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Posts Tagged ‘vacant lots’

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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At LAM this month, we’re deep into Louisiana—with a jog over to the Mississippi Delta—as we get ready to head to New Orleans, where several thousand landscape architects and our friends will be gathered for ASLA’s Annual Meeting & EXPO from October 21 to 24. We’re looking at the state from many angles. So much progress has been made in New Orleans since 2005’s life-altering blow from Hurricane Katrina, it can be hard to get a clear picture as the city reconstitutes itself.

To lead things off, Elizabeth Mossop, ASLA, a practitioner and professor long based in New Orleans, captures the strategy for new water infrastructure, among other systems, in the city. The transformation in large-scale thinking alone is bracing, centered on recognizing water as the city’s greatest asset rather than its greatest threat. Another effort at structural change in New Orleans, the Future Ground competition, sought ways to deal with the expanses of vacant urban land, post-Katrina. Timothy Schuler, a LAM contributing editor, reports on the difficulty of reprogramming such a vastly changed environment and the disillusion of several design teams named finalists by the sponsors, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority and the Van Alen Institute. Farther south in Louisiana’s coastal zone, the residents of Isle de Jean Charles—considered to be among the first climate change refugees in the United States—are facing the simultaneous threats of sea-level rise and land loss. Brian Barth visited the community to learn how the New Orleans landscape architecture firm Evans + Lighter is helping residents manage a relocation effort inland, for which the federal government has awarded $48 million. Our cover story this month, by Brett Anderson of the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, is about the work of Forbes Lipschitz, ASLA, on the landscapes of catfish farms in the Mississippi Delta region. The region’s aquaculture holds benefits beyond providing fish to dinner tables. It’s economically important to a region where poverty rates are high, and it also serves as feeding grounds for migratory birds. Among landscape architects in Louisiana, perhaps none are so recognized for knowledge of its atmosphere as Jeffrey Carbo, FASLA. LAM staff writer Katarina Katsma, ASLA, visits three sites Carbo and his firm have designed to learn what he sees between the lines of his state.

There is much more in the Now section and other departments. And in the Back, don’t miss the critique Thaïsa Way, ASLA, delivers of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale or the review Gale Fulton, ASLA, writes of Landscape Architecture and Digital Technologies, by Jillian Walliss and Heike Rahmann. See you in New Orleans! The full table of contents for October can be found here.

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.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating October articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “New Orleans Owns Its Water,” H+N+S Landscape Architects; “Grounded,” New Orleans Redevelopment Authority; “Let’s Beat It,” Julie Dermansky; “Catch of the Day,” Forbes Lipschitz, ASLA, and Justine Holzman, Associate ASLA; “Homing Instincts,” Chipper Hatter; “Life and Limb,” LandDesign/Denise Retallack; “Open Invitation,” Dredge Research Collaborative and Public Lab; “Water All Over Again,” Courtesy CPEX.

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A monthly roundup of the news, dispatches, and marginalia that caught our eye. In this month’s issue of the Queue, the staff wades through a myriad of headlines to find $2.4 billion might not be enough for New York City’s new green infrastructure, reads about gender and urban farming, and slows down to enjoy a dancing stoplight.

CATCHING UP WITH…

    • Frequent contributor Alex Ulam looks at the benefits of New York City’s plan to spend $2.4 billion on green infrastructure, including stormwater management in priority neighborhoods—but some wonder whether it reaches far enough.

FIELD STUDIES

    • With urban agriculture’s popularity on the rise, Michael Tortorello of The New York Times wonders why the majority of workers are female (and why it matters).
    • San Francisco’s new tax breaks for converting vacant lots into urban farms might not make sense when there’s a lack of affordable housing in the city.
    • D.C. residents are slowly shaping alleyways from dark corners of miscreant activity to vibrant social assets for the community—one alley at a time.
    • For every mile of road in Nashville and its county, there is only half a mile of sidewalks, according to the Tennessean. And the city’s new flat rate fee that allows developers to opt out of building sidewalks altogether isn’t going to help.
    • An Op-Ed in the New York Times says Colony Collapse Disorder is in the rear-view mirror, but it’s still too early to breathe a sigh of relief: The United States averages a 30 percent loss of our pollinator friends annually.

OUT AND ABOUT

DISTRACT ME FROM MY DEADLINE DEPT.

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