Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

REVIEWED BY MELISSA S. RAGAIN

FROM THE DECEMBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In 2000, the German artist Reinhard Reitzenstein suspended a tree from a pair of abandoned hydroelectric towers in La Gabelle Park in Quebec. Hung upside down, the 55-foot spruce tree contrasts tragicomically with the immense structures beside it, as though they had seized the tree and subjected it to this humiliating inversion. This arresting image flips (quite literally) our expectations of the landscape, even a human-altered landscape like the escarpment of a hydroelectric dam, and dramatizes the clear-cutting that makes such sublime industrial monuments possible. Reitzenstein relies on those expectations in order to subvert them. The cultural baggage of landscape, both pictures of the landscape and the land’s design as an aesthetic object, is the ground against which a work like Transformer appears. The urgency of climate change and mass extinction has made it necessary for anyone who works with natural materials or images to rethink the historical conventions that govern our perceptions of the natural world.

I was choosing a new survey text for my course Contemporary Art and Ecology when I was commissioned to review Mark Cheetham’s new book, Landscape into Eco Art. To judge by the title and the array of evocative illustrations, it looked like a viable candidate to replace my go-to anthology, Jeffrey Kastner’s Nature (The MIT Press, 2012). Though Kastner’s book offers an excellent selection of short primary documents perfect for an undergraduate seminar, it lacks what many art history textbooks offer: the lure of chronology, the analysis of individual artworks, and an authoritative narrative to help navigate the last 50 years of ecological art making. And yet, as I thumbed through Cheetham’s Landscape into Eco Art, I began to realize that it was not a survey text. Neither was it the kind of fine-grained history of a single object or movement we have come to expect in contemporary art history. Other texts in the genre take the standard contemporary art historical model of diving deep into a subject only to pop back out of it again with a new perspective on the long history of contemporary practices. For instance, James Nisbet’s Ecologies, Environments, and Energy Systems in Art of the 1960s and 1970s (The MIT Press, 2014) tells a history of land art and systems thinking by tethering it to a lengthy analysis of Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field (1977). Similarly, Suzaan Boettger’s Earthworks: Art and the Landscape of the Sixties (University of California Press, 2003) takes a wide-angle lens to land art in a chronological survey of the era’s greatest moments to shed light on the complex network of artists, gallerists, and collectors who motivated land art’s monumental minimalism.

Instead, Landscape into Eco Art might be more readily compared to work in environmental aesthetics, a subfield of (more…)

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BY SARAH COWLES

Designers find new ways to tell communities about climate change.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In the early 1920s, leaders of the Soviet Union had a communication problem: how to relay the abstract and complex communist ideology and economy to their scattered constituents across several nations, languages, and varying literacy levels. Enter the agit-train, a multimedia spectacle covered with constructivist supergraphics that drew crowds at every stop. The agit-trains carried agitprop (agitation propaganda) acting troupes, movie theaters, printing presses, pamphlets, and posters.

Today, leaders of coastal cities are facing an urgent communication issue: how to draw public attention to the looming threats of climate change and sea-level rise. Last winter, 10 teams in the San Francisco Bay area were selected to participate in the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge, “a yearlong collaborative design challenge bringing together local residents, public officials, and local, national, and international experts to develop innovative, community-based solutions that will strengthen our region’s resilience to sea-level rise, severe storms, flooding, and earthquakes.” Resilient by Design, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, built on the success of the Rebuild by Design initiative, which focused on the post-Hurricane Sandy landscape of New York and New Jersey. Each team was assigned to a swath of bay lands, where a confection of urbanization, predevelopment remnants, and infrastructure collide. A significant component of the initiative was public outreach, to address the issues germane to the most vulnerable communities that are already facing pressure from gentrification.

A significant, and perhaps unexpected, outcome within the Resilient by Design process was a revolution in public outreach, one that echoes Soviet agitprop methods. Three teams, Field Operations, Bionic, and HASSELL+, designed new physical devices, events, or spaces that kick-started public participation in the design process and informed residents on methods of climate change adaptation. Bionic and Field Operations wrapped vehicles with supergraphics to create a striking visual presence at community events, while the HASSELL+ team repurposed a former bank as an info shop. Their agitprop works were especially suited to the constraints of Instagram. The supergraphics make striking backgrounds for selfies, and all teams made liberal use of hashtags. These bold environments prompted action in real and virtual communities.

