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Posts Tagged ‘soil’

BY LISA OWENS VIANI

In Great Lakes cities, derelict parcels sponge up stormwater.

FROM THE AUGUST 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Eight years ago, Sandra Albro, a research associate in applied urban ecology at the Cleveland Botanical Garden (now Holden Forests & Gardens) began to think about opportunities lurking in the city’s vacant lots—in particular how to help cities with their water quality problems. During heavy rains, raw sewage from old, leaky, combined sewer-stormwater systems is often flushed into the Great Lakes, resulting in beach closures not fun for tourists. At the same time, in Cleveland, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; and Gary, Indiana—where populations have declined by as much as 40 to 50 percent since the 1950s—derelict houses and vacant lots have increased: 30,000 in Cleveland, 7,000 in Gary, and more than 6,000 in Buffalo.

Cleveland, Buffalo, and Gary are among 158 communities with permits from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to discharge treated wastewater into the Great Lakes. The agency has also charged them with implementing Long Term Control Plans under the Clean Water Act to eliminate discharges of untreated sewage from their combined system overflows. “It’s a funny thing,” says David Rankin, the executive director of the Great Lakes Protection Fund, a private nonprofit corporation that funds projects to build the health of the lakes. “Most of the time these systems do a great job of managing stormwater—they actually treat it. It was state-of-the-art Victorian engineering that dates back to the Industrial Revolution. But in heavy rains, some waste gets flushed out, too—and when you’re looking at more than 100 dischargers, it starts to add up.” According to the EPA, in 2014 the toll was an estimated 22 billion gallons of untreated wastewater discharged into the lakes.

Rankin says Great Lakes cities need to think differently about the problem—many are trying to find funding to build massive pipes. But with their populations declining, he suggests these cities should think about solutions that don’t involve tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. So when Albro came to him with her idea for using vacant lots to capture stormwater, the fund awarded her a small grant to develop a plan. She contacted 11 Great Lakes cities, (more…)

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BY CAROL E. BECKER

An Australian town decides what to do with a spent quarry.

FROM THE JULY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Hornsby Quarry is like many quarries that roared with life in the 19th and 20th centuries and then suddenly fell silent because their resources were tapped out or became too expensive to extract. It is deserted today. The quarry, in Hornsby, New South Wales, Australia, has for a generation remained “the big hole in the ground”—300 meters roughly square, 100 meters to the bottom—and a major safety hazard that Hornsby Shire was forced to buy at the market rate of AU$25 million (about $16 million U.S.) after CSR Limited, a private company, ceased extracting hard rock basalt for road base material and gravel in 2001.

The Hornsby Shire Council acquired the quarry in 2002. Because it was built before reclamation laws and it was zoned as Local Public Recreation Land (technically called Open Space A) by the New South Wales Environmental Planning Act in 1994, CSR had no obligation to mitigate the site before ceasing operations, and the Shire was required by state legislation to buy it back. The huge cost of the land, set by the solicitor general, was ultimately reduced in court by AU$9 million, but the final price still cost each rate-holder (taxpayer) approximately $50 per year, for a total of 10 years, says Kurt Henkel, a landscape coordinator at Hornsby Shire.

The quarry will not remain dormant, however. Its stories—physical, historical, geographical—parallel the long development of Australia and are about to get a bold retelling. The vision for Hornsby Quarry (more…)

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

Image courtesy John Donnelly, ASLA/SCAPE.

From “Guardians of the Soil” in the July 2018 issue, about how tree grates enhance urban tree growth and soil quality.

“Geometric grates.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

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.

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BY ANNETTE WILKUS, FASLA

Large trees and steep slopes can work together—but it takes thought.

FROM THE APRIL 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

It’s interesting to watch the evolution of planting design alongside our profession’s affection for steep slopes. Using steep landforms allows us, as designers, to create dramatic rooms in small places. In any urban environment, the use of landform has become increasingly important to expanding our environment without increasing the square footage of its footprint. Slopes greater than 3:1 have become the sweetheart of the landscape architecture world—­and the steeper the better.

As space becomes smaller and landforms become steeper, clients are requesting larger plants that provide an instant landscape. The bigger the tree or shrub, the better. So we see a lot of enormous plants placed into sharp slopes as a standard practice.

