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Posts Tagged ‘social distancing’

BY JARED BREY

Contractors, suppliers, and growers ply the busy season amid the pandemic.

FROM THE JUNE 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

For Joseph Marando, the shutdown notice came at just the wrong moment. It was early spring, and Marando, of Frank Marando Landscape Inc., in Queens, New York, was contracted for a planting job in a New York City park. He’d been expecting the job to be canceled, as so much construction was put on pause while the coronavirus outbreak seized New York. But when indications seemed good that it would move forward, he went ahead and asked the Virginia-based nursery he was working with to dig out the oaks, cherry trees, and serviceberries he had ordered. The shutdown notice came the next day, while the truck was en route, and Marando couldn’t very well ask the driver to turn around. So he took the trees, their roots in burlap, and heeled them in at his own holding yard in College Point. Whenever the project gets the green light, he’ll have to reload the plants onto a truck and take them to the site, ballooning the costs for freight and labor.

“But this is what we’re dealing with,” Marando says. “I have no other choice.”

Around the country, stay-at-home orders and social-distancing guidelines arrived at the height of the spring construction season for landscape architects. But the implications for their projects, and for the supply chains they rely on, varied greatly by region. (more…)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

Miami Beach Soundscape Park by West 8. Photo by Robin Hill.

Registration opened yesterday for the 2020 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture, which runs October 2 to October 5 in Miami Beach—a place rich with urgent landscape, climate, and water issues to confront, not to mention turquoise waves and a lot of fun amid the refreshing Atlantic breezes. As ever, if you book early, through June 9, you save on the registration fee (up to $300 off the on-site registration fee for professional members, if you book lodging in hotels where ASLA has reserved rooms for the event). Besides the many colleagues you look forward to seeing each year, there will be 120 ways to educate yourself and earn professional development hours in programs, field sessions, deep-dive inquiries, the invigorating general session, the ASLA awards, and the huge ASLA EXPO bustling with your favorite products, services, programs, and people.

ASLA has measures in place to ensure attendees a safe and enjoyable meeting, with the uncertain factors of the novel coronavirus pandemic first in mind. In a recorded message to prospective attendees, ASLA President Wendy Miller, FASLA, said, “These are not normal times, and this will not be a normal conference. But as of today, we are proceeding and adapting our plans for this fall.”

The ASLA staff is working closely with local meeting and tourism officials, convention industry experts, and the host chapter, ASLA Florida, to monitor guidance for large gatherings regarding group sizes and distancing provided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local agencies. If the conference proceeds as planned, registrants who find they later wish to cancel will receive refunds minus a $100 processing fee. However, after August 10, registration fees are not refundable. Tickets for special events and field sessions are not refundable. Hotel deposits will be refunded if reservations are canceled three days before your arrival—check details with your hotel.

If the conference must be canceled, your registration fee will be fully refunded, as will the processing fee and costs of tickets to special events. Hotels will also refund your deposit. For airfares, you should check with your airline about reimbursement or credit policies.

Miller expressed optimism that ASLA can gather in Miami Beach within the bounds the pandemic imposes. “If you’re a conference veteran, you know how powerful the experience can be,” she said. “And we are committed to bringing that experience to our members again this year.”

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BY BRICE MARYMAN, FASLA

Needs tending: the great nearby, in Seattle. Photo by Brice Maryman, FASLA.

Don does not live here or there, but “around.” We don’t know if he’s experiencing homelessness or receives a housing voucher. He’s too proud to tell us, instead deflecting vaguely with “around.” During the past few weeks, he has been knocking on our door every day, looking for work. He is 60-something, with a wild beard and a broken-down physique from a lifetime of hard labor. He seems always glad to work. We try to find things for him to do around the house. He and I both weed the garden. We at least offer him some food. Before the stay-home, stay-safe orders, Don’s primary source of income came from cleaning up bars after closing time: sweeping floors, taking out garbage, mopping the bathrooms. Now that the bars are closed, there is no money. The veneer of stability he had is peeling away, leaving him to confront a terrifying future.

Our immobility is unprecedented, for Seattle during the pandemic and for the human animal across our history. Last week, the New York Times confirmed what Seattleites have been feeling for weeks: Our lives have compressed, rescaling to just beyond our homes. Residents of the Emerald City used to travel some 3.8 miles per day, and have now adjusted to a retiring distance of just 61 feet. When have we traveled less and been more attuned to our neighbors, like Don, and our neighborhoods? In this focus on the commonplace, we have seen small dramas, marveled at the mundane, and questioned how design can serve us as we face down this crisis in the great nearby. (more…)

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BY F. PHILIP BARASH

Beacon Street in Brookline, Massachusetts. Photo by F. Philip Barash.

NOTES FROM BEACON STREET.

