Screen from Transit Alliance

Visualizing Transit Reliability in Realtime: The Miami organization Transit Alliance has done a nice visualization of transit reliability on that city’s rail transit system. It looks at the system right now and shows how many trains are running late. It’s important to note here that late does not mean behind schedule. It means that the maximum wait time is longer than scheduled, by a given number of minutes. (That’s the only rational way to talk about reliability in high-frequency services.)

Parks for People: Stories of Park Design and Landscape Architecture Advocacy from Los Angeles: “In her lecture, [landscape architect] Toni Kjer will discuss how high-quality parks and close-to-home open spaces provide a wide range of benefits to urban residents and cities themselves, including economic, physical and mental health, community-building and environmental benefits. The Trust for Public Land (TPL) works to ensure everyone has access to a great park within a 10-minute walk of their home and easy access to green spaces and wilderness. In urban areas, TPL works in low-income, park-poor neighborhoods to create and improve parks and remake unused, polluted alleys into green public spaces.”

Kengo Kuma’s Architecture of the Future: “Rejecting flashy forms in favor of buildings in harmony with their environment, the architect — poised to become world famous for his stadium for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo — is trying to reinvent his entire trade.”

Blue Line in Long Beach to close for a total of eight months next year to undergo $300 million renovation: “The agency plans to add four new switches that allow trains to move quicker, new signals, new tracks in downtown Long Beach and improvements at street level intersections, especially at the Washington Boulevard and Flower Street junction near downtown Los Angeles where cars have crashed into trains, causing significant delays.”

8 photos shot by Ansel Adams of 1940s Los Angeles: “One such job for Fortune magazine in the early 1940s sent him to Los Angeles to shoot photos for a piece on the area’s booming aviation industry. He left with more than 200 photos that capture what the city was like at the time…The photos, now in the digital collection of the Los Angeles Public Library, were first on public display in February 2012 at the Downtown LA gallery drkrm, part of that year’s annual, multi-institution Pacific Standard Time series.”

The Getty Center – Photo (CC BY-SA 3.0): ChristianSchd

Sonnets and Sonatas presents Animals!
How do artists and composers evoke, imitate, mock, or pay tribute to animals, which are both our best companions and our radical “other”? This lecture-concert attempts to answer this question through a presentation by Laure Murat, professor of French and Francophone Studies at UCLA, and performances of works by Rimsky-Korsakov, Faure, Rameau, Rossini, Cage, Gershwin, and others. With special guest Vincent Penot, clarinetist of the Opera de Paris, in his U.S. debut.
When: February 24, 2018, 7:30 pm
Where: Getty Center – Harold M. Williams Auditorium

Talk: Preserving Obsolescence
Artist Julia Christensen and author Geoff Manaugh discuss how dynamic shifts in technology and user participation impact our buildings and infrastructure. The conversation will explore how networked culture changes the role of long-standing institutions like museums and universities and examine how society’s complex relationships with ubiquitous technology changes the way it interacts with these institutions and their associated buildings. The evening will conclude with a discussion on how institutions can keep pace with a contemporary rate of technological innovation.
When: February 20, 2018, 7pm
Where: LACMA

Living Building Challenge – Los Angeles Collaborative February Social Mixer
Join us for our first 2018 Living Building Challenge – LA Collaborative Social Mixer at The Rooftop, Standard Hotel in DTLA. Be curious and spirited, and get ready to have some fun! Meet our new steering committee, discuss ideas, share experiences and learn about this year’s LBC-LA goals while enjoying the amazing view!
When: February 21, 2018, 6pm
Where: The Standard, 550 South Flower Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071

The Line Becomes A River: Dispatches from the Border
For award-winning writer and former agent for the United States Border Patrol Francisco Cantú, the border is in his blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. His new book, The Line Becomes A River: Dispatches from the Border, is haunted by the stories he experienced both while working for the Border Patrol—where he hauled in the dead and delivered to detention those he found alive—and also as a civilian after he abandoned the Patrol and helped an immigrant friend return to Mexico to visit his dying mother. Join us for an eye-opening look at the devastation the border wreaks on both sides as Cantú shares this deeply personal work with journalist Ruxandra Guidi, who frequently reports on immigration from the U.S.-Mexico border region.
When: February 21, 2018, 7:30pm
Where: Mark Taper Auditorium-Central Library

Landscape: Natural, Urban and Imagined, a Poetry Event
Suzanne Lummis, poet and editor of the anthology Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, will lead a discussion and poetry reading with four of L.A.’s most distinctive and popular writers and performers. Brendan Constantine, Mary-Alice Daniel, Nicelle Davis and Olga Garcia Echeverria will compose poems inspired by visits to the Arboretum and in exploration of the themes of natural, urban and imagined landscapes. Included in admission; members free
When: February 24, 2018, 2pm
Where: Los Angeles Arboretum Library

Grand Park, DTLA. Creative Commons photo by Joe Wolf (CC BY-ND 2.0)

How can Landscape Architecture Address Imminent Design Realities?: “As landscape architects, we are trained to design for dynamic conditions – our landscapes are intended to evolve over time with the changing seasons of the year and with the processes of maturity and decay over the course of decades. But with climate change we now are dealing with a new dimension in dynamic design. Planting and soils conditions are changing in unforeseen ways. The typical lifespan of a public landscape is about 30 years on average. What we design and plant now will have to work both today and in a much dryer, warmer future predicted some few decades from now.”