In our practice, we’ve seen steep landforms become a challenge for contractors when installing large root balls, trying to establish the plants, and maintaining them during the warranty period. We’ve also seen misunderstandings among designers over the relationship between (more…)

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BY WENDY GILMARTIN

Ensuring project integrity over the long term takes tact and tenacity.

FROM THE APRIL 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

After months and possibly years of design development, on-site meetings, contractor discussions, submittal reviews, and long days drafting construction documents, the project is finally unveiled, the ribbon is cut, and handover completes the timeline. Or not? The time after a turnover can become its own stand-alone phase after all else is completed. How do firms ensure plants will be cared for, gutters cleaned, controls checked at the appropriate times, and that there are enough (or any) return visits accounted for in the fee? Three firms in different regions explain their approaches to maintenance and client relationships. Interviews have been edited and condensed. (more…)

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BY MEG CALKINS, FASLA

The stone industry adopts a new sustainability standard.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

In 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design, Bill Browning, an environmental designer and founder of Terrapin Bright Green, cites “material connection with nature” as a significant principle. In other words, materials from nature, with minimal processing, can be used to construct the built environment—reflecting the local geology and connecting people to a place and natural setting. More than any other material, stone fulfills this “pattern”—often seamlessly settling a built landscape into the larger natural context. Yet in some cases, heavy stone can travel thousands of miles between harvest and use—offering absolutely no connection to the local natural landscape and creating a substantial environmental footprint.

Stone holds great potential to be a highly sustainable construction material for use in paving, stairs, and walls. It can be extremely durable, with relatively low embodied energy (energy used to produce a material), and nontoxic. However, a study from the University of Tennessee estimates that more than half of all dimension stone—defined as any stone that has been cut or shaped for use in construction—is imported, primarily from China, India, and Brazil, owing to far lower labor costs and fewer worker safety regulations, which combine for a lower product cost. Some of this stone might have been harvested in the United States, sent overseas for processing, then returned as “imported stone.” Minimal records of stone harvest, sales, and processing make it challenging to track stone’s path to market. Additionally, environmental impacts from waste and water use in stone quarrying and manufacture are not insignificant. Fortunately, a new standard from the Natural Stone Council (NSC) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) offers criteria for reducing the environmental impacts of stone harvest and processing and requires a chain of custody for stone so consumers can know for sure the path their “local” stone has traveled.

The stone quarrying process is often lumped together with metal mining’s heavy blasting and toxic runoff, but Kathy Spanier, the marketing director at Coldspring in Minnesota and a participant in the development of the new stone standard, emphasizes (more…)

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BY LISA OWENS VIANI

A retired cranberry bog inspires an innovative approach to wetland restoration.

FROM THE JANUARY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

In 2005, Glorianna Davenport began to think about retiring the cranberry farm she owned in Plymouth, Massachusetts. In the late 1980s, the 600-acre farm was producing 1 percent of Ocean Spray’s cranberry harvest, but Davenport had become concerned about the amount of pesticides being used—and the way those pesticides were applied. “Because cranberries are grown on former wetlands, we had to farm with helicopters,” Davenport says. “And spraying chemicals from helicopters is not really great in a densely populated area.” Davenport, a visiting scientist at the MIT Media Laboratory, whose husband bought the cranberry farm in the early 1980s, could also see the handwriting on the wall for older cranberry farms, with new cultivars producing five times as many berries, farmed in places easier to access than wetlands and river bottoms. “The industry was changing pretty radically,” Davenport says. “The way we had been farming was really the legacy of another era.”

Davenport learned that a nearby cranberry farm had been restored back to wetlands—said to be the first project of its kind in the United States—and that she was eligible for assistance through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wetlands Reserve Program, which pays farmers to take land out of production to preserve, restore, and enhance wetlands on their properties. The program was established by the 1990 Farm Bill. In 2008, Davenport decided to retire from MIT to undertake the restoration of Tidmarsh Farms. With federal and state funding in hand, she began working with the state’s Department of Fish and Game to pull together an interdisciplinary team of state and federal scientists and river, wetland, and other experts to help restore the bog at Tidmarsh Farms, an effort that took several years.

Ten thousand years ago, glaciers moved down across the northeastern United States, then retreated. As they did, big chunks of ice were left, forming (more…)

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