 

My living room in Brookline, Massachusetts, recently became a home office, and the windows face Beacon Street. Beacon is roomy, with a 160-foot section designed by Frederick Law Olmsted to have sidewalks, carriageways, a bridle path, and one of the earliest electric streetcar tracks in the United States. Over the past weeks, I’ve spent more time staring at this landscape than I had ever imagined possible, amid an eternity of e-mails and Zoom conferences; a lifetime of listlessness and egg sandwiches. Olmsted designed Beacon Street at the invitation of Henry Whitney, a shipping heir who had amassed parcels along a two-and-a-half-mile corridor from central Boston to the edge of Newton. Beacon Street, Whitney said, was to be a democratic rejoinder to Commonwealth Avenue, just east, where only the Boston Brahmins tread. Commonwealth may have stature and statuary, Whitney said, but Beacon would have public transit for common people: “The laboring man, the mechanic, the clerk, and […] the poor woman.” Whitney didn’t account specifically for humble writers like me, but looking upon the trickle of people outside my window, I know what he meant.

A couple in matching pom-pom hats. A jogger, wearing a neon vest, veering into traffic lanes to keep a safe distance from a jogger wearing neon sneakers. A delivery van. Another, pausing on my block. A dog encased in a vest. Two old women, the first leaning on a walker, the second leaning on the first: a breach of distancing, but a stabilizing posture. A plumber. Teenage boys choking with laughter. A baby carriage steered by a woman with her face hidden by a surgical mask. Another masked face. Another.

In CityLab, Richard Florida speculates about a coming spatial order. Sidewalks will have to get wider and procedures at the airport retooled “like we did in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, adding temperature checks and necessary health screenings to the security measures.” In the wake of 9/11, as I remember it, anyone who dared enter an airport with a covered face was a target of hostility. Women in hijabs were subjected to automatic searches; Sikhs were harassed. As people in masks and hoodies walk up Beacon Street, I wonder how we will retool our judgments. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Image courtesy NCMA.

Art parks and public gardens decide whether they can give people safe respite when people need to isolate.

 

With the COVID-19 crisis, millions of Americans have been jolted from their daily routines, their social lives, and their public spaces. Social distancing is pushing people into virtual realms and individual experiences. Landscapes have become a final refuge.

Museums are closed, so across the country, sculpture parks and public gardens are figuring out how they can safely meet the needs of social distancing. When they can, they’re offering one of the few bits of unfettered culture still available. The ones that place nature first have some advantages others don’t.

The Clark Art Institute’s grounds in Williamstown, Massachusetts, are open; more than 100 acres of nature trails are dotted with a handful of sculptures by Giuseppe Penone, William Crovello, and Jenny Holzer, set in a recently expanded campus designed by Reed Hilderbrand. “We have a 140-acre campus and several miles of walking trails that go through the woods on campus,” says Vicki Saltzman, the Clark’s director of communications. “It has always been our policy that the campus is open to the public to use 24 hours a day, and there’s certainly plenty of room in the 140 acres for lots of social distancing. It’s always been a very central part of the Clark’s ethos to think about art in nature, and we make that connection on a daily basis no matter what’s happening in the world around us.” (more…)

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BY TIM WATERMAN

Piccadilly Circus on a Friday night. Photo by Tim Waterman.

The most noticeable thing before the lockdown was that a sense of threat had crept into every public encounter, and suspicion of contagion was pervasive. Three days in a row, out for a walk, I saw someone fall. First, an old man in a pork pie hat who fell against a bollard on Gerrard Street in Chinatown, still festooned with red lanterns for the Year of the Rat. Then outside the hoardings for the as-yet-unopened new entrance to Tottenham Court Road Underground station on Oxford Street, a young man was collapsed and unresponsive, being attended to by paramedics. In Covent Garden an older woman fell, carrying a bag of medical supplies—a knee brace, possibly—and when my partner and I instinctively went to help, she held up both hands to keep us at bay. Now the government has shut down, for almost a week and indefinitely, pubs, restaurants, and shops, and has ordered people to stay at home except to shop for groceries or to exercise. People are still wary, but are much better at keeping to the rule of maintaining a two-meter distance from all others at all times. This is relatively easy to observe outdoors, but indoors it turns shopping into an odd, halting dance. But in London, where it is unheard of for people to speak to strangers in public, or even to make eye contact, both of these things are seen to happen daily. (more…)

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BY JARED BREY

Robert Hewitt, FASLA, at Clemson University leads students and colleagues through a studio project where they designed a satellite city outside Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus outbreak began. Image courtesy Robert Hewitt, FASLA.

Even before the latest round of social distancing efforts and shelter-in-place orders began to shut down American communities, colleges and universities were making plans to finish their semesters online. And for some courses, the transition is trickier than for others. Students and teachers in landscape architecture design studios are facing the same day-to-day meeting and communication questions as everyone else. But they’re also facing challenges to the long-standing culture of the studio, where casual interactions are encouraged and friendships are formed, professors give in-person feedback to students in real time, juries convene to evaluate student projects that take months to complete, and students experiment with materials and fabrication techniques. At the same time, educators at nearly a dozen schools of landscape architecture in the United States say the technology needed to carry out the most critical functions of design studios is largely available, and most schools are well-positioned to switch to online learning, at least temporarily. 

“The conversation around the shift to remote instruction has always found this uncomfortable relationship with how you do that for a design studio,” says Roberto Rovira, ASLA, an associate professor and the chair of landscape architecture at Florida International University. “In some ways, I see this as an opportunity to really test that, and see how we can bring about a paradigm shift that is no longer really a choice but rather a need. That is something we all saw coming, but now we have to respond to it.” (more…)

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