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Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

BY NATE BERG

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The carving up of cities by expressways is still a civil rights problem, but it’s being solved as an economic one.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Since freeways began slicing through cities in the United States more than 75 years ago, they have carved deep and lasting lines of separation through countless communities. Many of these communities—located in so-called blighted areas—were made up of people of color who were simply pushed aside by the transportation officials building out the nation’s vast network of interstates and urban freeways. In a somewhat surprising speech in March 2016, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, the nation’s top transportation official, acknowledged this dark history and the mistakes of his predecessors.

“We now know—overwhelmingly—that our urban freeways were routed through low-income neighborhoods. Instead of connecting us to each other, highway decision makers separated us,” Foxx said. Reflecting on his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, he noted how the “connective tissue” of the African American neighborhood where he lived rrns destroyed by two highways—infrastructure that was planned and built before federal civil rights legislation could intervene. “Neighbors were separated from neighbors. The corner store was gone because the corner was gone,” he said. “A new more convenient, high-speed thoroughfare had been created. But the way of life of another community had been destroyed.”

The huge gashes that freeways cut through cities will live on for the foreseeable future, as will their divisive legacy. But Foxx has vowed to try to undo some of that long-lasting damage. Though they may seem intractable, these divisions (more…)

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The Los Angeles Urban Rangers bring a naturalist’s eye to the urban jungle. Since 2004, they’ve led Angelenos in guided hikes and campfire talks through their city, tallying security cameras and public art instead of rare mushrooms and finches. Their latest video (a tour of downtown Los Angeles’s financial district) seems mostly like an act of whimsy and make-believe—until they guide explorers through dark tunnels and dense webs of infrastructure to one of the few places that offer public access to the concrete-entombed Los Angeles River. From that hidden vantage point, it’s much clearer that all landscapes, green or gray alike, require access and appreciation to survive and thrive.

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BY ZACH MORTICE

An abandoned island is the Venice Lagoon. Local Code by Nicholas de Monchaux, published by Princeton Architectural Press 2016.

An abandoned island in the Venice lagoon. Local Code by Nicholas de Monchaux, published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2016.

In his new book, Local Code: 3,659 Proposals About Data, Design, and the Nature of Cities, the University of California, Berkeley architecture and urban design professor Nicholas de Monchaux develops new tools for the mass customization of underused and vacant urban lots, highlighting the limits of inflexible systems thinking. His book charts a way forward with an eye on past failures, and new possibilities founded in corrective measures that have proved to work.

American cities’ first encounters with data, he writes, happened after World War II. That’s when protocomputing power, developed by the military and Cold War consultancies such as the RAND Corporation, merged with tabula rasa modernist urban planning. These binary solutions to complex built environments (remembered most vividly as Robert Moses-style urban renewal that tore down anything old and dirty) became what de Monchaux calls (more…)

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BY WENDY GILMARTIN

For the residents of L.A.’s Skid Row, public space is a priority.

For the residents of L.A.’s Skid Row, public space is a priority.

From the October 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine

Speed bumps and curbs that narrow the street to slow traffic. Safety zones for women and LGBTQ residents. Vegetable gardens with citrus trees. Drinking fountains, storage units, and cell phone charging stations. This isn’t a laundry list of community benefits in your local affluent suburb; it’s a wish list for the nation’s most concentrated homeless community in downtown Los Angeles: Skid Row.

Where just five years ago tents, shopping carts, and makeshift campsites lined the streets in this eastern portion of downtown, gleaming luxury condominiums now stand with a Whole Foods market and designer clothing boutiques at street level. Even more high-end stores are under construction in an area that already lacks open spaces and parks.

Skid Row, with 11,000 residents living in an area of roughly 50 city blocks, (more…)

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BY WENDY GILMARTIN

A Los Angeles firm turns to super-light interventions for a landscape bent on change.

A Los Angeles firm turns to super-light interventions for a landscape bent on change.

From the September 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

It’s been nearly three years since Los Angeles County Waste Management’s fleet of rumbling trash trucks ceased their daily climb up and down the massive landfill in Puente Hills, for years one of the nation’s largest. Now, the 640-acre site is poised to become a public park, and despite its proximity to an area rich in outdoor amenities like the picturesque Powder Canyon and Arroyo Pescadero Trail, it lacks easy access and infrastructure that would allow surrounding working-class San Gabriel Valley communities a chance to experience its spectacular views and raw terrain.

“When the county came to us, they wanted us to think big, and they wanted the public to think big,” says Bryan Matsumoto, a landscape design associate at Withers & Sandgren Landscape Architecture and Planning in Montrose, California. On behalf of the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, Withers & Sandgren worked with Auburn, Alabama-based Hillworks Landscape + Architecture and other consultants to develop a careful strategy of maximizing the site’s abrasively (more…)

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Presented by the Architectural League of New York, this lecture by Mia Lehrer details many of her firm’s “advocacy by design” efforts throughout her years in practice. Based in Los Angeles, Lehrer focuses on a wide variety of projects at differing scales, each of which takes a unique approach to bringing nature back into the city.

This lecture and discussion were presented as part of the Architectural League of New York’s Current Work series. For more information, please visit here.

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

A new firm in L.A. thinks it’s time to turn up the volume on landscape architecture.

A new firm in L.A. thinks it’s time to turn up the volume on landscape architecture.

From the August 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Earlier this spring, Kelly Majewski, Affiliate ASLA, was one of more than 100 designers in Los Angeles who attended Design for Dignity, a one-day “congress” convened by the L.A. chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to identify ways to alleviate the city’s homeless crisis. But for Majewski, a landscape designer, the takeaway may not have been what the organizers hoped. “I got asked by multiple architects, once they found out I did landscape architecture, what I was doing at this conference,” she says. “I heard it three times. Which just blows my mind.”

Majewski founded Superjacent, a new landscape architecture and urban design studio, with Tony Paradowski and Chris Torres in January 2016. And it’s interactions like those at the AIA conference that inspired (more…)

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