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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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BY ZACH MORTICE

Discarded pesticide cans, photographed in 1972. By Daniels, Gene, photographer, Photographer (NARA record: 8463941) (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

In early March, the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), the trade group that represents professional landscape contractors and maintenance professionals, released a statement warmly embracing the new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in the hope that he would roll back pesticide regulations. Three weeks later, Pruitt gave them a strong positive signal. On March 29, ignoring the EPA’s own research, he signed an order denying a petition that would ban the use of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to memory loss and neurological damage.

NALP executives declined to comment on Pruitt’s rescinding the ban, because chlorpyrifos is no longer used by landscape contractors. (It has not been manufactured for nonagricultural use since 2000 because of the risks it poses to human health.) But NALP Vice President of Government Relations Paul Mendelsohn said in an email that the group’s goal in pushing back on pesticide regulations is to make sure its members, who purchase and use pesticides for much of their landscape maintenance work, have as many options as possible: “We have members who offer organic services, and others who use synthetic products,” Mendelsohn says. “Our goal is to strive for a regulatory environment that offers our businesses and their clients a choice in what products are used when providing services.”

NALP’s welcome for an EPA administrator who has spent much of his career suing the agency he now runs stands out among other landscape professional associations and conservation groups. Most have rejected Pruitt (more…)

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It’s time to celebrate! The September issue of LAM rolls out the 2016 ASLA Awards, with more than 80 pages of Student and Professional Award winners, plus this year’s Landmark Award, given to the Michigan Avenue Streetscape project in Chicago. Out of 271 submitted projects to the Student Awards, 22 winners were chosen, and 29 Professional Awards were selected from 457 submissions. All this plus our regular Land Matters, Now, and Goods columns.

You can read the full table of contents for September 2016 or pick up a free digital issue of the September LAM here and share it with your clients, colleagues, and friends. 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.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating September articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: Landmark Award, Charlie Simokaitis; Professional Communications, Charles Birnbaum, FASLA, and Barrett Doherty; Professional Analysis and Planning, Ramboll with Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl; Professional Residential Design, D. A. Horchner/Design Workshop, Inc.; Professional General Design, Tom Arban.

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Trees-For-Bees-2016-Poster

This year’s official National Pollinator Week poster. Credit: Pollinator Partnership, artist Natalya Zahn.

This is National Pollinator Week, held every year to call attention to the imperiled state of bees, butterflies, birds, and bats, and their pivotal role in the environment and the food web.  Throughout the week, organizations around the country will host events and talks on the problems facing pollinators and possible steps for their future health. There’s a pollinator tour in Caldwell, Idaho; a Discovery Day at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta; Beekeeping for Beginners at Timberline Farm in Belleview, Florida, and much more, all of which can be found on this map hosted on the Pollinator Partnership’s website. There’s also a gathering here at ASLA on Thursday, June 23 to mark the occasion. There are, after all, 200,000 species of pollinators.

On Thursday, June 23 at 10:30 a.m. Eastern, Keith Robinson, the lead landscape architect at the California Department of Transportation, will represent ASLA at a congressional briefing titled “Highways to Habitats: Enhancing Pollinator Forage Areas” to discuss pollinator health and conservation actions with members of the Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus.

The Pollinator Partnership website is a great resource throughout the year; it has many ways in which to get involved in the protection of our pollinators, including native planting palettes searchable by region. For more information about National Pollinator Week and events near you, please visit www.pollinator.org.

 

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Stone Brewing World Bistro & Cardens, San Diego, a one-star SITES pilot project by Schmidt Design Group.

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, San Diego, a one-star SITES pilot project by Schmidt Design Group.

Today is a big day for what has long been known as the Sustainable Sites Initiative, now known as SITES, the rating system for developing sustainable landscapes. SITES is now under the administration of Green Business Certification Inc., or GBCI, based in Washington, D.C., which also runs the LEED rating system for buildings, after which SITES is modeled.

With this acquisition, GBCI is now taking applications for certifying landscape projects under the SITES v2 Rating System, and will also administer professional credentialing for the program.

SITES, begun a decade ago, was developed in a collaboration among the American Society of Landscape Architects (the publisher of LAM), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden. ASLA and UT, the owners of SITES, have transferred full ownership to GBCI. Its purpose is to guide development projects of all scales, from residential gardens to national parks, toward rigorous measures of stewardship for land and other resources. SITES certification criteria—refined through expert advice from professionals in numerous disciplines, case study examples, and more than 100 pilot projects—account for environmental factors in landscape design such as water use, stormwater handling, wildlife and habitat protection, air quality, and energy use, as well as human health and recreation. Forty-six projects so far have earned SITES certification. (ASLA members are eligible for discounts on all SITES materials and certification.)

“It’s exciting to see years of work developing and field-testing SITES culminate with the availability of this rating system,” said Frederick R. Steiner, FASLA, the dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin.

Nancy Somerville, Honorary ASLA, the executive vice president and CEO of ASLA, said: “GBCI will take SITES to the next level and ensure its future growth and influence.”

A full news release on the SITES acquisition can be found here. For more information, visit sustainablesites.org.

Credit: Schmidt Design Group Inc.

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On February 28, Under the Dome: Investigating China’s Smog, a documentary about air pollution in China by Chai Jing, was released. In less than a week, the video received more than 200 million hits before it was taken down by the Chinese government. The video breaks down the composition of pollution and why it is harmful, the health effects on the human body, the most common sources for China’s pollution, the government’s roadblocks to reform, and the history of rapid industrialization and consequences experienced around the world–in Europe, for instance. There are even striking parallels to practices found in the United States, reminding us that we have a ways to go to curb our own fossil-fuel dependency. The video is 103 minutes long, and the content is well worth watching for an in-depth look at just how bad the pollution situation has become in China.

Above is a playlist of the documentary segmented into 8 videos. For the full-length documentary, please visit here.

 

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