backing from the Knight and Kresge Foundations, among others, to counter trends of economic segregation, social isolation, and distrust through creative reuses of public space. Akron’s proposal included the lake and the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, which winds along the shore and follows a canal north. But when Lukes and a group of landscape architects and park staff broached the idea of remaking the waterfront for residents, they instead heard requests to fence off the shoreline. (more…)

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FOREGROUND

 Miami’s Next Wave (Water)
In Miami Beach, Savino & Miller wrangles with local regulations that are designed to protect natural
resources but often clash with the advancing sea.

American Gothic 2.0 (Food)
A start-up launches with a very tech vision for enormous, centralized greenhouses and resilient food
systems, even if some of the details haven’t been worked out yet.

 FEATURES

The Plus Side
Carbon calculators for architecture can miss landscape benefits, so Pamela Conrad, ASLA, turned a
spreadsheet into Pathfinder, an app with landscape at its heart.

To the Core
At a tiny semiderelict site in Detroit, Julie Bargmann, ASLA, found a collaborator and an
urban forest that was waiting to be unearthed.

The full table of contents for October can be found here.

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.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be posting October articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “The Plus Side,” City of Alameda, Recreation and Parks Department; “To the Core,” Chris Miele; “American Gothic 2.0,” AppHarvest; “Miami’s Next Wave,” www.shutterstock.com/imageMD; “A Way of Walking,” Katherine Jenkins.

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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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