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Posts Tagged ‘diversity’

BY ZACH MORTICE

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Avenida Houston is a 60-foot-wide promenade in front of Houston’s convention center. Image courtesy of Jonnu Singleton/SWA.

Avenida Houston was designed to celebrate the flyway paths of migratory birds and the vibrant energy economy that has made Houston attractive to domestic and international migrants alike. But in early February a new set of visitors will be attracted to this linear plaza: Football fans drawn by the suite of Super Bowl programming unfurled at the nearby (and newly renovated) George R. Brown Convention Center, and Super Bowl LI, to be played a few miles away at NRG Stadium.

Avenida Houston, designed by SWA Group, is a four-acre, 60-foot-wide strip of space that turned a desolate and unforgiving stretch of multilane traffic in front of the city’s convention center into an informal promenade. Two central themes, seemingly opposed, animate this new public event space: Houston’s industry and nature. “The conversation really started as, (more…)

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BY BRADFORD McKEE

Credit: Courtesy Museum of Walking/Angela Ellsworth.

Postcommodity, Repellent Fence, 2015. Image courtesy Museum of Walking/Angela Ellsworth.

From the upcoming February 2017 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Instead of a sensible and humane overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws to deal with current realities, we are apparently going to get a wall between the United States and Mexico. It was among the most outlandish promises of the Trump campaign, if only one of its rank xenophobic turns: a gigantic blockade stretching from the Pacific Ocean, through the Sonoran Desert, and down the Rio Grande River to the Gulf of Mexico, with fear as its mortar. During the first week of the new Republican-led Congress, the House Republican Policy Committee chair, Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana, told the Washington Post that legislators are looking for ways to begin work on such a wall under existing law and with American (not Mexican) money. The existing law Messer means is the Secure Fence Act of 2006, signed by President George W. Bush, which called for 700 miles of actual fencing and a “virtual fence” of beefed-up surveillance along the Mexico border. That work remains incomplete. Barriers block less than half of the 1,954 miles of international boundary. Theoretically, a resumption of building could begin to lock it all up later this spring.

The human effects of this simplistic idea will be mixed. A big wall will stop some population flow, but hardly all of it, and it will kill informal cross border commerce. Ecologically, though, it is likely to be a catastrophe. It will fragment habitat on a huge scale in one of the most biologically diverse parts of North America—the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas alone is said to have (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.

 

INTO AN ERA OF LANDSCAPE HUMANISM

BY GINA FORD, ASLA

Fifty years ago, the voice of our profession was eerily prescient, undeniably smart, and powerfully inspired. It was also, let’s admit it, almost entirely white and male.

I note this with no disrespect to the six incredible leaders of our profession who penned the Declaration of Concern. Clearly, their call—to reconcile the needs of humankind with sound knowledge and respect for the natural processes of our environment—is as relevant (or even more so) today as it was then. Equally, their edict for landscape architects to command the technical skill sets associated with natural resources and processes—geology, physiography, climatology, ecolog—remains of vital importance.

Yet, as we look forward and consider the significance of climate change, demographic shifts, and income inequality, the Declaration’s “man” as nature’s antagonist feels strangely abstract and incomplete. To maintain relevance over the next 50 years, the profession needs to (more…)

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Citizen scientists and experts work to catalogue and identify as many species as possible during the BioBlitz event.

Species experts and families work to identify and catalog as many species as possible during the BioBlitz event.

Since 2007, the National Park Service (NPS) and the National Geographic Society have teamed up to create BioBlitz, an annual event that celebrates the wealth of biodiversity in the United States. Each year, thousands of families sign up to search for and learn about different species of plants, animals, and fungi, among others, in various national parks across the country.

For the centenary year of the NPS, BioBlitz 2016 will be held at Constitution Gardens on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where ASLA joins a variety of organizations at the Biodiversity Festival to speak on the importance of soil quality and health. “This is a great opportunity to reach out to potentially thousands of families and let them know what landscape architects do,” says Karen Grajales, the manager of public relations for ASLA, who will be joining Virginia Tech landscape architecture students and other ASLA staff members for the event.

To learn more about BioBlitz and potentially get involved, please click here.

