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BY ADAM REGN ARVIDSON, FASLA

Milwaukee cleans up the Menomonee Valley but keeps it working.

Milwaukee cleans up the Menomonee Valley but keeps it working.

From the April 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Menomonee means wild rice, and that is the original story of this river. Flowing just 33 miles across southeastern Wisconsin, it joins with two other smallish rivers (the Milwaukee and the Kinnickinnic) just before Lake Michigan to create a freshwater estuary—a back bay to the great lake. The estuary and valley were hunting, fishing, and rice harvesting grounds. Then European settlers came and saw this could also be a good spot for shipping, fixing, and building things.

The Valley, as it is often called, is a four-mile by one-half-mile swath of Menomonee River lowland that industrialized rapidly in the late 1800s. It became home to the great Milwaukee Road’s machine and repair shops—140 acres of railyards and mechanic sheds. In the first half of the 20th century, a middle-class resident of the neighborhoods north and south of the Valley could walk to a job that paid a living wage. Crossing the pedestrian bridges to the railyard, he would likely barely notice the stagnant, channelized, trash-strewn watercourse below.

In the 1980s, following a storyline familiar among midsized cities in the Midwest, the industries began to leave—and leave their messes behind. The Valley became a 1,200-acre scar on the city. “It was buildings that were falling down. It was environmental contamination. It was 60,000 cars driving by on the freeway looking at this property,” says Dave Misky, who has been leading the Valley’s (more…)

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April is, of course, World Landscape Architecture Month (!), and you should tell your friends and family as much at every opportunity. You will also want to share this month’s LAM far and wide, which is made easier because the online version is free. Yes, free.

It’s an issue packed with great stuff at every scale. There is the 700-square-foot garden in Brooklyn by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, where a tiny space is made to seem bigger by packing it with plants around a wonderful fragmented footpath that is not as scattershot as it may appear. There’s the Phipps Conservatory’s Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh by Andropogon Associates, a crucible of super high performance on several levels, not least the level important to butterflies. In Honolulu, Surfacedesign took an intelligent license with the design of a midcentury modern office building by the architect Vladimir Ossipoff to make a finely machined response on its surrounding plaza, complemented by native species all around. And up at the scale of the city, we look at the long-industrial Menomonee River Valley in Milwaukee, where landscape architecture is vital in making a large district habitable to people, animals, and plants with hopes of retaining it as a base of manufacturing jobs.

There’s much more to discover about a spectrum of topics—dog parks, how design firms grow, drawings by Lawrence Halprin, a book on John Nolen, and a look back to a century ago when ASLA was pivotal in helping to establish the National Park Service. And stories you won’t want to miss in the Now and Species sections, and an absorbing photo portfolio by Lynn Saville in the Back.

You can read the full table of contents for April 2016 or pick up a free digital issue of the April 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 200 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 April articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “An Island Unto Itself,” Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA; “Step By Step By Step,” Lexi Van Valkenburgh; “Most Industrial,” Nairn Okler; “Four For Four,” Paul G. Wiegman; “Dogs Are the New Kids,” Altamanu/Russell Ingram Photography; “Right Sized,” PWP Landscape Architecture; “Balancing Act,” Landscape Architecture 6, April 1916.

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Milwaukee pilots a new stormwater management tool.

Milwaukee pilots a new stormwater management tool.

From the July 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

By August, the faded yellow house at 3930 North 35th Street in Milwaukee will be gone. In its place, invisible to all but the team that designed it, will be a new tool for stormwater management: the “BaseTern.” Conceived by Erick Shambarger, the deputy director of Milwaukee’s Office of Environmental Sustainability, a BaseTern is a basement that’s been converted into a rainwater or stormwater cistern. Milwaukee is completing what is said to be the world’s first such system this month.

The BaseTern concept, which Shambarger trademarked, is simple. Stormwater will be directed to an abandoned or foreclosed property’s basement, which, after the aboveground structure is demolished, is waterproofed and filled with gravel and stormwater-harvesting cells. According to a feasibility study by engineers at HNTB, the system can hold anywhere from 13,000 to 40,000 gallons of water during storms, reducing flooding in adjacent homes.

It’s a clever riff on adaptive reuse, taking advantage of one urban issue—a surplus of city-owned foreclosures—to solve another: the flooding that is increasingly common in dense, impervious neighborhoods like Milwaukee’s Sherman Park, where the pilot project is located.

(more…)

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