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Posts Tagged ‘Timothy A. Schuler’

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Design firms are (finally) using social media for marketing, but in the era of physical isolation, it has also become a kind of social infrastructure.

FROM THE JANUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Gina Ford, FASLA, wants me to know that she was asked to get on Twitter. It was early 2011, and the marketing team at Sasaki, where Ford was a principal at the time, felt that the firm needed to be more active on social media and also needed a fresh voice. “I was one of the only principals that was on Facebook actively. I think that’s why they thought I was fertile ground,” she says.

What Ford didn’t anticipate was how comfortable she would feel online compared to some of the other environments in which she found herself. “As a woman who doesn’t like traditional networking, social media was a place that I could channel my energy and be myself,” she says. This was especially true “when I started in the early 2000s,” she says, “being the only woman in these big rooms with businessmen in suits.” By the time Ford left Sasaki to start her own firm, Agency Landscape + Planning in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she was highly involved in helping craft the firm’s external messaging, including on social media.

With Agency, which Ford founded with Brie Hensold, Honorary ASLA, in 2017, she wanted to try something different. The firm has an express focus on social and environmental justice, and Ford wanted that to be reflected across the firm’s social media channels. “We wanted social media to be an expression of our culture,” she says. Prior to that, Ford says she had been “a little understated” in the role feminism played in how she approached practice. “I don’t shield the world from that anymore. I’m very proud that feminism is part of what we do.”

Agency’s social media feeds are full of stylish illustrations, snapshots from site visits, and photos of community events, but also articles about race and gender, critiques of design culture, and celebrations of design heroes—an ode to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg or an interactive star chart of Ford’s most influential mentors and teachers designed for Women in Design Boston.

The looser, more personal—and more political—approach has earned Agency a sizable online audience. The firm has nearly 3,000 followers on Instagram, about the same number that follow Ford’s personal Twitter account, which makes her one of the more visible and vocal landscape practitioners on the platform. (Ford is infamous for calling out publications that refer to landscape architects as architects.) That visibility has paid off in speaking gigs and interview requests in mainstream outlets. On the day she and I spoke, Ford was quoted in a New York Times article about the omission of female landscape architects from the larger landscape discourse, inspired by the theme of the Cultural Landscape Foundation’s Landslide 2020: Women Take the Lead.

“People say to me all the time, ‘Does Agency hire a PR firm? Because you guys are always in the news,’” Ford says. “And I’m like, that is 10 years of hand-over-fist slogging through a very consistent point of view on social media.” That word choice—slog—is not incidental. Social media can feel demoralizing, she says. “The first few years I was doing [it], it did feel like I was screaming into a black hole. And I think that’s where a lot of firms go wrong. You can’t post something and expect an immediate return. That’s not the way social media works. You post, you post, you post, you post, you post; someone’s like, ‘Oh, she’s into that thing’; and then five years down the road, they’re writing a piece about that thing and they’re like, ‘Oh, we should talk to that girl who’s always posting about that thing.’ It’s a long game that a lot of people don’t want to play—or don’t even know to play.” (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

On a cramped site, Superjacent conjures a forest and one of L.A.’s first shared streets.

FROM THE JANUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

If all goes according to plan, over the next year a forest will spring up in South Central Los Angeles on what today looks more like a desolate traffic island than a buildable city lot. The woodland is a vital part of Isla Intersections, a 54-unit supportive housing development designed by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects with the landscape architecture firm Superjacent. The dense plantings are intended as a “living lung,” strategically designed to reduce air and noise pollution by 25 and 40 percent, respectively.

“Because we’re dealing with a site that’s super urban and a freeway that is elevated, the design strategy is really to create kind of an umbrella over that site, a dome of green that will catch particulate matter before it goes into homes and people’s lungs,” explains Claire Latané, ASLA, an assistant professor of landscape architecture at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, who consulted on the project while at Studio-MLA. (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. 

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

FROM THE DECEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

If you lived in Paris in the 17th century, you paid the taxe des boues et lanternes, the tax on mud and lanterns. The levy paid for the maintenance of the city’s streets and its system of lanterns, a network of some 5,000 tallow candles suspended in glass cases 20 feet above Paris’s streets, and one of the earliest examples of public street lighting in the world.

The inventor of this early illumination system was not a city planner or a scientist but Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie, considered to be the city’s first police chief. Since its earliest days, “public lighting was closely connected with the police,” writes the cultural historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch. The high-strung lanterns in Paris were “beacons in the city, representing law and order,” while the paid torch bearers who wandered Paris’s streets providing supplemental illumination also doubled as police informants.

