TWICE BITTEN

BY JARED BREY

After two rare storms inundate Ellicott City, Maryland, the town tries to sort through what can be saved.

FROM THE MAY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The Tiber-Hudson watershed, in Howard County, Maryland, drains three-and-a-half square miles of mostly developed land in and around Ellicott City, a historic mill town founded in 1772 on the banks of the Patapsco River. The terrain surrounding the town is steep. On the south side of lower Main Street, a series of mill buildings is packed alongside and astride the Tiber Branch, one of the watershed’s three main tributaries to the Patapsco. On the north side, old stone buildings are backed up to a hill made of granite bedrock. Rainwater flows downhill, east toward the river, and in Ellicott City, there’s nothing farther downhill than lower Main Street, the historic center of the town.

When I visited at the beginning of February, the sun was out and it was warm enough to leave my jacket in the car. Walking downhill into lower Main, where the street is narrower, the air temperature dropped and the shadows darkened. On my right, behind a row of boarded-up storefronts, I could hear the Tiber Branch rushing along parallel to Main Street. It smelled like a basement.

On the night of July 30, 2016, a storm rolled in and sat directly on top of Ellicott City, dropping 6.5 inches of rain in the watershed in just three hours. Water jumped the banks of the Hudson Branch uphill and flowed down Main Street, Continue Reading »

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

Image courtesy Waterkeeper Alliance.

From “Hog-Tied” in the May 2019 issue by Timothy Schuler, about how industrial-scale livestock operations are degrading and polluting farming communities in eastern North Carolina.

“Pandora’s Box aerial.”

–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.

BY ZACH MORTICE

The plan by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates retains the fundamental elements of Dan Kiley’s original design. Photo by Nic Lehoux.

The protection of modernist design is a relatively new topic in preservationist circles. And in many cases, landscapes have lagged behind modern architecture in receiving formal recognition and valuation.

But over the past several years, the modernism preservation nonprofit Docomomo US has used its primary awards program to bring visibility to the vulnerability and value of historic modern landscapes. The projects recognized by Docomomo US’s sixth annual Modernism in America Awards show the ways that all disciplines of the designed environment come together as a defining element of modernism: architecture, landscape architecture, art, interior design, and more. That’s been a recurring theme through the years, though this year’s awards were the first time it was “expressed so clearly or comprehensively,” says awards juror and Docomomo US President Theodore Prudon. Several projects honored put the preservation of historic modernist landscapes front and center: the rehabilitation of Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, honored with a Design Award of Excellence, and the restoration of Olav Hammarstrom’s Pond House in Massachusetts, which received a Design Citation of Merit. Continue Reading »

Most of the time, Ellicott City, Maryland is a historic mill town with picturesque stone shops nestled next to granite hills and a boisterous, yet still peaceful, river. But more and more, it’s becoming a crucible for the cost of climate change-induced downpours and development that’s ill-placed, if intensely historic. (The town was founded in 1772.) Twice since 2016, Ellicott City has seen branches of the Patapsco River jump their banks after torrential rains, devastating its downtown with two “1,000-year floods,” a description rapidly losing its meaning in an era of increased extreme weather.

This PBS NewsHour segment from the most recent flood looked in on how one Ellicott City business fared: an antique shop where the owner doggedly pushed furniture away from the front door, where a torrent of water outside whisked cars down the street. That is, until a sudden eruption of water knocked down walls, sending display cases toppling like dominoes.

The town’s newest flood-proofing plan, developed with help from Baltimore’s Mahan Rykiel, calls for 10 buildings to be demolished downtown to widen the river canal at a cost of $50 million, as well as a new terraced river park. As explored in Jared Brey’s “Twice Bitten” (to be posted here later this month), it’s a plan that preserves Ellicott City’s future by destroying a bit of its past.

HOG-TIED

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

In North Carolina, history, industry, and climate change work in tandem to create landscapes of toxic waste.

FROM THE MAY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

In Houston, it was the petrochemical plants. In North Carolina, it was the hog farms. In both places, churning floodwaters caused by recent storms were turned into a toxic stew that endangered local water resources and public health. In September 2018, Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina, where seven million gallons of hog waste overtopped the region’s ubiquitous open-air lagoons and quickly made its way into neighbors’ yards and nearby streams.

As by-products go, the fecal sludge of an industrial-scale hog farm is far from benign. The waste can carry viruses, parasites, nitrates, and bacteria such as salmonella. Even in the best circumstances, the odors from these open-air lagoons, which number some 3,300 across the state but are concentrated in the heavily African American counties of eastern North Carolina, are noxious enough that in August 2018 a jury awarded six families $473.5 million for having to live near a hog farm in Pender County. Combined with a severe storm, however, these lagoons become all the more dangerous, threatening the water supply of entire communities and far-flung ecosystems.

Hurricane Florence was just the most recent example of how severe weather events, strengthened by a warming climate, can interact with industrialized landscapes to create new threats to public health and safety. If landscape architects are to grapple with the environmental and human health impacts of climate change, they will have to educate themselves about agricultural waste. Continue Reading »

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FOREGROUND

What Makes Us Us (Interview)
Julian Raxworthy talks about the proletarian roots of his new book, Overgrown.

Hog-Tied (Waste)
A few landscape architects have begun to focus on the huge ecological hazards
of animal waste from agriculture operations.

Linked In (Habitat)
A Seattle neighborhood is the starting point of the artist Sarah Bergmann’s
realization of a living network called Pollinator Pathways.

FEATURES

MLA ROI
Although the landscape architecture profession is poised to grow, master’s degree programs are struggling to gain enrollments. One major reason is the cost and eventual payoff of pursuing a degree.

Refuge Found
Outside Denver, Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge, a Design Workshop project that received the 2018 ASLA Landmark Award, continues to rebuild a high-prairie ecosystem scorched by weapons and chemical production.

Twice Bitten
Two flash floods in three years gutted the historic heart of Ellicott City, Maryland. Mahan Rykiel Associates is working to help the town figure out how to meet a future of extreme weather.

All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. The full table of contents for May can be found here.

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.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be posting May articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Refuge Found,” D. A. Horchner/Design Workshop; “Twice Bitten,” Josh Ganzermiller Photography; “Hog-Tied,” Waterkeeper Alliance; “Linked In,” © David E. Perry; “What Makes Us Us,” Julian Raxworthy. 

WHY THEY WALK

BY BRADFORD MCKEE

FROM THE APRIL 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE 

 

I signed the Women’s Landscape Equality (re)Solution, which appears in full on page 143, as soon as it came out last fall. In some way, it was a redress of the times much earlier in my career when I’d failed to observe the very first commitment the (re)Solution asks everyone to make: “We condemn inequality wherever we see it.” I saw inequality right in front of me at a job I used to have, more than once, and did nothing.

The boss in this case went through staff the way some of us go through facial tissues, so we were frequently interviewing new candidates for jobs. After an interview, in private, the conversation would become discomfiting when the candidate, however qualified, had been a woman of childbearing age. “Did you see that ring on her finger?” the boss once asked me after an interview. “You know what comes next.” Continue Reading »

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