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Archive for the ‘VIEWS’ Category

BY ZACH MORTICE / PHOTOGRAPHY BY KYLE JEFFERS

Mixed-income housing alone can’t change public housing residents’ lives. So Gary Strang is putting the landscape to work.

FROM THE OCTOBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Correction appended.

The first thing you notice is all the cars. The Potrero Hill housing projects occupy a strange landscape divided by Jersey barriers and concrete retaining walls that carve up the site’s topography. Endless rows of cars are parked along its curving streets and in front of 62 three- and four-story barracks-style buildings that step down the steep hill. It’s the first indication that this isolated, often forgotten section of the city is not that well connected to the thriving, upscale urbanism of San Francisco that surrounds it. “The beautiful green landscape, the Corbusian dream, just becomes parking,” says Gary Strang, FASLA, the founder of GLS Landscape | Architecture, the firm that was hired to radically reshape this place.

For Curteesha Cosby, who lives at Potrero, these parked cars are sometimes a refuge of last resort. When she’s walking her kids to school at 7:00 a.m. and hears gunfire, she hits the ground and rolls her children under them till it ends. She says she hears shooting nearly every day. She’s exhausted by Potrero. “I just want people to be happy and everyone to be safe,” she says. Her cousin was gunned down in the housing complex a few days before we spoke. Edward Hatter, the executive director of the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, a nonprofit serving the area, tells me the community is waiting for the retaliatory violence that often follows shootings.

Potrero Terrace and Annex has long been one of San Francisco’s most dysfunctional large-scale public housing developments. Residents complain of (more…)

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

Photo courtesy of Lisa Daye.

From LAM’s special September 2017 awards issue, Facebook’s green roof in its Menlo Park, California, headquarters by CMG Landscape Architecture is (at nine acres) large enough to reset visitors’ assumptions of where the ground plane is.

“Rooftop reflection.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

You can read the full table of contents for September 2017 or pick up a free digital issue of the September LAM here and share it with your clients, colleagues, and friends. 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 KARL KULLMANN

Drone mapping fills a missing link in site representation.

FROM THE MAY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. 

In many ways, the satellite has been instrumental for landscape architecture. As the apex of two centuries of progressively higher aerial reconnaissance, the satellite’s view reveals landscape associations and patterns that remain concealed at lower altitudes. Through these revelations, satellite imagery played a key role in the reinterpretation of cities as complex ecological systems instead of mere assemblages of buildings. Ultimately, online satellite mapping applications confirmed that the entire planet is composed of landscape. Through the convenience of GPS-equipped mobile devices, we now seamlessly integrate the satellite’s landscape into our everyday lives.

A world tuned in to the synthesizing role of landscape is undoubtedly empowering for landscape architecture. But as enlightening and convenient as the satellite’s all-encompassing gaze may be, the tyranny of distance coupled with a downward viewing angle also undermines its potency. As landscape architects are abundantly aware, the nuances and details that enrich the landscape are often camouflaged from 450 miles above Earth within shadowed, interstitial, and underneath spaces. Even with familiarization and steadily improving image resolutions, abstract planimetric forms routinely fail to resonate with an individual’s perception of his or her place in the world. The recurring popularity of more immersive angles such as the archaic bird’s-eye view is probably a reaction to this lingering apprehension.

These shortcomings are revealed at the site scale, at which a significant portion of landscape practice occurs. At this scale, the substitution of feature surveys or commissioned aerial imaging with freely available satellite-derived GIS data often lowers the quality of spatial information. GIS mapping data interpolated from much larger data sets trades site specificity for expansive coverage, and its accuracy typically has not been verified on the ground. Given that landscape architecture relies on maps in one form or another to interpret, abstract, conceptualize, and ultimately reconfigure the ground, (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The most important question related to the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago’s South Side doesn’t have that much to do with its architecture.

It is instead: What kind of landscape stewardship can a presidential museum and library offer? To be located in Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted’s Jackson Park, the project already has a heap of canonical landscape history to contend with. So can the Obama library make a great park greater?

