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LAMCAST: TREES TALK

BEDIT_LAMCast-TEDTreeTalk

 

“Forests aren’t simply a collection of trees,” said the ecologist Suzanne Simard during her recent TED Talk. In this 18-minute lecture, Simard details her experiments of the past 30 years on the unique way trees communicate with one another and how that has translated into an in-depth knowledge of the ecosystem of a forest. By knowing what and how these species interact, Simard says, we can begin to understand the effect we have on the landscape, such as clear-cutting of forests and how to manage our natural resources to become more sustainable.

WARY OF CHANGE

BY NATE BERG

As Las Vegas’s historic westside faces change, residents ask, who benefits?

As Las Vegas’s historic Westside faces change, residents ask, who benefits?

From the August 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

At the start of a three-day design charrette in a small Las Vegas community center, one of the first questions Steven Clarke, ASLA, asked the 100-person crowd was how many had participated in a design charrette before. “About 80 percent of them raised their hands,” says Clarke, a fair-haired 45-year-old from Winnipeg, Manitoba, who was new to this group of people, many of whom weren’t particularly happy to be doing another charrette. The purpose of the current exercise was to focus on the historic Westside neighborhood of Las Vegas, which has been a marginalized African American neighborhood since the early 20th century. Many of the community members who had gathered wanted to know what would be different this time around, Clarke says. The skepticism quickly boiled into anger. Some demanded to know how the charrette process would do anything to create jobs in the neighborhood. Others demanded to know how much Clarke was being paid, and by whom. “It got extremely tense,” he says. “It was probably the most challenging charrette I’ve faced in my career.”

The Westside was once the healthy heart of the city’s African American community. Today the area is largely vacant, a wasteland of urban disinvestment. The neighborhood’s blocks hold more than 200 empty lots and dozens of abandoned buildings and burned-out houses. The main commercial strip is a ghost town. Its few businesses—a minimarket, a barbecue joint, a clothing shop—are modest, and foot traffic is all but nonexistent. Down a side street, residents of an apartment building are hosting what looks like a regular sidewalk sale of old vacuum cleaners and electronics. A few blocks away, a middle-aged sex worker sits on a curb and halfheartedly propositions the few cars that drive past.

Just on the other side of intersecting freeways, less than half a mile away, is Continue Reading »

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

Credit: Sahar Coston-Hardy.

Credit: Sahar Coston-Hardy.

From “Industrial Evolution” by Tom Stoelker, in the August 2016 issue, featuring the National Park Service’s management plan to unite industrial history with natural beauty at the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park in Paterson, New Jersey.

“A view above and below.”

—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.

SURGE TIME

BY JONATHAN LERNER

When everyone wants a piece of the same postcard.

When everyone wants a piece of the same postcard.

From the August 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Mather Point, a limestone fin that juts into Grand Canyon National Park, is the first overlook from which many, possibly most, visitors to the storied national park get a glimpse into that astonishing other world. In the middle of a short flight of steps down from the rim to the overlook sits a pair of large boulders. There’s often an informal queue at that spot. Every day hundreds, maybe thousands, of people wait to clamber up and have their pictures taken. Shot from below and elevated by the rock above the crowd, people appear to float before the geological fever dream of the canyon. Invariably, they spread their arms wide, like wings. These portraits make an allusion to flight—and an illusion of solitude.

A redesign of the access to Mather Point for cars and pedestrians, and of the park’s nearby main visitor center, was completed in 2012. It more than doubled the parking capacity. But attendance at national parks has soared since then, and already these new facilities are frequently overwhelmed. For the National Park Service system as a whole, between 2012 and 2015, recreational visits were up nearly 9 percent. For national parks in the Intermountain Region, attendance rose Continue Reading »

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Along with the rest of the country this month, LAM is celebrating the centenary of the National Park Service. Our particular franchise on pride in the park service is that ASLA, which publishes LAM, can claim a good deal of paternity in its creation, as detailed in our April issue. A hundred years later, we travel to a couple of the most famous parks, Grand Canyon and Grand Teton, to look at the challenges that landscape architects encounter in keeping these treasured assets balanced between their wild popularity and fragile ecologies. We visit one of the newer national parks, the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park in New Jersey, to look at how geological beauty and an industrial legacy fit together in an urbanized setting. Looking back at the Mission 66 design program of the mid-20th century, we discover the tensions the park service has in preserving a certain zeitgeist, in which some auto-centric features, in particular, are not universally loved.

There is a lot of other great stuff in this issue: Three landscape architecture firm principals share their approaches to requests for proposals or qualifications by clients, in Office. A report on a new vision for the beleaguered Westside, long an African American stronghold in Las Vegas, finds a mix of hope and anxiety for residents, in Planning. If you want to master a not-even-a-footprint ethos on public lands, ask the Burning Man festival organizers how it’s done. And this month’s book review is about Beyond the City: Resource Extraction Urbanism in South America, by Felipe Correa. And don’t miss our regular Now, Species, and Goods columns. The full table of contents for August 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 ungating August articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Surge Time,” National Park Service/Michael Quinn; “Industrial Evolution,” Sahar Coston-Hardy; “Hit Delete,” Hershberger Design; “Wild Rides,” National Park Service, Yosemite Research Library; “Mind Your RFPs and Qs,” Big Muddy Workshop; “Wary of Change,” Kirsten Clarke Photography; “Mission 66 Hits 50,” Google Earth; “Vanishing Act,” Andrew Miller.

DRIVING CONCERN

BY ALEX ULAM

The new Mosholu Golf Driving Range is part of a controversial water filtration plant project built at the edge of the bucolic Van Cortlandt Park.

The new Mosholu golf driving range is part of a controversial water filtration plant project built at the edge of the bucolic Van Cortlandt Park.

From the July 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Many things are not exactly what they appear to be at the new Mosholu golf driving range, located in the northwest section of the Bronx in New York City. Behind high stone walls and a gate monitored by armed policemen there are carefully crafted illusions worthy of an Olmsted design. A driveway leading into this place looks as if it were carved out of wilderness. On either side are sunken beds of untamed riparian plants that pool with water after rainstorms. Up a slope, past a low-slung building faced in rust-colored steel, you are at the high point of the range. The greens below are composed of hillocks with carpets of turfgrass, plush enough for a nap, which overlook a bowl-shaped depression.

Beneath the driving range is the Croton Water Filtration Plant. At a cost of more than $3.2 billion, it is among the most expensive public works projects ever built in New York City. The driving range sits atop a nine-acre green roof covering the plant, which is said to be the country’s largest contiguous green roof. It replaces an old municipal driving range bulldozed more than a decade ago to make way for the underground filtration plant, which descends about 100 feet into the ground. The subterranean structure is designed to filter up to 30 percent of New York City’s water supply.

The need to purify water, especially water that humans have polluted, has become Continue Reading »

ON THE OUTSIDE

The spaces made by the culture of incarceration.

The spaces made by the culture of incarceration.

From the July 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

A featureless night, seen from a bus window, carrying family members across distances to the prisons where loved ones are confined. A former mining town in Appalachia where residents talk about prison jobs they see coming, and, importantly, keeping. A Los Angeles parklet as a lever to force registered sex offenders to leave a neighborhood. These are some of the places that comprise The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, a new film by the geographer and filmmaker Brett Story. They aren’t in prisons or next to prisons, but the system is everywhere.

If we are only just beginning to reckon with the devastating social and economic costs of Continue Reading »