Posts from the Friday Five Category

Can Dirt Save the Earth?: “But the newer model stressed the importance of living plants. Their rootlets are constantly dying, depositing carbon underground, where it’s less likely to go airborne. And perhaps more important, as plants pull carbon from the air, their roots inject some of it into the soil, feeding microorganisms and fungi called mycorrhiza. An estimated 12,000 miles of hyphae, or fungal filaments, are found beneath every square meter of healthy soil. Some researchers refer to this tangled, living matrix as the “world wood web.” Living plants increase soil carbon by directly nourishing soil ecosystems.”

Gardening as a Kid Indicates that You’ll Eat Fruits and Veggies as a College Student: “A new study performed at the University of Florida sought to understand the connection between gardening as a kid and habits later in life—specifically, during the part of life when kids are most likely to eat gigantic plates of bad fried food while drunk, i.e. at college. The study was part of an initiative from eight American universities with the frankly bizarre name of Get Fruved, which apparently stands for fruits and vegetables.”

What You’re Getting Wrong About Inclusive Design: “Take the curb cut. It’s a great example of inclusive design that wasn’t universal. In the early version of those curb cuts, there was no indicator for someone who was blind that they were coming to the street corner. It was really bad! They had no indicator they were walking into the street. The tension with universal design is how you design something that works for everyone in all scenarios, with every contingency. That’s one of the challenges of understanding inclusive design when we look at the object, saying, “This design is inclusive design.” In those cases, often what we mean is universal design.”

Computational Ecosystems: As argued in his March 13 LAM Lecture (and in his recent book Responsive Landscapes, written with Justine Holzman, ASLA), the future of landscape architecture is one of designing protocols for how natural systems behave, and tuning these algorithms and eventually the land itself, thus loosening the stranglehold static and monofunctional infrastructure has on the planet. “It’s not about us controlling every aspect,” he says. “It’s about us setting a range of ways those behaviors can act within.”

What the Meadow Teaches Us: “Such an experience of the harmony between a landscape and its lifeforms is probably not the result of objective analysis. But this is precisely the point: If you let the calyxes and grasses slide through your hands amid the firefly flurries, celebrating the coming summer, you don’t just perceive a multitude of other beings—the hundred or so species of plants and countless insects that make up the meadow’s ecosystem. You also experience yourself as a part of this scene. And this is probably the most powerful effect of experiences in the natural world. When you immerse yourself in the natural world, you wander a little through the landscape of your soul.”

City Council approves long-awaited people mover to LAX: “To applause from a City Hall audience, the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved up to $4.9 billion to design, build, operate and maintain an elevated train that will whisk passengers in and out of LAX’s central terminal area and carry them to a car rental facility, a ground transportation hub and a station on the Metro Crenshaw Line.”

Explore an Interactive Aerial Map of the Past: “While there are all kinds of online mapping tools that allow you to place filters, overlays, and other information on aerial and satellite imagery, this map tool makes time a variable, so you can see what a location—roads, buildings, forest, and more—once looked like. You can then add all the modern overlays we’re used to—like opening a portal across decades. “We refer to it as a virtual time machine.”

Nice shades: 7 Fast growing shade trees to slash your electric bill: “Trees that can serve to cast shade come in all shapes and sizes, and for many different climates and planting zones, so there are plenty of options to choose from. However, because most of us are very impatient, one of the most common requirements that people have in choosing varieties is that they be fast growing shade trees. Here are 7 of the most popular fast growing varieties of trees that can add shade to your property.”

The Myth That Everyone Naturally Prefers Trains to Buses: “Paraphrasing a former mayor of Los Angeles, Hensher tells CityLab there’s an overwhelming perception “that buses are boring and trains are sexy.” That mindset complicates the discussion of mass transit plans in growing metros: though advanced bus systems can perform as well or better than streetcar or light rail systems for less money, people would rather have trains.”

The ‘Transit-Oriented Teens’ Are Coming to Save Your City: “Per Eldred’s estimation, the TOTs generate 100 to 150 posts per day. What gets shared nowadays are mostly news articles and links, but urban-y riffs on Thomas the Tank Engine, the peak performance guy, and the rest of the internet’s strange cast of meme characters are still in the mix. Including a lot of appreciation for transit.”

26 Things to Do in Los Angeles This Spring: Curbed LA’s pocket guide offers a map of 26 essential things to do in Los Angeles, curated by their editors and updated seasonally. Focusing on cultural institutions, architecture, the outdoors, and beautiful spaces, the map includes picks of well-known classics and new favorites, from the Getty to Echo Park Lake to the Museum of Neon Art.

