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Posts Tagged ‘Zach Mortice’

BY ZACH MORTICE

A collaboration between Jennifer Bonner and Martin Rickles Studio, Bonner’s “Lean-to-ADU” develops a new landscape type for accessory dwelling units. Renderings courtesy Jennifer Bonner / MALL.

Carley Rickles came to a realization that’s unfamiliar to most landscape architects when she was beginning the landscape plan for an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). There was, strictly speaking, no site. As part of Los Angeles’s ambitious program to alleviate its housing crisis by dropping ADUs across the city’s legendary single-family-home horizon, each structure would sit in a backyard that could contain different dimensions, constraints, and contexts.

Rickles’s landscape design would be paired with a crisp and angular garden shed-like unit designed by Jennifer Bonner’s MALL, a creative practice that stands for Mass Architectural Loopty Loops, Miniature Angles & Little Lines, or Maximum Arches with Limited Liability. “It felt like all we had to draw from was the architecture,” Rickles says.

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The Morton Salt site will feature a riparian ecosystem grown in a synthetic medium. Image courtesy Lamar Johnson Collaborative.

In Chicago, a synthetic growing medium will provide a healthy buffer between contaminated soils and riparian plant life.

 

For nearly 100 years, the Morton Salt facility on the North Side of Chicago, with its massive rain slicker and umbrella sign, has been an iconic presence along the industrial corridor that traced the North Branch of the Chicago River. The warehousing and packaging facility closed in 2015, and within a few years, the company announced an ambitious adaptive reuse plan for the site, turning it into a mixed-use campus featuring a concert venue and office spaces. (The sign will stay.) It will also be home to Morton’s R&D facility, relocating from Chicago’s suburbs, where the company will research water softener salt, pool salt, deicing salt, and salt solutions for other industrial applications.

The project’s innovation will extend to the outdoors: The landscape of the campus will include a synthetic growing medium developed by Omni Ecosystems. According to the company, it’s the first site in Chicago that’s been approved for the use of special stormwater soils designed to mitigate runoff and stormwater from combined sewer overflows. Working with the Chicago Plan Commission and the Department of Buildings, Omni Ecosystems will use 60,000 cubic feet of Omni Infinity Media, largely composed of an ultra-light, kiln-dried mineral similar to volcanic rock. This medium will allow a rich wetland and riparian ecosystem to thrive on top of a degraded and polluted site that’s been capped with concrete and asphalt.

The Omni Infinity Media is mostly air—it has 78 percent void space, compared to standard topsoil, which has 25 percent. “It’s quite literally and physically a sponge,” says Michael Skowlund, ASLA, the director of landscape architecture at Omni Ecosystems. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

An illustration of Edmond Albius, by Antoine Roussin, 1863. Image courtesy of Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.

An online exhibit hosted by the New York Botanical Garden decodes plants’ relationships to Black people.

 

Of the five plants featured in the New York Botanical Garden’s online exhibition Black Botany: The Nature of Black Experience, some are cash crops typically associated with Black people and slavery, such as cotton and rice. Others highlight relationships that are less well-known. “We wanted to look at how Black culture is always simmered down to low and middlebrow culture, as opposed to scientific or higher-brow knowledge,” says Nuala Caomhánach, a former Mellon Fellow at the New York Botanical Garden and a current doctoral student in the history of science, who curated the show with Rashad Bell, a collection maintenance associate at the garden. Each plant shines a light on the intentional omission of comprehensive Black knowledge of botany and nature, as well as how Black people were often connected to these plants in the popular imagination by slavery.

Very simply, “plants aren’t neutral,” Bell says. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

New tools give landscape designers a better view of what’s thriving and what’s just surviving in the soil.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Republic Square in Austin, Texas, is one of the city’s most historic, sensitive, and heavily trafficked public green spaces. In the heart of downtown, it’s one of the original four public squares dating back to the city’s founding. In 1839, the city’s initial run of surveyed and platted blocks was auctioned off beneath what became known as the Auction Oaks. Recently revitalized by Design Workshop, the square is a broad public green and plaza outlined by native plantings and groves of trees, some of which are nearly 600 years old.

Matt Macioge, the director of operations for the Downtown Austin Alliance, which operates the park, wanted to protect this valuable place. He has a background in design and construction, so he could anticipate the typical array of maintenance issues, but with an added layer of complexity. “The plants within [these landscapes] are dynamic. They’re growing, they’re dying, they’re pollinating, they have seasonal changes and cycles,” he says. “You really need to be able to live and breathe with the plants with your operations manual.” Macioge says he wanted “world-class standards,” a maintenance regimen that would react and adapt to changes in both programming and ecology. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Hunter’s Point South in Queens, New York. Copyright Jonnu Singleton, courtesy SWA/Balsley and Weiss/Manfredi.

A Waterfront Alliance report wades into how waterfront access is a crucible for public health and a measure of inequality.

 

Despite alighting across the two rivers and an ocean, only 37 percent of New York and New Jersey’s waterfronts are open to the public, and only 9 percent of waterfronts in the poorest areas are accessible. The Waterfront Alliance’s new report “Waterfront Access for All: Breaking Down Social and Physical Barriers to the Waterfront” shines a light on this pervasive inequality. The report (available here) covers both policy and design interventions that can address this chasm. Those are now more urgent as the nation grapples with the twin crises of COVID-19, which has made outdoor landscapes vital places for safe refuge, and racial inequality, which is easily read through access to public waterfronts. The report focuses on New York and New Jersey and includes input from more than 60 organizations. The Alliance partnered with the New York –New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program to convene the task force that assembled the report. Intended to influence the public and city agencies, the report aims to inform the New York City Department of City Planning’s Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s rule making process.

“We’re trying to help the public, designers, and government agencies to reimagine what connections to the water can look like,” says Sarah Dougherty, the program manager at the Waterfront Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group that a works toward creating healthy, resilient, and equitably accessible waterfronts. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Image courtesy ASLA.

A long-planned guide on construction documents for landscape architects is aimed at experienced and emerging professionals alike.

 

This week, ASLA’s Professional Practice Committee has released  The Landscape Architect’s Guidelines for Construction Contract Administration Services, which offers practitioners guidance to ensure that landscape projects are constructed in accordance with their contract documents. The guide is especially aimed at younger practitioners and emerging professionals starting their own firms, who may have less experience executing built work. “We decided that what we really needed was something that provided someone who is opening a business a basic understanding of where the risks and liabilities, as well as the responsibilities, lay,” says (William) Dwayne Adams Jr., FASLA, an Arizona-based landscape architect, and the editor of the guide.

The guide is arranged chronologically through the life of a project, and it presents the construction process from the perspective of not just landscape architects, but also the client and the contractor. Adams says that construction contract administration responsibilities often get delegated down to younger practitioners without much experience, and because of this, it’s necessary to provide greater context on what project partners are working through. “So what you have is a very parochial view of the world, that the landscape architect is pre-eminent in all the matters of site construction,” he says. But in reality, “you’re a team member, and you need to know what the other members of your team do.”

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Image courtesy ASLA.

In the podcast world, landscape architects are nonnative species—you can find podcasts about other design professions, but landscape architecture is by comparison low profile in this exploding media. This month, two landscape architecture podcasts are launching, one of which focuses on emerging professionals. (more…)

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