Today, street lighting and surveillance are as tightly enmeshed as ever, as manufacturers proffer networked luminaires with embedded sensors that are capable of feeding enormous amounts of data into proprietary operating systems, turning the city into what the writer Geoff Manaugh, author of A Burglar’s Guide to the City, describes as a “forensic tool for recording its residents.”

“It’s very Fahrenheit 451,” says Linnaea Tillett, Affiliate ASLA, the founder and principal of Tillett Lighting Design Associates, which specializes in lighting for outdoor spaces. “You have a light pole that can listen to you, watch you, and it’s all hidden.” (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 TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When Jaz Bonnin, Heidi Brandow, Elsa Hoover, and Zoë Toledo walked through the doors of Harvard University’s Gund Hall, they weren’t aware they were making history. The women arrived at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) with diverse backgrounds and wide-ranging interests, from affordable housing to the spatialization of resource extraction. Still, the women had one thing in common: heritage that stretches back to well before Western contact. Brandow is Diné and Kanaka Maoli (known more commonly as Navajo and Native Hawaiian); Toledo is Diné; Hoover, of mixed Anishinabe and Finnish heritage; and Bonnin, of mixed heritage that includes Yankton Sioux and Blackfoot.

The students’ arrival at the GSD in fall 2019 marked the first time in the school’s nearly 100-year history that four students of Native ancestry have been enrolled at the same time. It’s an illustration of the near-total absence of Indigenous voices within the design and planning professions. For Brandow, a painter who is pursuing a master’s degree in art, design, and the public domain, such experiences are all too common. “As a Native person, being at Harvard, or anything you do, you accept that you’re probably going to be the first, or one of a handful of people,” she says. “You accept that Harvard is 500 years behind on this. But you also recognize that’s an opportunity to get the work done. To create these spaces, to increase visibility, to make this declaration of our presence and the necessity of more recruitment of Indigenous people.” (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

The movement for well-designed outdoor classrooms gets a push from the pandemic.

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When students returned to Portland Public Schools in Maine this fall, they did so in classrooms that looked at least somewhat like what many outdoor learning advocates have long envisioned: rings of tree stumps arranged in a forest clearing, chairs spread across grassy lawns, upturned buckets placed between raised garden beds. These makeshift learning spaces were a response not to the overwhelming evidence that outdoor education improves health and academic performance, but to the need to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

Caught between the risks of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of online learning, school administrators have embraced outdoor learning at an unprecedented pace. In the past, explains Sashie Misner, ASLA, a landscape architect and volunteer with Portland’s Rapid Response Outdoor Classroom Initiative, outdoor classroom projects “have been bottom up, working with a teacher who is interested in doing this. So you’re trying to convince the administration. Now, it’s the administration saying, ‘We really need this.’ So it’s a whole different thing, and you have to grab it and push it as far as you can.”

Misner is one of 21 volunteers helping schools identify potential locations for outdoor classrooms and think through issues such as access, acoustics, and shade. The pro bono effort, which is coordinated by the Portland Society for Architecture and the longtime green schoolyards advocate Laura Newman, was launched in July 2020 and is part of a larger, nationwide mobilization led by Green Schoolyards America.

(more…)

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

Photo by Robin Hill.

From “An Emerald Necklace at 70 Feet” in the October 2020 issue by Timothy A. Schuler, about a green roof system at the University of Miami devised by ArqGEO and the Henry Company that can keep everything planted amid hurricane-force winds.

“Hurricane ready.”

–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 TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

The Custer Beacon is the result of a years-long visioning process led by local landscape architects.

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

“It’s so incredibly simple, you almost wouldn’t recognize it as landscape architecture,” Tanya Olson, ASLA, a cofounder of Tallgrass Landscape Architecture, says of her firm’s latest project, the Custer Beacon. “And that’s why it’s kind of interesting, because we were involved for years before it got built.”

The Beacon, as it’s known, is a concert hall and “canteen” in Custer, South Dakota, a town of approximately 1,900 people situated in the far west part of the state in the scenic Black Hills. Opened in 2019, the venue occupies a pair of converted metal warehouses located a block off Custer’s main street, Mt. Rushmore Road. Custer is also Tallgrass’s home base, which gives the firm a unique understanding of the culture and rhythms of a small town that is dependent on summer tourism. (more…)

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