The Field Operations concept for urban resilience is simple: (more…)

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Oh, wouldn’t you know, more than a dozen federal agencies release a major report on dire climate trends and the coming shocks to the United States, and the White House drops it on everyone’s stoop in the dead of Black Friday. Disregard if you can the president’s tweets about the “cold” during Thanksgiving week. And if you missed the incoherent nonsense uttered by Danielle “I’m Not a Scientist” Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute on NBC’s Meet the Press (which went unchallenged by the host, Chuck Todd) and by Rick Santorum on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday morning, consider that a win. But check out the report, the Fourth National Climate Assessment, for yourself.

For more breakdown, here is a roundup of news and analysis pieces assembled by the Society of Environmental Journalists.

“Major Trump Administration Climate Report Says Damage Is ‘Intensifying Across the Country’” (The Washington Post)

“Government Climate Report Warns of Worsening US Disasters” (AP)

“Federal Report: Climate Risks, Damage Rising Across U.S.” (ClimateWire)

“Climate Change Puts U.S. Economy and Lives at Risk, and Costs Are Rising, Federal Agencies Warn” (InsideClimate News)

“Clashing with Trump, U.S. Government Report Says Climate Change Will Batter Economy” (Reuters)

“Climate Change Is Already Hurting U.S. Communities, Federal Report Says” (NPR)

“Climate Change Will Shrink US Economy and Kill Thousands, Government Report Warns” (CNN)

“Climate Change ‘Will Inflict Substantial Damage on US Lives'” (The Guardian)

“What’s New in the Latest U.S. Climate Assessment” (The New York Times)

“Climate Change Poses Major Threat to United States, New Government Report Concludes” (Science)

“Trump’s Dire Climate Report Hands Ammunition to Democrats” (Politico)

“Experts to Discuss New Federal Climate Change Assessment Report for the U.S.” (NOAA)

“Federal Report: Hurricane Harvey Was a Climate Change Harbinger” (The Texas Tribune)

“Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II” (U.S. Global Change Research Program)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

A recent history of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is as follows:

In April, the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General issued a report on its investigation into the reassignment under Zinke of 27 career members of the department’s Senior Executive Service, high-level staff whose jobs are to “provide institutional stability and continuity” across administrations. More than 40 percent of the executives reassigned, CNN reported, were nonwhite. Ten of those employees told the inspector general’s office they believe their reassignments were for “political or punitive reasons,” including past work on climate change, energy policy, or conservation. The inspector general was unable to figure out whether the department followed legal requirements and guidelines for internal reassignments because “DOI did not document its plans or reasons” for the reassignments. Several department employees told CNN they had heard Zinke say that diversity was not “important” at the agency, which employs nearly 70,000 people, more than 70 percent of whom are white. Zinke’s office denied his ever having made such comments.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel confirmed also in April that it is looking into whether Zinke violated the Hatch Act, which forbids certain kinds of political activity by most employees of the executive branch, by announcing an exemption for Florida from a sweeping plan to begin opening nearly all of the United States’s outer continental shelf to oil and gas exploration. The exemption, the only one given to a whole state, was staged as a victory for Governor Rick Scott, a Republican who is running for one of Florida’s Senate seats. (more…)

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If there were going to be a theme for this year’s ASLA Student Awards, it might well be sea change. A shift is palpable in the way students now seem ready to fully embody their roles as future leaders. There was great assurance in this group of award winners and a courageous willingness to tackle complex and difficult problems. The ambition of student projects leapt forward on multiple levels, with many submissions seeming to overrun the confines of traditional award categories. Projects as small as Chicago’s Jazz Fence, a Community Service winner, and as grand as the Award of Excellence winner in Analysis and Planning, El Retorno a la Tierra, which called for a total rethinking of the post-Hurricane Maria recovery of Puerto Rico, exemplified the deeply researched and carefully calibrated impacts of landscape architecture at its best. Projects ranged with authority across borders both political and cultural and did not shy from confronting the politics of place head-on. Jurors admired that “there are a lot of intense sites,” and projects were moving far away from conventional places that students had studied in the past.

