Archive for the ‘VIEWS’ Category

BY ZACH MORTICE

The lago at Roberto Burle Marx’s Sítio, which he composed by eye from truckloads of species collected during his botanical expeditions. Image courtesy Julian Raxworthy.

It’s time for landscape architects to re-embrace what makes them fundamentally different.

 

Since its inception, it’s been hard to find much agreement in landscape architecture over the profession’s purpose and how it should work. For some contemporary designers, landscape architecture, in theory if a bit less in practice, is most visible when ecological systems are designed and deployed to remediate the earth, water, air, and biomes, often at an infrastructural scale. And yet, a profession wholly obsessed with infrastructure would to seem to miss the trees for the forest.

The Australian landscape architect Julian Raxworthy posits a way forward in his new book, Overgrown: Practices Between Landscape Architecture and Gardening, published by The MIT Press. Landscape architects, he notes, have retreated from the defining element of their corner of the spatial world: the development and management of planting design. Plants, he argues, are defined by their growth over time and the maintenance used to train them. Gardeners (whose ranks Raxworthy once populated) haven’t lost track of this fact. Growth is landscape architecture’s fundamental currency. From there, he launches into a populist call to tear down the blue collar/white collar divide between gardeners and landscape architects. Raxworthy (who is headed to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, after living in Cape Town, South Africa, for five years, teaching at the University of Cape Town) seems to admire messiness and rebellion against the bespoke and delicate. That preference is not surprising if you chat him up about his days as a music writer in the 1980s in Sydney, attending shows by Public Enemy and Dead Kennedys. Of one of his case study projects (created by a designer who never studied landscape architecture), he writes: “As a gardener rather than a landscape architect, the only plans Korte produced for the project were to satisfy the authorities. All other decisions arose organically through spending four years on site with a gang of four young German laborers who had returned from Brazil and smoked marijuana constantly. He looked back on this way of working with some nostalgia, saying that this time on site was the height of his career.” (more…)

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HERE COMES EVERYBODY

BY ANNE RAVER

The final pier has opened. Brooklyn Bridge Park is all but complete.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

It was raining, so we crouched, rather than sat, in the grassy bowl that Michael Van Valkenburgh, FASLA, had envisioned as the centerpiece of the newly completed green space and playground on Pier 3, which, like most of the other piers in Brooklyn Bridge Park, sprawls over five acres, into the East River.

“I’m lucky to know what it’s like to imagine and hope for something like this for 20 years and finally see it, have it realized,” said Van Valkenburgh, whose firm drew its first plan for this park in 1999. “Look at that sky.” (more…)

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

Photo by Scott Shigley.

From “Here Comes Everybody” in the December 2018 issue by Anne Raver, about Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates’ massive Brooklyn Bridge Park, which may well define Brooklyn’s relationship to its waterfront for generations.

“Dawn at Brooklyn Bridge Park.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

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.

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

Photo by Thrainn Hauksson.

From “A Greater Crater” in the November 2018 issue by Bradford McKee, about Landslag’s Saxhóll Crater Stair in Iceland (winner of the 2018 Rosa Barba International Landscape Prize), which provides access to a jaw-dropping volcano vista while still protecting a delicate alpine ecosystem.

“Crater climb.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

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.

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BY LESLEY PEREZ, ASSOCIATE ASLA

In Pittsburgh, Merritt Chase wants to help the city capitalize on its biggest unsung assets: stairs.

FROM THE OCTOBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Growing up about an hour south of Pittsburgh, Nina Chase, ASLA, always admired the bold natural beauty of the city’s dramatic hills. But relocating to the city two years ago gave her a new appreciation of the incredible amount of human ingenuity that went into transforming that terrain into a livable, connected place. “There’s this whole motley crew of infrastructure that helps people navigate the topography,” Chase says. With elevations ranging from 710 feet above sea level where the rivers meet to 1,300 feet at the highest points, Pittsburgh relies on a vast network of bridges, inclines, stairs, and tunnels to knit itself together.

It’s the stairs, however, that have come to be most emblematic. There are more than 800 stairs scattered across Pittsburgh, which according to the city’s website is more than any other city in the United States. They scale steep hills, open up vistas, function as sidewalks, and provide (more…)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

Landslag, of Reyk­javík, takes home the 2018 Rosa Barba Prize.

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The site, the Saxhóll Crater, is part of Snæfellsjökull, a volcano on a far western finger of Iceland that is the starting point for Journey to the Center of the Earth, the 1864 science fiction novel by Jules Verne. This worn-down cone of lava, 125 feet high, is a popular stop for tourists who want to walk up to its summit amid patches of multicolored mosses, lichens, arctic thyme, and bog bilberry to see views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding glacier cap, which is expected to disappear within 50 years. Tourism is up sharply in Iceland, quadrupling since 2010 to two mil­lion visitors in 2017. The wear was evident on the crater’s flank, where the path to the summit was degrading and splitting into multiple tracks, not helped by random, gabion-like treads where the going got especially rough.

The project of preserving the crater’s fragile ecology along with access to people fell to Thrainn Hauksson, of the landscape architecture office Landslag, in Reyk­javík. Hauksson’s office designed the simplest thing possible— (more…)

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BY RANDY GRAGG

Plans to string gondolas over American cities abound.

FROM THE JULY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

In the early 2000s, one of Portland, Oregon’s leading employers and research institutions, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), faced a steep, downhill battle. Sited on a hilltop, surrounded by unbuildable canyons and neighborhoods unwilling to yield another inch to expansion, OHSU’s nearest sizable hunk of developable land lay on the Willamette River less than a mile away—for a blue heron. Cars and buses contended with winding, traffic-snarled commutes of anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes.

A campus planner’s brain brightly blinked: Why not an aerial tram? Protests erupted, politicians tangled, and costs lurched $47 million over the earliest budget fantasy of $9.5 million. But in 2007, two sleek, bubble-shaped cars (their shiny artisanal shells carefully machine-hammered by craftsmen from Gangloff Cabins of Switzerland) began flying to and fro across the campus. Today, they ferry more than 50,000 riders per week to a 2.35-million-square-foot cluster of new OHSU buildings.

At the time, the tram was only the third urban transit ropeway system in America, after Telluride’s in Colorado and Roosevelt Island’s in New York. Now, however, proposals for urban tramways are becoming more prevalent. A consortium in Washington, D.C., is poised to launch a $1 million environmental impact study for an aerial connection between Rosslyn, Virginia, and Georgetown across the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., to bypass the clogged Key Bridge. New York is angling for two flights: a midtown connection to Roosevelt Island and (more…)

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