Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia’

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 JARED BREY / PHOTOGRAPHY BY SAHAR COSTON-HARDY, AFFILIATE ASLA

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Darren Damone, ASLA, and Katharine Griffiths were standing on a boardwalk at Avalon Park & Preserve, in Stony Brook, New York, looking across the pond at a gang of cormorants loitering in the branches of a beech tree.

“They used to nest over here, and it was a disaster zone,” said Griffiths, the director of the preserve. “It used to smell like a bluefish factory. It was nasty. They did a lot of damage to the trees in this area.… That’s what happens. They strip the leaves to put in their nest, and then their guano is so acidic that it just burns everything. They’re kind of sloppy birds.”

It was a May morning, and the squealing songs of cardinals spilled out of the woods behind us. We took a curving path up a hill to a smaller pond, fed by what looked like an underground stream, and I asked, credulously, where the headwaters were.

“This is just recirculating,” Damone said, looking amused. “This is completely created.”

In 1996, before the preserve existed, Paul Simons, a local nature lover who liked to ride his bike on a path through the property, was struck by a car on Long Island and killed. In his honor, the Simons family created the Paul Simons Foundation, and bought the eight-acre property that would later become Avalon Park & Preserve. Griffiths was a friend of the Simons family and had just finished college in Ontario, studying political science and horticulture, and she moved to Stony Brook to lead the preserve. Creating the preserve was a way for the Simons family to grieve, she said, and it was meant to be a place that Paul would have wanted to be. Beyond that, she told me later, “We didn’t have a vision, really.”

So it turned to Andropogon, the Philadelphia-based landscape architecture firm, to create (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Can waste glass be repurposed as a planting medium for green infrastructure?

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

It is easy to paint landscape architecture as an inherent “greener” of communities, particularly when it comes to green infrastructure and the profession’s more recent emphasis on creating and sustaining urban ecologies. But every project has an environmental footprint, including, in some cases, the destruction of wilderness areas hundreds of miles from the project site through sand mining and soil removal, which provide the raw material for landscape soil blends. “We put ourselves out there as purveyors of sustainability, but meanwhile we’re kind of like these crazy organ harvesters, borrowing healthy soil and transplanting it somewhere else,” says Richard Roark, ASLA, a partner at OLIN in Philadelphia. “I was like, can we stop that?”

That is exactly what OLIN is attempting to do through a multidisciplinary research project known as Soil-less Soil. Led by the firm’s research division, OLIN Labs, the landscape architects and their partners are studying the feasibility of (more…)

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BY LYDIA LEE

The world’s first SITES-certified cemetery is designed as a successional forest.

FROM THE AUGUST 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In the summer, the 400 grave sites in a section of West Laurel Hill Cemetery outside Philadelphia that is known as Nature’s Sanctuary are marked only by a meadow blazing with native scarlet bee balm (Monarda didyma). Memorial stones are set into a nearby wall. The area, which is designated for green burials, is the first cemetery to earn certification under the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES). As such, the cemetery was the subject of an ASLA webinar earlier this year, available for purchase (1.0 PDH (LA CES/HSW)/1.0 GBCI SITES-Specific CE).

To date, approximately 50 landscapes have been certified through the SITES program, which was developed jointly by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden. But Nature’s Sanctuary is the first burial ground. “The model here is assisted ecological succession, where the maintenance for the site will be carried out by nature,” says Adam Supplee, ASLA, until recently a principal at Alta Planning + Design who worked on the design. “It’s more sustainable than running a lawn mower over a grave for eternity.” (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Jill Desimini on her new book, From Fallow: 100 Ideas for Abandoned Urban Landscapes.

FROM THE AUGUST 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

As a rule, Americans are wizards at making waste disappear. Trash magically vanishes from the curb, wastewater disappears with a flush. But there is one by-product of our current economic system that cannot be disposed of with a snap of our fingers (or with infrastructure): vacant land. When a piece of property is abandoned, it cannot be bagged up and thrown away.

