Posts Tagged ‘Desert’

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.

BY JENNIFER REUT

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Like many cities in the Southwest (Palm Springs, California, most conspicuously), Tucson, Arizona, has a decent bank of midcentury modern buildings and landscapes. In the 1950s and 1960s, home buyers, drawn by the mirage of golf course-adjacent desert living (with air-conditioning, swimming pools, and lawns), flocked to the Southwest, and large swaths of the new development that went up during that era were built in the middle-class modern idiom. In the Southwest, modernism incorporated regional materials and climatic adaptations into lively vernacular architecture, and also generated some truly inspired landscapes.

Tucson Modernism Week was launched by the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation in 2001 to highlight the region’s midcentury modern architecture and landscape heritage. The foundation is also among a handful of preservation groups trying to broaden notions of modern design to include the work of women and people of color, as well as expanding the boundaries of modernism to include textiles, dance, ceramics, and neon.

Among those whom the foundation has brought to the public’s attention is Taro Akutagawa (1917–2002), a Japanese American landscape designer whose work, primarily in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been nearly erased. The foundation’s Taro Akutagawa Collection contains photographs, newspaper clippings, archival images, drawings, and plans.

The outlines of Akutagawa’s life and work are known, though there is not quite a full accounting of his projects. He was born in California in 1917 and educated in Japan before (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The Kua Bay Residence is a simple pitched roof pavilion that works as an enticing collector of ocean views. Photo by Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA.

More than half of the world’s anchialine ponds are located on Hawai‘i, also known as the Big Island. They’re formed when fresh water flows downward toward the ocean through porous volcanic rock and mixes with salt water pushed inland by wave action. Where the shoreline dips below sea level with sizable crevices, pools of water are exposed at the surface. It’s a brackish mix, though the salinity can vary, as can the depth and size of anchialine ponds. Some can be more than a dozen acres wide; others are smaller than a bathtub. These pools were vital to native Hawaiians, who would harvest shrimp (such as the ‘ōpae‘ula red shrimp) for food or bait, or use larger ponds closer to shore with higher salinity levels as fishponds. Freshwater ponds were used for drinking water and bathing.

Anchialine pools are characteristic of the landscape of the Big Island, the site of the Kua Bay Residence, and were a source of inspiration for its landscape architect, Ron Lutsko Jr., ASLA, of San Francisco-based Lutsko Associates Landscape. Like the pools themselves, the project has an intimate connection to water defined by the rock-face crevices at its border, and it offers cloistered shelter for local and native species amid an otherwise beautifully barren landscape. The project is a recipient of both a Northern California ASLA award and, most recently, a 2019 ASLA Professional Award. (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEVIN SCOTT

In dry western Washington, a fruit company compound by Berger Partnership all but vanishes in a shroud of native plantings.

FROM THE AUGUST 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The shift takes place just past Cle Elum. Driving the 140 miles from Seattle to Yakima, Washington, crossing the Cascade Range at Snoqualmie Pass, the landscape seems to dissolve in the span of a few minutes. The ponderosa pine forest gives way to high desert so quickly it’s as if the towering trees had been shrunk by a laser, transfigured into gnarly sagebrush. Dotting eastern Washington’s arid, gray-brown shrub steppe are green pastures, fields, orchards, and farms. The Yakima Valley is one of the most productive regions in Washington, thanks to a massive irrigation project undertaken around the turn of the 20th century. Farmers here grow apples, peaches, pears, cherries, and plums, as well as grapes for wine and hops for beer. The Yakima Valley produces more hops than anywhere else in the United States and more than two-thirds of Washington’s wine grapes, an industry worth nearly $5 billion.

And yet the sparsely vegetated ridges reveal the climatological truth of this place: that under normal conditions, the Cascades are a good enough goalie to prevent all but a fraction of western Washington’s wetness from slipping past them, and the presence of even the smallest amount of water is broadcast in bright pops of color. The draws and gullies appear as gashes of green, yellow, pink, and white, as if someone took a landscape painting, folded it in two, and stuffed the canvas into a crevice.

