Posts Tagged ‘Zach Mortice’

BY ZACH MORTICE

Fred Anderson Dog Park in Chicago. Photo courtesy Chicago Park District.

“Dog-friendly areas,” known as DFAs in Chicago Park District parlance, don’t come about easily in Chicago. But, says Nicole Machuca, the director of environmental education and neighborhood parks for Chicago’s Friends of the Parks (FOTP), “There is no doubt in my mind that communities all across the city want dog parks.”

But not all communities have them. A recent FOTP State of the Parks Report points out that the city’s wealthier, whiter North Side had 23 park district dog parks; the poorer, largely African American and Latinx South and West Sides had, until very recently, none. One dog park was added in the South Side’s Calumet Park last fall. There is also a completely independent dog park that’s not run by the city located in Jackson Park called Jackson Bark.

Currently, the park district’s process to establish new dog areas requires considerable grassroots community effort for support, organization, and funding. The park district’s 17-page manual  (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Weathermen consists of five snowman figures set on the iced-over Red River. Photo by Jaemee Studio.

There’s something unmistakably structural about a snowman: the tripartite column, the sequential progression of base, torso, and head. It might be every cold-weather kid’s first lesson in engineering and construction. It is also the inspiration for Jaemee Studio’s entry for Winnipeg’s annual Warming Huts design competition.

Weathermen consists of five snowman figures set on the frozen Red River; the largest few are hollow and big enough for a small group of people to huddle inside. They are among several warming huts to be commissioned for Winnipeg’s annual competition, which began in 2009. In addition to others, Weathermen joins Huttie, a “psychedelic funhouse” hut, in offering a whimsical vision of winter recreation in the city’s downtown. (more…)

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The Marcus Center in 1970. Photo courtesy Joe Karr, FASLA, and the Cultural Landscape Foundation.

Milwaukee rushes toward a zero-sum choice that could eradicate a Kiley landscape.

 

Dan Kiley developed his approach to landscape design in the wake of World War II. After designing the courtrooms for the trials of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, he explored the classical European gardens such as the Tuileries, Villandry, and Versailles, and  translated their allées, bosques, and hedgerows into modern expressions of landscape design. Channeling this tradition created “spaces with structural integrity,” Kiley wrote.

“The trees form a mass that’s almost a structure,” says Joe Karr, FASLA, who worked with Kiley from 1963 till 1969. “Dan quite often used plants like an architect would use other materials.”

Kiley’s landscape for Milwaukee’s Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, which sits next to the Milwaukee River downtown, exemplifies these lessons. The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s President and CEO Charles Birnbaum, FASLA, says it’s “truer to the Tuileries as any Kiley landscape that survives today.”

But the Marcus Center is now planning to destroy Kiley’s primary landscape feature on the site: a grid of 36 horse chestnut trees. A new plan will replace the trees with a great lawn for large public gatherings, quite contrary to Kiley’s design intent. Construction is tentatively slated to start (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The lago at Roberto Burle Marx’s Sítio, which he composed by eye from truckloads of species collected during his botanical expeditions. Image courtesy Julian Raxworthy.

It’s time for landscape architects to re-embrace what makes them fundamentally different.

 

Since its inception, it’s been hard to find much agreement in landscape architecture over the profession’s purpose and how it should work. For some contemporary designers, landscape architecture, in theory if a bit less in practice, is most visible when ecological systems are designed and deployed to remediate the earth, water, air, and biomes, often at an infrastructural scale. And yet, a profession wholly obsessed with infrastructure would seem to miss the trees for the forest.

The Australian landscape architect Julian Raxworthy posits a way forward in his new book, Overgrown: Practices Between Landscape Architecture and Gardening, published by The MIT Press. Landscape architects, he notes, have retreated from the defining element of their corner of the spatial world: the development and management of planting design. Plants, he argues, are defined by their growth over time and the maintenance used to train them. Gardeners (whose ranks Raxworthy once populated) haven’t lost track of this fact. Growth is landscape architecture’s fundamental currency. From there, he launches into a populist call to tear down the blue collar/white collar divide between gardeners and landscape architects. Raxworthy (who is headed to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, after living in Cape Town, South Africa, for five years, teaching at the University of Cape Town) seems to admire messiness and rebellion against the bespoke and delicate. That preference is not surprising if you chat him up about his days as a music writer in the 1980s in Sydney, attending shows by Public Enemy and Dead Kennedys. Of one of his case study projects (created by a designer who never studied landscape architecture), he writes: “As a gardener rather than a landscape architect, the only plans Korte produced for the project were to satisfy the authorities. All other decisions arose organically through spending four years on site with a gang of four young German laborers who had returned from Brazil and smoked marijuana constantly. He looked back on this way of working with some nostalgia, saying that this time on site was the height of his career.” (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

 

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Sea Ranch, in Northern California, seems to have always existed, emerging from the Pacific Coast cliffs like sun-dappled lichens spread across the rocks. But it was like little else people had seen when it was built by a supergroup of designers, developers, and artists in the early 1960s.

A new website is pulling back the curtain on how this masterpiece came to be. “Journey to the Sea Ranch” holds more than 800 digitized images from the Environmental Design Archives of the University of California, Berkeley, and the Architectural Archives at the University of Pennsylvania to tell the story of how Sea Ranch was conceived and built. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The West Bottoms Flats site is bisected by a narrow street, scaled as an intimate alley with landscaping. Image courtesy BNIM.

In Kansas City, the private sector is helping pick up the tab for green infrastructure in a new residential development.

 

Since 2010, Kansas City, Missouri, has been subject to a federal consent decree, to begin properly capturing sewage and stormwater before it flows into rivers and streams. It’s a consequence of the city’s overwhelmed combined sewer system, which covers 58 square miles. From 2002 to 2010, the system produced 1,300 illegal overflows, putting approximately 6.4 billion gallons of untreated sewage into waterways annually.

Notably, this is the first time a municipal water federal consent decree has allowed the use of green infrastructure, according to Andy Shively, a special assistant to the City Manager Troy Schulte, who works on issues relating to the consent decree. And the developer-driven West Bottoms Flats mixed-use residential complex designed by Kansas City-based BNIM is shaping up to be an influential test case for ways the private sector can grapple with public sector failure toward water quality goals.

Landscape architects at BNIM have designed the flats’ green infrastructure capacity to absorb excess stormwater as a series of placemaking amenities “in order to prevent it from being [value-engineered] from the project,” says Cheryl Lough, the director of BNIM’s landscape architecture studio. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Alexander Robinson’s model is made from modeling clay, cardboard, melted wax, chipboard, and bronze. Image courtesy Alexander Robinson.

More than 2,000 years of built history along the Tiber River in Rome speeds by in Alexander Robinson’s landscape model “Feast of the Picturesque, Act X. Porto Ripetta, Tevere” and in videos Robinson made of the model, built in modeling clay, cardboard, melted wax, chipboard, and bronze.

Still photographs of the model as it advances through the ages combine to form the videos. Sometimes a tub of glue gets into a shot. And Robinson flits in and out of the making-of video like a wraith, cutting, gluing, and manipulating here and there. Robinson’s process makes clear that with 2,000 years of history on a site, a final, destined form is fiction. “Feast” revels in the continuous churn. (more…)

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