11 ugly urban underpasses now functioning as public parks: When Manhattan’s High Line opened on the west side in 2009, locals and visitors alike flocked to the revitalized railroad trestle to marvel at its transformation into a gorgeous and walkable park. In Seattle, a decades-old project turned a downtrodden underpass into a skateboarding destination. In Toronto, a just-completed project created an ice rink under the highway. All are examples of a new era in underpass design—one that emphasizes high-impact solutions to reconnect neighborhoods and revitalize communities.

4 Reasons Why ASLA is Celebrating African American History Month: “February marks African American History Month as a time to celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans in every endeavor of our history. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) offers four reasons why it is celebrating.”

Palm Springs planned community boasts an olive grove in the desert: “Palm Springs is the latest city to embrace environmentally conscious design, as 300 acres of what was originally slated for a golf course will instead become an ecologically-oriented planned community. Miralon, a 1,150-unit development in Coachella Valley with 75 acres of olive groves, will join agricultural neighborhoods across the country when it opens this fall.”

This Land is Your Land – Rotting cabins, closed trails: why we’re shining a light on US national parks: “The National Park Service is the protector of some of America’s greatest environmental and cultural treasures. Yet a huge funding shortfall means that the strain of America’s passion for its parks is showing. Trails are crumbling and buildings are rotting. In all there is an $11bn backlog of maintenance work that repair crews have been unable to perform, a number that has mostly increased every year in the past decade.”

All photos: Jessica Roberts

It was a friend’s wedding responsible for my return to New York. I hadn’t been back since I moved away 2 years ago, and I was excited to revisit the places I once loved, including a place known as Pioneer Works, a cultural center in the community of Red Hook Brooklyn. It didn’t hurt one of my favorite bars is just around the corner.

Even without knowing which exhibitions would be on display this particular day, I dropped by Pioneer Works to stumble upon an incredibly inspiring collection of work by artist, Anthony McCall. Solid Light Works blocks out over thirty feet of vertical clearance, filling multiple rooms with haze and light installations.

A seminal figure of Expanded Cinema, McCall is well known for his “solid-light works”, a series he began in 1973 with the 16mm film, Line Describing a Cone. A volumetric form composed of a beam of projected light slowly evolves in real, three-dimensional space. McCall regards these works as occupying a place somewhere between sculpture, cinema, and drawing. Sculpture, because the projected volumes must be occupied and explored by a moving spectator. Cinema, because these large-scale objects are not static, but structured to progressively shift and change over time. And drawing, because the genesis of each installation is a two-dimensional line-drawing.

As a landscape designer I was struck by the simplicity of the forms and how successful they defined space. Some areas of the installations defined more intimate spaces. Participants laid on the ground within the projected confines of the light, some taking photos, while others just stared up in contemplation. Other areas were more open and horizontal in their projections. These became more social spaces where participants moved their hands in and out of the light. The installation focusing viewers on the interruption of the figure within space defined only by the projection of light.


Photos: Gregory Han

I came across Nature all Around Us: A Guide to Urban Ecology the other day, remembering briefly flipping through its pages as a student. I decided to read it during my commute last week, remembering how the book’s subtitle first caught my eye. “A Guide to Urban Ecology”– the book’s subtitle made me ponder the meaning of the word ‘ecology’, formulating a picture in my mind about what systems come into play out in nature versus urban ecology.

Nature all Around Us sheds some light on the subject, utilizing explanations spanning across micro to macro scales of basic ecological concepts and processes.  Of the numerous takeaways and inspirations discovered within the pages of this book, I’m motivated to focus on a single topic of interest: lichens.

Ecology is first and foremost a science, an interdisciplinary field related to the landscape, and in turn indirectly to our profession. With this foundation recognized, the authors go into detail to define landscape ecology as, “A branch of ecology that emphasizes the relation between patterns, processes, and scales, focusing on broad-scale ecological and environmental issues.  Studies often consider large spatial scales and examine the relation between human or natural development and ecological processes.”

Simply put, urban ecology is the science of those processes and relationships between living organisms (plants, animals, insects, us, etc.) occurring within the urban environment that we commonly live and interact with.  And one of the many, many things these ever-changing relationships impact is the appearance of lichens, a symbiosis of algae and fungi, and also are an important bioindicator of a healthy urban environment.

Before reading Nature all Around Us, I mistakenly believed lichen a parasite. Nor did I know about the distinct difference between lichen and moss. When I researched more about lichens found growing on rocks and the trunks of older trees (which remain unharmed by the lichen), I discovered a stunning variety of forms, textures, and colors, including a spectacular seafoam blue-green.

Photo: Gregory Han

Lichen discovered along the Morro Bay coast growing on cypress trees. Photo: Gregory Han

Tree lichen are uncommon in Southern California. Why don’t we see more of them growing on our trees?  In short: air quality. Pollutants in our air are absorbed by lichens, a slow grower to begin with; lichen lack a filtering mechanism for these chemicals, thus rendering them unable to survive around our urban environments. Additionally, populations of older trees with lichen growth have been cut down in favor of urban sprawl.

Lichen go above and beyond mere bioindicators. They are capable of filtering light radiation, inhibit algae growth, provide protection from herbivores, and protect both parties in their mutualistic relationship (lichen and trees) with antibiotic properties.

Furthermore, lichen are beneficial to humans too. Lichens can be used to produce antibiotics for medicine,  and ingredients for cosmetics, perfumes, and paints! As is often the case, I’m amazed how nature is able to accomplish so much with so little – small organisms operating silently behind the scenes, easily unnoticed, yet too important to our ecosystems at large. The unique beauty of tree lichen, the benefits they offer, and their integral relationship to our environment is all the more reason to work toward improving air quality.  Next time I gaze up at our trees to observe a perched bird, springtime blooms, or the falling leaves in autumn, I now know to keep an eye out for another of nature’s beauties.