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Posts Tagged ‘community’

BY NATE BERG

As Las Vegas’s historic westside faces change, residents ask, who benefits?

As Las Vegas’s historic Westside faces change, residents ask, who benefits?

From the August 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

At the start of a three-day design charrette in a small Las Vegas community center, one of the first questions Steven Clarke, ASLA, asked the 100-person crowd was how many had participated in a design charrette before. “About 80 percent of them raised their hands,” says Clarke, a fair-haired 45-year-old from Winnipeg, Manitoba, who was new to this group of people, many of whom weren’t particularly happy to be doing another charrette. The purpose of the current exercise was to focus on the historic Westside neighborhood of Las Vegas, which has been a marginalized African American neighborhood since the early 20th century. Many of the community members who had gathered wanted to know what would be different this time around, Clarke says. The skepticism quickly boiled into anger. Some demanded to know how the charrette process would do anything to create jobs in the neighborhood. Others demanded to know how much Clarke was being paid, and by whom. “It got extremely tense,” he says. “It was probably the most challenging charrette I’ve faced in my career.”

The Westside was once the healthy heart of the city’s African American community. Today the area is largely vacant, a wasteland of urban disinvestment. The neighborhood’s blocks hold more than 200 empty lots and dozens of abandoned buildings and burned-out houses. The main commercial strip is a ghost town. Its few businesses—a minimarket, a barbecue joint, a clothing shop—are modest, and foot traffic is all but nonexistent. Down a side street, residents of an apartment building are hosting what looks like a regular sidewalk sale of old vacuum cleaners and electronics. A few blocks away, a middle-aged sex worker sits on a curb and halfheartedly propositions the few cars that drive past.

Just on the other side of intersecting freeways, less than half a mile away, is (more…)

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Osteria ai Pioppi is an unusual ecological amusement park in a small community north of Venice, Italy. There Bruno Ferrin handcrafted fantastical rides with metal and other odd materials that are all kinetically driven, allowing children to learn while engaging with the rides. Ferrin has been adding new creations—which he says are all inspired by nature—since 1969. This two-minute video is presented by the Great Big Story, a video network featuring unusual and awe-inspiring places around the world. For more information and videos, please visit here.

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

A broad coalition of community organizations and officials takes a preemptive stand against gentrification.

A broad coalition of community organizations and officials takes a preemptive stand against gentrification.

From the June 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Data can be deceiving, or at the very least hard to parse. But for the residents of East Harlem, the numbers spoke loudly. On average, the community was losing nearly 300 affordable housing units per year, based on eight years of data collected by WXY Architecture + Urban Design. If real estate development continued at the current rate, more than 4,000 affordable housing units would be lost over the next 15 years. “People began to realize that a ‘do-nothing’ option was not going to result in the same old thing,” says Adam Lubinsky, a planner and managing principal at WXY. “A ‘do-nothing’ option would mean 300 homes lost per year to development.”

East Harlem, a largely Latino community where one in three residents lives below the poverty line, was also named as one of eight neighborhoods out of 15 that have been identified for rezoning by the city. Rather than wait to respond to a zoning proposal by the city’s Department of City Planning (DCP), local organizations began working vigorously with elected officials to develop recommendations for how to use zoning to preserve affordable housing stock, open space, and the community’s cultural heritage. The result was the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan, and according to people involved, it marked the first time a community in New York has developed such a plan ahead of a DCP proposal.

“I’ve rarely seen such a broad-based and grassroots approach to plan and comment on zoning,” says Deborah Marton, the executive director of the New York Restoration Project, an open-space conservancy that participated in the process and also manages nine community gardens in East Harlem. “It was a sincere and messy effort that eventually resulted in (more…)

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From We Declare in the May 2016 issue, five landscape architects, scholars, and advocates revisit “A Declaration of Concern” for the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s 50th anniversary celebration.

 

DEVELOPING LANDSCAPES OF RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

BY ALPA NAWRE, ASLA

With what are we welcoming our future generations? Piles of plastic? Polluted air and dirty water? Life in degraded environments with mismanaged resources is the normal human experience in many parts of the world, and it’s only expected to get worse with the predicted climate change. Of the total world population of 7.2 billion, about 6 billion live in developing countries, where access to clean water, clean air, and efficient systems of waste disposal is often a daily struggle. I entreat all landscape architects to rise above parochial discussions and go beyond territorial and disciplinary comfort zones to address the very real issues related to water, air, food, waste, minerals, energy, and more that the rapidly urbanizing, developing world is now grappling with. The agency and action of landscape architects in these contexts and on these issues at both systems and site scale are critical for global sustainable development.

