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Posts Tagged ‘Great Recession’

BY BRADFORD MCKEE

FROM THE MAY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Not much good is coming from this parlous time, as the novel coronavirus floored just about everything people normally rely on, and with shocking speed. Some strands of hope, should they hold up with time, have appeared amid the desperate confusion. There is an odd but significant reassurance in how quickly so much of daily life buttoned up early on. That progress has been uneven, depending not least on brands of leadership. But once the severity of the situation everywhere became clear, enough people took heed of the stay-home advice that the numbers of holdouts thinned quickly if, alas, not to zero. Everything can change fast. The public compliance, the mass cooperation, happened without much pronounced role for the police, whose jobs have grown steep with new danger, like the work of all public safety professionals. Having everyone stay apart is the only way to contain the crisis. Each infection avoided supports the health care and public health community, who offer societies the only chances of stopping loss and getting through it all.

For landscape architecture, there’s a deep paradox. The bad part is that there is pain, and will be more pain as this business contracts along with everything else. The profession is looking into a future far more unknowable than during the Great Recession a decade ago, when it lost a generation of new landscape architects, and some not so new. Total employment in the profession, federal data shows, fell from 22,000 in 2006 to 15,750 in 2012. Membership in ASLA fell to 15,000, from 18,000 before the economy collapsed; it never bounced back. For emerging designers during the recession, there was no path forward, no new jobs, and many jobs lost. Interns had no place to get the office time they need to qualify for licensure. They went elsewhere. We are still feeling it.

The good part during this crisis is that landscapes for people have seldom seemed as vital and as visible. (more…)

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Sunset Triangle Plaza in Los Angeles, by Rios Clementi Hale Studios. Photo by Jim Simmons.

Welcome to spring! For World Landscape Architecture Month, the April issue of LAM is FREE! We’ve taken this month to go back a decade and mark the start of a movement, the Pop-Up Decade, which, who knows, could become the pop-up century. Remember 2009? Everyone was blue. There was no work—or money. But designers and their clients picked up something potent begun by the firm Rebar (now Gehl) in San Francisco with the creation of Park(ing) Day: quick, cheap, usually temporary projects to wet the public’s feet with ideas about civic spaces, try them out, see how they respond. Many of those projects went away; many more turned into something lasting. It was an idea that suited the bad old days of the early teens, but it also has continued to translate well to more prosperous times, as our feature stories show you here.

In the Back is a piece every person in the profession should read, a conversation among four successful women designers on why they left powerful jobs in high-profile firms to chart their own ways ahead. It covers what is often a lot of unspoken ground—unspoken because many women don’t dare air their concerns at work, and because men in the workplace can be rather obtuse at times.

Please share the issue far and wide with colleagues, clients, and friends.

FOREGROUND

A Floodplain Forest (Water)
This setback levee project will give a river room to meander and help protect Hamilton City, California, from flooding.

Open Book (Planning)
A new stormwater management manual for multifamily residences aids resilience in
Lexington, Kentucky.

FEATURES

Get It Done
The Great Recession helped launch a wave of quick, low-cost projects to suit budgets
of the era. It’s still going strong.

Make It Pop
Some popped up and popped back down. Some stuck around or led to bigger things.
An album from a decade of pop-up.

Power Play
The nonprofit KaBOOM! has perfected a seemingly guerrilla approach to making playgrounds where kids lack them.

THE BACK

The Big Time. The Bigger Time.
A conversation among the women behind the Women’s Landscape Equality (re)Solution.

An Antidote to Excess (Books)
A review of Doing Almost Nothing: The Landscapes of Georges Descombes, by Marc Treib.

A Planetary Proposal (Backstory)
A sprawling corridor park could connect Earth’s most biodiverse places.

All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. The full table of contents for April can be found here.

The digital edition of the April LAM is FREE, and you can access it here and share it with your clients, colleagues, and friends. You can also buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. Single digital issues are available for only $5.25 at Zinio or you can 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.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), for more updates on #WLAM and the April issue.

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Aerial photo of damaged homes along the New Jersey shore after Hurricane Sandy. Photo credit: Greg Thompson/USFWS, Wikimedia Commons.

The Union of Concerned Scientists’ recent report on the economic damage and displacement that sea-level rise flooding will unleash called for investments “in a range of coastal adaptive measures,” such as “the protection of wetlands, and barrier islands, and other natural flood risk reduction methods” and other “natural infrastructure.” That puts the onus of surviving sea-level rise very clearly on landscape architects.

The report, Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate, which the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) compiled with help from the real estate website Zillow, shows the consequences of sea-level rise in the short and long term, down to the state, city, and zip code levels of granularity. Released in June, it estimates lost houses, lost home value, lost tax base, and lost population by the years 2035 and 2100. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Mulan Primary School in Huaiji County, Guangdong, China, by Rural Urban Framework and the Power of Love. Photo Courtesy of Rural Urban Framework.

John Cary’s book Design for Good (Island Press, 2017) details a now familiar formulation for do-good design in the developing world: a western architect working closely with local partners, using local materials assembled to respect vernacular traditions and modern aesthetics, employing local labor trained as an act of grassroots economic development.

From the remotest outposts of developing-world privation to the forgotten places much closer to home that exist in the shadow of great wealth, Cary (the former executive director of Public Architecture, the public-impact design nonprofit) advocates on behalf of design for dignity. “Dignity,” he writes, “is about knowing your intrinsic worth and seeing that worth reflected in the places you inhabit.” It’s not an aesthetic goal, or a measure of the designer’s saintly ambitions. It’s a quality of the users’ experience.

The building types he examines are familiar (Rural Urban Framework’s Mulan Primary School, supportive housing by Michael Maltzan for the recently homeless in Los Angeles’s Skid Row) and totally singular to their contexts. There’s MASS Design Group’s cholera treatment center in Haiti made necessary by the region’s devastation from a 2010 earthquake that piled onto what was already the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation. Also by MASS (Cary’s prototypical standard-bearer for his generation’s inequity-attuned designers) are “maternal waiting homes” in Malawi. These combat sky-high maternal mortality rates by creating lodging near health clinics for women in the last weeks of pregnancy, assuring quality medical attention when they give birth. Atlanta’s BeltLine, the most landscape-oriented project profiled, forges a new landscape type out of a disused rail corridor: a network of greenway trails that loop an entire city.

Quoting the social activist Dorothy Day, Cary calls for places like these that create a (more…)

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