Posts Tagged ‘remediation’

BY ZACH MORTICE

The lago at Roberto Burle Marx’s Sítio, which he composed by eye from truckloads of species collected during his botanical expeditions. Image courtesy Julian Raxworthy.

It’s time for landscape architects to re-embrace what makes them fundamentally different.

 

Since its inception, it’s been hard to find much agreement in landscape architecture over the profession’s purpose and how it should work. For some contemporary designers, landscape architecture, in theory if a bit less in practice, is most visible when ecological systems are designed and deployed to remediate the earth, water, air, and biomes, often at an infrastructural scale. And yet, a profession wholly obsessed with infrastructure would to seem to miss the trees for the forest.

The Australian landscape architect Julian Raxworthy posits a way forward in his new book, Overgrown: Practices Between Landscape Architecture and Gardening, published by The MIT Press. Landscape architects, he notes, have retreated from the defining element of their corner of the spatial world: the development and management of planting design. Plants, he argues, are defined by their growth over time and the maintenance used to train them. Gardeners (whose ranks Raxworthy once populated) haven’t lost track of this fact. Growth is landscape architecture’s fundamental currency. From there, he launches into a populist call to tear down the blue collar/white collar divide between gardeners and landscape architects. Raxworthy (who is headed to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, after living in Cape Town, South Africa, for five years, teaching at the University of Cape Town) seems to admire messiness and rebellion against the bespoke and delicate. That preference is not surprising if you chat him up about his days as a music writer in the 1980s in Sydney, attending shows by Public Enemy and Dead Kennedys. Of one of his case study projects (created by a designer who never studied landscape architecture), he writes: “As a gardener rather than a landscape architect, the only plans Korte produced for the project were to satisfy the authorities. All other decisions arose organically through spending four years on site with a gang of four young German laborers who had returned from Brazil and smoked marijuana constantly. He looked back on this way of working with some nostalgia, saying that this time on site was the height of his career.” (more…)

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BY WENDY GILMARTIN

A Los Angeles firm turns to super-light interventions for a landscape bent on change.

A Los Angeles firm turns to super-light interventions for a landscape bent on change.

From the September 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

It’s been nearly three years since Los Angeles County Waste Management’s fleet of rumbling trash trucks ceased their daily climb up and down the massive landfill in Puente Hills, for years one of the nation’s largest. Now, the 640-acre site is poised to become a public park, and despite its proximity to an area rich in outdoor amenities like the picturesque Powder Canyon and Arroyo Pescadero Trail, it lacks easy access and infrastructure that would allow surrounding working-class San Gabriel Valley communities a chance to experience its spectacular views and raw terrain.

“When the county came to us, they wanted us to think big, and they wanted the public to think big,” says Bryan Matsumoto, a landscape design associate at Withers & Sandgren Landscape Architecture and Planning in Montrose, California. On behalf of the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, Withers & Sandgren worked with Auburn, Alabama-based Hillworks Landscape + Architecture and other consultants to develop a careful strategy of maximizing the site’s abrasively (more…)

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BY ANNE RAVER

Reed Hilderbrand overturns a century of casual destruction at Long Dock Park in Beacon, New York.

Reed Hilderbrand overturns a century of casual destruction at Long Dock Park in Beacon, New York.

From the March 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Ten years ago, Long Dock was a postindustrial ruins built on fill—the layered detritus of its past—that sprawled 1,000 feet across the tidal flats of the Hudson River at the foot of the boarded-up city of Beacon, New York.

Now, this same site, Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park, is a 23-acre expanse of meadow and wetlands shaded by cottonwoods and swamp maples, with a sculpted dock and quiet cove, where a kayak pavilion hovers like a dragonfly over the river’s edge.

Reed Hilderbrand has remediated and reshaped the flat landscape, transforming it to a series of earthen berms and reconfigured marshes that hold and filter stormwater and tidal surges in storms as brutal as Irene and Sandy.

“We were fully inundated four times during construction, so each time we lost ground,” Gary Hilderbrand, FASLA, said one midsummer afternoon, standing on the boardwalk that leads to the river’s edge. “But we also proved that the (more…)

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BY JANE ROY BROWN

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A historic airfield in Massachusetts is transformed into a haven for biodiversity.

From the February 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

“Are you folks from the parks department?” asked a white-haired man in hiking clothes.

It was an early summer morning, and he approached a small group standing in a path at 1st Lt. Arthur E. Farnham Jr. and SSgt. Thomas M. Connolly Jr. Memorial Park, which covers 12 acres on the 338-acre site of a former regional airport in Canton, southwest of Boston. The group did not include anyone from the park’s managing agency, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). But it did include the park’s designers, Deneen Crosby, ASLA, and Daniel Norman, ASLA, from the Boston firm Crosby | Schlessinger | Smallridge (CSS). With them was the consulting biologist Ingeborg Hegemann, the senior vice president of ecological sciences and principal at BSC Group, a Boston-based environmental services firm. Hegemann worked with CSS to evaluate the soils, review proposed grading, and select plants and seed stock for the park, which includes extensive restored wetlands.

The park visitor, a retired Canton resident who identified himself as “Mike,” described a woman he had spotted digging up plants and stashing them in her trunk. “She had a shovel in the car, so it wasn’t the first time,” he said, pulling a notebook from his day pack. He read out a plate number. Norman jotted it down. “I come here almost every day,” said Mike. “I love this park, and I don’t want to see it destroyed.”

It was the kind of gratifying feedback professionals who work on public projects rarely get firsthand, and it left the team (more…)

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