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Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

Designers from SCAPE’s New Orleans and New York offices talk about the lessons from Hurricane Ida, in and out of the office.

Damage from Hurricane Ida in Pointe-aux-Chênes, Louisiana, where volunteers from SCAPE are pitching in with the recycling organization Glass Half Full to help with the cleanup. Photo by Liz Camuti.

In early September, a few days after Hurricane Ida raked through Louisiana on its way up the East Coast, three designers from SCAPE Studio met up on Zoom to talk with Landscape Architecture Magazine’s Acting Editor, Jennifer Reut, about Ida’s aftermath. SCAPE’s practice has long focused on coastal resilience and sea-level rise, but Ida’s dual impact on New Orleans (August 29) and New York (September 1) was the first time that designers from both offices had experienced catastrophic flooding from the same storm. Hurricane Ida’s aftermath offered a chance to reflect on what is changing and what isn’t in the profession and the public’s understanding of climate-fueled catastrophes.

Gathered were John Donnelly, ASLA, the technical principal at SCAPE, who had recently moved to New Orleans to work at SCAPE’s office there. Studio Director Chris Barnes, ASLA, had founded the New Orleans office when he moved back home to Louisiana, and Design Principal Gena Wirth, ASLA, called in from SCAPE’s New York office. This is an excerpt from the conversation that took place on September 10. The full interview will appear in Landscape Architecture Magazine in November 2021. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Nantucket Island, where impending sea-level rise hasn’t done much to slow the real estate market. Photo by Maggie Janik.

In the face of likely climate retreat, student design studios explore ways to improve Nantucket’s coastal resilience.

 

On Nantucket Island off the coast of Massachusetts, half of the 10 highest-ever tides arrived in 2018 alone, and flooding is a constant worry that imperils the tourist economy and historic buildings. “But that has not slowed down the real estate market,” says Cecil Barron Jensen, the executive director of the local nonprofit ReMain Nantucket. It’s been a “banner, record year” for buying and selling houses, she says. The average home price in Nantucket is nearly $1.8 million, according to Zillow, up almost 10 percent over the past year.

Real estate brokers on the island, Jensen says, talk about the flooding in terms of timelines. “How long do you want to enjoy this house? You can enjoy this house for this long,” she says. Even for the rich, the good life on Nantucket is becoming a finite commodity, as the dissonance between the hearty trade in beachfront views and climate cataclysm becomes harder to ignore.

Finding ways for Nantucket to coexist with rising floodwaters is the purpose of the Envision Resilience Nantucket Challenge, an initiative by Jensen’s ReMain Nantucket to bring aboard teams of design students in a collaborative design studio to propose solutions. Overall, these propositions, on exhibition at the Nantucket Historical Association’s Thomas Macy Warehouse through December, are focused on soft edges, careful retreats, and ways to get habitats, native ecologies, and people to mix and mingle with water productively. Students from five design programs (Yale, Harvard, the University of Miami, the University of Florida, and Northeastern University) presented their work—all produced remotely—to the Nantucket community in early June. (more…)

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TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY TARA MITCHELL

The unseen world of little bluestem grasslands.

FROM THE MARCH 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Roadsides are a tough place for any form of life. The land is never free of human disturbance, be it from mowing, drainage and guardrail repair, tree cutting, installation of signs and utility posts, or vehicles that don’t stay the course. The soils are often compacted, dry and infertile, and polluted from salt and runoff. Remnants of debris—plastic bags and bottles, fast-food wrappers, coffee cups, pieces of cardboard, toys, and miniature liquor bottles—lie tucked away in the vegetation. On heavily trafficked roads, there is the continuous roar of cars and trucks whizzing by, wearing, irritating, never-ending.

Roadside vegetation is increasingly becoming a jungle of nonnative plants. In some places, there exist impenetrable stands of Japanese knotweed and common reeds. Elsewhere, the ubiquitous jumble of bittersweet, multiflora rose, and honeysuckle eats away at the forest edge. In more suburban areas, barberry, burning bush, and English ivy, having escaped the confines of manicured landscapes, creep unnoticed through the understory, changing the soil chemistry and the ecology of adjacent forests. From the perspective of vegetation, the roadside is a double war zone: man versus nature and plant invaders versus long-established plant communities.

But sometimes, when the soils are dry and infertile and the land is sufficiently exposed to the wind and the beating sun, there exists (when the mowers allow) extraordinary beauty in long stretches of little bluestem grassland. These grasslands may not be particularly noticeable during the summer, but by late August, when the foliage turns a coppery-red hue and the fluffy white seeds glint in the sunlight, the land is transformed. When mixed with the pink haze of purple lovegrass in bloom and a sprinkling of goldenrod, rabbit tobacco, and aster, the combination can be stunning. (more…)

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INTERVIEW BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Greg Kochanowski documented the loss of his own home in the 2018 Woolsey Fire, which destroyed 110 of 217 houses in Seminole Springs, California. Photo by GK.

 

The Los Angeles-based designer Greg Kochanowski researches wildfire mitigation close to home.

 

Earth is a water planet. It is also, as Stephen J. Pyne has written, a fire planet. The Earth “has held fires as long as plants have lived on land,” Pyne recently wrote in Yale Environment 360. To remove fire from landscapes that have coevolved with it “can be as ruinous as putting fire into landscapes that have no history of it. The fires we don’t see—the fires that should be there and aren’t—are an index of ecological loss, like imposing a drought on a normally lush landscape.”

Greg Kochanowski knows well the losses that fires and their absence bring. As the studio director of the multidisciplinary design firm RIOS, Kochanowski had been investigating the effects of urbanization on the fire-adapted landscapes of Southern California for more than three years when the 2018 Woolsey Fire destroyed his home in Seminole Springs, California.

