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Posts Tagged ‘LAMcast’

 

This spring, ASLA convened women of color leaders in architecture and landscape architecture education to discuss networks of mentorship, camaraderie, and solidarity. “Hear their Voices: Inspiring Stories from Women Leaders in Design Education” was moderated by Samantha Solano, ASLA, an assistant professor of landscape architecture and regional planning at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The lively, candid discussion included the following leaders in design education:

Diane Jones Allen, FASLA, director and professor of landscape architecture, University of Texas at Arlington

Maria Bellalta, ASLA, dean and faculty, School of Landscape Architecture, Boston Architectural College

Hazel R. Edwards, professor and chair, College of Engineering and Architecture, Howard University

Vini Nathan, dean and McWhorter endowed chair, College of Architecture, Design, and Construction, Auburn University

After a round of introductions, Solano directed the conversation with sharp, thoughtful questions. Much of the conversation focused on how women can support themselves and each other, navigating male and white-led organizations. Bellalta urged that women carefully consider options on whether to push ahead or to sit back and listen, weighing strategic, deliberative planning against action when trying to navigate around or through what she called “tall people with big voices.” Jones Allen says that leadership has forced her to overcome the desire to always be liked, a deeply entrenched aspect of gender-specific socialization that is more fraught for Black women. “Sometimes, as the director, or the chair, or the dean, you have to make the decision, and sometimes people aren’t going to like you,” she says.  Nathan, meanwhile, suggests pushing at these boundaries to ensure growth, to “follow a little bit of your fear.”

All of this guidance is a part of the omnipresent but seldom publicly acknowledged “inner work” women are forced to focus on in addition to their institutional responsibilities, Solano says. But the discussion also made it clear that the work of diversifying the ranks of design education and design itself isn’t just for women. Beyond the mental and emotional preparation women undergo to exist and thrive in male-dominated spaces, the panel also concentrated on benefits and working conditions that should be fundamental for everyone, but often affect women first, including more flexible working conditions and stronger partnerships between schools and firms. Nathan says that simply hiring more women is not enough. Organizations need to make sure women are placed in positions that control budgets. “Money is what translates into power,” she says, “and power is what translates into influence and impact.”

The panel webinar was hosted by the ASLA Committee on Education. For more information, please visit ASLA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Webinars page, which is available on ASLA’s DEI hub.

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Drawing from Robert Smithson’s colossal land art installations and the industrial landscapes of New Jersey where she grew up, Julie Bargmann, ASLA, the founder of D.I.R.T. studio, practices landscape architecture with a subversive modesty. The Harvard University Graduate School of Design grad returned to her alma mater to talk about cultivating “humble but hard-ass projects” that use the tools and techniques of infrastructural engineering to reveal layers of history and ecological remediation on sites that are “good, bad, and more often than not toxic,” she says. Titled “Modesty,” her Daniel Urban Kiley Lecture earlier this month offered brief snapshots of her work and a portrayal of the stigmatized and degraded sites she’s endlessly attracted to as “tragic characters” that are “full of hard work,” typically hidden from view by landscape designers less interested in telling stories with scars.

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The latest episode of the Landscape Architecture Podcast from Michael Todoran, ASLA, takes a small step toward addressing what the profession of landscape architecture can do to act as counterweight against the most recent incidents of state-sanctioned violence against black Americans. Todoran’s guest is Kofi Boone, ASLA, a professor of landscape architecture at North Carolina State University, a Landscape Architecture Foundation board member, and a LAM contributor.

In this interview, Boone discusses his writing and lectures on the Black Lives Matter movement’s intersection with African American landscapes, some of which have been resurfacing amid protests over the recent police-involved murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and other black people. In this wide-ranging discussion, Boone and Todoran talk about what tools the profession of landscape architecture has to push back on systems of oppression that are now in full view, and the two pillars landscape architects must now take on: equity and climate change.

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Early on in the development of St. Patrick’s Island Park just beyond downtown Calgary, community members told its designers at W Architecture and Landscape Architecture and Civitas that they wanted a park that was both wild and accessible, a place to play and learn. This short video by Civitas offers commentary from Barbara Wilks, FASLA, and Mark Johnson, FASLA, and gives viewers a first-person view of what this naturalistic sense of experimentation looks and feels like, with requisite drone shots and GoPro-enabled immersion. Designed to flood, and surrounded on all sides by the Bow River, the park has permeable borders that let in the water and city life beyond.

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Most of the time, Ellicott City, Maryland is a historic mill town with picturesque stone shops nestled next to granite hills and a boisterous, yet still peaceful, river. But more and more, it’s becoming a crucible for the cost of climate change-induced downpours and development that’s ill-placed, if intensely historic. (The town was founded in 1772.) Twice since 2016, Ellicott City has seen branches of the Patapsco River jump their banks after torrential rains, devastating its downtown with two “1,000-year floods,” a description rapidly losing its meaning in an era of increased extreme weather.

This PBS NewsHour segment from the most recent flood looked in on how one Ellicott City business fared: an antique shop where the owner doggedly pushed furniture away from the front door, where a torrent of water outside whisked cars down the street. That is, until a sudden eruption of water knocked down walls, sending display cases toppling like dominoes.

The town’s newest flood-proofing plan, developed with help from Baltimore’s Mahan Rykiel, calls for 10 buildings to be demolished downtown to widen the river canal at a cost of $50 million, as well as a new terraced river park. As explored in Jared Brey’s “Twice Bitten” (to be posted here later this month), it’s a plan that preserves Ellicott City’s future by destroying a bit of its past.

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Sandra Albro’s Vacant to Vibrant initiative (detailed in “Lots of Opportunity”) converts vacant lots in struggling Great Lakes cities into rain gardens and bioswales. At an average cost of $18,000 each, they’re a fine-grained and tactical solution for reversing blight and helping beleaguered combined sewer systems from polluting the Great Lakes. As Albro, of Holden Forests & Gardens, observes, these neighborhoods were gradually disinvested from and abandoned, and have limited access to comprehensive public infrastructure improvements. As such, an equally piecemeal and gradual approach allows them to stabilize properties with desirable urban green spaces that can be wrapped into broader redevelopment efforts. An alternative to massive, centralized sewer upgrades that cost billions, this dispersed model of stormwater filtration turns an economic drain into an ecological engine.

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As landscape design coalesces more and more around an infrastructural and regenerative mandate, there’s been less emphasis on what is perhaps the most fundamental (and broadly shared) conception of what landscape architecture is: the aesthetic arrangement of plantings. That’s the view of a recent symposium held at the University of California, Berkeley’s Landscape Architecture + Environmental Planning department, organized by the professor emeritus of architecture Marc Treib. The Aesthetics of Planting Design symposium, held February 17–18, invited landscape architects and historians to lecture on a topic that’s been lately marginalized by sustainability, resilience, and social justice. In his introduction, Treib begins by questioning the notion that “good morals automatically yield good landscapes,” though he emphasizes that all landscapes have a dual responsibility to both art and beauty, as well as resiliency and conservation. While planting aesthetics are most commonly addressed in small gardens, according to Treib, it’s seldom discussed at a civic (or larger) scale—though notable exceptions include the designers invited to lecture at this very event. This international group of presenters includes Peter Walker, FASLA; Christine Ten Eyck, FASLA; Andrea Cochran, FASLA; and Kate Cullity.

You can watch the symposium lectures here.

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