Posts from the Friday Five Category

Image credit: Tao Wu and Kristin Schwab/UConn Illustration

A new approach to social resilience through landscape architecture: “Landscape architecture is not a subject commonly associated with refugee settlements. But in a field of study where resilience is often applied to help fortify coasts against erosion or to safeguard habitats against loss, UConn landscape architecture researchers have begun using their expertise to encourage resilience in a different form”

Ballot measure aims to preserve Salton Sea: “A project to protect Californians who live near the Salton Sea from deteriorating air quality could sink or swim based on the outcome of a June ballot measure. Proposition 68 would allow the state to borrow $4 billion through bonds to fund parks and environmental protection projects, including $200 million for a plan to preserve the rapidly shrinking Salton Sea.”

8 photos shot by Ansel Adams of 1940s Los Angeles: Fortune magazine sent Ansel Adams in the early 1940s to photograph Los Angeles to capture images to accompany a piece about the area’s booming aviation industry. He left with more than 200 photos that capture what the city was like at the time. The magazine ultimately ran just a few of his images.

ASU grad sees landscape architecture as a path to social justice: “I think it’s important that landscape architects transition from working for typical firms to working directly with neighborhoods because in terms of sustainability, social equity is highly under-addressed…There were no street trees. The first thing I started to do was pull historical maps from 1930 until now and you can see there were almost no trees from then until now.”

The Lichenologist: A short documentary about Kerry Knudsen, curator of lichens at the University of California, who just gave a talk at The Huntington Library about the various lichen species found in Southern California. We also recommend this profile titled, “The Ex-Anarchist Construction Worker Who Became a World-Renowned Scientist“.

Creative Commons photo by Danny Thompson (CC BY 2.0)

The Sparks of Downtown LA’s Boom – What launched DTLA’s transformation?: “The year 1999 was a watershed for DTLA’s redevelopment, beyond just the passing of the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance. That same year also witnessed the completion of STAPLES Center, a sporting arena and events venue in DTLA that may have done as much as anything to spark DTLA’s development boom.”

Mapped: 21 projects rising along the LA River: “The plan to ecologically restore an 11-mile section of the Los Angeles River has put a big, national spotlight on the waterway. Anticipating a revitalization, city and real estate developers have paid attention to the flood channel for years now. The result has been a steady stream of projects—parks, bridges, residential, adaptive reuse, mixed use, and even some glitzy projects by big-name architects.”

Landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander on why it should be easier to be green: “My passion is to be with nature and introduce people to it from all levels of society. I believe in the therapeutic effects of greenery on the human soul.”

How Designers Can Build for Diversity: “The only way to do really good location-specific work is to spend a lot of time in the research and discovery phase, figuring out the DNA of the place and how your design can tell that story, not a story that can go anywhere else. As designers, we’re able to be the storytellers, to find ways to create places that include everybody’s story and that provide opportunities to learn and be inquisitive and curious about people whose stories differ from our own.”

Visiting this famous Frank Lloyd Wright home? For some fancy wine, you (maybe) can: “The owners of a famous Frank Lloyd Wright home in California are sick and tired of architecture aficionados walking up to their property to glimpse the beauty within. But, with the right bottle of wine, the Millard House’s residents may let curious visitors have a look around.”

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Las Pilitas Nursery: Planting Guide for California Native Plants: With arrival of spring, gardening is on the mind of many. But unlike many non-native plants cultivated to thrive with amended soil and additional water delivered by sprinklers or drip irrigation, California natives require some forethought about placement and care to establish their growth. Here’s a helpful (and short) how-to establish California native plants.

Los Angeles: Focus on Urban Design (Not Just Urban Planning): “Los Angeles’ suburban context presents rich opportunities for better urban design, precisely because so much land is underutilized. Ample circumstantial evidence points to L.A. using more than 60 percent of its land for cars. Roads and parking lots consume vast amounts of potential open space—around buildings, between roads and other roads, and even between roads and parking lots. Very little of this land is usable for humans or a valuable contribution to the urban environment.”

Nature Without Biodiversity – Urban Climate Adaptation Has a Blind Spot: “In a study published in the journal Geo: Geography and Environment, researchers led by Natalie Butt, an ecologist at the University of Queensland, reviewed climate adaptation plans from 80 cities around the world. Greenery is ubiquitous in them, but “just 18 percent of the plans assessed contained specific intentions to promote biodiversity,” they found.”

U.S. sets a nationwide goal to end traffic deaths by 2050: “Traffic deaths continue to plague U.S. streets, with pedestrian deaths reaching a 33-year high last year. Now, federal safety agencies are stepping in with an ambitious strategy to completely eliminate road fatalities nationwide by 2050.”

Paving the Way For Iconographic Landmarks: “These places have become landmarks, and their bold, concrete entryways sidewalks, and courtyards have quite literally paved the way for their iconography…see how the creative and innovative use of Stepstone pavers have elevated quintessential Los Angeles locations, both old and new, turning them into emblematic memorials.”

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.”