Posts Tagged ‘safety’

THE SCHOOLYARD IS SICK

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 JANE MARGOLIES

FROM THE JUNE 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Not long ago, the schoolyard of Eagle Rock Elementary, in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, was a sea of cracked asphalt. Now it has rows of budding trees that divide up the three-acre expanse, and there’s a large grassy area and little enclaves with stumps and log seating away from the hustle and bustle. By offering a variety of settings, the schoolyard gives students the ability to choose where and how they spend their time at recess. Claire Latané, ASLA, the Los Angeles-based ecological designer who led the renovation of the grounds, says it also should improve their mental health.

Latané believes supporting the mental health of students is key to their happiness and well-being. Her conviction is based on decades of academic research by others, her own experience analyzing and designing schoolyards, and her gut feeling about the topic, as both a designer and a mother. Despite all we know about the impact our surroundings have on us—and the progress being made to introduce therapeutic environments to health care facilities—schools aren’t being designed with mental health as a consideration, let alone a priority. They are defensive (and ever more so, even provisionally, given gun violence in schools). Many schools have as much charm as storage facilities these days, and the worst are, in their environmental design, practically penal.

Through advocacy, writing, and teaching, Latané is trying to change that reality. She has encouraged the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

A recent study shows that Portland’s public docks nicely suit swimmers.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Early morning swims across the river. An annual river float and beach party. A full-moon, women-only swim known as “Naked Goddess.” These are just some of the events organized by the Human Access Project to encourage people in Portland, Oregon, to dip their toes (and more) in the Willamette River. After all, says Willie Levenson, the ringleader (his official title) of the nonprofit organization, the river is the city’s largest public space and ought to be seen and used as such. Most recently, Levenson enlisted the help of MIG’s Portland office to explore the feasibility of repurposing downtown boat docks as places for sanctioned swimming.

City planners, working with Mayer/Reed, already had evaluated downtown Portland for potential swimming areas but had focused mostly on beaches. Levenson saw the city’s docks as another, potentially cheaper point of access. Working practically pro bono (Levenson’s budget was $5,000), MIG chose five docks (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Reinventing Vilonia uses a network of public green spaces to link disaster shelters. Image courtesy of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center.

Plans for the small town of Vilonia, Arkansas, by the University of Arkansas Community Design Center (UACDC) assert the primacy of public green space as the center of traditional urbanism: town squares on formerly abandoned lots, generous boulevard streetscapes on what had been pedestrian no-man’s-land, and new neighborhoods with pocket parks. But in doing so, the director of the UACDC, Stephen Luoni, and his team learned how to use this network of outdoor civic space to meet a far more pressing need.

In 2014 a tornado flattened much of the town of 4,000, destroying or damaging hundreds of structures and killing 16 people in the area. And Luoni’s plan uses these urban green spaces as links in a chain of disaster shelters.

The UACDC’s plan, Reinventing Vilonia, calls for a system of buried shipping containers that act as tornado shelters, (more…)

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BY G. RYAN SMITH, ASLA

BEDIT_Fore_Streets FIN

Separated bicycle lanes are steadily increasing in number, though every design detail counts.

From the June 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In cities across the country where newly striped bike lanes are seemingly rolling out by the week, separated bike lanes would seem to be the holy grail. By giving cyclists their very own part of the public realm, they practically embody the exceptionalist case for bicycle infrastructure—a demonstrable victory of cyclists over the potentially deadly hazards of motorists who will never learn to be more careful behind the wheel. But separated bicycle lanes, also called cycle tracks or green lanes, are a considerable investment. The price per linear foot of recent projects has run between $120 for simpler installations with flexible posts to $2,000 for elaborately integrated systems. If properly done, they can greatly enhance the active transportation metabolism of a city. If not done right, they can seem pointless.

Landscape architects are only getting started in the design of separated bicycle lanes, also known as cycle tracks or green lanes, but so is everyone else. There are 270 cycle tracks in the United States as of this year, up from 78 in 2011, according to the advocacy group People for Bikes. Cycle tracks are more common in Europe than in this country.

Cycle tracks have their fans and their skeptics, given their significant variations on (more…)

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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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