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“If Women Built Cities, What Would Our Urban Landscape Look Like?” by Susanna Rustin from The Guardian on December 5, 2014.

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Susanna Rustin

Every year LAM honors two articles that stand out in the realm of landscape architecture with the Bradford Williams Medal—one that has appeared in LAM, and one from outside the magazine. For the 2015 medals, articles from the 2014 calendar period were nominated by LAM’s Editorial Advisory Committee and then were narrowed to two winners from the nominees.

Earlier we announced Mimi Zeiger’s “Fresno v. Eckbo” as the winner for an article in LAM, from December 2014. Today we’re proud to announce Susanna Rustin, a feature writer at The Guardian, as the winner for an article outside of LAM for her December 2014 story “If Women Built Cities, What Would Our Urban Landscape Look Like?” Rustin’s article focuses on the need for diversity, particularly women, among those who shape the human environment.

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The Bradford Williams Medal is awarded to two outstanding articles in landscape every year.

The medal’s namesake, Bradford Williams, was an editor and publisher of LAM in its earlier days when it was Landscape Architecture Quarterly. The medal was named to honor his contributions to the magazine and to ASLA. A list of past winners can be found here.

The medals will be presented at ASLA’s 2015 Annual Meeting & EXPO on Monday, November 9 in a ceremony at Chicago’s McCormick Place for the ASLA Student and Professional Awards.

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BY PHILIP WALSH

The compensatory mitigation mandate opens a dynamic arena for landscape architects.

From the August 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

 

“Konk-la-ree!”

Or,

“O-ka-lee!”

The song of the red-winged blackbird, although instantly recognizable, is hard to put to words, as even Roger Tory Peterson, author of A Field Guide to the Birds, found. These syllables are his best efforts. The trilling, almost metallic-sounding warble evokes summertime, cattails, and the watery landscapes where Agelaius phoeniceus goes to breed.

But at this moment I’m not seeing cattails. I’m at the edge of a parking lot behind a pizza restaurant in a suburb north of Boston, looking at a large pit, about 10 feet deep, filled with Phragmites australis, the infamous invasive species that, along with purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), is the scourge of wetlands in the Northeast, choking out cattails and other native species that provide food to the bird population. A few spindly red maples have colonized the embankment, along with some riverbank grape (Vitis riparia), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), and Rosa multiflora, a pretty though sprawling shrub introduced to America in 1866 to provide rootstock for hybrid roses and now classed as a pest in many states. Despite the red-winged blackbird’s bright song, this is a dismal place, especially in the fading afternoon sunlight, a bit of wasteland left behind by development, one of millions of similar places across the country.

This blighted spot, however, is a mandated compensatory wetland mitigation under (more…)

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Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) are great resources for members of ASLA. The 20 networks represent the diversity of topics important to the practice of landscape architecture, and each provides the opportunity to share information with other members connected to that particular network. The concerns of the newest network, Environmental Justice, have recently been much on the minds of practitioners and educators alike in new and evolving ways, reflecting design professionals’ desire to help right current social injustices that are knowingly, and unknowingly, inflicted upon others. And it is a topic that some practitioners feel should be more integrated in today’s practice.

Kathleen King, Associate ASLA, a landscape designer at Design Workshop in Denver, is a co-chair of the Environmental Justice PPN. “Landscape architects have a really important role in the sociology of places,” King says. The other co-chair is Julie Stevens, assistant professor of landscape architecture at Iowa State University. “There are a few design firms dedicated to… environmental justice, and then there’s everybody else. And I think that this is not a topic that has to be exclusive to a certain number of firms… I think everybody needs to start embracing these projects,” Stevens says.

King spoke on a panel about social justice at the 2014 ASLA Annual Meeting in Denver, along with Diane Jones Allen, ASLA; Kurt D. Culbertson, FASLA; Randolph T. Hester Jr., FASLA; and Anne Whiston Spirn, FASLA. They talked about the role of environmental justice in their careers. The response was overwhelming; students and professionals alike inundated them with requests for more information. “We’re going to figure out what this really means for landscape architecture,” King says.

Members of ASLA can join one Professional Practice Network for free, with a yearly charge of $15 added for each additional network. For more information on the new Environmental Justice and other PPNs, visit ASLA’s PPN website.

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