Posts Tagged ‘California’


The video game Minecraft has become a new tool for community engagement.


In Anaheim, California, the children couldn’t wait to show Pamela Galera, ASLA, the zip lines and tree houses in their parks. As she visited their creations, Galera, a landscape architect and planner for the City of Anaheim, saw the road on one side of the site and the river on the other, just as they are in real life. The landscapes, created by the kids using the video game Minecraft, were blocky by nature, but three dimensional, and from their laptops, they could explore the park designs from all directions.

Galera had no experience with Minecraft until recently, when Mojang, the company that created Minecraft, asked the City of Anaheim to use the game to help design a park. The design project would be featured at a Minecraft convention held in the city. “I am not a video game player,” she says, “so I had my concerns.” (more…)

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Image by Jocelyn Augustino [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

In November, Moody’s Investors Service, the bond rating agency, released a cautionary report on climate change. Looking ahead, the report said, the effects of what it describes as climate trends and climate shocks are sure to become a “growing negative credit factor” for states, localities, or utilities that don’t appear to be responding to potential climate change effects through mitigation or adaptation. Cities and others issue bonds to borrow money for building things such as infrastructure or schools. They need investors to know they’re a good risk. Moody’s came out to say that it has begun deciding, based on climate resilience among a matrix of other factors, whether a given risk is good or bad. “If you’re exposed,” one Moody’s analyst told Bloomberg, “we know that.”

The other of the two biggest rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s, is also keenly onto climate (it and Moody’s together run 80 percent of the bond rating business). It released a report in October to explain how municipal bond issuers will be affected by climate impacts. Like Moody’s, S&P specified two theaters of risk: the sudden extreme event, such as a hurricane, and “more gradual changes to the environment affecting land use, employment, and economic activity that support credit quality.”

This may all seem very back-office in the design world, and for now it is. It is also, critically, moving to the fore as the federal stance on climate change and its many hazards is not only in retreat but in vicious denial. Trump administration appointees, who are like drones for industry, are ordering the removal of references to climate change in agency communications. The administration is also purging our government of good-faith, (more…)

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Working in a multidisciplinary firm means every day is different.


You certainly never get bored in a multidisciplinary office. A landscape architect might find herself reviewing federal endangered species listings, hydrology maps, or legal frameworks for land use planning in the daily shuffle, and these are just some of the diverse types of work likely to be present. Industrial mining methods, vernal pool construction, and high-rise plumbing systems could also come into play. The number of landscape architects working in these professional environments is growing as businesses find a competitive edge providing full, in-house services for site development projects that require expertise from designers but also from scientists, legal teams, and engineers. Four landscape architects at the center of these integrated office types share insights about collaboration, isolation, and the willingness to learn something new each day.

Interviews have been edited and condensed.

Weston & Sampson, Boston

Gene Bolinger, ASLA, Vice President

What are lessons learned from working in a multidisciplinary office for more than 25 years?

Staff at Weston & Sampson (clockwise from left): Elise Bluell, Associate ASLA; Cassidy Chroust, ASLA; Desmond Fang; Brandon Kunkel; and Farah Dakkak, Associate ASLA. Image courtesy of Weston & Sampson.

I came to Weston & Sampson through an acquisition, and I’ve been here since the fall of 1991. Weston & Sampson is an environmental and infrastructure engineering firm, and it’s one of those old, legacy northeastern firms. It’s been around since 1899. One of our larger clients is the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department, and at any given time, we have  eight to 10 projects under way with the City of Boston. We’re pushing up against 500 people in our organization and, again, we’re mostly in the Northeast, with the largest projects in Massachusetts, for sure. Just recently the firm went to a discipline-based structure—we’re actually six disciplines. One of the disciplines is the design discipline, and I manage the design discipline. I’ve become accustomed to working within a multidisciplinary realm, and I celebrate what’s great about it and try to take advantage of what’s great about it.

If you’re sitting back on your hands and you’re assuming that people are going to be delivering exactly what you want at the exact moment you want it, you’re so mistaken. So, that’s why you can’t let things (more…)

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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.



