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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.

BY JONATHAN LERNER

FROM THE MAY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

The Harahan Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River at Memphis, Tennessee, opened in 1916. Down its center ran railroad tracks. Cantilevered off each side was a 14-foot-wide “wagonway” for cars, trucks, horse carts, and pedestrians. This bridge is what’s called a through truss, with a latticelike steel superstructure like something from a giant Erector Set. The two outboard roadways, however, were originally planked in wood. Trains tend to throw off fragments and sparks—and not just antique ones that blew fiery debris from their smokestacks. “It’s like shrapnel,” says the landscape architect Ritchie Smith, ASLA. “Rocks, nails, anything that’s on those tracks just gets pulverized, and can even be inflamed.” In 1928, the Harahan’s wagonways caught fire and burned out of control. “They had all the water you want 120 feet below, but no way to siphon it up,” he says wryly. Rebuilt, the Harahan continued to convey motor traffic until a highway bridge opened nearby in 1949. The wagonway decking was removed. Then, until recently, only trains used the bridge—officially. “There are all kinds of people who, when they were kids, would try to go walk across it. How tempting was that?” asks Lissa Thompson, ASLA, a coprincipal at Smith’s Memphis firm, Ritchie Smith Associates.

Tempting indeed. Anybody willing to clamber out along the exposed girders could have been rewarded with (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, compiled in 1979 and printed in 1982. Image courtesy of John Davies and Alexander Kent, The Red Atlas.

A map of Vilnius, Lithuania, produced in Russia at the tail end of the Soviet era, details the speed of the Neris River’s flow (1.8 miles per hour), its depth and width, and that it had a sandy riverbed. In addition, it reveals the dimensions of a nearby bridge, what it’s made of (concrete), and how much it can carry (55 tons). Across the Cold War divide, on Western shores, Soviet cartographers still had a grasp of some of the minutiae that made up its sworn rival’s infrastructure. A 1980 map of San Francisco points out that the Oakland Bay Bridge is constructed of metal and rises between 171 and 213 feet above the water. One of perhaps a million maps made by the Soviets to secretly and conclusively chart the surface of the earth, it’s a relic from what might be the largest and most ambitious cartography effort in history.

Though much of this story’s origins and methods are shrouded in secrecy, British authors and map enthusiasts John Davies and Alexander Kent have found a way to break open these mysteries with a beautiful and brief cartographic volume. Their book, The Red Atlas: How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World (University of Chicago Press, 2017), focuses on how these maps (more…)

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BY TIM WATERMAN

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has switched off the public life support to London’s embattled Garden Bridge, a tempestuous, contested, and deeply symbolic idea that will die tightly clutching a sheaf of contemporary perversions of the civic good, a cautionary portfolio of design’s worst addictions.

Its life charts a course through the sordid world of politics and displays how the ambitions of the nation–state and the re-emerging city–state have uncoupled from democracy and attached to unplaceable global flows of power and money. The people are left helpless in a muddle of endless doubt, misinformation, threat, and the magical thrall of consumer glamour and celebrity pull. All this (more…)

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A monthly roundup of the news, dispatches, and marginalia that caught our eye.

In the October Queue, the LAM staff catches up with Canada, imagines Boston as the Venice of Massachusetts, finds Florida’s (new) secession threat alarming, reads the phrase “climate apartheid” for the first but probably not the last time, and orders some adult stickers.

CATCHING UP WITH…

Landscape Architecture Network explores the Canadian Museum of Civilization Plaza by Claude Cormier Associates (“How Sweet,” LAM, January 2013), whose graceful, undulating curves reflect the architecture as well as the Canadian environmental landscape.

Finalists were announced for the Van Alen Institute’s Future Ground competition for 30,000 vacant lots in New Orleans (“Take Aim At New Orleans’s Vacant Land”). Public presentations are scheduled for spring 2015.

SCAPE Landscape Architecture (“What Kate Orff Sees,” LAM, May 2012) was one of seven finalists for the 2014 Fuller Challenge aimed at creating holistic solutions from a multitude of disciplinary backgrounds to solve “humanity’s most pressing problems.”

Dredging and the energy manufacturing industry are at the heart of a recent New York Times Magazine cover story on lawsuits around Lousiana’s catastrophic land loss (“The Dredge Underground,” LAM, August 2014).

OUR WOBBLY WORLD

Future Lagos reports on a plan to protect Lagos, Nigeria, one of the world’s most populous (21 million) coastal cities, from the effects of climate change. Will a planned eight-kilometer “Great Wall of Lagos create an eco-urban utopia or “climate apartheid”?

A recent EU analysis says onshore wind is cheaper than other forms of energy when human health, the environment, and other “external” factors are added to the equation.

Several news outlets picked up on the release of ULI’s recent report on Boston, particularly the possibility of turning some of the city’s streets into Venice-like canals.

South Florida might become the 51st state in the union. Salon reports it could happen if Florida’s state government doesn’t start taking climate change seriously.

A new series of webinars on the National Disaster Resilience Competition (“Resilience by Design,” LAM, October 2013) and other resilience topics has been launched.

FIELD STUDIES

Are shared streets a great innovation for pedestrians, or a complete nuisance to motorists? Chicago will soon find out with its very first shared street to begin construction this winter.

Cascadian Farm, owned by General Mills, has launched a new “Bee Friendlier” campaign to promote the cultivation of wildflowers for our pollinator friends. But with Cascadian Farm making up only 3 percent of General Mills, some claim it’s not enough to offset the other 97 percent of bad bee practices.

How do you make a city center more pedestrian friendly? For Zurich, it limits how many cars can enter.

OUT AND ABOUT

On November 7, the New York Botanical Garden hosts a symposium on “The Changing Nature of Nature in Cities.”

Teresa Galí-Izard  (“Auckland Takes the Rosa Barba Prize”) is at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston on November 13, 2014, as part of its Landscape Lecture series to talk about her innovative works across Europe.

The public landscapes of Ralph Cornell are on view November 8 and 9 as part of The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s mini What’s Out There Weekend in Los Angeles.

Making LA is a one-day conference on November 7 to discuss “urgent issues that Los Angeles faces in the areas of water, transportation, density, and community.” Panelists include urbanist Mia Lehrer of Mia Lehrer + Associates, landscape architect Deborah Deets, of the City of Los Angeles’s Department of Public Works, and Hadley and Peter Arnold of the Drylands Institute, among many, many others. 

 Landscape photographer Mishka Henner will talk about “Looking Down, From Up Above” with Andrew Hammerand and Julian Roeder on Tuesday, November 4 at 5:00 p.m. at the Open Society Foundation in New York City. The talk is part of the Moving Walls 22 exhibition; Dutch Landscapes will be on view November 4, 2014–May 8, 2015.

DISTRACT ME FROM MY DEADLINE DEPT.

The all-too-familiar Archetypes of Studio. Which one are you?

These eco wall stickers help save the world one toilet flush at a time.

We hope you’re not still on this London bridge when it opens.

Even Darth Vader is conscious about his carbon footprint.

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