We are All At Risk In LA’s Slow, Aging Infrastructure Death: “The LA Times has reported that 20% of the city’s water pipes were installed before 1931. These pipes were supposed to last 100 years. Meaning all will reach the end of their useful lives in the next 15 years. These aged pipes are responsible for 50% of all water main leaks, and replacing them is a looming, multi-billion-dollar problem for the City of Angels.”

The Sierra Nevada snowpack will be 64% smaller by the end of this century. We need to prepare now: “Although recent storms have dumped heavy snow across the Sierra Nevada, Monday’s snowpack measurement will almost certainly show that it is still well below average. Last week, the Sierra-wide reading put the total snowpack at 15.8 inches of water content, or 43% below normal. Here’s an even more sobering reality. According to our new research, such spring snow measurements will be considered far above average in the decades to come.”

Understanding What Makes Plants Happy: “We have to understand that plants are social creatures. Our garden plants evolved as members of diverse social networks. Take a butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa, named this year’s Perennial Plant of the Year by the industry group the Perennial Plant Association), for example. The height of its flower is exactly the height of the grasses it grows among. Its narrow leaves hug its stems to efficiently emerge through a crowded mix. It has a taproot that drills through the fibrous roots of grasses. Everything about that plant is a reaction to its social network. And it is these social networks that make plantings so resilient.”

Here’s what the first blooms of spring look like, according to California and U.S. maps: “Many plants in Southern California had their first bloom before Groundhog Day on Feb. 2. While the East has been hit by winter storm after winter storm, it’s been planting season in Southern California for a month. The map above from the National Phenology Network shows the number of growing degree days (days with temperature high enough to grow plants) since January 1st.”

Stormwater Capture, Treatment and Recharge for Urban Water Supply: Traditionally, the approach to stormwater management viewed urban runoff as a flood management problem in which stormwaters need to be conveyed as quickly as possible from urban areas to waterways in order to protect public safety and property. Consequently, stormwater has been seen as a problem, and not a resource…But what if we could capture that stormwater, treat it, and use it to recharge groundwater?

Construction on LA River’s Atwater Village-Griffith Park bridge to start in April: “Construction on a striking and expensive bridge to connect Atwater Village and Griffith Park is about to get underway. Preparation for the $16-million bridge’s construction is beginning this week, with major construction starting in mid-April, says city engineering bureau spokesperson Mary Nemick. The work is slated to wrap up next fall.”

Why Working Long Hours Won’t Make You A “Better” Architect: “I don’t believe great architects are born but rather through years of consistent, focused work can develop the skills and connections required to succeed. This is why long hours are often associated with younger architects. Not only do they feel the need to “prove themselves” but also they haven’t seen many of the design problems before. Therefore they need to learn each solution for the first time.”

Bijlmer (City of the Future, Part 1): When the first few buildings were finished in the late 1960s, advertisements depicted a paradise with modern apartment towers, surrounded by lush green grass and trees. De Bruijn and his wife moved into the complex in 1969. “I lived on the 9th floor,” he recalls, and “I had a four-room apartment: three bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, beautiful bathroom, and a balcony that was two meters wide and twelve meters long. It was a paradise of a balcony.”

Arizona-based Local Motors introduced Olli, a 12-passenger van.

How self-driving vans and minibuses will change the transit landscape: “Car ownership is no longer practical. Why own an expensive asset like a car when you can summon one with a switch? Why buy an apartment with a parking spot when you can summon one from a fleet of autonomous vehicles that are ready for people to share?” 

The Curbed guide to Southern California’s deserts: Early spring rain might yet awaken desert blooms. “The Colorado and Mojave deserts span millions of acres, from the dusty Mexico-U.S. border to the poppy fields of the Antelope Valley to the neon of Las Vegas. Here, we turn our attention to the vibrant, curious, and colorful places in LA’s backyard, and the people still trying to preserve and adapt to the arid landscape.”

Beyond the sea wall: a changing climate calls for dynamic solutions: “San Francisco and Christchurch may not exactly be twin cities, but when it comes to rising sea-levels and ground water, they face similar challenges – and an opportunity to rethink coastal protection.”

Landscape Games: “The video game Minecraft has become a new tool for community engagement. The landscapes, created by the kids using the video game Minecraft, were blocky by nature, but three dimensional, and from their laptops, they could explore the park designs from all directions.”

Wildlife corridor will connect O.C. coast to Cleveland National Forest: “Ground was officially broken last week on a $13-million effort to restore a wildlife corridor that will connect the Cleveland National Forest with Orange County wild coastal terrains. The project, in the making for more than two decades, seeks to encourage biological diversity in the animals that dwell in the more than 20,000 acres of coastal chaparral surrounding Laguna Beach.”