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Photo: Jennifer Salazar

Yesterday marked the Autumnal Equinox, the seasonal transition when the sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west. Starting from today, the sun will rise and set further and further to the south. In the northern hemisphere, this means fewer hours of sunlight and less direct sunlight. Autumn marks the transition between the hot days of summer and the cooler days of winter.

Some of the AHBE staff shared what they are looking forward to during this autumn season in Los Angeles:

Creative Commons Photo: (Floss Silk Tree) 美人樹 | by Hildegard_Chen

Creative Commons Photo: (Floss Silk Tree) 美人樹 | by Hildegard_Chen

“Love seeing the orchid-like flowers blooming from Floss Silk Trees for fall; crisp fall mornings, pumpkin patches sprouting up randomly in the city.”
Wendy Chan
Associate

“Fall gardening: removing plants that are dead/don’t work, clipping plants, weeding, soil amending, and, of course, shopping and planting new plants.”
Linda Daley
Managing Principal

“I just love the eerie autumn sound of the Santa Ana Winds as it blows through the San Gabriel Valley canyons and through its valley floor. Not sure how the winds do it, but at night, the houselights, street lights and stop lights around the valley seem to sparkle as if they were reflection of the stars above. Cannot wait to brew some hot coffee late into the night just to sit back and enjoy the show.”
Katharine Rudnyk
Urban Horticulturalist

“I am looking forward to cooler weather and I keep praying for rain.”
Jenni Zell
Project Manager

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Photo: Jennifer Salazar

“Picking pomegranates from our backyard shrub and making grenadine; cooler morning weekend hikes with my family in the hills with clearer views of the city and beach; and hopefully some more rain!”
Jennifer Salazar
Senior Associate

For as long as I can remember, California employers and developers have marketed imagery of its beautiful landscapes and temperate weather to tourists and spectators alike. Let’s face it, I was sold. Maybe your story is like mine: your relatives moved to Los Angeles in search of a better life, compelled to chase the dream of the Golden State advertised on orange crate labels that were shipped all across the country. Today’s marketers still package Southern California through carefully crafted images of its alluring landscape, encouraging millions of new people to move to the land of fruit and honey over with the lure of money and fame.

An orange crate label of Titus Ranch. The ranch covered 550 acres in San Gabriel and San Marino, a citrus ranch that annually produced over 100 rail cars full of citrus in the early 1890’s.

An orange crate label of Titus Ranch. The ranch covered 550 acres in San Gabriel and San Marino, a citrus ranch that annually produced over 100 rail cars full of citrus in the early 1890’s. Image: Titus Ranch, 1906-1966 ephCL T-25, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

90a31a8d1c2ed82d26c3ab3a9cc0b543By the early 1900s, Henry Huntington had expanded the rail system westward by linking the electric car rail between cities in Southern California. With his wealth in hand, Huntington began a private collection of exotic desert plants in San Marino, California. The demand for agricultural goods was increasing at a rapid pace, with the population within the area tripled! Yet, San Gabriel Valley Citrus growers definitely required more labor. Growers begun manufacturing orange crate labels driven by an idealist, dreamy portrait of life on their California ranch.

Citrus growers were not only exceptional producers of healthy, fresh fruit, they also were unknowingly effective marketers of Southern California as an idyllic paradise: beautifully snowcapped mountains, rivers with clean blue water, exotic palm trees and colorful plants, portraits of happy children, rays of bright sunshine depicting exceptionally great weather, groves of citrus with their bright, healthy fruit were all represented in paintings printed into labels for orange crates. These images of temperate Southern California in the winter had a profound effect on the rest of the nation, promising a better life in “Eden”. Settlers came in droves to California, but were greeted by hard and monotonous work in packing houses or demandi ng hours picking fruit in the fields. Yet, these new arrivals were able to find better housing opportunities, a steady paycheck, and healthier environment for families to grow and achieve.

