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Posts Tagged ‘native’

BY JONATHAN LERNER

When everyone wants a piece of the same postcard.

When everyone wants a piece of the same postcard.

From the August 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Mather Point, a limestone fin that juts into Grand Canyon National Park, is the first overlook from which many, possibly most, visitors to the storied national park get a glimpse into that astonishing other world. In the middle of a short flight of steps down from the rim to the overlook sits a pair of large boulders. There’s often an informal queue at that spot. Every day hundreds, maybe thousands, of people wait to clamber up and have their pictures taken. Shot from below and elevated by the rock above the crowd, people appear to float before the geological fever dream of the canyon. Invariably, they spread their arms wide, like wings. These portraits make an allusion to flight—and an illusion of solitude.

A redesign of the access to Mather Point for cars and pedestrians, and of the park’s nearby main visitor center, was completed in 2012. It more than doubled the parking capacity. But attendance at national parks has soared since then, and already these new facilities are frequently overwhelmed. For the National Park Service system as a whole, between 2012 and 2015, recreational visits were up nearly 9 percent. For national parks in the Intermountain Region, attendance rose (more…)

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BY ALEX ULAM

From Los Angeles, Charles Anderson tackles the site of a lifetime at the old Athens airport.

From Los Angeles, Charles Anderson, FASLA, tackles the site of a lifetime at the old Athens airport.

From the March 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The Hellinikon, an enormous area on the outskirts of Athens, Greece, is testament to how rapidly man-made forms literally can go to seed. From a hillside overgrown with unruly purple bougainvillea, you can see hundreds of structures in various states of decay across a vast expanse that terminates at a highway along the Aegean Sea. Just below, clumps of scrub grass have thrust their way up between stadium seating overlooking a complex of structures that includes a series of moldering concrete ramps built for a 2004 Summer Olympics kayaking event.

Near the decaying Olympic venues are the sprawling remains of the former Hellinikon International Airport. These include the ghostly, white-columned terminal for international flights designed by Eero Saarinen. Today, this modernist interpretation of Greek temple architecture is fenced off, and through the broken windows under its porticos, you can see rubble. The concrete runways are cracked, and they have large puddles, oases for seagulls and packs of wild dogs. Security guards cruise around in unmarked cars; they are the only other people anyone is likely to find on the grounds. Next to the terminal is a row of jets, several with retractable stairs attached. At first they look as though (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

In Philadelphia, the new Bartram's Mile spans multiple periods of history.

In Philadelphia, the new Bartram’s Mile spans multiple periods of history.

From the March 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Concrete slabs refurbished as public plazas. Old Jersey barriers reconfigured into retaining walls. “Just about everything you see has been repurposed one way or another,” says José Almiñana, FASLA, of Bartram’s Mile, a greenway project along the western bank of the Schuylkill River being designed by Andropogon Associates, where Almiñana is a principal.

The 11.5-acre site wraps around the nearly 300-year-old landscape of Bartram’s Garden, the oldest surviving botanic garden in the United States. Created in 1728 by John Bartram, the historic garden became a public park in 1891. For decades, however, it has existed as a 45-acre island of woodlands and walking paths surrounded by a sea of heavy industry and neglected Philadelphia neighborhoods.

The new park will help connect the garden and the surrounding area with (more…)

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The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

xxx. Credit: xxx.

There are 12 acres of green roofs and 13 acres of wet native gardens incorporated into the design of the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters. Credit: Taylor Lednum/GSA.

From “The Wetter, the Better” by Bradford McKee, in the August 2015 issue, featuring the new landscape by Andropogon and HOK at the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters.

“The explosion of yellow in the middle ground punctures the smoky gray tones of the building and sky beyond.”

—Chris McGee, LAM Art Director

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.

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BY CAROL E. BECKER

Building the supply chain for native landscapes.

Building the supply chain for native landscapes.

From the May 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The oak is our national tree for a reason. Oaks are endemic to our native landscapes in all regions of the United States, easily identified by their leaf shape and gnarly branches. The size of the mature white oak (Quercus alba), spreading up to 120 feet, is one reason we associate oaks with strength, along with the density of the wood and an oak fire’s burning hot and long in the woodstove. Native oaks fall into two taxonomic groups, white and red, and their landscape uses vary depending on soil moisture. But most important today, as Douglas Tallamy, a professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, points out, oaks are the “quintessential wildlife plants.” They provide food to more than 500 species of caterpillars and other insects. In this fact lies the oaks’ value to the entire food chain, from the birds that eat insects to the humans who rest in the trees’ shade.

We need more oaks in our landscapes, mostly for the food benefits they provide. But instead of being sought-after plants, oaks are underused, undermarketed, undercultivated, and therefore in short supply. Landscape architects don’t often use them, clients don’t ask for them, and thus growers don’t grow them. A reverse scenario also holds true. Few nurseries grow Quercus species, particularly Q. macrocarpa, Q. muehlenbergii, and Q. alba, because they are hard to grow and suffer significant transplant death. So clients don’t see them and don’t ask for them and, in turn, landscape architects don’t specify them. Whatever the reason and wherever you start, it’s a circle of mutually reinforcing supply and demand.

The oaks are but one example of the larger problem for design professionals working to create sustainable landscapes with hardy plants in a given region. The interest in doing so—the imperative of doing so—is unequaled by the supply of appropriate species. This shortage also helps perpetuate clients’ expectations of plant specimens they do in fact see at the retail level, plants that are well-shaped, blooming, varied, and maybe even a bit exotic. The landscape architecture profession has taught them to value this aesthetic at least since the mid-19th century, when Andrew Jackson Downing codified ornamental landscaping in A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening. Now, we find ourselves in a world where, in just the past 40 years, half the songbird species in the United States and more than 90 percent of the monarch butterflies have disappeared. Honeybees and bumblebees have fallen to a mysterious virus, a cataclysmic problem that threatens the entire food chain. We do know how to reverse these trends and preserve biodiversity in landscapes, but we can’t get it done because clients still want constantly blooming and well-shaped plants with no bugs.

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BY CONSTANCE CASEY

A little unkempt looking, the shagbark is one of the mightiest of North America's trees.

A little unkempt looking, the shagbark is one of the mightiest of North America’s trees.

From the October 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

 One of the grandest North American trees is the shagbark hickory. It’s dramatic and easy to identify, with its smoke-gray bark warping away from the trunk. Grand, of course, implies big, and that’s part of the reason why the shagbark is not often planted and you wouldn’t see it in a nursery. It spreads itself in the woods from Quebec to Minnesota, south to Georgia and Texas, typically topping out at 70 to 90 feet with an irregular oval crown. It can grow to more than 100 feet, given 350 years or so.

The copper beech, with satiny bark, is British or Continental—Old World. The shagbark, to the essayist Donald Culross Peattie, is New World. “To everyone with a feeling for things American, and for American history, the shagbark seems like a symbol of the pioneer age,” he writes, “with its hard sinewy limbs and rude, shaggy coat, like the pioneer himself in fringed deerskin hunting shirt.”

(more…)

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