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Posts Tagged ‘flooding’

Hurricane Harvey flooding and damage. Image by Jill Carlson (jillcarlson.org) from Roman Forest, Texas, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

BY BRADFORD MCKEE

FROM THE OCTOBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Michael D. Talbott wasn’t shy in showing his hand about climate change. For 18 years, Talbott, an engineer, served as the head of the Harris County Flood Control District in Texas until his retirement in 2016. He flatly dismissed any links between climate change and the frequent extreme storms—four of them now since 2015—to hit Harris County, the nation’s third most populated county, and its seat, Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city. The month he retired, Talbott told a team of reporters with ProPublica and the Texas Tribune that the flood control district did not plan to look at ways climate may be driving the extreme weather that affected Harris County. “I don’t think it’s the new normal,” he said of these weather extremes. (The person to follow him in the job of executive director, Russell A. Poppe, “shares his views,” according to the report.) People who are saying it’s the new normal, Talbott said, have “an agenda” to fight development.

Just as remarkable as Talbott’s denial of climate breakdown was his acquittal of the role that urban development patterns play in worsening or relieving floods. When Hurricane Harvey sat on the region for days in late August, many indignant arguments arose online that Houston’s development habits either most certainly or in absolutely no way helped create the hazards that flooded Texas Gulf Coast neighborhoods from Katy in the west (31 inches of rain) to Beaumont and Port Arthur in the east (47 inches), with Cedar Bayou (more…)

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BY BRIAN BARTH / PHOTOGRAPHY BY JULIE DERMANSKY

In Southern Louisiana, Evans + Lighter Landscape Architecture is helping the people of Isle de Jean Charles move away from a disappearing coast.

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. After a nomination and selection process by the LAM Editorial Advisory Committee, this year’s 2017 Bradford Williams Medal LAM winner is Brian Barth for his article “Let’s Beat It,” below, which appeared in the October 2016 issue.

Wenceslaus Billiot often spies dolphins leaping in the bay behind his house in Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana. Just shy of his 90th birthday, he remembers his backyard as a vast, forested wetland when he raised his family here as a young man. In dry weather, the land was firm enough for his kids to walk to the store in the nearby hamlet of Chauvin. This June day the water is calm—a fisherman’s paradise—but hurricane season is another story. Billiot, a World War II veteran, former tugboat captain, and boat builder, says every year the water comes higher.

He lives in a dwindling community of the Biloxi–Chitimacha–Choctaw tribe, and like most of the 27 families who remain, Billiot and his wife, Denecia, are making plans to move inland. “But I don’t want to go,” he says in a Cajun accent.

He has no choice. Isle de Jean Charles, once 22,000 acres, has lost 98 percent of its land area since 1955, and state officials warn that (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Galveston Island State Park in the year 2060. Image courtesy of Studio Outside/Google Earth.

This is Part 3 of our conversation about Hurricane Harvey with the design team at Studio Outside in Dallas, which has won a 2017 ASLA Professional Award for Analysis and Planning for its work on Galveston Island State Park. Part 1 and Part 2 can be found below. Correction appended below on August 28.

Studio Outside’s resiliency plan for Galveston Island State Park earned a 2017 ASLA Professional Award for Analysis and Planning, drawing praise from the jury for its comprehensive and forward-looking anticipation of the havoc a hurricane could release. But Studio Outside’s Andrew Duggan and the design team, led by principal in charge Mike Fraze, knew they were pondering ironclad eventualities, not hypothetical disasters.

Over the weekend, the city of Galveston and Galveston Island State Park to its southwest found themselves in the path of Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall on Friday night, a Category 4 storm that has prompted mass evacuations of the Houston region.

Studio Outside’s project, “Storm + Sand + Sea + Strand: Barrier Island Resiliency Planning for Galveston Island State Park,” tracks the loss of habitat and land as perpetuated by sea-level rise, encroaching development, and hurricane flooding. It prescribes soft and green natural barriers to storm surges, assisted by flexible infrastructure. As a barrier island bordered by Texas’s West Bay to the northwest and the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast, there are few places to hide from floodwaters or to absorb them, and even less given that this part of the island was partially paved over to accommodate RVs in the 1970s. On Friday and over the weekend, Duggan (based safely in Dallas) and members of the design team (Fraze and Duggan of Studio Outside, and Jennifer Dowdell and Ed Morgereth of Biohabitats) emailed LAM some thoughts on how the storm might play out for Galveston Island State Park.

