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Archive for the ‘WILDLIFE’ Category

In Sic Erat Scriptum, landscape architect and filmmaker Evan Mather argues that the Interstate Highway System that has reshaped the nation through epochal public works is not the project of technocratic 20th century humanist ambition, but something far more ancient and out of our control. Through fictionalized Grand Junction Bible College landscape urbanism instructor Melvin McNally (portrayed by Mather), his short film makes the pop-science case that the interstate is really the result of “biomigratory ecology rooted in ancient habitats and dominions.” That is, these roads follow dinosaur trails.

The video’s grainy film quality gives it an air of archival mystique that contrasts with sharp overlay maps of transit corridors throughout the millennia. Accelerated footage of miles of highway whirring past give way to fictionalized newspaper pages filled with dummy text in Latin telling of “Devil Lizards” unearthed during road construction.

There’s the interstate, which was preceded by the early 20th century highway system, which followed railroad lines. These lined up with pioneer wagon trails, themselves mapped to Native American trails, whose only purpose was to follow large mammal migratory patterns.  And concentrations of fossils found in clusters along these paths indicate these creatures were lured by “ancient dinosaur watering holes,” McNally says. It sounds like the prologue to a dusty paperback science fiction novel from the late 1950s. But broken down step by step, it seems reasonable. Foregrounded in acknowledgment of the Anthropocene age (the period of history where human activity is the strongest force affecting planetary ecosystems and geology), it questions whether we’re really writing our own novel, or instead cribbing notes from a story told long, long ago.

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

Credit: GGN (Gustafson Guthrie Nichol).

Credit: GGN (Gustafson Guthrie Nichol).

From “San Francisco’s Overlooked Edge” by Lisa Owens Viani, in the July 2016 issue, featuring the reworking of San Francisco’s neglected shorelines into the Blue Greenway.

“San Francisco terminus.”

—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 ADAM REGN ARVIDSON, FASLA

Milwaukee cleans up the Menomonee Valley but keeps it working.

Milwaukee cleans up the Menomonee Valley but keeps it working.

From the April 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Menomonee means wild rice, and that is the original story of this river. Flowing just 33 miles across southeastern Wisconsin, it joins with two other smallish rivers (the Milwaukee and the Kinnickinnic) just before Lake Michigan to create a freshwater estuary—a back bay to the great lake. The estuary and valley were hunting, fishing, and rice harvesting grounds. Then European settlers came and saw this could also be a good spot for shipping, fixing, and building things.

The Valley, as it is often called, is a four-mile by one-half-mile swath of Menomonee River lowland that industrialized rapidly in the late 1800s. It became home to the great Milwaukee Road’s machine and repair shops—140 acres of railyards and mechanic sheds. In the first half of the 20th century, a middle-class resident of the neighborhoods north and south of the Valley could walk to a job that paid a living wage. Crossing the pedestrian bridges to the railyard, he would likely barely notice the stagnant, channelized, trash-strewn watercourse below.

In the 1980s, following a storyline familiar among midsized cities in the Midwest, the industries began to leave—and leave their messes behind. The Valley became a 1,200-acre scar on the city. “It was buildings that were falling down. It was environmental contamination. It was 60,000 cars driving by on the freeway looking at this property,” says Dave Misky, who has been leading the Valley’s (more…)

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Since 2010, the National Capital Planning Commission in Washington, D.C., has played host to a speaker series that touches on a wide range of planning issues. One of its most recent lectures was Nature in the City | The City in Nature, featuring Douglas Meffert, the executive director of Audubon Louisiana, and Beth White, the director of the Trust for Public Land’s Chicago office, who each described the opportunities opened to these two cities by introducing active living infrastructure. For more information, please click here.

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Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture (Flickr: Pollinator 2) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

This is a big year for pollinators at ASLA. Not just because of recent ASLA advocacy efforts for legislation protecting and enhancing pollinators and their habitats in the United States, but also because of ASLA’s involvement in the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a new White House initiative aimed at creating a million new pollinator-friendly gardens within the next two years. Disappearing habitat, lack of native plants, pesticides, and unknown forces are leading to the frightening loss of pollinators, and the White House is calling on the nation to step up its game.

Mark Cason, the government affairs manager at ASLA (and our friendly floormate), is leading the pollinator advocacy projects. He sees landscape architects as poised to help rebuild pollinator populations. “ASLA is promoting the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge as a way to engage landscape architects to incorporate pollinator-friendly habitats in their designs,” says Cason. Providing for pollinators might seem like a no-brainer, but a study last year found pesticides toxic to bees covering plants marketed as “bee-friendly”; this problem underlines the need to do more. If we protect pollinators, we protect ourselves.

For more information on the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, please visit here.

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BY NATE BERG

Little-loved plants win the affection of Future Green Studio.

Little-loved plants win the affection of Future Green Studio.

From the September 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The huge backyard along the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn was the perfect site for the summertime Sunday afternoon parties that the DJs Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin liked to throw. It had plenty of space, room for a bar, and the overgrowth that comes alongside New York’s lovable Superfund waterway. But they had only temporary leases and permits to throw parties. Their time in the huge backyard wouldn’t last forever.

Carter and Harkin went looking for a permanent home and found something similar: a garbage-strewn industrial lot covered in weeds next to the L tracks in Ridgewood, Queens, a few miles away. “When we found it, it was, like, kind of just a junk heap,” Carter says.

Carter called David Seiter, ASLA, the principal and the design director at Future Green Studio, a landscape design and urban ecology firm of about 20 people then based close to the party space along the Gowanus. Seiter and his studio had also warmed to the area’s unkempt feeling and wanted to keep (more…)

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BY PHILIP WALSH

The compensatory mitigation mandate opens a dynamic arena for landscape architects.

From the August 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

 

“Konk-la-ree!”

Or,

“O-ka-lee!”

The song of the red-winged blackbird, although instantly recognizable, is hard to put to words, as even Roger Tory Peterson, author of A Field Guide to the Birds, found. These syllables are his best efforts. The trilling, almost metallic-sounding warble evokes summertime, cattails, and the watery landscapes where Agelaius phoeniceus goes to breed.

But at this moment I’m not seeing cattails. I’m at the edge of a parking lot behind a pizza restaurant in a suburb north of Boston, looking at a large pit, about 10 feet deep, filled with Phragmites australis, the infamous invasive species that, along with purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), is the scourge of wetlands in the Northeast, choking out cattails and other native species that provide food to the bird population. A few spindly red maples have colonized the embankment, along with some riverbank grape (Vitis riparia), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), and Rosa multiflora, a pretty though sprawling shrub introduced to America in 1866 to provide rootstock for hybrid roses and now classed as a pest in many states. Despite the red-winged blackbird’s bright song, this is a dismal place, especially in the fading afternoon sunlight, a bit of wasteland left behind by development, one of millions of similar places across the country.

This blighted spot, however, is a mandated compensatory wetland mitigation under (more…)

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