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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 Spanish. 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 JONATHAN LERNER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY ADAM WISEMAN

From the June 2018 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

One bright December day, Mario Schjetnan, FASLA, was ushering a visitor around Mexico City’s historic Chapultepec Park, where his firm, Grupo de Diseño Urbano (GDU), has been enacting subtle renovations for nearly a decade and a half. He detoured, though, to show something that has not required the firm’s intervention. It was a concrete sump, perhaps five meters square, three meters deep, and open on top. It is the terminus of an aqueduct, completed in 1951, that brings water from 60 kilometers away through a tunnel under a mountain range. At the time, the city’s population had more than doubled in two decades, to three million thirsty souls. This new aqueduct must have seemed like deliverance. (Today, the population of the Metropolitan Area of the Valley of Mexico, comprising the city proper plus 41 contiguous municipalities, numbers more than 21 million.)

The sump, whose function was really just to hold water before it was piped into four enormous tanks buried nearby, was treated reverentially. Sheltered within a temple-form building, the depression’s walls and floor were painted by Diego Rivera in a fantastical narrative called Water, Origin of Life. The inlet seems to pour through the hands of Tlaloc, the Aztec god of floods and droughts. Swirling around the floor and up the walls are life forms of increasing complexity. There are an ur-man and ur-woman, and depictions of everyday people using water (swimming, sipping, irrigating gardens), of workers jackhammering rock, and of giant pipes and valves. When the sump was actually used, the view through water surely added a vitalizing shimmer, but water was destroying the mural. Eventually the flow was rerouted and the painting restored.

Now Schjetnan pointed to where Rivera had portrayed a gathering of two dozen men in modern dress, some in hard hats, some in suits; on a table before them is a sheaf of blueprints. “The engineers who built the aqueduct,” he said respectfully, (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Minbo Zhao’s “Better Trail, Better Life.” Image courtesy the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

For her study of the landscape dimensions of the opioid crisis, Aneesha Dharwadker, a designer in residence at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, taught an undergraduate and graduate studio grounded in the endlessly complex set of cultural, economic, and environmental factors that contribute to addiction. Called “Landscapes of Dependence,” the landscape architecture studio synthesized research into a diagram called “The Labyrinth of Addiction.”

The diagram portrays addiction not as a cycle or individual pathology, but as an intricate maze, an array of orbits connecting the pharmaceutical industry, poppy cultivation, the environmental conditions of users, health care resources, and local institutions—punitive and otherwise. As explained by the accompanying website and manifesto “The Declaration of Dependence,” there’s no single entry point to the labyrinth, no clear linear progression, and only one dead end: fatality after an overdose. Everything else is an endless feedback loop. Invited by Dharwadker onto campus for reviews in April, I was confronted by the intimidating vortex her students were tasked to defy. (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 Spanish. 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 JONATHAN LERNER

FROM THE APRIL 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Diego Gonzalez was driving through San Pedro Garza García, the poshest municipality in metropolitan Monterrey, one of the richest cities in Mexico. “When I was a kid, in the 1970s,” he said, gesturing broadly through the windshield, “all of this was agricultural. I came here hunting rabbits.” San Pedro is built out now. Its dominant typology is the single-family house, and its circulation patterns exist to serve cars, so it’s not unlike any late 20th-century North American suburb, except that it has an orthogonal grid instead of a dendritic street plan. Also, almost every property is enclosed within a high security wall. Gonzalez’s destination was the campus of the University of Monterrey (UDEM).

UDEM demarks San Pedro’s narrow western border, at a point where lateral ridges off the soaring Sierra Madre mountains pinch close to the Santa Catarina River. West of the campus, where the valley opens out a bit, a new suburb is being developed; land prices there have quadrupled in the past decade. When the university campus was first established in 1981, “it was in the country,” noted Gonzalez’s passenger, René Bihan, FASLA. “Now they are landlocked. They have no choice but to be smart about how they infill.” One of UDEM’s smart choices was to hire (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Judith F. Baca, The Great Wall of Los Angeles, detail with Baby Boom. Image courtesy of SPARC Archive.

Murals, wherever they’re deployed, can be sites of cultural empowerment, protests aimed at the dominant culture, commemorations of heroes, or simple, subversive proclamations of existence.

 In their ability to reappropriate neglected space on a large scale, murals can be defining elements of landscape design. To thousands of landscape architects who will be in Los Angeles this month for the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO, Oct. 20-23, this will be good news: The Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA—Latin American and Latino Art in LA festival of thematically linked art exhibits will feature six installations that show how murals (more…)

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BY BRADFORD McKEE

Credit: Courtesy Museum of Walking/Angela Ellsworth.

Postcommodity, Repellent Fence, 2015. Image courtesy Museum of Walking/Angela Ellsworth.

From the upcoming February 2017 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Instead of a sensible and humane overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws to deal with current realities, we are apparently going to get a wall between the United States and Mexico. It was among the most outlandish promises of the Trump campaign, if only one of its rank xenophobic turns: a gigantic blockade stretching from the Pacific Ocean, through the Sonoran Desert, and down the Rio Grande River to the Gulf of Mexico, with fear as its mortar. During the first week of the new Republican-led Congress, the House Republican Policy Committee chair, Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana, told the Washington Post that legislators are looking for ways to begin work on such a wall under existing law and with American (not Mexican) money. The existing law Messer means is the Secure Fence Act of 2006, signed by President George W. Bush, which called for 700 miles of actual fencing and a “virtual fence” of beefed-up surveillance along the Mexico border. That work remains incomplete. Barriers block less than half of the 1,954 miles of international boundary. Theoretically, a resumption of building could begin to lock it all up later this spring.

The human effects of this simplistic idea will be mixed. A big wall will stop some population flow, but hardly all of it, and it will kill informal cross border commerce. Ecologically, though, it is likely to be a catastrophe. It will fragment habitat on a huge scale in one of the most biologically diverse parts of North America—the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas alone is said to have (more…)

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The artist Josh Begley’s Best of Luck with the Wall video turns the 1,954-mile continent-spanning journey across the United States–Mexico border into a seven-minute tone poem. The border mostly exists in our lives as a contested political abstraction. But it’s an actual place, and even as the video races across the landscape (stitched together from 200,000 satellite images), viewers can see towns nestled up against the demarcation, agricultural fields in neat rows and wide circles, and hundreds of miles of the Rio Grande River, all set to a spare, jangling score. The politics of the day has brought the border into everyone’s living room, but a concise portrait of what the border actually is will still remain a cursory and ephemeral thing.

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