I take in the view from the cab of a 2016 Toyota Tacoma hurtling eastward on Interstate 90. Jason Henry, ASLA, a principal at the Seattle-based Berger Partnership, is driving. We’re on our way to Yakima, a sprawled-out town of roughly 100,000 people, where Berger Partnership recently completed the landscape for the headquarters of the Washington Fruit & Produce Company, a family-owned grower founded in 1916. Although Henry has lived in Seattle since 1996, the landscape architect has a deep connection to the Yakima Valley. His mother was born in Selah, just north of Yakima, and as a child, he spent summers at his aunt and uncle’s ranch outside the city, exploring and fishing and occasionally helping out in the family orchards. He still has cousins in the fruit industry. (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 JONATHAN LERNER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY ADAM WISEMAN

From the June 2018 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

One bright December day, Mario Schjetnan, FASLA, was ushering a visitor around Mexico City’s historic Chapultepec Park, where his firm, Grupo de Diseño Urbano (GDU), has been enacting subtle renovations for nearly a decade and a half. He detoured, though, to show something that has not required the firm’s intervention. It was a concrete sump, perhaps five meters square, three meters deep, and open on top. It is the terminus of an aqueduct, completed in 1951, that brings water from 60 kilometers away through a tunnel under a mountain range. At the time, the city’s population had more than doubled in two decades, to three million thirsty souls. This new aqueduct must have seemed like deliverance. (Today, the population of the Metropolitan Area of the Valley of Mexico, comprising the city proper plus 41 contiguous municipalities, numbers more than 21 million.)

The sump, whose function was really just to hold water before it was piped into four enormous tanks buried nearby, was treated reverentially. Sheltered within a temple-form building, the depression’s walls and floor were painted by Diego Rivera in a fantastical narrative called Water, Origin of Life. The inlet seems to pour through the hands of Tlaloc, the Aztec god of floods and droughts. Swirling around the floor and up the walls are life forms of increasing complexity. There are an ur-man and ur-woman, and depictions of everyday people using water (swimming, sipping, irrigating gardens), of workers jackhammering rock, and of giant pipes and valves. When the sump was actually used, the view through water surely added a vitalizing shimmer, but water was destroying the mural. Eventually the flow was rerouted and the painting restored.

Now Schjetnan pointed to where Rivera had portrayed a gathering of two dozen men in modern dress, some in hard hats, some in suits; on a table before them is a sheaf of blueprints. “The engineers who built the aqueduct,” he said respectfully, (more…)

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In the latest LAM Lecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design landscape architecture professor Gareth Doherty examines the use of color in design through two climatic and ecological opposites: the landscapes of Bahrain and Brazil. The lecture, titled “Landscapes as Chromatic Relationships,” recounts Doherty’s travels through and fascination with the small desert island nation off the coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and Roberto Burle Marx’s observations of the riotous shades of flora in his native Brazil, both the focus of recent books Doherty has penned.

In Bahrain, as explained in his book Paradoxes of Green: Landscapes of a City-State (University of California Press, 2017), the color green, especially when it’s observed as flora, is a prized jewel in the beige desert. Its cannibalization at the hands of encroaching development prompts ever-greater displays of resource-intensive landscaping, which leads to an uncomfortable paradox: The presence of green is often not so “green.” It requires tremendous amounts of energy and irrigation to make the desert bloom. For his book, Doherty took an ethnographic approach, exploring Bahrain’s cities and countryside on foot, all the better to look around and chat with natives. In his lecture he recounts melancholy strolls through neglected date palm fields, and farewell ceremonies for beloved courtyard trees about to be torn from the earth at the behest of residential development.

For Brazil, Doherty recounts Marx’s forays into the Brazilian countryside to collect new horticultural specimens, and his newest book (available this spring), Roberto Burle Marx Lectures: Landscape as Art and Urbanism (Lars Müller Publishers), collects the South American designer’s assorted lectures. It includes this sensual appreciation from Marx for nature’s ad hoc genius for composing in color: “All of this polychrome is seated on a backdrop where form, rhythm, and color are in harmony. Nothing was isolated. It was an orchestra of color. The yellows linked to the blues, the blues to the violets, the violets to the pinks. One could speak, even, of a battle of color in which one color would dominate at a particular season, supported by a background whose forms, rhythms, and colors enhanced those of the plants in a very particular way. This instability is precisely one of the great secrets of nature, which never tires us, and is constantly renewed by the effect of light, wind, rain, and shadows, which shape new forms.”

Outside of graphic design and fashion, color is generally stigmatized as a field of inquiry across most design fields. But as Doherty’s lecture and books argue, its mutability of meaning across various cultural contexts makes color a vital artifact in unlocking what a society or community values.

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