Posts Tagged ‘Landscape Architecture Foundation’

THE SCHOOLYARD IS SICK

As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

BY JANE MARGOLIES

FROM THE JUNE 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Not long ago, the schoolyard of Eagle Rock Elementary, in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, was a sea of cracked asphalt. Now it has rows of budding trees that divide up the three-acre expanse, and there’s a large grassy area and little enclaves with stumps and log seating away from the hustle and bustle. By offering a variety of settings, the schoolyard gives students the ability to choose where and how they spend their time at recess. Claire Latané, ASLA, the Los Angeles-based ecological designer who led the renovation of the grounds, says it also should improve their mental health.

Latané believes supporting the mental health of students is key to their happiness and well-being. Her conviction is based on decades of academic research by others, her own experience analyzing and designing schoolyards, and her gut feeling about the topic, as both a designer and a mother. Despite all we know about the impact our surroundings have on us—and the progress being made to introduce therapeutic environments to health care facilities—schools aren’t being designed with mental health as a consideration, let alone a priority. They are defensive (and ever more so, even provisionally, given gun violence in schools). Many schools have as much charm as storage facilities these days, and the worst are, in their environmental design, practically penal.

Through advocacy, writing, and teaching, Latané is trying to change that reality. She has encouraged the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), (more…)

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LIVE AND LEARN

BY MIMI ZEIGER

Algorithms are bringing new kinds of evidence and predictive powers to the shaping of landscapes.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Tree. Person. Bike. Person. Person. Tree. Anya Domlesky, ASLA, an associate at SWA in Sausalito, California, rattles off how she and the firm’s innovation lab team train a computer to recognize the flora and fauna in an urban plaza.

The effort is part of the firm’s mission to apply emergent technologies to landscape architecture. In pursuing the applied use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the research and innovation lab XL: Experiments in Landscape and Urbanism follows a small but growing number of researchers and practitioners interested in the ways the enigmatic yet ubiquitous culture of algorithms might be deployed in the field.

Examples of AI and machine learning are all around us, from the voice recognition software in your iPhone to the predictive software that drives recommendations for Netflix binges. While the financial and health care industries have quickly adopted AI, and use in construction and agriculture is steadily growing, conversations within landscape architecture as to how such tools translate to the design, management, and conservation of landscapes are still on the periphery for the field. This marginality may be because despite their everyday use, mainstream understandings of AI are clouded by clichés—think self-actualized computers or anthropomorphic robots. In a recent essay on Medium, Molly Wright Steenson, the author of Architectural Intelligence: How Designers and Architects Created the Digital Landscape (The MIT Press, 2017), argued that we need new clichés. “Our pop culture visions of AI are not helping us. In fact, they’re hurting us. They’re decades out of date,” she writes. “[W]e keep using the old clichés in order to talk about emerging technologies today. They make it harder for us to understand AI—what it is, what it isn’t, and what impact it will have on our lives.”

So then, what is a new vision—a vision of AI for landscape? (more…)

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REVIEWED BY KOFI BOONE, ASLA

FROM THE OCTOBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

With more than 15 million views, the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie’s groundbreaking TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story” is likely the most viewed treatise on the consequences of making one story the story of the African continent. With surgical precision, Adichie reveals the lasting consequences of perpetuating Africa and Africans as only victims suffering from famine and war, or only the exotic backdrop for experiencing “charismatic nature.” But in the end, her most devastating criticism of the single story is embodied in her quote of the Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti, “If you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with ‘secondly.’” Illustrating her point, Adichie asks facetiously what we would think if the story began with a “failed” African state instead of with European colonialism.