Now, Kochanowski has collected his research, as well as his experience of the Woolsey Fire, in The Wild, published last fall as part of the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design’s pamphlet series. The book explores the urban periphery of Los Angeles and the economic, cultural, and political pressures that have resulted in the city’s persistent peri-urban expansion and, consequently, the inevitability of ever larger, ever more deadly wildfires. Landscape Architecture Magazine spoke to Kochanowski shortly after the book’s release. His reVISION ASLA 2020 panel, “Fire Across the Pacific: Australia, California, and the Climate Crisis,” is available online.

LAM: What gave birth to the line of inquiry you’re tracing in the book?

Kochanowski: It was really the Rising Currents book that came out of the MoMA exhibition [Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront, 2011]. That was the first time that I had seen the global design community using their expertise to solve much broader problems. I was really inspired by it, but I was living in Los Angeles. Los Angeles has issues with sea-level rise, of course, but there was a lack of theorizing about the West. It was a very East Coast discussion. In the West, I was experiencing fires, and then it would rain and you would have floods, and then landslides, and it happened every single year. It was just this cycle. After a few years, I thought, no one’s talking about this. So, I began to look at the fire cycle, and had a session at the ASLA conference in 2018 on some of that initial research. And then my house burned down. Then I got really interested in fire. (more…)

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BY KAMILA GRIGO

Copenhagen’s stormwater detention roads are everything but.

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

As part of its climate change and urban flood mitigation strategy, Copenhagen aims to build 300 stormwater management projects over the next 20 to 30 years. Among the projects are a series of detention roads, entire streets redesigned to convey and detain rainwater locally to relieve the existing storm sewer system. It’s an ambitious target that reflects the city’s understanding that investment in these projects is a way of managing greater long-term risk to city infrastructure while providing citizens with multifunctional spaces in the short term.

The Sankt Kjelds Square and Bryggervangen by SLA is a pilot of the detention road concept. Completed in 2019, it comprises the entirety of the 2,300-foot-long Bryggervangen road and Sankt Kjelds Square, the roundabout in the middle. “It’s quite a simple project,” says Bjørn Ginman, a project director at SLA, who says that the fundamental concept is about seeing water move through the site. Rain gardens lining the pedestrian rights-of-way receive rainwater from sidewalks and the roofs of adjacent residential buildings, while road runoff is directed into larger infiltration ponds at the roundabout and at intersections, though not before an in-ground diverter (one of the municipality’s first applications in a public road context) deals with the most polluted first flush. (more…)

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BY JONATHAN LERNER

Cornell students bring visions for climate adaptation down to the Hudson shore.

FROM THE MAY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The Hudson River is tidal, gaining a mean elevation of only two feet for 150-plus miles inland from the Atlantic. It is flanked, almost without interruption, by bluffs and cliffs. Most communities along it have only a slender strip of land at river level. Historically, industries and infrastructure were sited below, with more salubrious parts of towns built up the slopes. Most industry is gone. Communities want to reinvent their riverfronts, which means contending with the tides and storms of a changing climate. They’re getting help from Josh Cerra, ASLA, the director of graduate studies in the Department of Landscape Architecture at Cornell University. With collaboration from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program, he has been bringing community-based “Climate-Adaptive Design” studios to Hudson River towns.

The studio has obvious pedagogical value. Students learn site research and engagement skills, and to imbue design with climate science. Meanwhile, it lets Cerra pursue an interest in applied education and cross-disciplinary experiences. In developing their concepts, his students get “consultants”—other students, from Cornell’s Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering. To assess the studio’s benefits, Cerra is collaborating with a Cornell researcher who studies behaviors and conservation management. Their inquiries, he says, include “how working with engineers or other technical partners may enhance learning innovation” for landscape architects. And then there is the studio’s value to the towns, which are gifted with provocative visions for their futures. (more…)

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BY JONATHAN LERNER

Parks along New York City’s vulnerable waterfront, like the one recently completed at Hunter’s
Point South, are both amenity and armor.

FROM THE MARCH 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Even as the tides lapping at its edges rise, New York City is turning eagerly toward the water to relieve both a congested transit system and a shortfall in housing stock. For example, you can now travel among all five boroughs by ferry. Ferries have several advantages over streets and subways. For the passenger, those include wind in your hair and magnificent, alternately thrilling and calming views of the harbor; for the city, minimal fixed infrastructure and the ability to easily alter routes if circumstances—such as the shorelines themselves—should change. And from the new ferries that ply the East River, you can see the city’s most visible effort to address the housing crunch: clusters of enormous apartment towers recently built and under construction along once-industrial waterfronts.

The city mandates that, with redevelopment, the water’s edge be public space. Some of that is the “waterfront public access area” each newly developed riverside property is required to provide. Those areas must at least have landscape and seating; as built, they vary from quite thoughtful to afterthought. There are also a number of city and state parks along the river. So there is beginning to be a continuous public edge. It will probably always have gaps, but they are filling in as the new housing developments rise. Viewed from out on the water, the chain of public spaces resolves into a thin green line, as much of it consists of esplanades and piers or is otherwise flat. Still, discontinuous and varying in design quality as its component pieces are, they are hugely popular—just because they exist, and also because some of them are truly inspired. That would describe one of the newest of the city-developed pieces. In its case, you do begin to glimpse its features from the river, because it has hills and an architectural overlook jutting up and out toward you. This is, in fact, just where the ferry stops in Long Island City, Queens: Hunter’s Point South Park, designed by Thomas Balsley, FASLA, (whose eponymous firm joined SWA in 2016) in collaboration with Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism. (more…)

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