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FIRST ON THE GROUND

BY ZACH MORTICE

Andrew Sargeant’s design for a stormwater retention park that’s part of Cleveland’s Rockefeller Park. Image courtesy Andrew Sargeant, ASLA.

Andrew Sargeant is the first Enterprise Rose Fellow from landscape architecture.

 

For the first time in its 20-year history, Enterprise Community Partners, the nonprofit housing and advocacy organization, has selected a fellow from landscape architecture for the prestigious Rose Fellowship. The fellowship pairs early career designers with nonprofits and community organizations to develop equitable housing and open space in cities and small towns across the country. Andrew Sargeant, ASLA, will work with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) on urban design and landscape architecture projects that generate equitable, high-quality public space through 2022.

Sargeant has been very active since he graduated from Temple University in 2016. A former 2018–2019 Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) Fellow, Sargeant has worked at OLIN in Philadelphia and Lionheart Places in Austin, Texas. He will continue on as the vice president of the board of the Urban Studio, the nonprofit design collaborative he launched with LAF fellows Kendra Hyson, ASLA; Maisie Hughes; and Daví de la Cruz, Associate ASLA, that supports high school-age kids who are interested in design careers. Continue Reading »

THE DARK SIDE OF LIGHT

As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. 

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

FROM THE DECEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

If you lived in Paris in the 17th century, you paid the taxe des boues et lanternes, the tax on mud and lanterns. The levy paid for the maintenance of the city’s streets and its system of lanterns, a network of some 5,000 tallow candles suspended in glass cases 20 feet above Paris’s streets, and one of the earliest examples of public street lighting in the world.

The inventor of this early illumination system was not a city planner or a scientist but Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie, considered to be the city’s first police chief. Since its earliest days, “public lighting was closely connected with the police,” writes the cultural historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch. The high-strung lanterns in Paris were “beacons in the city, representing law and order,” while the paid torch bearers who wandered Paris’s streets providing supplemental illumination also doubled as police informants.

Today, street lighting and surveillance are as tightly enmeshed as ever, as manufacturers proffer networked luminaires with embedded sensors that are capable of feeding enormous amounts of data into proprietary operating systems, turning the city into what the writer Geoff Manaugh, author of A Burglar’s Guide to the City, describes as a “forensic tool for recording its residents.”

“It’s very Fahrenheit 451,” says Linnaea Tillett, Affiliate ASLA, the founder and principal of Tillett Lighting Design Associates, which specializes in lighting for outdoor spaces. “You have a light pole that can listen to you, watch you, and it’s all hidden.” Continue Reading »

RECOVERING, AGAIN

TEXT BY MIMI ZEIGER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHAD RESS

As the country confronts economic stalemate, Chad Ress’s photographs prompt comparisons with imperfect efforts to rebuild in the past.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

On February 17, 2009, less than a month after his inauguration, President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. A stimulus bill meant to jump-start the nation’s flatlined economy, the Recovery Act, as it was popularly known, promised nearly $800 million to state and local governments for the funding of “shovel-ready” projects.

The following year, the Ojai, California–based photographer Chad Ress stood on a dry lake bed in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and watched a tractor maneuver boulders into totemic piles in New Hogan Lake in Valley Springs, California. He was there to document a project funded by ARRA. The resulting photograph is almost boring. The frame captures signs of California’s epic drought; what was once covered in water is now dust. The sky is nearly white. Yet that line of rocks was evidence of money at work.

The book America Recovered (Actar Publishers, 2019) pairs Ress’s photographs with snippets of text that he pulled from recovery.gov, the government-sponsored and now-defunct website that listed each of the public works funded by ARRA. Although the site was taken down in 2016, a mothballed version can be found in the Library of Congress archive. The recovery.gov site didn’t show photos or drawings, just obtuse project descriptions of what might get done and a dollar amount. The unheroic list was meant to demonstrate transparency, but it had all the charm of bureaucratic efficiency married to a partisan political climate (the Republican-controlled Senate at the time aimed to minimize many achievements of the Obama administration).

The website struck Ress as an important counterpoint to the archive of images amassed during the Great Depression by Roy Stryker, who launched the documentary photography division of the Farm Security Administration under New Deal legislation. Photographers including Walker Evans, Gordon Parks, and Dorothea Lange were assigned to photograph America under economic hardship. Their cameras captured how people were living, government buildings, factories, and places of worship. Parallel documentation undertaken by the Works Progress Administration celebrated the monumentality of new public works—such as the majestic Hoover Dam photographed by Ansel Adams.