Jill Desimini, ASLA, has spent more than 10 years documenting vacancy across the United States as a senior associate at Stoss Landscape Urbanism and as an associate professor of landscape architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, where her research focuses on spatial strategies for shrinking cities. In her most recent book, From Fallow: 100 Ideas for Abandoned Urban Landscapes (2019), Desimini marries a decade of documentation with more speculative imaginings that take the form of simple, evocative drawings.

It is a catalog of both existing states and potential changes. Desimini presents each separately, to free the design possibilities from any “direct political, economic, ecological, and sociocultural” context and leave them to imagining. “A vacant lot is not one thing, even though we tend to think of it as such,” she writes in the book’s introduction. “Terrains have different scales, elevations, adjacencies, uses, climates, and cultures. And just as no one territory is the same, so no one idea is sufficient.”

I spoke to Desimini about the new book. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. (more…)

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Stave sections of trees native to Scotland, from a Scottish Gaelic alphabet. Image courtesy Laurel McSherry.

The Design with Nature Now conference at the University of Pennsylvania will celebrate the life and work of the pioneering landscape architect Ian McHarg this month with a slate of exhibitions and conference events held at the design school.

Among them will be an exhibition of works by the landscape architect and artist Laurel McSherry titled Laurel McSherry: A Book of Days that twins the valleys that defined Ian McHarg’s life—the River Clyde in his native Scotland and the Delaware in Philadelphia—and incorporates McSherry’s own meditative explorations of Glasgow through video, etchings, and sculpture. In this interview conducted by Lynn Marsden-Atlass, the executive director of the Arthur Ross Gallery, McSherry weaves a site-specific installation that encourages people to reconsider the prosaic landscapes that surround them.

Design with Nature Now takes place June 21–22, 2019, at the University of Pennsylvania. Laurel McSherry: A Book of Days will be on view from June 21 through September 15. (more…)

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WHERE THE WATER WAS

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 ANNE RAVER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY SAHAR COSTON-HARDY, AFFILIATE ASLA

FROM THE OCTOBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

We were driving around west Philadelphia when Anne Whiston Spirn, FASLA, stopped at the corner of Walnut and 43rd Streets to recall the moment of discovery that still drives her work. It was 1971. She was a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, on her way to the supermarket, when she was stopped at a gaping hole where the street had caved in over the Mill Creek sewer. “I looked down and saw this big, brown rushing river, and all this masonry that had fallen in. I thought, ‘My God, there are rivers underground. We’re walking on a river.’”

She was looking at Mill Creek, buried in the brick sewer pipe in the 1880s. Historic photographs show workers dwarfed by its size, constructing the pipe, about 20 feet in diameter, snaking along the creek bed. Drawings depict horse-drawn carts loaded with soil—millions of cubic yards dug with pickaxes and shovels—to cover up the pipe. Row houses were built right on top of the fill.

That buried river would become the heart of Spirn’s work when she came back to Penn 15 years later to chair the landscape architecture department and to launch the West Philadelphia Landscape Project (WPLP), but also in her larger vision of (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates plan uses a series of intensely programmed pavilions at the park’s urban edge. Image courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

Update 4/10/2018: The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has chosen Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates’ plan as the competition winner. 

At 22 acres on a prime Detroit River site southwest of downtown, the future West Riverfront Park could become the city’s new civic front yard.

A design competition hosted by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has collected a short list of plans to fill this need, with work by GGN, James Corner Field Operations, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), and Hood Studio making the cut. The winner will be determined by jury later this month. Several of these plans deal with the site’s relative surrounding vacancy and lack of connection to active, urban uses by building up dense layers of programming, but differ on whether the park is to be a regional centerpiece or one notable amenity along the Detroit RiverWalk’s miles-long string of them.

West Riverfront Park is part of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy’s larger plan to rejuvenate 5.5 miles of the Detroit Riverfront. East of downtown Detroit, 3.5 miles of the RiverWalk is already complete, featuring entertainment and event spaces, sculpture gardens, cultural venues, parks, and hotels. At the confluence of downtown, Corktown, and Mexicantown, the West Riverfront Park sits near some of the city’s most dramatically resurgent (and stable) neighborhoods. But the park site has been largely barren for decades. Previously, a hulking warehouse for the Detroit Free Press dominated the site. It was privately owned and closed off to the public for about (more…)

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