Packers at the ranch. Photo: Katharine Rudnyk

Packers at the ranch. Photo: Katharine Rudnyk

My great grandmother Katharine Martin Usrey, on the left, who rode the red line from Redondo Beach to Titus Ranch in San Gabriel, California where her father once managed the ranch. Today, I ride the Red Line to AHBE Landscape Architects. Photo: Katharine Rudnyk

My great grandmother Katharine Martin Usrey, on the left, who rode the red line from Redondo Beach to Titus Ranch in San Gabriel, California where her father once managed the ranch. Today, I ride the Red Line to AHBE Landscape Architects. Photo: Katharine Rudnyk

Close up of a float depicting the iconic City of Beverly Hills signage in roses.

Close up of a float depicting the iconic City of Beverly Hills signage in roses.

Distinct ecologies of California continue to encourage more and more visitors to travel to beaches along the Pacific Ocean, head to the desert, or take a quick drive to the local snow-capped mountains. California Adventure within Disneyland opened February 8, 2001 in celebration of all things California. One of the most popular rides, Soarin’ Over California shows visitors an idyllic view of the state’s natural wonders. This easy-going, visually dramatic video ride in a simulated hang glider safely flies visitors over beaches, grove of sequoias, citrus ranches, and other Southern California landmarks along the way. Imagineers created fragrances to reflect each unique California ecology, such as salty air from a beach or a woodlands scent emitting from the sequoia grove. Perhaps this beautiful sensual interpretation of California had the same effect as the orange crate label, but with a more modern narrative?

One floriculture phenomenon driving millions of tourists annually to California is the Rose Parade. It has a rich history in San Gabriel Valley. In 1894, my great – grandfather drove a fancy carriage with horses decorated in roses. In 1951, the parade was brought to life to the millions of viewers who saw the parade in color on their television sets. Families, like my own, still gather annually to spend the night or arrive very early morning to enjoy the fruits of California’s labor, flowers. Thousands of leaves, flowers, and seeds are glued to a structure mounted on a moving vehicle. Prior to the event, guests turn roadways into parks, riding bikes and skateboards and gathering places to eat and be merry. Like a street beach!

The pastoral image created by the citrus ranchers inspired one homeowner – Dr. Lloyd Pittman and his wife Doris – to protect his 26 bougainvillea growing on palm trees that once surrounded a sizable citrus ranch in Glendora, California. His decision to nominate the site and have it listed in the National Register of Historic Places led to it becoming the driving imagery for a new upscale condominium development called Rancho del Bougainvillea. The bougainvillea were originally planted around 1907, and to this day are still each growing up mature Washingtonia robusta. Each vine is tied to the palm tree by way of a fire hose. It is still the only plant listed on the register.

Dr. Lloyd Pittman and his wife Doris in front of Bougainvillea (1952). Photo: Bougainvillea, National Register of Historic Places NPGallery

Dr. Lloyd Pittman and his wife Doris in front of Bougainvillea (1952). Photo: Bougainvillea, National Register of Historic Places NPGallery

How can dreamy imagery of a distinct California ecology increase the urban population of inner city Los Angeles when the ongoing perception of an “urban” landscape depicts crime, traffic, and homelessness? Landscape architects, landscape designers, illustrators, writers, and graphic artists have the tools to create compelling landscape images and narratives for developers. They connect people to landmarks, opportunities for better movement via transit, bicycles, and other means. And best of all, Californian creatives can depict new horticulturally relevant experiences for the next generation of Californians to enjoy for years to come.

Resources:
http://www.citrusroots.com/oldsite/la-county-packinghouses.html
http://www.huntington.org/
http://tclf.org/sites/default/files/landslide/2007/bougainvillea/history.html
https://www.tournamentofroses.com/history/timeline
http://npgallery.nps.gov/nrhp/AssetDetail?assetID=5ffefba3-f06c-4cff-b4e5-021f8bdf3c42

 

Washington & Old Dominion Trail. Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0 by Emw.

Washington & Old Dominion Trail. Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0 by Emw.

Though not very attractive, transmission lines offer many opportunities for creating linear outdoor spaces for recreation and mobility. In 2014, Houston city officials declared the importance of utilizing transmission lines as recreational spaces for the community. The ROWs have been used to provide walking and biking trails to nearby residents.

