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Posts Tagged ‘urban planning’

BY ZACH MORTICE

The world’s protected areas. Currently around 15 percent of the earth’s terrestrial surface is protected. The United Nations target is to reach 17 percent by 2020. © 2017 Richard J. Weller, Claire Hoch, and Chieh Huang, Atlas for the End of the World.

Within the hundreds of maps Richard Weller, ASLA, assembled for his Atlas for the End of the World, there’s an implicit argument for something like a new mandate for landscape architecture: Instead of mostly planning the development of public outdoor spaces in developed and affluent cities, it’s time for landscape designers to mediate the battles between rapidly expanding developing-world cities and the irreplaceable biodiversity they’re consuming. It’s a task that increases landscape architects’ zones of influence from the scale of city blocks to hundreds of square miles.

 The online atlas, which launched on Earth Day 2017 and just passed its 50,000th click, has a bracingly apocalyptic name. But within the discipline of landscape architecture, it points to a new beginning.

“There’s a whole question for us about how we approach urban design and planning so that cities (more…)

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Landscapes of Longevity is a feature-length documentary that spans cultural landscape theory, public health research, and narrative filmmaking to answer a question that affects every person: How does one’s environment affect the length and quality of one’s life?

After summarizing how planning traditions engineered physical activity and social connection out of much of the built environment, creating an “obesogenic cultural landscape,” the film seeks out locations that avoided these urban planning pitfalls, and exist as a sort of reasonably modest fountain of youth. While they were landscape architecture graduate students at the University of Virginia, directors Asa Eslocker and Harriett Jameson chronicled the epic stair-climbing abilities of nonagenarians on the Italian island of Sardinia, visited kimono weavers in Japan well into their 10th decade, and walked the lemon groves of Loma Linda, California, with their 93-year-old caretaker.

The film began as a research project by Eslocker and Jameson, which earned a 2014 ASLA Student Honor Award, and later a 2015 ASLA Student Award of Excellence once the pair started to translate their work into a movie. It pays equal attention to how the design of space, both public and private, can affect physical, psychological, social, and spiritual health. And by comparing the environments in each of their case study locations, they uncover a set of landscape features that seem to enhance longevity and quality of life by simply existing: elevated views that enhance attachment to place, visual landmarks on horizons, and opportunities for immersion in nature. Again and again, the common denominator for a long and healthy life is connection: to people, places, and the world around you. As Landscapes of Longevity makes clear, that’s a value set uniquely suited to landscape architects.

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BY NATE BERG

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The carving up of cities by expressways is still a civil rights problem, but it’s being solved as an economic one.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Since freeways began slicing through cities in the United States more than 75 years ago, they have carved deep and lasting lines of separation through countless communities. Many of these communities—located in so-called blighted areas—were made up of people of color who were simply pushed aside by the transportation officials building out the nation’s vast network of interstates and urban freeways. In a somewhat surprising speech in March 2016, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, the nation’s top transportation official, acknowledged this dark history and the mistakes of his predecessors.

“We now know—overwhelmingly—that our urban freeways were routed through low-income neighborhoods. Instead of connecting us to each other, highway decision makers separated us,” Foxx said. Reflecting on his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, he noted how the “connective tissue” of the African American neighborhood where he lived rrns destroyed by two highways—infrastructure that was planned and built before federal civil rights legislation could intervene. “Neighbors were separated from neighbors. The corner store was gone because the corner was gone,” he said. “A new more convenient, high-speed thoroughfare had been created. But the way of life of another community had been destroyed.”

The huge gashes that freeways cut through cities will live on for the foreseeable future, as will their divisive legacy. But Foxx has vowed to try to undo some of that long-lasting damage. Though they may seem intractable, these divisions (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

An abandoned island is the Venice Lagoon. Local Code by Nicholas de Monchaux, published by Princeton Architectural Press 2016.

An abandoned island in the Venice lagoon. Local Code by Nicholas de Monchaux, published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2016.

In his new book, Local Code: 3,659 Proposals About Data, Design, and the Nature of Cities, the University of California, Berkeley architecture and urban design professor Nicholas de Monchaux develops new tools for the mass customization of underused and vacant urban lots, highlighting the limits of inflexible systems thinking. His book charts a way forward with an eye on past failures, and new possibilities founded in corrective measures that have proved to work.

American cities’ first encounters with data, he writes, happened after World War II. That’s when protocomputing power, developed by the military and Cold War consultancies such as the RAND Corporation, merged with tabula rasa modernist urban planning. These binary solutions to complex built environments (remembered most vividly as Robert Moses-style urban renewal that tore down anything old and dirty) became what de Monchaux calls (more…)

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BY ADAM MANDELMAN

cleaning up after the burning man festival is serious business.

Cleaning up after the Burning Man festival is serious business.

From the August 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Every year, in the weeks leading up to Labor Day, a temporary metropolis emerges from the barren alkali flats of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Meticulously surveyed, the concentric circles and spokes of Black Rock City’s dusty streets fan out across some seven square miles of dry lake bed (or “playa”), providing an iconic geography for one of North America’s more bizarre annual rituals: Burning Man.

But the chaotic arts and music festival, known for its high hedonism, is as much an exercise in evanescent urban planning as it is a radical social experiment. Come Labor Day, Burning Man’s deeply ingrained leave-no-trace ethos takes over. Attendees pack up gear, artists break down installations, and theme camps dismantle projects so elaborate that (more…)

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BY KEVAN WILLIAMS

In North Miami, flooding and sea-level rise have spurred talk of relocation, as well as cries of “climate gentrification.”

In North Miami, flooding and sea-level rise have spurred talk of relocation, as well as cries of “climate gentrification.”

From the August 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Before the city was built, the land around Miami consisted of a low band of limestone, the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, dissected by lower sloughs, marshy freshwater streams that eventually were filled in and developed. The Arch Creek neighborhood of North Miami is one such area. “Fast forward, [and] they’re what FEMA calls repetitive loss properties,” says Walter Meyer, a founding principal of Brooklyn-based Local Office Landscape Architecture, of the homes built in these vulnerable, low-lying areas.

After multiple claims, the homes are no longer eligible for the National Flood Insurance Program.

Meyer was one of nine urban planning experts convened by the (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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