Posts from the Friday Five Category

Will the real Los Angeles please stand up? “To the world, Los Angeles seems like a hyper-real fabrication. But what lies behind the mask? Foreground speaks to LA resident and landscape urbanist Mia Lehrer, ahead of her keynote lecture at the 2017 International Festival of Landscape Architecture.”

Speculative Urbanism: Must-Read Megacities of Science Fiction & Fantasy: “Urban worldbuilding is at the heart a lot of speculative fiction classics. But authors don’t develop the history, geography and ecology of their imaginary worlds in a vacuum. Often, their creations reflect present (or predicted) conditions right here on Earth.”

Native or Invasive: “Lantana is not well suited to questions about origins. The plant’s genes were muddled to begin with by plant breeders and have further intermixed across wild populations. Wild lantana after two centuries of adaptation to tropical climates is not the same as its tame cousins relaxing in California gardens. It’s fitting that one of lantana’s landing points across the Global South—the Indian subcontinent—also happens to have one of the most genetically diverse human populations on Earth. But it is targeted by policy makers as an invasive, as an invader, as a rootless hybrid immigrant doing just a little too well for itself in its present environs.”

Map Drawings of the Landscapes: “The map-landscape-drawings present a visually distinct means to document a place, a site, a landscape. Paying homage to Corner and MacLean seminal book, Taking Measures across the American Landscape, the purpose here is to interpret the Southern Ontario landscape in a similar fashion.”

Behind the U.S. Botanic Garden there’s … an architect?: “A garden can mature and evolve in a way that a building cannot,” says Nick Nelson, the botanic garden’s landscape architect. “I still do love the power of a hand sketch and a hand-drawn perspective. Even though I’m not selling anything, I still need to sell people on my idea.”

Purple Line Extension tunneling machine art and naming contest announced: “Metro is inviting students from kindergarten through 12th grade to participate in an art and naming contest for the two Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) that will dig the twin subway tunnels to connect three underground stations of Section 1 of the Purple Line Extension.”

Remaking Greater Los Angeles as a Transit-Oriented Region: “Angelenos spend an average of 81 hours a year stuck in traffic, and only 5 percent take transit. With 10.2 million people in 88 cities, L.A. County is projected to expand by 2.4 million people in the next 40 years. To mitigate worsening traffic congestion and air pollution in this car-culture region, Metro will double the size of its rail system to better connect downtown L.A. to the county’s edges.”

AHBE Landscape Architects Revitalizes Southern California Streetscapes: “Landscape Architect & Specifier News notes, “Two projects by Los Angeles-based firm AHBE Landscape Architects – the award-winning South Park streetscape in downtown Los Angeles and the Monrovia Station Square Transit Village in the city of Monrovia – serve as examples of how streetscapes and open spaces can reinvigorate an urban community.”

What you need to know about LA’s urban heat problem: “Heat kills 60 to 70 Angelenos every summer, according to University of Miami climatologist Larry Kalkstein. But even though heat causes more deaths and medical problems than most other natural disasters, it’s rarely identified as the culprit. So here are eight things you need to know about the effects of heat, and how to cool down your house, street, neighborhood, and city.”

Taking a look at Chinatown’s future Yale and Ord Street park: Curbed Los Angeles takes note of AHBE’s steep hillside Chinatown Yale and Ord Street park project near the neighborhood’s branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, quoting our team’s principal landscape architect, Evan Mather. Additional coverage over at LAist and Los Angeles Downtown News.

Dallas, TX, USA | OJB Landscape Architecture | Client: The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation. Photo Credit: Dillon Diers Photography

The 2017 ASLA Professional Awards Announced: “The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has announced its 38 professional award recipients for 2017. Selected from 465 entries, the awards recognize the best of landscape architecture in the general design, analysis and planning, communications, research, and residential design categories from the United States and around the world.”

Should Architects Work With Nature or Resist It?: “Frank Lloyd Wright famously urged architects to follow nature’s lead. But as the planet warms, and with sustainability an inadequate response, they may need to pursue a more defensive, “resilient” position.”

How to Design Our Neighborhoods for Happiness: “Neighborhoods built without sidewalks, for instance, mean that people walk less and therefore enjoy fewer spontaneous encounters, which is what instills a spirit of community to a place. A neighborly sense of the commons is missing. You don’t have to be a therapist to realize that this creates lasting psychological effects. It thwarts the connections between people that encourage us to congregate, cooperate, and work for the common good. We retreat into ever more privatized existences.”

How Much Are Trees Worth to Megacities?: “A team of researchers led by Theodore Endreny of SUNY’s College of Environmental Studies and Forestry sought to quantify how leafy infrastructure pays dividends in 10 chock-full cities—and the extent to which the benefits could compound if those areas went greener.”