All over the nation, linear parks have become favorite destinations for hikers, bikers, and families seeking outdoor space. Here are only some of the most famous “transmission lines” trails in the U.S. (for a more comprehensive list visit here and here):

  • The Arizona Cross Cut Canal in Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Centennial Trail, Lake Stevens, Washington
  • Cherry Creek Trail, Denver, Colorado
  • Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, Ocala, Florida
  • Springwater Corridor Trail in Portland, Oregon
  • The Power Line Trail in Horsham Township, Pennsylvania
  • Katy Trail in Dallas, Texas
  • The Washington & Old Dominion Trail in Falls Church, Virginia

California is following the same steps, slowly turning its attention to transmission lines sites. According to the California Energy Commission, the state of California has about 200,000 miles of overhead transmission and distribution lines, and an additional 70,000 miles of underground lines. In some cities, the rights-of-way have been turned into trails or neighborhood parks.

LA Transmission Lines graphic by the California Energy Commission

LA Transmission Lines graphic by the California Energy Commission

The LADWP and Southern California Edison offer a guide for designers and stakeholders to refer to, in the hopes of ensuring a proper blend of their future use with the functionality required by the existing electrical infrastructure. Among the design considerations include:

  • Include drought tolerant vegetation
  • Avoid surfaces, materials and elements that can become obstacles
  • Vegetation shall be spaced from 2’ to 12’
  • Only 20% maximum of landscape can be occupied by plants
  • Water-efficient irrigation fixtures are encouraged
  • Plants must be easy to be removed, 3’ high and 5’ across maximum for groundcovers; other plants can be 15’ tall maximum and all must be slow growing
  • 15 gal trees and shade structures shall be 10’ tall and located outside the power lines. Site canopies shall not be flammable (i.e. wood) and must be easy to be disassembled
  • All metal structures shall be electrically grounded
  • No removal of existing soil
  • Plants shall not be closer than 100’ from the electrical infrastructure
  • Water lines must be buried 24” minimum and sprinklers shall be directed away from structures
  • Decomposed granite shall be no closer than 10’ from the structures
  • Include and integrate a 20’ patrol road with a gate-controlled access at the center of the right-of-way for maintenance purposes. Such trail shall be clear at all times and preferably separated from the existing trails in the site
  • Do not use boulders, benches or other fixed ornamental structures / urban furniture
  • No unleashed animals (6’ maximum leash)
  • No wetlands or other sensitive natural habitat

One particular case representing equal parts glory and shame in the matter of a few miles is the power lines corridor in the city of Irvine. Along a section of Barranca Way the corridor appears way out of context, but a few miles further on the Harvard Side Path, the corridor is perfectly integrated.

03-power-pylons-along-barranca-way 04-power-pylons-along-harvard-side-path

As Walter Rogers correctly appoints, one of the duties and competences of a landscape architect is to provide assessment and solutions for new power line corridors. But in my experience, sometimes I feel the profession only roughly touches upon these issues, wrongfully prescribing to the myth that “only engineers can do this, and only them alone”. Or that “it is impossible to do projects in these kinds of locations”.

The Land of Giants. Photo by CHOI + SHINE ARCHITECTS

The Land of Giants. Photo by CHOI + SHINE Architects

English landscape architect Sylvia Crowe devoted her entire life to study and provide aesthetical and planning solutions to the unappealing visual of the electrical infrastructure. In her work The Landscape of Power she portrayed the present challenges of her time regarding these metal giants using sketches and photographs. But as the Landscape Institute in the UK very properly denotes, these challenges could also be applied today. Crowe believed that buildings belonging to the emerging energy, transportation, and communication industries needed to be properly incorporated into the landscape, redesigning “the entire surface-cover of the land into one flowing comprehensive pattern.

