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Posts Tagged ‘soil’

AMAZON FIRE: WHO OWNS THE AMAZON?

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 CATHERINE SEAVITT NORDENSON, ASLA

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Who owns the Amazon? In news reports about the unprecedented number of fires burning in this vast forest during the past several months, Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has vehemently answered “Brazil”—punctuating that claim with the charge that any nation holding a different opinion is simply a colonizer, usually a European one. Yet defined in terms of the river’s massive watershed, the Amazon rain forest—the world’s largest such tropical biome—falls within eight South American countries: Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Suriname, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, and Guyana.

Those same eight polities have been embroiled in a seven-year legal battle with Amazon.com, Inc. and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, who would very much like to own .amazon—the domain name, that is. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers—the independent body that vets global Internet addresses—has sided with Bezos. American corporate interests, once again, seem to have the upper hand over local cultural heritage and place-name identity, despite concerns voiced by Brazil’s minister of foreign affairs and representatives from other governments that share the watershed.

Certainly, “owning” the Amazon has always been bound up in questions of sovereignty. And sovereignty has long been caught up in authoritative claims of possession. (more…)

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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 JESSICA BRIDGER

FROM THE JANUARY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

It is likely you have never heard of Paul Mathews, but if you ski it is probable that you have been on a slope that he had a hand in designing. In 1975, he founded Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners, “Ecosign” being a portmanteau of ecology and design. Whistler, the downhill and backcountry ski hub in British Columbia, has been his home turf since the 1970s, and Ecosign has worked on more than 400 ski resorts around the world.

Mathews was responding to the state of skiing in the 1970s when he founded Ecosign. Ski areas had evolved over the years, some growing from ad hoc paths down the sides of mountains into massive areas, choked by car traffic on the weekends, full of stairs and narrow, poorly designed ski slopes, or pistes, with disorganized ski villages at their base. Infrastructure was insufficient; environmental degradation was rife. Some resorts were made by tearing into the landscape, moving large amounts of rock and soil, cutting excessive numbers of trees, ignoring flora and fauna. Few undertook adequate transportation planning to handle weekly visitor flows. Other ski areas suffered from fragmented ownership, with multiple operators in single small town or village settings, hampering the investment needed to keep facilities modern and ensure longevity and employment. Four decades after founding Ecosign, Mathews knows what to do with both challenges—how to plan for sustainable futures and growth and how to establish completely new ski resorts in places that have none. The company is about 20 people and includes landscape architects, architects, engineers, soil scientists, and MBAs, among others, who work around the world from Ecosign’s base at Whistler. “There is lot of work in China, the Balkans, Turkey—anywhere where they have mountains, snow, and incomes that are rising,” Mathews says. (more…)

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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 JARED BREY / PHOTOGRAPHY BY SAHAR COSTON-HARDY, AFFILIATE ASLA

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Darren Damone, ASLA, and Katharine Griffiths were standing on a boardwalk at Avalon Park & Preserve, in Stony Brook, New York, looking across the pond at a gang of cormorants loitering in the branches of a beech tree.

“They used to nest over here, and it was a disaster zone,” said Griffiths, the director of the preserve. “It used to smell like a bluefish factory. It was nasty. They did a lot of damage to the trees in this area.… That’s what happens. They strip the leaves to put in their nest, and then their guano is so acidic that it just burns everything. They’re kind of sloppy birds.”

It was a May morning, and the squealing songs of cardinals spilled out of the woods behind us. We took a curving path up a hill to a smaller pond, fed by what looked like an underground stream, and I asked, credulously, where the headwaters were.

“This is just recirculating,” Damone said, looking amused. “This is completely created.”

