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Posts Tagged ‘Brad McKee’

BY BRADFORD MCKEE

Miami Beach Soundscape Park by West 8. Photo by Robin Hill.

Registration opened yesterday for the 2020 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture, which runs October 2 to October 5 in Miami Beach—a place rich with urgent landscape, climate, and water issues to confront, not to mention turquoise waves and a lot of fun amid the refreshing Atlantic breezes. As ever, if you book early, through June 9, you save on the registration fee (up to $300 off the on-site registration fee for professional members, if you book lodging in hotels where ASLA has reserved rooms for the event). Besides the many colleagues you look forward to seeing each year, there will be 120 ways to educate yourself and earn professional development hours in programs, field sessions, deep-dive inquiries, the invigorating general session, the ASLA awards, and the huge ASLA EXPO bustling with your favorite products, services, programs, and people.

ASLA has measures in place to ensure attendees a safe and enjoyable meeting, with the uncertain factors of the novel coronavirus pandemic first in mind. In a recorded message to prospective attendees, ASLA President Wendy Miller, FASLA, said, “These are not normal times, and this will not be a normal conference. But as of today, we are proceeding and adapting our plans for this fall.”

The ASLA staff is working closely with local meeting and tourism officials, convention industry experts, and the host chapter, ASLA Florida, to monitor guidance for large gatherings regarding group sizes and distancing provided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local agencies. If the conference proceeds as planned, registrants who find they later wish to cancel will receive refunds minus a $100 processing fee. However, after August 10, registration fees are not refundable. Tickets for special events and field sessions are not refundable. Hotel deposits will be refunded if reservations are canceled three days before your arrival—check details with your hotel.

If the conference must be canceled, your registration fee will be fully refunded, as will the processing fee and costs of tickets to special events. Hotels will also refund your deposit. For airfares, you should check with your airline about reimbursement or credit policies.

Miller expressed optimism that ASLA can gather in Miami Beach within the bounds the pandemic imposes. “If you’re a conference veteran, you know how powerful the experience can be,” she said. “And we are committed to bringing that experience to our members again this year.”

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

FROM THE MAY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Not much good is coming from this parlous time, as the novel coronavirus floored just about everything people normally rely on, and with shocking speed. Some strands of hope, should they hold up with time, have appeared amid the desperate confusion. There is an odd but significant reassurance in how quickly so much of daily life buttoned up early on. That progress has been uneven, depending not least on brands of leadership. But once the severity of the situation everywhere became clear, enough people took heed of the stay-home advice that the numbers of holdouts thinned quickly if, alas, not to zero. Everything can change fast. The public compliance, the mass cooperation, happened without much pronounced role for the police, whose jobs have grown steep with new danger, like the work of all public safety professionals. Having everyone stay apart is the only way to contain the crisis. Each infection avoided supports the health care and public health community, who offer societies the only chances of stopping loss and getting through it all.

For landscape architecture, there’s a deep paradox. The bad part is that there is pain, and will be more pain as this business contracts along with everything else. The profession is looking into a future far more unknowable than during the Great Recession a decade ago, when it lost a generation of new landscape architects, and some not so new. Total employment in the profession, federal data shows, fell from 22,000 in 2006 to 15,750 in 2012. Membership in ASLA fell to 15,000, from 18,000 before the economy collapsed; it never bounced back. For emerging designers during the recession, there was no path forward, no new jobs, and many jobs lost. Interns had no place to get the office time they need to qualify for licensure. They went elsewhere. We are still feeling it.

The good part during this crisis is that landscapes for people have seldom seemed as vital and as visible. (more…)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

With regular business upended by the novel coronavirus, landscape architecture principals plot, wait, and wonder.

 

There was a moment on Friday, March 13, when the novel coronavirus changed everything at the office, says Annette Wilkus, FASLA, the founding partner of SiteWorks in Manhattan. “I walked in on Friday, and one of the staff who’s usually solid had this look in her eye and said, ‘Annette, it’s getting really crazy.’” By Monday the 16th, everyone at SiteWorks was working from home, the day that schools, businesses, and Broadway were closing and the S&P 500 fell by 12 percent, the Dow by 13. New York City was bracing for what would swell into the country’s largest wave of COVID-19 cases.