“I wanted to explore those disconnects between what I could read on recovery.gov and what I could see,” Ress says. “I was hoping that the language would align with what I could photograph, but that only happened once: New Hogan Lake, Valley Springs.” Continue Reading »

PAINED PLAZA

BY JARED BREY

As the pandemic slows projects, Philadelphia has a chance to rethink a difficult public space.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Most of Philadelphia was still asleep when city workers pulled the nine-foot-high statue of Frank Rizzo off the concrete steps of the Municipal Services Building across from City Hall, loaded it into a truck, and carted it off to an undisclosed storage locker. It was early June, and by then, the Rizzo statue, which depicted in monumental proportions the racist former mayor and bully cop, had been a target of protesters for years. They had tugged on it with ropes and chains, tried to set it on fire, yarn-bombed it with a pink bikini, and covered it in a white Ku Klux Klan hood. In late May it became a focal point of protests again. Long lines of police began standing guard in front of the statue daily. Officially, they were guarding the Municipal Services Building, but as the police presence grew, it began to seem like they were there to protect the statue or the very legacy of Rizzo himself.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney had previously said the statue would be removed as part of an eventual redesign of Thomas Paine Plaza, the elevated public podium that surrounds the Municipal Services Building. But in a statement that day, explaining the sudden overnight removal of the statue, he acknowledged that tying its removal to the long-term plans for a plaza makeover, rather than the immediate and repeated demands of protesters, was “a mistake.”

“The statue is a deplorable monument to racism, bigotry, and police brutality for members of the Black community, the LGBTQ community, and many others,” Kenney said.

Still, for days after the statue was removed, police officers and military service members remained stationed at Paine Plaza as if they were occupying a hill, looking down on the surrounding sidewalks from the high corners of its concrete walls. Pennsylvania National Guardsmen holding rifles and dressed in fatigues blocked access from the street. “Why are the cops being paid to watch this?” someone wrote in chalk on the west wall. Long after the military left town and the police force on site dwindled—up until the time this story went to print—loose security fencing remained around the entire perimeter of the plaza, vaguely suggesting that passersby shouldn’t enter the space, even as city workers and skateboarders nonchalantly passed through the gaps in the fencing. With the provocation of the Rizzo statue gone, Thomas Paine Plaza was exposed: an overbuilt space with no apparent purpose, overpoliced for no discernible reason. What was it supposed to be? Continue Reading »

COPYCATS WANTED

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Hollander Design’s new fellowship for landscape architecture students steps up the support for underrepresented groups.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

A summer of collective soul-searching over the systemic nature of racism in America has spurred new investments in the education of young designers of color. Among them is the new Hollander Design Fellowship, a $4,000 annual academic scholarship available to students enrolled in the graduate landscape architecture program at the City College of New York’s Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture.

Established in August 2020, the new fellowship will be awarded to three graduate students per year for each year they are enrolled, for an annual total of $12,000. It is available to MLA candidates who identify as Black or African American, Latinx, or Alaskan Native or American Indian, or as a member of another cultural or ethnic group that is underrepresented in landscape architecture, including the LGBTQ community. The first three recipients, Miguelina Portorreal (class of 2021), Jeana Fletcher, Student ASLA (2022), and Mathew Brown Velasquez (2023), were announced in October. Three additional students received a one-time Hollander Design Award of $4,000. Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, ASLA, the director of City College’s graduate landscape architecture program, says the smaller award was established to respond to the large number of high-quality applications the school received. Continue Reading »

SUPERNATURAL

BY PATRICK SISSON

A new landscape architecture docuseries goes behind the scenery.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

“It’s hard to tell the story of the L.A. River without flying through it,” says Michael Todoran, a landscape designer, lecturer, and podcast host. Along with his students at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, in January Todoran began filming “Superfisky: The Allure of the Urban Wild,” the first episode of Larchitect, a docuseries devoted to landscape architecture. This in-progress episode focuses on Kat Superfisky, a landscape designer, ecologist, and educator working to restore the natural beauty and native plant life on the shores of the mostly concrete-lined waterway. When the landscape, specifically the Los Angeles River, is a supporting character in your story, visual exposition becomes critical. The best solution was a helicopter shot that showed the true breadth and boundless energy of this body of water. Continue Reading »

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FOREGROUND

Pained Plaza (Planning)
Three public spaces from midcentury Philadelphia have been earmarked for reinvention. Two have succeeded, but one, a space for public expression, remains in limbo.

FEATURES

Black Landscapes Matter
In the introduction to his new book (edited with Grace Mitchell Tada), the 2019 MacArthur Fellow and founder of Hood Design Studio in Oakland, California, argues for the power and visibility of landscapes designed and shaped by Black people.

The Dark Side of Light
Sensitive lighting design is one of the hidden assets of thriving public places, but designers worry that their work is increasingly being used to watch rather than illuminate.

The full table of contents for December 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 December articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Pained Plaza,” Sahar Coston-Hardy, Affiliate ASLA; “Black Landscapes Matter,” Hood Design Studio; “The Dark Side of Light,” Elizabeth Felicella.