In 1996, before the preserve existed, Paul Simons, a local nature lover who liked to ride his bike on a path through the property, was struck by a car on Long Island and killed. In his honor, the Simons family created the Paul Simons Foundation, and bought the eight-acre property that would later become Avalon Park & Preserve. Griffiths was a friend of the Simons family and had just finished college in Ontario, studying political science and horticulture, and she moved to Stony Brook to lead the preserve. Creating the preserve was a way for the Simons family to grieve, she said, and it was meant to be a place that Paul would have wanted to be. Beyond that, she told me later, “We didn’t have a vision, really.”

So it turned to Andropogon, the Philadelphia-based landscape architecture firm, to create (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Can waste glass be repurposed as a planting medium for green infrastructure?

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

It is easy to paint landscape architecture as an inherent “greener” of communities, particularly when it comes to green infrastructure and the profession’s more recent emphasis on creating and sustaining urban ecologies. But every project has an environmental footprint, including, in some cases, the destruction of wilderness areas hundreds of miles from the project site through sand mining and soil removal, which provide the raw material for landscape soil blends. “We put ourselves out there as purveyors of sustainability, but meanwhile we’re kind of like these crazy organ harvesters, borrowing healthy soil and transplanting it somewhere else,” says Richard Roark, ASLA, a partner at OLIN in Philadelphia. “I was like, can we stop that?”

That is exactly what OLIN is attempting to do through a multidisciplinary research project known as Soil-less Soil. Led by the firm’s research division, OLIN Labs, the landscape architects and their partners are studying the feasibility of (more…)

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The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

Photo by Sahar Coston-Hardy, Affiliate ASLA.

From “The Glass Is Greener” in the September 2019 issue by Timothy A. Schuler, about the use of recycled waste glass fragments as sustainable substitutes for soil.

“Soil solution.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 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.

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BY LYDIA LEE

The world’s first SITES-certified cemetery is designed as a successional forest.

FROM THE AUGUST 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In the summer, the 400 grave sites in a section of West Laurel Hill Cemetery outside Philadelphia that is known as Nature’s Sanctuary are marked only by a meadow blazing with native scarlet bee balm (Monarda didyma). Memorial stones are set into a nearby wall. The area, which is designated for green burials, is the first cemetery to earn certification under the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES). As such, the cemetery was the subject of an ASLA webinar earlier this year, available for purchase (1.0 PDH (LA CES/HSW)/1.0 GBCI SITES-Specific CE).

To date, approximately 50 landscapes have been certified through the SITES program, which was developed jointly by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden. But Nature’s Sanctuary is the first burial ground. “The model here is assisted ecological succession, where the maintenance for the site will be carried out by nature,” says Adam Supplee, ASLA, until recently a principal at Alta Planning + Design who worked on the design. “It’s more sustainable than running a lawn mower over a grave for eternity.” (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

In North Carolina, history, industry, and climate change work in tandem to create landscapes of toxic waste.

FROM THE MAY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

In Houston, it was the petrochemical plants. In North Carolina, it was the hog farms. In both places, churning floodwaters caused by recent storms were turned into a toxic stew that endangered local water resources and public health. In September 2018, Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina, where seven million gallons of hog waste overtopped the region’s ubiquitous open-air lagoons and quickly made its way into neighbors’ yards and nearby streams.

As by-products go, the fecal sludge of an industrial-scale hog farm is far from benign. The waste can carry viruses, parasites, nitrates, and bacteria such as salmonella. Even in the best circumstances, the odors from these open-air lagoons, which number some 3,300 across the state but are concentrated in the heavily African American counties of eastern North Carolina, are noxious enough that in August 2018 a jury awarded six families $473.5 million for having to live near a hog farm in Pender County. Combined with a severe storm, however, these lagoons become all the more dangerous, threatening the water supply of entire communities and far-flung ecosystems.

Hurricane Florence was just the most recent example of how severe weather events, strengthened by a warming climate, can interact with industrialized landscapes to create new threats to public health and safety. If landscape architects are to grapple with the environmental and human health impacts of climate change, they will have to educate themselves about agricultural waste. (more…)

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