Among Southern California landscape architecture firms, Los Angeles-based Studio-MLA (formerly Mia Lehrer + Associates) is arguably highbrow. Known for public spaces like the 1,300-acre Orange County Great Park and Vista Hermosa Park in an underserved section of Los Angeles, and transformative master plans for infrastructuralized landscapes like the Los Angeles River and the Silver Lake Reservoir, the firm has a serious approach to the needs of Southern California and the services landscape architecture can provide. It’s complex, civic-minded work built out of decades of engagement in the community.

So it’s somewhat unexpected to see some of Studio-MLA’s recent work (more…)

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Marijuana wafts across the California landscape as legalization of recreational use approaches.


Ed Rosenthal grows weed. He has for decades. The Oakland, California-based horticulturist, author, and activist is the go-to expert on home cultivation. He’s written more than a dozen books on the subject and the policies that surround medical marijuana and legalization. Their titles fall somewhere between what you’d see in your local nursery and your corner head shop: The Big Book of Buds (volumes one through four), Marijuana Garden Saver, and Marijuana Pest & Disease Control.

“Growing is addictive,” Rosenthal says with a laugh, and then quickly clarifies that the drug is not. “Given the right conditions and a sunny backyard, marijuana can be grown almost anywhere in California.” He speaks poetically about marijuana’s diverse morphology: It has male and female plants. Some are tall, some wide, and there are different strains like indica or sativa that range in color—like heirloom tomatoes—from absinthe yellow–green to maroon and deep purple. To cultivate cannabis for its THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and psychoactive properties, only the female plants are grown. The male plants look a bit like wild mustard; the female plants are the ones that produce buds for consumption. “With humans and cannabis, the female is considered more beautiful,” he explains. “I have a bunch of marijuana plants growing, and they all look different, like six different varieties of a dahlia. Each plant is (more…)

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Los Angeles is an intriguing place for 2017’s ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO. It’s a car-centric metropolis in the throes of a rebirth in public transportation, a drought-parched region with a remarkably complex water infrastructure, and an image-conscious city with a deceptively robust urban foundation. The October issue celebrates the ASLA Annual Meeting with a look at Los Angeles’s, and California’s, big designs on the future.

Christopher Hawthorne’s Third L.A. Project brings to the forefront issues, including density and equity, that Los Angeles—and Angelenos—face with the reinvention of the sprawling, single-family-home-dominated city. Waving away the clouds of optimism around marijuana legalization and production, Mimi Zeiger investigates the costs and benefits to the landscape. And in a city where entertainment is king, Studio-MLA goes big with three sports stadium projects in the Los Angeles area.

Up the coast, a public housing project on San Francisco’s Potrero Hill gets connected to the city by GLS Landscape | Architecture, while trying to stave off gentrification that could follow. And AECOM’s work on the South San Francisco Bay restores ecosystems once battered by the salt industry back to their natural habitat.

Glen Dake, ASLA, talks about his firm’s commitment to resiliency and “meeting people in their language,” in Interview. Two gardens at the storied Garden Museum in London get a redesign by Dan Pearson and Christopher Bradley-Hole in Plants. A remediation plan by Fred Phillips for an Indonesian tin mining site includes providing an alternative livelihood for artisanal miners, in Planning. And in Palette, subtle layers compose the designed landscapes of Pamela Burton & Company Landscape Architecture. All this plus our regular Books, Now, and Goods columns. The full table of contents for October 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 posting October articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Salt Ponds to Pickleweed,” © AECOM/David Lloyd; “Third Way L.A.,” Marc Campos/Occidental College; “The Final Hill,” Kyle Jeffers; “Altered State,” © 2017 Grace & Co., Inc.; “Fan Favorite,” Tom Lamb; “Growing Obsession,” Garden Museum; “All Landscape Is Local,” Stephanie Garcia/Brian Kuhlmann Pictures; “Play It as It Layers,” Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA; “Smartphone Landscape,” Telapak.

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

Photo courtesy of Lisa Daye.

From LAM’s special September 2017 awards issue, Facebook’s green roof in its Menlo Park, California, headquarters by CMG Landscape Architecture is (at nine acres) large enough to reset visitors’ assumptions of where the ground plane is.

“Rooftop reflection.”


You can read the full table of contents for September 2017 or pick up a free digital issue of the September LAM here and share it with your clients, colleagues, and friends. 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.

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