The issue of starting with “secondly” is present in cultural landscape study of the continent of Africa. The spirit of Adichie’s and Barghouti’s arguments resonates in the pages of Cultural Landscape Heritage in Sub-Saharan Africa, edited by John Beardsley. The volume collects essays delivered at a symposium held at Dumbarton Oaks in 2013 and reflects an important first step in laying the foundation for future exploration. Through a wide array of disciplinary lenses, geographic locations, and time periods, Beardsley’s work eschews deriving a single conclusion about what is “African” and instead reveals the wealth of issues and opportunities with engaging the many cultures of a continent. The avoidance of narrowing and bridging the divergent voices contained within the book is challenging and perhaps belies the fact that this is one of the first mainstream publications on this topic. Given the lack of similar texts, there could be a tendency to attempt to be singular and definitive. However, borrowing from one of the book’s many themes, the result is a contribution to the “continuity” of a conversation about the lives and practices that have shaped meaningful place in Africa, a continent still invisible to the profession of landscape architecture. (more…)

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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in different languages. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

Click above for a full PDF of the translated text with English text available below.

BY JENNIFER REUT / IMAGES BY SARA ZEWDE

FROM THE APRIL 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

There are a number of arresting images in Sara Zewde’s proposal for a memorial at Valongo Wharf in Rio de Janeiro, but my favorite is the one with the water. In it, ghostly figures in white are faded back over a scrim of water overlaid on the sea. Above their heads is a diagram of points and lines that ricochet out from a dense cluster triangulating across the sky. The palette is one of muted blues and grays. It feels both transcendent and somber.

The diagram comes from one of the spatial analyses that Zewde did on samba, the distinctly Brazilian musical form with African roots that lives in the city’s streets and squares. It depicts the roda de samba, an informal dance circle of musicians and spectators who become musicians. The character of samba is both sad and happy, a shout of joy and a lamentation.

In July 2017, the Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site in Rio de Janeiro became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Zewde helped write the nomination, and her ideas are threaded through the descriptions. Recognized for “Outstanding Universal Value,” for its material, spiritual, and cultural significance, the wharf was and is the central element in a landscape that profoundly shaped the history of the Western Hemisphere: the built environment of slavery. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Image courtesy of LAF.

The Landscape Architecture Foundation has announced its first group of Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership recipients, whose research projects all involve the civic design and public policy implications of landscape architecture.

The four practicing landscape architects and academics announced in March will receive $25,000 to research their proposals for one year, with three months of that year dedicated to intensive full-time study. When the fellowships conclude (more…)

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Sasaki Principal Gina Ford’s prescriptions for landscape architecture’s future are a succinct set of progressive values: diversity, equity, and collaboration. At her Landscape Architecture Foundation presentation titled “Into an Era of Landscape Humanism,” the designer of the Chicago Riverwalk outlines how landscape architects have to reflect the diversity of the growing populations they serve in order to meet clients’ needs, design in ways that address historic gaps in access to restorative landscapes, and collaborate across professional boundaries to knit together holistic and healthy environments. It’s a definition of landscape design that begins with human needs and social realities, and lets landscape architects’ unique and critical talents flow into the world from there.

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From We Declare in the May 2016 issue, five landscape architects, scholars, and advocates revisit “A Declaration of Concern” for the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s 50th anniversary celebration.

 

FIFTY YEARS OF THE DECLARATION: EVOLUTION AND PROSPECTS

BY MARIO SCHJETNAN, FASLA

The 1966 Declaration of the Landscape Architecture Foundation established very clearly the group’s concern about the poor environmental conditions, social inequalities, and loss of quality of life prevalent in most North American cities around that time. It was a timely and valorous call, an outcry and a moral declaration by landscape architecture leaders of their time.

To be honest, many U.S. cities have in these 50 years upgraded their levels of air quality, decreased their contamination of soils and water, and improved their public open spaces. Many of these cities have rehabilitated and repopulated their city centers and enhanced habitability in general.

However, many other challenges and global concerns have now arisen, including climate change, the horizontal expansion of cities, and, in the United States, still the highest levels in consumption per person of natural resources, energy, land, and water in the world.

Fifty years ago in Latin America, there were very few landscape architects and not a single (more…)

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