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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 JENNIFER REUT

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Like many cities in the Southwest (Palm Springs, California, most conspicuously), Tucson, Arizona, has a decent bank of midcentury modern buildings and landscapes. In the 1950s and 1960s, home buyers, drawn by the mirage of golf course-adjacent desert living (with air-conditioning, swimming pools, and lawns), flocked to the Southwest, and large swaths of the new development that went up during that era were built in the middle-class modern idiom. In the Southwest, modernism incorporated regional materials and climatic adaptations into lively vernacular architecture, and also generated some truly inspired landscapes.

Tucson Modernism Week was launched by the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation in 2001 to highlight the region’s midcentury modern architecture and landscape heritage. The foundation is also among a handful of preservation groups trying to broaden notions of modern design to include the work of women and people of color, as well as expanding the boundaries of modernism to include textiles, dance, ceramics, and neon.

Among those whom the foundation has brought to the public’s attention is Taro Akutagawa (1917–2002), a Japanese American landscape designer whose work, primarily in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been nearly erased. The foundation’s Taro Akutagawa Collection contains photographs, newspaper clippings, archival images, drawings, and plans.

The outlines of Akutagawa’s life and work are known, though there is not quite a full accounting of his projects. He was born in California in 1917 and educated in Japan before (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEVIN SCOTT

In dry western Washington, a fruit company compound by Berger Partnership all but vanishes in a shroud of native plantings.

FROM THE AUGUST 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The shift takes place just past Cle Elum. Driving the 140 miles from Seattle to Yakima, Washington, crossing the Cascade Range at Snoqualmie Pass, the landscape seems to dissolve in the span of a few minutes. The ponderosa pine forest gives way to high desert so quickly it’s as if the towering trees had been shrunk by a laser, transfigured into gnarly sagebrush. Dotting eastern Washington’s arid, gray-brown shrub steppe are green pastures, fields, orchards, and farms. The Yakima Valley is one of the most productive regions in Washington, thanks to a massive irrigation project undertaken around the turn of the 20th century. Farmers here grow apples, peaches, pears, cherries, and plums, as well as grapes for wine and hops for beer. The Yakima Valley produces more hops than anywhere else in the United States and more than two-thirds of Washington’s wine grapes, an industry worth nearly $5 billion.

And yet the sparsely vegetated ridges reveal the climatological truth of this place: that under normal conditions, the Cascades are a good enough goalie to prevent all but a fraction of western Washington’s wetness from slipping past them, and the presence of even the smallest amount of water is broadcast in bright pops of color. The draws and gullies appear as gashes of green, yellow, pink, and white, as if someone took a landscape painting, folded it in two, and stuffed the canvas into a crevice.

I take in the view from the cab of a 2016 Toyota Tacoma hurtling eastward on Interstate 90. Jason Henry, ASLA, a principal at the Seattle-based Berger Partnership, is driving. We’re on our way to Yakima, a sprawled-out town of roughly 100,000 people, where Berger Partnership recently completed the landscape for the headquarters of the Washington Fruit & Produce Company, a family-owned grower founded in 1916. Although Henry has lived in Seattle since 1996, the landscape architect has a deep connection to the Yakima Valley. His mother was born in Selah, just north of Yakima, and as a child, he spent summers at his aunt and uncle’s ranch outside the city, exploring and fishing and occasionally helping out in the family orchards. He still has cousins in the fruit industry. (more…)

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