****Post will be updated as the storm progresses**** (more…)

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BY STEVE AUSTIN, ASLA

Landscape architecture can mitigate carbon emissions, but it is also implicated among the causes.

FROM THE JUNE 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

The Paris Agreement on climate change, created by the consensus of 197 nations, went into effect in November 2016 and has enormous implications for the practice of landscape architecture. If adhered to by its signatories, the agreement signals the end of the fossil fuel era by midcentury, well within the life spans of many landscape architects currently practicing. Though it may seem wonderfully “green,” this energy transition poses profound questions for the practice of landscape architecture at a time when the discipline is needed more than ever.

The Paris Agreement foretells a civilization powered nearly exclusively by renewably generated electricity, not fossil-fueled fire, like today. This will impose severe limits on landscape architecture’s materials, construction methods, and professional mobility. The agreement also portends a society with much less energy overall, as fossil fuels currently make up more than 80 percent of total energy consumed and cannot be easily replaced. These stark realities will challenge landscape architects to adapt to the impending zero-carbon future.

Last year set the record for the hottest year in measured history, breaking 2015’s record, which itself (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

City sewer maintenance trucks get a new graphic rebranding. Image courtesy of group projects.

City officials in San Jose, California, have an environmental graphics and public art project they hope will reduce sewer clogs from fats, oils, and grease that residents put down their kitchen sinks—and it only costs $60,000, a tiny fraction of the millions of dollars it would take to update existing infrastructure to handle more cooking waste. The project, called FOG Waste (FOG stands for fats, oils, and grease) was designed by Brett Snyder, an associate professor of design at the University of California, Davis, and Claire Napawan, an associate professor of landscape architecture at UC Davis, who practice together under the name group projects.

When fatty waste is disposed of in a sink or drain, it can solidify and block sewer lines, causing raw sewage to back up into homes, yards, and streets and potentially affect local watersheds. (You might remember the viral footage of the bus-sized ball of fat discovered in a London sewer, dubbed the “fatberg.”) In San Jose, that means raw sewage in San Francisco Bay, causing havoc in local aquatic ecosystems and posing health risks for residents.

The main design challenge for Napawan and Snyder was developing a graphic identity that could educate people on (more…)

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BY JANE MARGOLIES

Toronto’s Underpass Park, seemingly there all along.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE

Corktown Common is the marquee public space in the evolving West Don Lands area of Toronto. Designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the lovely 18-acre park contains meandering paths, pocket-size lawns, and a marshy cove, all tucked into a multilevel landform engineered to protect the downtown of Canada’s largest city from the threat of flooding on the Don River, which flows into Lake Ontario.

But just a block from Corktown Common, the much smaller Underpass Park, designed by PFS Studio with the Planning Partnership and situated on the same flood protection landform but beneath a tangle of roadway overpasses, is quietly gaining fans.

OK, maybe not so quietly.

Visitors to the park hear skateboards hit the pavement—clack! Basketballs bounce, and young children shout gleefully in the vicinity of the playground equipment, the sounds reverberating through the echo chamber formed by the cement columns and beams that support the roadways above. The visuals, too, are none too quiet: Colorful murals on the columns take inspiration from (more…)

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The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

Isle de jean Charles faces Coastal Erosion

Photo by Julie Dermansky

From “Let’s Beat It” by Brian Barth in the October 2016 issue, which looks at the efforts of Evans + Lighter Landscape Architecture to help a community of Native Americans find a new home after their current one, Isle de Jean Charles, is subsumed by floodwaters, making them among America’s first climate refugees.

“Julie’s signature Stan Smiths with red laces. Liked them so much, she bought 30 pairs!”

–Chris McGee, LAM Art Director

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

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