Similarly, CHOI+SHINE Architects ‘Land of Giants’ proposal for Landsnet, Iceland attempted to turn the existing transmission towers into a true artistic masterpiece: power lines in the shape of giant human figures scattered across the landscape. Arphenotype, Bystrup Architecture Design Engineering, and other firms have additionally come up with more aesthetical appealing solutions for power pylons, all easier for the human eye to accept and for the landscape to embrace.

The Straw’ Power Pylon by BYSTRUP

The Straw’ Power Pylon by BYSTRUP

Perhaps if energy companies incorporated these solutions into their infrastructures, we wouldn’t be seeing cases like the one in City of Chino Hills a few years ago, where residents successfully opposed the installation of monstrous pylons in their backyards. Two aspects shall always be considered when dealing with these sites: 1. the perception of the utilities infrastructure,  and 2. the negative perception toward electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Studies conducted on this matter point to inconsistent and contradictory results. The National Trails Training Partnership recommends to leave those fears behind and to “avoid the numbing ‘everything-causes-cancer’ mindset, which can distract you from taking the steps that are known to protect your health“.

Illustration: History of Los Angeles County, California, Thompson and West, 1880

Illustration: History of Los Angeles County, California, Thompson and West, 1880

I was on my way back to the office after visiting a project site when my navigation app Waze guided me to an old community landmark. I found myself in Boyle Heights, standing across a cemetery. The cemetery looked like one straight from the movies, but situated in the center of a residential neighborhood. I parked my car, in awe of the field of tombstones before me. I felt a tinge of spookiness, this I was too scared to walk inside. Instead, I peered through the fence, noticing one area of the cemetery was definitely older, its age demonstrated by apparent weathering and the Victorian-style tombstones. There were various tombstones, some even dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. I was intrigued by this historic cemetery sitting in the middle of a densely populated neighborhood.

Bridget “Biddy” Mason died in Los Angeles in 1891 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

Bridget “Biddy” Mason died in Los Angeles in 1891 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

Evergreen Cemetery has a rich history as one of Los Angeles oldest cemetery. Established in 1877, the current occupants of the 67 acre cemetery and their tombstones tell the story of generations of immigrants and various cultures that added to the fabric of this community. Unlike most other cemeteries of the time, African Americans were allowed to be buried at Evergreen Cemetery. Many prominent African American citizens like Bridget “Biddy” Mason can be found here. The cemetery was also popular with first generation Japanese that called Boyle Heights home; there is a memorial dedicated to the 442 Regimental Combat Unit which was comprised of Japanese-American soldiers were served during WWII. The Garden of Pines was also dedicated in 1966 in memorial of the early first generation Japanese pioneers. During the Obon festival relatives of the deceased would gather at the cemetery to clean their ancestor’s graves and perform the Bon Odori folk dance to welcome the spirits of the dead.

The cemetery was also home to members of the early Chinese laborers in the late 1800s, which unfortunately was the only ethnic group banned from being buried in the Evergreen proper at that time. They were only allowed space adjacent to the potter’s field for a fee while their Anglo counterparts were buried in the city-owned section for free. A ceremonial shrine was erected in 1888; in reality the “shrine” was just a brick furnace that Chinese families were relegated to use to burn offerings for the dead to use in their afterlife. Nevertheless, the shrine was used during the Chinese Ghost Festival, a celebration where families would arrive to clean the graves and offer food and wine to the spirits of departed ancestors and friends.

The cemetery was also home to the Jewish community who once called Boyle Heights their home in the early 20th century; it was in 1854, the Hebrew Benevolent Society first established a Jewish cemetery, north of town and west of Calvary, towards the Angelino Heights area. . There is a section called “Showmen’s Rest” where over 400 carnival workers and performers are buried near the Lion topped memorial.

evergreencemetery

Even its current neglected state, Evergreen Cemetery rates amongst the 25 Things to See at This Sunday’s “Heart of Los Angeles” as rated by Streetsblog LA. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

In the last couple of decades, the community of Boyle Heights has changed from predominately Armenian to Latino. Today visitors can see members of both the Japanese American and Mexican American continually paying their respects and remembrance of their love ones within the hallowed grounds.

