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Posts Tagged ‘Cultural Landscapes’

As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish.

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

FROM THE MARCH 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

On August 29, 2005, the world saw what happened when a levee failed. A Category 3 hurricane slammed the Gulf Coast, 169 linear miles of federally constructed levees collapsed, and nearly 80 percent of New Orleans flooded, killing almost 1,000 people, the majority of them African American and over the age of 65. It was a wake-up call not just for New Orleanians but for lawmakers 2,000 miles away in California, who worried about their own state’s intricate system of ancient levees, which hold back the waters of the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta.

Covering an area the size of Rhode Island, the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta is an inland delta formed by the confluence of five major waterways, including the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. It stretches from just east of the San Francisco Bay north to Sacramento and south to Stockton and drains more than 50 percent of the state of California. It is also a highly engineered landscape, made up of winding canals, earthen levees, and terraced agricultural fields. Roads follow the sinuous levees, forming what, from the air, appears as a convoluted puzzle pieced together over eons by a deranged dissectologist.

The delta’s present-day morphology is the product of one of the largest land reclamation projects in U.S. history. In the late 19th century, farmers and land speculators drained more than 500,000 acres of wetlands in the delta, using the dredge material—much of it the spoils of industrial gold mining—to build human-made islands. In the 20th century, water conveyance projects such as the California State Water Project further severed the relationship between delta wildlife and its unique hydrology. “There is nothing about the delta that is like what it used to be,” explains Brett Milligan, an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of California, Davis, and a cofounder of the Dredge Research Collaborative. “The way water flows through it is entirely different. The channels have been widened; all the dendritic channels have been cut off. There’s no floodplain at all.” (more…)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

Thaïsa Way, now leading Garden and Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, wants deeper histories for the profession.

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The urban landscape historian Thaïsa Way, FASLA, relocated this summer from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she has served on the faculty for 12 years, to Washington, D.C., to lead the Garden and Landscape Studies program at Dumbarton Oaks, an outpost of Harvard University. The program operates from an early 19th-century mansion surrounded by a Beatrix Farrand garden on 16 acres above Georgetown—one of the few largely intact designs of Farrand’s remaining. Way’s arrival follows the retirement of John Beardsley, who ran the program since 2008. We met on a hot July morning, and sat at the back of the garden inside a rustic stone pavilion called Catalogue House, which has two lead squirrels on top. The pavilion holds photographs that explain some of the garden’s plantings—such as the recent reinstallation of a famed aerial double hedge of hornbeams. The conversation quickly turned to history and the future of history. (more…)

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BY KATARINA KATSMA, ASLA

Landslide 2017

FROM THE DECEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

In a time of great upheaval for the United States, it is hard to keep track of the many risks to our national landscapes. Even our nationally recognized and federally protected sites are under threat from privatization or lax oversight, making them vulnerable to destructive practices that place monetary gain over equitable enjoyment of parkland. Open Season on Open Space, this year’s Landslide program from the Cultural Landscape Foundation, minces no words on this subject, calling out municipalities, states, and the federal government for undermining a century’s worth of progress for our public lands, parks, and national monuments.

The reclamation of urban parks for future development is a slippery slope. Appropriating parkland for a presidential library could be considered of exceptional merit. But once such land has been taken from Chicago’s Jackson Park, it could set a precedent for future development or change the criteria for what is considered exceptional and therefore worthy of erasing park space.

Landslide considers the monetization of open space and weakening of park equity as the biggest threats to Jackson Park. These, along with detrimental effects of shadows, resource extraction, and the devaluation of cultural lifeways, make up Landslide’s five central themes. And it is the last two that loom greatest over the Antiquities Act of 1906, an act pivotal in the protection of federally owned lands now under siege by the country’s current administration.

The threat to our open space may not necessarily be from land use. With recent rezoning of the neighborhood surrounding Greenacre Park in New York, the possibility of perpetual shadow could damage precious park space in an area almost completely dominated by hardscape and high-rises. Although the selected open spaces only begin to account for the landscapes in danger of erasure, they work to remind us of the long road ahead in the preservation and maintenance of America’s cultural landscapes for generations to come. (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

The National Map is a feat of modern-day cartography. It also reveals our country’s shifting priorities.

FROM THE APRIL 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Lisa Orr, ASLA, was 11 years old when she attended her first West Virginia funeral. Her great-grandmother, Susan Bolyard Summers, had died at the age of 102 and was being buried in the family cemetery, behind a little country church called Mount Zion. Orr’s family drove the hour and a half from Morgantown, in the northern part of the state, to rural Preston County, winding through a tangled warren of hills and hollows and passing a dozen other hilltop cemeteries before reaching their destination.

The trip made a lasting impression on Orr. Preston County was so unlike her life in Morgantown: The landscape was as breathtaking as it was formidable. “It’s hard to explain how rugged the territory is,” she says, speaking from her office at West Virginia University (WVU), where she teaches landscape architecture. “It’s like a mini-Grand Canyon everywhere you go.” It illuminated the hardscrabble life that her great-grandmother had lived, living on foraged chestnuts and whatever else would grow in Preston County’s rocky soil. And it gave Orr her first glimpse into the role these cemeteries played in local people’s lives.

Caring for these places, she learned, was part of many families’ cultural heritage, including her own. “Part of my grandmother’s life was just visiting cemeteries,” she says, (more…)

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