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BY ZACH MORTICE

AECOM’s plan turns the riverbed into an outdoor activities park. Image courtesy of the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering and AECOM.

The big conundrum of the Los Angeles River—that it is so imposing yet so divorced from the city—shows in the visions for its future proposed in early June by seven architecture, engineering, and landscape architecture firms. The occasion was the Los Angeles River Downtown Design Dialogue, a pro bono charrette that took place on the 10th anniversary of the city’s original master plan for the river. The design firms showed ways that visitors could step down to its shallow waters, although the concrete-lined waterway runs so low at times it can seem more like a quasi-natural splash pad. But the most fascinating plans marginalized the typically modest amounts of water in the river almost entirely.

There are no immediate plans to execute any of the projects. Rather, Gary Lee Moore, the city engineer of Los Angeles, described the charrette as an opportunity to (more…)

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BY TIM WATERMAN

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The genius temporum of Martí Franch’s Girona landscapes.

FROM THE JANUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE

“I really want to make the whole city like this,” says Martí Franch of Estudi Martí Franch (EMF), speaking of his vision of designing the green infrastructure of Girona, Spain, through a process of enlightened and engaged landscape management. We are sitting in his office, among shelves full of models and a table full of drawings. With us are Marc Rosdevall, a landscape architect with the City of Girona and the project’s director, and Marta Costa-Pau, a reporter from the local newspaper who is eager to report on the most recent transformations EMF’s work has wrought on Girona, and, in an amusing bit of journalistic circularity, to interview me to find out why this work is of interest and important to an American journalist and his landscape architecture audience.

Girona is a city in Catalonia with a population of roughly 100,000, situated in the rocky green foothills of the Catalonian Coastal Ranges at the confluence of four small rivers. The landscape is typical scrubby Mediterranean maquis, studded with stone pines (Pinus pinea), holm oaks (Quercus ilex), and the inevitable and omnipresent formal Italian cypresses (Cupressus sempervirens), which have an air of nervous, attendant stiffness in the loosely informal Catalonian landscape, like butlers at a barn dance. When I visit in late spring, (more…)

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By Zach Mortice

The 2008 flooding in eastern Iowa saw the Cedar River crest at 31 feet, inundating much of downtown Cedar Rapids. Image courtesy of Sasaki.

On the morning of Jun 12, 2008, the landscape architects Gina Ford, ASLA, and Jason Hellendrung, ASLA, of Sasaki woke up in their hotel rooms by the riverside in downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to stifling heat and eerie silence. They were in town to pitch their riverfront master plan to the city council. They knew the Cedar River was expected to flood (and had stocked up on water, granola bars, and bananas just in case) but neither expected any sort of ordeal stemming from the river, which they had come hoping to reimagine as a lively and gregarious urban greenway. The power, air-conditioning, and phones were out. The hallways were empty and pitch black, and a ferocious rainstorm had darkened the skies and pushed the encroaching floodwaters. Reaching each other via cell phone, they discussed their options. In the distance, the Quaker Oats cereal mill plant’s red neon sign was still lit. “It can’t be that bad,” said Hellendrung. “They still have electricity.”

“As I said that, there was a bolt of thunder and lightning, and the sign went out. Then I was like, ‘Maybe the police will get here soon?’”

Police did dispatch rescuers, who led Ford and Hellendrung out of the hotel. A second-floor connection to the convention center (more…)

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Horace Mitchell, whose title is lead visualizer of NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio, has mapped sets of U.S. Geological Survey data on stream flows of the entire Mississippi River Basin, which, of course, includes the Missouri River and Ohio River watersheds. Mitchell traces the streams’ flows from source to mouth (though not at actual stream flow speeds). It takes a while for water to run from the continental divides to the Gulf of Mexico, but it eventually does get there.

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This month, we have a few big stories that take you back a ways before bringing you back to the present. After decades of re-do schemes in Pershing Square in Los Angeles, and a tense year of competition that just ended with yet another redesign by Agence TER and SALT Landscape Architects announced as the long-awaited winners, we will see what becomes of the new design, and all the things a design needs to back it up, like services and programming. In New York’s barren Battery Park City in the 1980s, a  small, subtle, and safe harbor came to life as a work of art, rather than a park, by Susan Child, FASLA; Stanton Eckstut; and Mary Miss, and it continues to mature and season handsomely. In the Netherlands, Room for the River, a nationwide project has been reworking the country’s four major rivers in anticipation of greater floods in the future for more than 20 years. Finally, in the small town of Bruton, near London, is the artist’s heaven of Hauser & Wirth Somerset, with maximal garden designs by Piet Oudolf.

In the departments: the building momentum of separated bike lanes means safer routes for cyclists, in Streets; and three landscape architecture student journals create a window into the design culture of their universities, in Education. And, as ever, don’t miss our regular Now, Species, Goods, and Books columns. The full table of contents for June can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 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 June articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Better Luck This Time,” Agence Ter with SALT Landscape Architects; “Still Here,” Lexi Van Valkenburgh; “There’s Room,” Your Captain Luchtfotografie/www.luchtfotografie.com; “So Happy Together,” Heather Edwards, Courtesy Hauser & Wirth; “Cycle Away,” Jennifer Toole/Toole Design Group; “Class Consciousness,” Michelle Hook.

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