Posts Tagged ‘birds’

BY ZACH MORTICE

Birdlink, at Sara Roosevelt Park in Lower Manhattan. Photo by Stephen A. Scheer.

BIRDLINK IS ONE PART ECOLOGICAL PUBLIC ART, ONE PART BIRD MIGRATION SCIENCE.

 

More than 300 species of birds migrate through New York City along the Atlantic Flyway each year. The goal of the art installation and avian habitat Birdlink, by Anina Gerchick, Associate ASLA, is to get a fraction of them to linger in the city for a bit.

Birdlink is an assemblage of stair-step bamboo and gabion planters stacked almost a dozen feet high, and intended to offer food and habitats for birds and other pollinators in urban areas outside major wildlife hubs such as Central Park or Jamaica Bay on Long Island. If you look closely, you’ll see bird varieties that shift with the seasons, as tides of migratory birds arrive and depart in New York City. (more…)

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WHAT’S IN A NATIVAR?

BY CAROL BECKER

And what isn’t? Designers and pollinators are finding out.

FROM THE JULY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Common buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is a medium-sized shrub that is appealing in sunny areas of the landscape because of its glossy green leaves; unusual fragrant, round, spiky flowers; and rust-red fall color. It’s especially useful in wet areas and rain gardens where it absorbs excess water and even tolerates standing water. Hummingbirds and butterflies favor the plant for its nectar, and 24 species of birds seek it out for its small, round nuts that persist into winter. This native of the Midwest and East Coast is easily grown and little bothered by pests in the garden. Yet it is not commonly used in built landscapes. Although everything else about this shrub is right, its growth pattern and size are not. The straight species can be quite large at 12 feet high or more, and it has an annoying habit of sending branches in all directions, so it looks willy-nilly rather quickly if it’s not pruned regularly and often.

But here come Sputnik, Sugar Shack, and Fiber Optics, cultivars of buttonbush that represent a tamed C. occidentalis. Cultivars are plants produced by selective breeding or vegetative propagation to achieve better traits for the landscape. Fiber Optics is a species mutation discovered by an inventory employee in the bare-root fields of Bailey Nurseries, says the company’s public relations and communications specialist, Ryan McEnaney. Bailey trialed the plant, a process that takes several years, and brought it to market in 2017. It has a reliably smaller size at five to six feet high and a branching habit that keeps it compact and rounded, while retaining all the desired features of the straight species.

The Fiber Optics buttonbush is what is known as a nativar. The term is not scientific but has value to the industry in (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

University of Illinois at Chicago students’ birdhouse designs for the Chicago River. Photo courtesy Lendlease.

While working with a group of University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) industrial design students on their birdhouse design studio, Ted Wolff had a few pointers on how they should approach interior dimensions and ventilation. There should be enough room at its base for eggs, but not much extra. A slit that allows crosscurrent air circulation is good, but much bigger and cold winds might howl through the birdhouse in the winter.

“You want them to feel snug, if you will,” says Wolff, of Wolff Landscape Architecture. “That’s probably anthropomorphizing them a bit much.” (more…)

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BY NATE BERG

A landscape architect and a biologist team up to counter urban biodiversity loss.

FROM THE JUNE 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

A hawk glides overhead. An egret perches alongside a pedestrian walkway. Butterflies flutter in the foreground. From across the spectrum of the animal kingdom they appear in the drawings and renderings of modern architecture and landscape projects, hinting at a harmony between the designed space and the natural world. The projects, these animal cameos suggest, are not just urban developments, but healthy and diverse habitats.

“I won’t say it’s a lie, but these are big promises,” says Thomas Hauck, a Berlin-based landscape architect and a professor at the University of Kassel, in Germany. Hauck understands these images are meant to be aspirational, to show an idealized version of the designs they represent. But, he argues, sometimes too many illustrative liberties are taken “without evidence,” especially when urban development is more likely to destroy animal habitat than create it.

Hauck isn’t saying the animals should be taken out of the renderings. Rather, he wants to ensure animals actually show up once the project is built. To make that happen, Hauck has teamed up with a biologist from the Technical University of Munich named Wolfgang Weisser. Together, they’ve developed a theoretical design approach called Animal-Aided Design that seeks to counteract the ways development harms urban biodiversity by deliberately designing projects to accommodate animal species from the start. Through the careful targeting of species most likely to inhabit a given area, their approach provides the habitat requirements those species need to thrive throughout their life cycle.

“People hang up nest boxes and wonder why they’re empty,” Weisser says. “It’s because everything else is missing.” (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Inuksuit is meant to be staged outdoors, in any kind of landscape. Photo by Graham Coreil-Allen.

For her landscape art installation in Houston, the landscape architect and artist Falon Mihalic, ASLA, drew inspiration from a musical score as much as she did the live oak trees on her Rice University campus site.

Her installation was the setting for a performance of the composer John Luther Adams’s Inuksuit. The Inuit title is loosely translated as “evidence of human presence” and commonly refers to Arctic wayfinding markers such as cairns of stacked stones. Mihalic’s installation is also concerned with wayfinding amid wildness.

Her work contains three main elements. The origin point is a circle of white crushed limestone gravel 30 feet in diameter that surrounds a live oak tree. At its perimeter are (more…)

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REVIEWED BY SARAH COWLES

FROM THE MARCH 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Street trees occupy a shifting and contested dimension of cities. Whereas trees in parks and private gardens in cities are afforded a measure of stability and protection, street trees are literally on the front lines of urbanism, absorbing the impacts of changes in policy on errant cars. Street trees are surrounded: hemmed in by architecture, tree grates, cages, with leaking gas conduits at their roots and power lines teasing their crowns, soaked by deicing salt on one side and dog urine on the other.

Although there are field guides to street trees and technical manuals for planting and soil specifications, there is no comprehensive look at the culture and politics of the urban forest. Seeing Trees by Sonja Dümpelmann fills this void and unearths a detailed and complex vein of urban history that (more…)

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When the landscape architects at Mahan Rykiel Associates found themselves with uprooted trees they couldn’t fit back onto a newly designed and built mixed-use building site, they offered them to a local Baltimore middle school in the Locust Point neighborhood. But after talking with the principal of Francis Scott Key Middle School, they quickly realized that there was an opportunity for a much deeper collaboration than simply donating some foliage.  So the landscape architects began designing a school yard with four different types of learning environments, to aid what they call “STEM-based environmental education.” Project Birdland will be the first phase of a partnership between Mahan Rykiel Associates and Francis Scott Key Middle School. Students will work with a biologist and the fabricators at Gutierrez Studios to design and build birdhouses for endangered and threatened bird species. From the outset, the project gives students an introduction to the humancentric world of design and craft and also to the creation of habitats for their neighboring fauna.

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