Decoding Japanese garden design one stone at a time.


“Squat and move it counterclockwise, clockwise, repeat, and repeat again,” Tomohiko Muto says as he motions to the American landscape professionals gamely trying to move a chunk of Columbia River Gorge basalt. The centerpiece rock they’ve selected for their project forms a natural water basin, the result of a depression created at the break point of columnar basalt. The stone’s heft eventually requires a dolly.

Under the guidance of Muto and other instructors from Japan, the students are engaging in tactile learning at a new program developed, in the main, by Sadafumi Uchiyama, ASLA, the curator at the Portland Japanese Garden (PJG) in Portland, Oregon.

Like many of his predecessors in Japan, Uchiyama hews to tradition in the Japanese gardens he creates. But his latest endeavor reveals an iconoclastic bent. Through an unusual seminar first offered this past summer as part of the PJG’s new International Japanese Garden Training Center, he hopes to debunk the long-held myth that Continue Reading »

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It’s the first, which means February’s issue of LAM is here! You’ll find these stories inside:


Secrets to Share (Gardens)
Sadafumi Uchiyama, ASLA, can teach you how to
make a Japanese garden in Portland, Oregon.

Woven in Place (Details)
At Kopupaka Reserve, New Zealand, the Isthmus Group is weaving
Maori culture into stormwater infrastructure.

Solid as a Rock (Materials)
Is stone always a sustainable building material?


A Forest in the City in the Forest
Sylvatica Studio’s landscape for the Fernbank Museum of Natural History
immerses visitors in Atlanta’s old-growth Piedmont forest.

Ripple Effect
A topographically exuberant campus by Snøhetta embraces
the MAX IV synchrotron particle accelerator.

A View of the World
Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects has restored
the landscape of the painter Frederic Church’s estate.

All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. The full table of contents for February 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 February articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Ripple Effect,” Felix Gerlach; “A View of the World,” Detail of Clouds over Olana, 1872, by Frederic Edwin Church, Oil on paper 8 11⁄16 x 12 1⁄8 inches, OL.1976.1. Olana State Historic Site, Hudson, New York, Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation; “A Forest in the City in the Forest,” Timothy Hursley; “Solid as a Rock,” GGN; “Secrets to Share,” Jonathan Ley; “Woven in Place,” David St. George.

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

Image courtesy Inter-Fluve.

From “Exit Strategy” by Lisa Owens Viani in the January 2018 issue, about the path one Massachusetts farm has taken from cranberry cultivation to restored wetlands.

“Wood working.”


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.

As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

Click above for a full PDF of the translated text with English text available below.



Iwanuma is a quaint and quintessentially Japanese beach town on the Sendai Coast, a two-hour train ride north of Tokyo, in Miyagi Prefecture. Rolling sand dunes line the coast, and a thin forest of black pines spreads inland to a wide band of rice paddies and modest farmhouses. Like dozens of small communities along this stretch of coast, it’s been farmed for hundreds of years, left mostly to itself as Japan developed and urbanized.

When the Great East Japan Earthquake pushed a tsunami against the coastline on March 11, 2011, Iwanuma was washed over by waves that rushed inland for miles and destroyed almost everything in their path. The parts of Iwanuma inundated by the tsunami were mostly agricultural lands, but the death toll still reached an estimated 180 people. In all, more than 15,000 people died as a result of the earthquake and tsunami. Most drowned.

It was a devastating catastrophe for a country all too familiar with disasters, natural and human-made. But it was also something of an alarm to many people in seismically hyperactive Japan who have become newly energized by efforts to prevent similar destruction from the inevitable tsunamis of the future. One approach has gained considerable attention: the accelerated planting of “forest walls” as wave barriers. Hundreds of thousands of saplings have been planted Continue Reading »




Image by Jocelyn Augustino [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

In November, Moody’s Investors Service, the bond rating agency, released a cautionary report on climate change. Looking ahead, the report said, the effects of what it describes as climate trends and climate shocks are sure to become a “growing negative credit factor” for states, localities, or utilities that don’t appear to be responding to potential climate change effects through mitigation or adaptation. Cities and others issue bonds to borrow money for building things such as infrastructure or schools. They need investors to know they’re a good risk. Moody’s came out to say that it has begun deciding, based on climate resilience among a matrix of other factors, whether a given risk is good or bad. “If you’re exposed,” one Moody’s analyst told Bloomberg, “we know that.”

The other of the two biggest rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s, is also keenly onto climate (it and Moody’s together run 80 percent of the bond rating business). It released a report in October to explain how municipal bond issuers will be affected by climate impacts. Like Moody’s, S&P specified two theaters of risk: the sudden extreme event, such as a hurricane, and “more gradual changes to the environment affecting land use, employment, and economic activity that support credit quality.”

This may all seem very back-office in the design world, and for now it is. It is also, critically, moving to the fore as the federal stance on climate change and its many hazards is not only in retreat but in vicious denial. Trump administration appointees, who are like drones for industry, are ordering the removal of references to climate change in agency communications. The administration is also purging our government of good-faith, Continue Reading »


The Lake Michigan coast, on the South Side of Chicago. Photo by Zach Mortice.

In 2014 alone, 22 billion gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater made its way into the Great Lakes, according to the Great Lakes Commission. On its way there, this stormwater degraded the rivers and streams it flowed through and caused flooding in areas where hard surfaces terminally halt its infiltration.

To deal with this regional calamity, the Great Lakes Commission and Lawrence Technological University have launched a new initiative to disseminate technology and techniques that can mitigate untreated stormwater pollution, the Great Lakes Stormwater Technology Transfer Collaborative.

This partnership between the Great Lakes Commission, a Michigan-based nonprofit that works to protect the ecology and economic health of the region in the United States and Canada, and Lawrence Tech’s Great Lakes Stormwater Management Institute will leverage the commission’s widespread industry contacts with the school’s technical expertise.  Continue Reading »


The team led by SCAPE proposes breaching levees to allow trapped sediment out, creating a stronger network of marshes and mudflats that can cushion developed areas. Image courtesy SCAPE/Public Sediment team.

They’re no stranger to wildfires and drought, but the cities around the San Francisco Bay haven’t been hit with a climate change-fueled disaster on par with Hurricanes Sandy or Harvey—yet. Still, sea-level rise won’t spare the metros. Even if they escape the drowning predicted by certain apocalyptic maps, Bay Area residents rely on freeways and rail lines built on soft, low-lying bay fill—areas particularly vulnerable to flooding and erosion. And the region’s tidal marshes and mudflats, which should act as natural barriers, are slowly losing sediment owing to poorly engineered dams.

“Unlike New York City, the Bay Area has all these slower and more invisible problems related to climate change,” says Gena Wirth, ASLA, the design principal at SCAPE Landscape Architecture.

The Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge is bringing some of those unseen issues to light. Last year, judges selected 10 winning teams (SCAPE is the leader of one) made up of ecologists, designers, and landscape architects to imagine infrastructure that works with the region’s shifting landscape rather than against it. The challenge, which is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, among others, is modeled on New York’s post-Sandy Rebuild by Design contest, with one key difference: This one is proactive, not reactive. Instead of waiting for federal funds to come in after a disaster, Continue Reading »