National monuments protect meaning, not just landscapes: “Over time, our understanding of the Pueblo peoples’ connection to the landscape evolved, as did the way the Antiquities Act was implemented. In 2000, President Bill Clinton designated Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (just over the Colorado line from Hovenweep). Instead of targeting individual sites, it blanketed a relatively large swath of landscape. “Canyons of the Ancients was perhaps the first to explicitly recognize that ruins do not tell the entire story,” says Bruce Babbitt, Clinton’s Interior secretary at the time. “That ancients lived in, hunted, gathered and raised crops, and developed water and religious sites throughout the larger landscape.” This ethos was taken to another level when President Barack Obama designated Bears Ears National Monument 16 years later.”

Photo by Matt; Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

What the Controlled Chaos of Burning Man Reveals About Cities: “In a moment when the powers at be can’t even fund the country’s shambling roads and bridges, the 2,000 organizers and volunteers who run Burning Man put together—and then take apart—a 70,000-person city in the space of two months. (That figure does not include emergency workers, government personnel, vendors, or contractors.)”

Cure Yourself of Tree Blindness: “When you engage with a tree, you momentarily leave the human-created world. Look at an American elm in winter, its limbs waving like Medusa’s snaky hair. The elm may grow along streets and sidewalks, but there is nothing tame about that tree. In cities, where animals feast on human gardens or garbage and most landscape plants are domesticated cultivars, native trees are the last truly wild beings.”

Urban butterflies under threat of extinction: According to an EPFL study, butterflies living in urban areas face the threat of consanguinity and potential extinction. The research drew on the fields of genetics and urban development to quantify the trend across an entire city. “Our research illustrates what is probably a widespread phenomenon: a drastic reduction in biodiversity in urban areas. We were able to quantify this trend and show that it’s a problem that needs to be taken seriously.”

The Crenshaw Line Is Taking Shape, and Suddenly 2019 Can’t Get Here Fast Enough: “Maybe the best tease is a new video rendering of the LAX people mover from Los Angeles World Airports. The PM—arriving every two minutes and free to the public—will connect travelers from the Crenshaw Line’s 96th Street station to the airport’s terminals, a centralized rental car facility, and an intermodal transportation facility, which will make it easy to drop fliers off. LAWA estimates the people mover will slice car traffic at the airport by 27 percent.”

Houston’s flooding shows what happens when you ignore science and let developers run rampant: “In recent days, the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey has raised water levels in some parts of the watershed high enough to completely cover a Cadillac. The vanished wetlands wouldn’t have prevented flooding, but they would have made it less painful, experts say.”

Rendering: Herzog & de Meuron, courtesy of Berggruen Institute

Think Tank Reveals Renderings For Sprawling ‘Monastery’ On Top Of Santa Monica Mountains: “The 447-acre development is set just north of the Getty Center on a hilltop near the Mountain Gate Country Club overlooking the 405 freeway. The project, designed by architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron is scheduled to open in five years “if we don’t run into too much trouble,” Berggruen told the Los Angeles Times.”

From Landscape Architect to Fashion Designer: “He literally takes the drawings out of my hands. All of the adults are sitting together planning everyone’s future and talking about the community. He was like, ‘This girl is not going to be a doctor. She needs to be an architect. She needs to go into something like this.’ So of course, he says it and everyone trusts him and they say, ‘Amal, you’re now going to be an architect.’”

Walter Hood’s (Extra)ordinary Witness: “The site of this protest is now home to a commemorative public art and landscape installation by Walter Hood: Witness Walls, for the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, completed in April. It’s the city’s first civil rights-themed piece of public art, according to The Tennessean, and cost $300,000. In an existing park next to the Metro Nashville Courthouse, a group of concave and convex concrete arcs forms a series of outdoor rooms. Two concrete cylinder-shaped fountains burble along, and popular music from the civil rights era plays intermittently.”

Is re-introducing steelhead trout into the Arroyo Seco another fish tale?: “The list of humans who made Pasadena famous starts with the Tongva, the native people who settled near the Arroyo Seco, followed by your Eatons, Wilsons, Huntingtons, Greenes, etc. As for the animal that put the city on the map, the answer may surprise you. Many say that creature was the Southern California Steelhead, a salmon-like species that between 1850 and 1940, attracted fisherman from across the country to the San Gabriel, Los Angeles and Arroyo Seco rivers.”

“The Blue Line’s future: 5 ways Metro plans to fix its oldest rail line: Opened in 1990, the Blue Line has been operating continuously for 27 years. By now, much of the rail line’s infrastructure is simply worn out or obsolete. It’s also prone to delays—about 16 percent of trains arrive behind schedule, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis.Transit officials say the huge investment will improve the old rail line’s reliability, reduce the travel time between LA and Long Beach, and restore train cars to like-new condition.”