The dominant landscapes of conflict in contemporary times concern resources. Today, we in the developed countries are (more…)

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From We Declare in the May 2016 issue, five landscape architects, scholars, and advocates revisit “A Declaration of Concern” for the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s 50th anniversary celebration.

 

LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF SUSTAINABLE HAPPINESS: ACTIONS FOR INTERDEPENDENCE

BY RANDOLPH T. HESTER JR., FASLA

Today, and every day, we reaffirm our interdependence. We offer gratitude to those prophets who declared interdependence before us: from the ancients Isaiah and Buddha to Harriet Tubman, Rachel Carson, Stewart Udall, Grady Clay, and Karl Linn, among others. In their honor we acknowledge our responsibility to make places for life, liberty, and the pursuit of sustainable happiness. We believe that this can only be attained in the foreseeable future through an ecological democracy, a participatory government driven by systemic ecological thinking. This ecological democracy has been in the making for 50 years, 250 years, and 250 million years, evolving in mutual dependence from sea slime to the landscape of humankind. We can see our choice as living happily within our limits or perishing as ecological illiterates. We choose to bend this evolution toward sustainable happiness by committing our every resource to the following actions:

Community. That land is a community is the basic principle of ecology. It has been for eons. Today all humankind is tied together in a
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BY JOHN KING, HONORARY ASLA

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A community for adults with autism shows the power of an understated landscape.

From the February 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

If Sweetwater Spectrum in Sonoma, California, had been one of her typical Bay Area projects—the visitor center of a winery, perhaps—Nancy Roche might have chosen a different aesthetic in selecting the five trees that will form a statuesque line between the lawn and the communal porch within the cluster of four spacious four-bedroom houses designed by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects. She might have gone with ornamental pear or a particularly vivid maple, something that in the autumn would shed its leaves with fiery drama.

But Sweetwater isn’t a typical project, or a typical residential enclave. It’s perhaps the nation’s first housing complex designed specifically for adults with autism living largely on their own, a population that is served best by surroundings that offer predictability and simplicity rather than potentially disruptive stimulation. So when it came time to order the high-visibility quintet, intended to form a linear canopy 40 feet high, the tree she selected was a different deciduous variety, zelkova, a relative of the American elm.

“I chose them because I like them, but also because the fall color is a more subtle rusty red,” says Nancy, who with her husband, Dave Roche, ASLA, leads Roche + Roche Landscape Architecture, a four-person firm based three miles away. “It’s more sophisticated than a (more…)

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BY SONJA DÜMPELMANN

Street tree plant-ins in New York City.

Street tree plant-ins in New York City.

From the December 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

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White characters in What Are We Going to Do, Michael? (1973) tell the story of African American activist Hattie Carthan’s fight to save a southern magnolia tree.

In the 1973 children’s story What Are We Going to Do, Michael? 10-year-old Michael, together with his neighbor Mrs. Jacobson, helps to save an 80-year-old southern magnolia tree that is threatened with being cut down to make way for an urban renewal project in their neighborhood. Nellie Burchardt’s story is based upon true facts and events that occurred in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Yet, the way in which Burchardt portrays Michael and Mrs. Jacobson belies parts of the true story. In the children’s book, the two protagonists appear as white residents of a run-down, racially diverse neighborhood. In reality, Mrs. Jacobson was Hattie Carthan, an African American woman in her 70s living on a deteriorating neighborhood block in Bedford-Stuyvesant. By 1970, Bedford-Stuyvesant had become one of the largest African American communities in the United States, and, as Harold X. Connolly wrote in 1977, “a code word…for America’s unresolved urban and race problems.” It is unclear whether Burchardt’s choice to change the race of her protagonists had anything to do with the sales or readership aspirations for the book, or with the more idealist educational and egalitarian aspirations to cultivate white children’s empathy and awareness of nature in the city and of its ethnically and racially diverse citizenry, or, in turn, even with an unabashed racism. In any case the choice of the story itself as well as the changes made to its principal characters reflect (more…)

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