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Archive for the ‘WATER’ Category

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 ZACH MORTICE

City sewer maintenance trucks get a new graphic rebranding. Image courtesy of group projects.

City officials in San Jose, California, have an environmental graphics and public art project they hope will reduce sewer clogs from fats, oils, and grease that residents put down their kitchen sinks—and it only costs $60,000, a tiny fraction of the millions of dollars it would take to update existing infrastructure to handle more cooking waste. The project, called FOG Waste (FOG stands for fats, oils, and grease) was designed by Brett Snyder, an associate professor of design at the University of California, Davis, and Claire Napawan, an associate professor of landscape architecture at UC Davis, who practice together under the name group projects.

When fatty waste is disposed of in a sink or drain, it can solidify and block sewer lines, causing raw sewage to back up into homes, yards, and streets and potentially affect local watersheds. (You might remember the viral footage of the bus-sized ball of fat discovered in a London sewer, dubbed the “fatberg.”) In San Jose, that means raw sewage in San Francisco Bay, causing havoc in local aquatic ecosystems and posing health risks for residents.

The main design challenge for Napawan and Snyder was developing a graphic identity that could educate people on (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Discarded pesticide cans, photographed in 1972. By Daniels, Gene, photographer, Photographer (NARA record: 8463941) (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

In early March, the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), the trade group that represents professional landscape contractors and maintenance professionals, released a statement warmly embracing the new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in the hope that he would roll back pesticide regulations. Three weeks later, Pruitt gave them a strong positive signal. On March 29, ignoring the EPA’s own research, he signed an order denying a petition that would ban the use of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to memory loss and neurological damage.

NALP executives declined to comment on Pruitt’s rescinding the ban, because chlorpyrifos is no longer used by landscape contractors. (It has not been manufactured for nonagricultural use since 2000 because of the risks it poses to human health.) But NALP Vice President of Government Relations Paul Mendelsohn said in an email that the group’s goal in pushing back on pesticide regulations is to make sure its members, who purchase and use pesticides for much of their landscape maintenance work, have as many options as possible: “We have members who offer organic services, and others who use synthetic products,” Mendelsohn says. “Our goal is to strive for a regulatory environment that offers our businesses and their clients a choice in what products are used when providing services.”

NALP’s welcome for an EPA administrator who has spent much of his career suing the agency he now runs stands out among other landscape professional associations and conservation groups. Most have rejected Pruitt (more…)

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BY LYDIA LEE

San Francisco’s Exploratorium discovers its outdoor spaces.

FROM THE APRIL 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

One of the most popular exhibits at San Francisco’s Exploratorium is an immersive experience of the city’s iconic fog. When you walk along the 150-foot-long Fog Bridge by the artist Fujiko Nakaya, you disappear into a white mist generated by 800 tiny nozzles. “When everything is fogged up around you, it’s a wonderful ‘noticing’ tool,” says Tom Rockwell, the Exploratorium’s director of exhibits and media studio. “You notice the change in temperature, the air currents, the light.”

It’s fitting that the Exploratorium, one of the original hands-on museums, encourages visitors to engage directly with the wild. The foundation for its outdoor exhibits is a series of broad decks around the waterfront museum—more than an acre of hardscape—designed by the San Francisco firm GLS Landscape | Architecture. Notably, most of the outdoor areas are accessible by the public and don’t require a ticket for admission. They fulfill a state mandate for public waterfront access, but they are also an important part of the museum’s mission to connect with a much wider community beyond its paying attendees. The spaces are testing grounds for outdoor installations (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

A hydrogel-enabled seed bomb. Credit: U.S. provisional patent application No. 62/465,341. Nahin Shah | Martina Decker, Material Dynamics Lab.

The tools for tactical urbanism seem more likely to be developed in community center meeting halls and anonymous Internet forums rather than university laboratories. But at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), an architecture professor is working on ways to give impromptu urban vegetation efforts staying power with hydrogel seed bombs.

Martina Decker, who directs NJIT’s Idea Factory and Material Dynamics Lab, is combining seed bombs—balls of organic matter that protect and help seeds packed within them grow—with hydrogel granulates, polymers that are extremely hydrophilic, (more…)

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While most renewable energy advocates push for an inclusive “all of the above” approach that embraces solar panels, geothermal, and tidal power, there’s usually one method around which all others orbit. In Northern Europe and the North Sea, that’s wind power.

Dutch landscape architecture firm H+N+S has a plan to harness this potential by installing 25,000 wind turbines in the North Sea across 22,000 square miles, the focus of this month’s cover story, “Power Play 2050.” Over the next 33 years, they say the North Sea can generate 90 percent of power demanded.

H+N+S’s plan, dubbed “2050 – An Energetic Odyssey” and featured at the 2016 International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, is an economic development plan as well as a climate change plan. They predict booming and expanded ports (including an entire island dedicated to the manufacture and construction of wind power infrastructure) and a net gain of jobs, even after accounting for job losses in fossil fuel industries. It would be an incomparable build-up of energy infrastructure, but there’s also a conscientious sense of economical re-use and environmental sensitivity. As described in the video, oil pipelines will be co-opted for carbon sequestration, serving the fossil fuel burners that remain. And wind turbines will have to be designed so that they act as welcoming habitats for underwater plants and animals. These towers will be 12 miles out from shore so that they don’t ruin anyone’s seaward view, far enough away so that the curvature of the earth makes them mostly imperceptible.

“It can be done,” intones the video’s calm, precise BBC-documentary-style narration, “but only when a tailwind can be organized in the shape of realistic pricing or taxation of carbon dioxide that would provide the invisible hand of the market with green gloves.”

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BY ALEX ULAM

Pier55, Inc./Heatherwick Studio

A federal judge has halted Pier 55 in New York City’s Hudson River Park, a constructed island of 2.75 acres expected to cost $200 million.

Plans for Pier 55, by the British design sensation Thomas Heatherwick and Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, call for a sloping, verdant extravaganza atop hundreds of mushroom-shaped concrete pilings driven into the riverbed. The new parkland was designed to do double duty as performance space and would be largely paid for by the billionaire Barry Diller and his wife, the fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, who had established a nonprofit to maintain the place and establish programming for the venues.

But now, owing to a lawsuit by the City Club of New York and other opponents, the permit for Pier 55 has been revoked (more…)

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