Around the country at the same time, principals of landscape architecture firms were hurrying to get people home to work safely while they sorted out office logistics, took the pulses of clients and their projects, and mentally packed for a weekend that could last months—just as spring was arriving to cold climates where construction otherwise would be firing up. (more…)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE, EDITOR

FROM THE MARCH 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The National Association of Home Builders, among others, is giddy about a new Trump administration rule that allows widespread water pollution and wetland destruction. In late January, the federal government put out its final fixes to the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, known also as the Waters of the United States rule, under the Clean Water Act. The changes remove safeguards for most wetlands and more than 18 percent of streams. You are now free to fill these wetlands and foul these waters unburdened by law or by the unforgiving science that tells us which things turn water toxic and that water still runs downhill. The administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, even showed up at the home builders’ annual gathering in Las Vegas to announce the changes the group has wanted so badly. Their website headlined the announcement as “a big splash.” (more…)

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FEATURE: We Declare

Reformulating a historic agenda after half a century.

FROM THE MAY 2016 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

At Independence Hall in Philadelphia in June of 1966, Ian McHarg, Grady Clay, Campbell Miller, Charles R. Hammond, George E. Patton, and John O. Simonds presented “A Declaration of Concern” on behalf of landscape architecture, reproduced below. It was a statement on the growing crisis in the natural environment and the claim of landscape architects in averting the environment’s total destruction. To the degree the declaration was dramatic and self-regarding, it was also true. It preceded much of the formal regulatory protection—preventive, punitive, and remedial—of resources that we know now. The declaration’s alarm over pollution and ecological ruin speaks for itself, but it managed to be both critical and optimistic. Its hope lay in the ability of landscape architects to figure out across disciplines how to make nature and society work as a whole, healthy system.

In 2016, the Landscape Architecture Foundation marked the half century of “A Declaration of Concern” with “The New Landscape Declaration,” a gathering of landscape architects, scholars, and advocates at the University of Pennsylvania in June of that year. The foundation, which was also turning 50, asked a number of participants to write declarations of their own for the occasion as latter-day responses to the original. Five are linked to below. Landscape architects have by no means retired the threats of 50 years ago, and other threats have proliferated around them, but the moral vision of the profession conceived at the midcentury has enlarged accordingly.

“A Declaration of Concern—June 1966” 

We urge a new, collaborative effort to improve the American environment and to train a new generation of Americans equipped by education, inspiring example, and improved organizations to help create that environment.

A sense of crisis has brought us together. What is merely offensive or disturbing today threatens life itself tomorrow. We are concerned over misuse of the environment and development which has lost all contact with the basic processes of nature. Lake Erie is becoming septic, New York City is short of water, the Delaware River is infused with salt, the Potomac River with sewage and silt. Air is polluted in major cities and their citizens breathe and see with difficulty. Most urban Americans are being separated from visual and physical contact with nature in any form. All too soon life in such polluted environments will be the national human experience. (more…)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

Thaïsa Way, now leading Garden and Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, wants deeper histories for the profession.

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The urban landscape historian Thaïsa Way, FASLA, relocated this summer from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she has served on the faculty for 12 years, to Washington, D.C., to lead the Garden and Landscape Studies program at Dumbarton Oaks, an outpost of Harvard University. The program operates from an early 19th-century mansion surrounded by a Beatrix Farrand garden on 16 acres above Georgetown—one of the few largely intact designs of Farrand’s remaining. Way’s arrival follows the retirement of John Beardsley, who ran the program since 2008. We met on a hot July morning, and sat at the back of the garden inside a rustic stone pavilion called Catalogue House, which has two lead squirrels on top. The pavilion holds photographs that explain some of the garden’s plantings—such as the recent reinstallation of a famed aerial double hedge of hornbeams. The conversation quickly turned to history and the future of history. (more…)

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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.” (more…)

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