The answer is… (more…)

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BY JAMES TRULOVE / PHOTOGRAPHY BY RUNGKIT CHAROENWAT

Landscape Architects of Bangkok has reforested a speck of the Thai capital. The cobras seem to approve.

FROM THE MAY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

It would not be a stretch to think of this reforestation project as a “vest-pocket” park, much in the tradition of the work of the noted landscape architect Robert Zion in New York City. After all, the name of the project, “Metro-Forest,” might suggest as much. Though it is not bounded on all sides by encroaching office towers, this five-acre landscape rests squarely in the midst of equally inhospitable and unchecked suburban sprawl dotted by illegal dump sites (of which this was once one), a tangle of expressways and surface roads, and the din of more than 800 planes landing and departing nearby every day at Suvarnabhumi Airport, which serves Bangkok. Certainly many of the design elements of a vest-pocket park are present: a water feature to mask the clamor of planes and cars, native plants that recall a bygone era, seating to contemplate the surrounding nature, hardscape to create boundaries, and a carefully designed network of berms that increase the overall planting area of this small space while blocking views of the surroundings.

The project, which won a 2016 ASLA Professional Honor Award for General Design, is an oasis, (more…)

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Elizabeth Meyer, FASLA, the Merrill D. Peterson Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia School of Architecture, will be at the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture on March 9, 2017.

We are delighted to announce the first event in the Landscape Architecture Magazine Lecture Series, a program we’ve been cooking for a while now. The LAM Lecture Series will bring together design professionals, educators, and thinkers in conversation around provocative issues in the field of landscape architecture. From the beginning, we’d hoped to land Elizabeth Meyer, FASLA, as our inaugural speaker, and we are very pleased she’ll be joining us on March 9 at 7:00 p.m. in conversation with our own LAM Editor Brad McKee. Meyer will be speaking at the new ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture in Washington, D.C., about her ongoing engagement with the idea of beauty in landscape architecture, in a talk titled, Beyond Sustaining Beauty: Aesthetic Entanglements with Climate Change Science.”

Meyer’s talk will build on several years of thinking and writing on landscape and aesthetics, and we thought we’d post the two foundation essays she wrote on the topic as a kind of primer for Thursday’s talk. The first, “Sustaining Beauty: The Performance of Appearance,” appeared in the magazine in October 2008 (originally published in the Spring 2008 Journal of Landscape Architecture), and remains one of our most requested reprints. More recently, Meyer published “Beyond Sustaining Beauty: Musings on a Manifesto,” in Values in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design: Finding Center in Theory and Practice, edited by M. Elen Deming. We think both essays, and the talk she’ll give at the Center, will be topics of conversation for a long time to come.

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BY BRAULIO AGNESE

Art by Katarina Katsma, ASLA. Photo courtesy By Shenandoah National Park from Virginia [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Photo illustration by Katarina Katsma, ASLA. Photo courtesy Shenandoah National Park from Virginia [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

On Dec. 28, 2016, then-National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis signed “Director’s Order #21: Donations and Philanthropic Partnerships,” the latest update to the agency’s guidance on engagement in public–private partnerships and the appropriate acceptance of support from the private sector. Originally issued in 1998 and then revised in 2006 and 2008, the directive’s newest version received backlash from several quarters after the NPS released a draft version for a 45-day public comment period in late March 2016. (Jarvis retired from the NPS on Jan. 3, 2017. Michael Reynolds, former deputy director of operations, is serving as acting director until a permanent appointee is named.)

The draft generated a strong negative response from preservation groups, government-focused nonprofits, and corporate watchdogs, which pointed out the greatly expanded possibilities for corporate visuals (such as wraps on NPS vehicles), warned of logos on national treasures, and expressed the worry that park managers would become active solicitors for commercial sponsorships. Scenic America, devoted to preserving the “visual character of America,” partnered with Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert, a nonpartisan, nonprofit initiative for keeping “commercial culture within its proper sphere,” to spread the word about the draft. The NPS received 350 comments on the directive, 80 percent of which were negative, Commercial Alert estimated in a September letter.

In its press release announcing the finalization of the order, the NPS notes that the revised order arose from a desire to “better align the bureau with (more…)

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