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Posts Tagged ‘Dust Mitigation’

University of Virginia Landscape Architecture Chair Bradley Cantrell, ASLA, sees the future of landscape design as a spectrum of interactions between technologies that sense the environment, model and simulate it, and then finally affect the physical world—all without constant human input and monitoring. As argued in his March 13 LAM Lecture (and in his recent book Responsive Landscapes, written with Justine Holzman, ASLA), the future of landscape architecture is one of designing protocols for how natural systems behave, and tuning these algorithms and eventually the land itself, thus loosening the stranglehold static and monofunctional infrastructure has on the planet.  “It’s not about us controlling every aspect,” he says. “It’s about us setting a range of ways those behaviors can act within.”

Cantrell’s research is grounded in the previous century’s cutting-edge modeling and simulation methods, like the Army Corp of Engineers Mississippi River Basin Model in Clinton, Mississippi, which modeled the entire rivershed, scaled down to a mere 200 acres. From there, Cantrell details contemporary research that is equal parts computational and material, honing ever more granular data points toward more accurate models. For example, there’s USC Assistant Professor Alexander Robinson’s Office of Outdoor Research, Landscape Morphologies Lab work, which uses an articulated robot arm to scrape out dust-mitigating landforms at California’s Owens Lake. Cantrell’s own inquiries involve test bed river basin models that deposit sediment via the variable flow of water, which he has been able to manipulate as though it were a geologic 3-D printer, expanding and cutting back sediment deposit “land” where it’s desired. The resulting topographies are scanned and converted into point-cloud maps.

Cantrell’s approach pushes landscape architecture’s prevailing infrastructure fixation until it ricochets out of the physically imposing world of concrete and culverts and into abstract data, underpinning the omnipresent ways we reengineer ecologies with quantitative facts. The biggest challenge for modeling and simulating dynamic environments, Cantrell says, is not gathering all the requisite data, but getting it to interact in a way that matches reality. At its core, it’s a call for new levels of observational rigor: first, to observe all the factors that make an ecosystem function, and then to understand how those factors work together to create a landscape.

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

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In Owens Lake, a land art installation draws on 100-year-old history while providing critical habitat.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

When NUVIS Landscape Architecture was hired to assist the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) with its dust mitigation effort at Owens Lake (see “Dust to Bust,” LAM, October 2012), Perry Cardoza, ASLA, was given a list of objectives. Foremost, any design needed to tamp down the dust that had become a public health hazard, but it also would have to meet very specific habitat goals and help the department meet its water-use reduction targets. (LADWP has used up to 95,000 acre-feet of water annually for dust mitigation.) What was not on the list was any mention of land art.

“In everyone’s mind, this was going to be a hiking trail with a parking lot,” says Cardoza, an executive vice president at NUVIS. “We would have gravel and wetlands and some salt grass, and [we] would call it a day.” The project evolved, however, and the completed landscape, which opened to the public in April 2016 and won an Award of Excellence from the ASLA Southern California Chapter the same year, falls right into the land art tradition, even as it fulfills its mandate as an ecological booster.

Located on a tiny parcel—at 700 acres, the parcel is still just 1 percent of the lake’s total area—near the lake’s northeast boundary, the design includes a monument-like shade structure and a series of plazas and interpretive kiosks that are connected by four miles of walking paths. For Cardoza, what pushes the work into the realm of land art are its 14 (more…)

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