The Elements of Disaster

Design’s role in mitigating the impact of natural disasters takes center stage at the National Building Museum.

The exhibit features a tabletop version of the Wall of Wind at Florida International University, which can simulate a Category 5 hurricane.

Earth, air, fire, and water—the National Building Museum’s Design for Disaster exhibit, which opened on May 12, separates out the forces of destruction. Continue reading The Elements of Disaster

Boston Faces the Rising Sea

Yet another coastal city that’s looking for a way to “avoid the unmanageable and manage the unavoidable.”

By Elizabeth S. Padjen

Can Boston take action—enough action—to protect itself from rising waters before the next big storm? Or will the city tragically require its own Katrina or Sandy in order to muster the will to protect itself against repeated catastrophe? Continue reading Boston Faces the Rising Sea

NPS Aids Qatar with First National Park

American landscape architects helped Qataris set up a framework for their first national park, but the follow-through seemed to disappear into the dunes.

By Craig Pittman

In inlet in the Persian Gulf, in Qatar's Khor Al-Adraid region. Courtesy National Park Service.
Inland Sea in the Persian Gulf, in Qatar’s Khor Al-Adaid region. Courtesy National Park Service.

From the April 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

We Americans sometimes take our national parks for granted. After all, we’ve got 59 of them, and they’ve been around since 1872, when President Ulysses S. Grant signed the law creating the first one the world had ever seen, Yellowstone National Park. Continue reading NPS Aids Qatar with First National Park

War Over Cool Pavement Heats Up

As cool roofs spread to cut urban heat, the asphalt industry is fighting hard to stop cool pavements.

By Arthur Allen

At the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's cool pavement showcase, research associate Jordan Woods measures solar reflection levels with an albedometer. Credit Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory/Roy Kaltschmidt
At the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s cool pavement showcase, research associate Jordan Woods measures solar reflection levels with an albedometer. Credit Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory/Roy Kaltschmidt.

At the Greenbuild conference in Philadelphia in November, the National Asphalt Pavement Association booth featured a provocative report, packaged as a little booklet by three engineers at Arizona State University. Continue reading War Over Cool Pavement Heats Up

Botany, Wired

A new initiative from the United States National Herbarium is beginning a crowdsourcing project to transcribe specimen data.

Specimens of the Tiliaceae Family. United States National Herbarium (US).
Specimens of the Tiliaceae Family. United States National Herbarium (US).

 

The United States National Herbarium was founded in 1848, and it now holds five million specimens, with a particular strength in type specimens. Housed in the botany collections of the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History (NMNH), the herbarium’s collection is now part of a new crowdsourcing project that allows anyone with Internet access to view and transcribe data from specimens and contribute to the expansion of the herbarium’s collections database. It’s a terrific way to engage with plants as historical artifacts, design objects, and, of course, as botanical specimens, while essentially doing important work for the Smithsonian from the comfort of your own device.

After registration, which requires no special credentials or knowledge, you can begin transcribing the text from the labels into a web form. The data you enter, once approved, becomes part of the specimens’ record. Sylvia Orli, an information manager from the department of botany who helps facilitate the NMNH’s program, says the transcription project is part of a global effort to digitize natural history records. Within the NMNH, the department of botany is among the first to use the new crowdsourcing transcription tool, and several other units within the Smithsonian are participating as well.

Continue reading Botany, Wired

Mesquite: Texas Stubborn

The indomitable will of the mesquite tree is a source of Lone Star State pride and consternation.

By Constance Casey

SPECIES: Mesquite Trees, Christine Ten Eyck.
Mesquite Trees, Christine Ten Eyck. Adam Barbe, ASLA/Courtesy Ten Eyck Landscape Architects.

“I could ask for no better monument over my grave than a good mesquite tree, its roots down deep like those of people who belong to the soil, its hardy branches, leaves, and fruit holding memories of the soil.” Continue reading Mesquite: Texas Stubborn

The Magazine of the American Society of Landscape Architects