And then there was the sea itself, a changing condition that appeared in many submissions, particularly in the Analysis and Planning category. With water and aridity in all its forms at the center of so many projects, it was clear that accommodating sea-level rise and climate change is no longer a choice to make but a condition that is baked into students’ design thinking. Submissions also exemplified full engagement with social issues once seen as far outside the profession’s purview, such as prison yards, nuclear plants, and a landscape approach to the reunification of Korea, which garnered an Award of Excellence in Communications. During the lively deliberations, jurors commented more than once about the remarkable initiative of this year’s students, particularly the “complexity and depth of issues they chose to tackle,” as well as how much they looked forward to hiring this next generation of landscape architects.

A spoiler alert: Among the ASLA Professional Awards, Brooklyn Bridge Park brings home the top honor in General Design, the Award of Excellence. Having taken shape over nearly three decades, the vast waterfront park, by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, came almost fully into being this year, a dogged vision for turning an old world into another one. And look at the results. This winner and many others show the long game of landscape architecture.

As always, the digital edition of the September 2018 Awards issue is FREE, and you can access the free digital issue of the September LAM here and share it with your clients, colleagues, and friends. You can also buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. Single digital issues are available for only $5.25 at Zinio or you can 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.

Credits: “Myth, Memory, and Landscape in the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation,” Derek Lazo, Student ASLA, and Serena Lousich, Student ASLA; “In Between Walls,” Niloufar Makaremi Esfarjani, Student ASLA; “Stop Making Sense: Spatializing the Hanford Site’s Nuclear Legacy,” Kasia Keeley, Student Affiliate ASLA, and Andrew Prindle, Student ASLA; “Korea Remade: A Guide to Reuse the DMZ Area Toward Unification,” Jiawen Chen, Student ASLA, Siyu Jiang, Student ASLA, and Xiwei Shen, Student ASLA; “Iqaluit Municipal Cemetery,” TSC Photography; “Chicago Riverwalk: State Street to Franklin Street,” © Kate Joyce; “Brooklyn Bridge Park: A 20-Year Transformation,” Julienne Schaer.

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Aerial photo of damaged homes along the New Jersey shore after Hurricane Sandy. Photo credit: Greg Thompson/USFWS, Wikimedia Commons.

The Union of Concerned Scientists’ recent report on the economic damage and displacement that sea-level rise flooding will unleash called for investments “in a range of coastal adaptive measures,” such as “the protection of wetlands, and barrier islands, and other natural flood risk reduction methods” and other “natural infrastructure.” That puts the onus of surviving sea-level rise very clearly on landscape architects.

The report, Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate, which the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) compiled with help from the real estate website Zillow, shows the consequences of sea-level rise in the short and long term, down to the state, city, and zip code levels of granularity. Released in June, it estimates lost houses, lost home value, lost tax base, and lost population by the years 2035 and 2100. (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.

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

FROM THE JULY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

On a chilly Sunday afternoon in the spring of 2016, a group of designers and preservation professionals wandered through one of Newport, Rhode Island’s oldest neighborhoods, visualizing what it would look like underwater. It wasn’t hard to imagine water flowing down the narrow streets and into the basements of the quaint, colonial-era homes located just blocks from Newport Harbor and a mere four feet above sea level. Some had already seen it.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy sent floodwaters into many of the Point neighborhood’s historic homes, including 74 Bridge Street, a red-painted, two-story house originally built in the late 1720s. The basement flooded up to the first-floor framing and the kitchen took on at least seven inches of water.

Two years later, the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF), a nonprofit preservation group founded by Doris Duke in the 1960s, purchased the house at 74 Bridge Street. As the house of one of Newport’s most notable cabinetmakers, a Quaker named Christopher Townsend, it had sat for years at the top of the NRF’s list of most desirable historic Newport properties. It was an important acquisition for the NRF, which currently owns 78 properties throughout the city and helps fund their upkeep. But the organization also knew that 74 Bridge Street would flood again.

“It’s in the lowest point in the Point neighborhood—literally, the lowest topographical point,” says Shantia Anderheggen, NRF’s former director of preservation. With sea levels on the rise—and in Newport they already had risen 11 inches over the past century—it was a statistical certainty that what happened in 2012 would happen again. And it wasn’t just the Townsend residence. The entire Point neighborhood, which has one of the highest concentrations of colonial-era structures on the continent, was under siege from the sea. (more…)

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