When Evergreen Cemetery was first opened, it was during an era when cemeteries were used as a recreational location, similar to a public park. Families would gather at cemeteries for picnics and celebrations especially during Memorial Day. Nowadays, the cemetery has fallen into disrepair with neglect, a lack of funding, and undoubtedly due to new drought restrictions. Instead of the hallmark landscape of a traditional cemetery, Evergreen is anything but green today – a field of dirt and dead trees. The few patches of green are where families and community members have taken it onto themselves to water and care for the graves of their love ones.

The cemetery should be a Los Angeles historic landmark and should be maintained with greater care in respect of the deceased, the families they left behind, and also for the historical significance of our city’s varied residents. The cemetery is a reflection of the diverse history of Los Angeles and the melting pot of cultures that have long called the city home. There was even a Change.org petition organized by family members to implore politicians to force a change of ownership in hopes of improving grounds maintenance. For more information about the struggles of the family members and the rich history of Evergreen Cemetery, visit this site.

10-architects-orange

9th Annual CANstruction Orange County Design/Build Competition
“CANstruction Orange County combines the fun of a design/build competition with an ingenious way to help feed hungry people. Local prominent architectural, engineering, planning, and design firms, and students mentored by these professionals, create phenomenal structures built entirely out of canned food. The structures go on view to the public at South Coast Plaza and ARTIC throughout the month of September in conjunction with the Festival of Children”
When: September 22, 2016, 6:00 – 8:30pm
Where: 16 Structures Will Be on View September 3-25 across Orange County; locations information here. Awards show at PIRCH – South Coast Collection, 3303 Hyland Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

2016 International Festival of Landscape Architecture: Not in My Backyard
“Canberra is one of the very few, fully planned cities in the world. The 2016 International Festival of Landscape Architecture: Not In My Backyard will be hosted in Canberra from 27-30 October and aims to connect the public with landscape architects. With over thirty events developed by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) and Festival Creative Director, Richard Weller (USA), the four-day program will include a Conference, National Landscape Architecture Awards, Festival Party and a host of public and industry tours, exhibitions, city activations, screenings and talks.”
When: October 27-30, 2016
Where: TBD, Canberra, Australia

Silver Lake Reservoir Complex Community Meeting
From the office of City of Los Angeles Councilmember David Ryu (District 4): “Please join my office and Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell of the 13th Council District in conjunction with LADWP for a community meeting regarding the Silver Lake Reservoir Complex. LADWP will provide a reservoir construction update, discuss restoring water to the reservoir and improvement options with the community. For more info on the project, click here.”
When: Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 6:30-8:30pm
Where: John Marshall High School Auditorium, 3939 Tracey Street, Los Angeles

Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life
“The Broad’s first special exhibition is a comprehensive survey of the work of artist Cindy Sherman. Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life is the first major museum show of Sherman’s work in Los Angeles in nearly 20 years, and the exhibition fills The Broad’s first-floor galleries with 120 works drawn primarily from the Broad collection with key loans from other institutions … Most well-known for photographs that feature the artist as her own model playing out media-influenced female stereotypes in a range of personas, environments, and guises, Sherman shoots alone in her studio, serving as director, photographer, make-up artist, hairstylist, and subject. Her decades-long performative practice has produced many of contemporary art’s most iconic and influential images.”
When: Through Sunday, October 2, 2016
Where: The Broad, 221 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles

Landscape Architecture as Necessity Conference
“As climate change rapidly takes its place at the forefront of contemporary global challenges, landscape architecture is becoming an ever more urgent necessity. Landscape architecture is uniquely able to synthesize ecological systems, scientific data, engineering methods, social practices, and cultural values, integrating them into the design of the built environment. At the same time, its creative capacities, and its visual and spatial vocabularies contribute to shaping questions and formulating novel approaches in more exclusively scientific or data-driven fields. This three-day conference intends to promote intensive debate by bringing together complementary and contrasting positions that have recently arisen around the politically charged issue of global climate change. ”
When: September 22-24, 2016
Where: University of Southern California, School of Architecture, Los Angeles