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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Louisville’s Liberty Field is an urban destination for everyone—especially refugees.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Louisville, Kentucky, has long been linked with sports. Some know it as the home of the Kentucky Derby, others as the birthplace of the Louisville Slugger. But in recent years it’s become a city of soccer. In part, Louisville’s embrace of soccer follows national trends—soccer’s popularity has grown steadily since the 1990s—but it is also the result of decades of refugee resettlement. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2016, Kentucky had twice as many refugees (individuals who have experienced or have reason to fear persecution based on their race, religion, or nationality) resettled per capita as the national average.

This demographic shift inspired the creation of Liberty Field, a pop-up soccer pitch converted from an unused parking lot in the city’s Phoenix Hill neighborhood. The project, led by City Collaborative, a nonprofit urban research and design laboratory, is an attempt to better serve a population that is often overlooked. Patrick Piuma, a cofounder of City Collaborative, says he’s been troubled by the xenophobia that has become increasingly visible in many American communities. “The fastest-growing segment of our population is refugees and immigrants,” he says. “How do we humanize each other? (more…)

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Stone Brewing World Bistro & Cardens, San Diego, a one-star SITES pilot project by Schmidt Design Group.

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, San Diego, a one-star SITES pilot project by Schmidt Design Group.

Today is a big day for what has long been known as the Sustainable Sites Initiative, now known as SITES, the rating system for developing sustainable landscapes. SITES is now under the administration of Green Business Certification Inc., or GBCI, based in Washington, D.C., which also runs the LEED rating system for buildings, after which SITES is modeled.

With this acquisition, GBCI is now taking applications for certifying landscape projects under the SITES v2 Rating System, and will also administer professional credentialing for the program.

SITES, begun a decade ago, was developed in a collaboration among the American Society of Landscape Architects (the publisher of LAM), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden. ASLA and UT, the owners of SITES, have transferred full ownership to GBCI. Its purpose is to guide development projects of all scales, from residential gardens to national parks, toward rigorous measures of stewardship for land and other resources. SITES certification criteria—refined through expert advice from professionals in numerous disciplines, case study examples, and more than 100 pilot projects—account for environmental factors in landscape design such as water use, stormwater handling, wildlife and habitat protection, air quality, and energy use, as well as human health and recreation. Forty-six projects so far have earned SITES certification. (ASLA members are eligible for discounts on all SITES materials and certification.)

“It’s exciting to see years of work developing and field-testing SITES culminate with the availability of this rating system,” said Frederick R. Steiner, FASLA, the dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin.

Nancy Somerville, Honorary ASLA, the executive vice president and CEO of ASLA, said: “GBCI will take SITES to the next level and ensure its future growth and influence.”

A full news release on the SITES acquisition can be found here. For more information, visit sustainablesites.org.

Credit: Schmidt Design Group Inc.

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Our cities' aging populations require new approaches to urban planning.

Our cities’ aging populations require new approaches to urban planning.

From the June 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In December 2013, a massive ice storm crippled Toronto, killing 27 people and knocking out power for 600,000 Ontario residents. Without electricity, elevators in Toronto’s residential high-rises stopped working, and many elderly people were trapped. “I know that there were elderly women up on the 18th floor in a tower near our office who were trying to make tea on a little gas burner,” recalls Patricia McCarney, the director of the Global Cities Institute (GCI) at the University of Toronto. “The elderly were going between two floors to help each other for four days while they didn’t have power. They were actually having small tea parties up on these high floors! So there is a social capital out there, but if that went on any longer, who’s going to take groceries up to them? Who knows they even live there?”

McCarney’s story illustrates both the vulnerability and resiliency of our cities’ older people, a population that planners and designers of all types must increasingly account for. As the world becomes more urbanized, those urban centers are rapidly aging. In the next 25 years, the number of New Yorkers older than 65—currently 12 percent of the population—is expected to increase by 50 percent. According to a recent GCI report, the number of people in the world over 65 years of age will increase 183 percent by 2050, and according to the AARP, most of those elderly want to age in place rather than move to a traditional retirement community.

But building more “age-friendly” cities will be difficult without reliable city-level data about health care, housing, infrastructure, and other quality-of-life indicators. “City data is often either nonexistent or it’s very weakly constructed,” says McCarney, explaining that global statistics for things like mortality rates are often presented at the country, not city, level. McCarney and her team worked with 20 different cities, including London, Shanghai, Helsinki, Dubai, Boston, and Johannesburg to develop a standardized set of 100 indicators organized around themes like safety, recreation, governance, and urban planning. The result, published in May 2014, was ISO 37120, Sustainable Development of Communities—Indicators for City Services and Quality of Life, the first international standard for city-level data. (more…)

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