Posts from the Friday Five Category

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.”

Design by Ma Yansong, MAD Architects; Image courtesy of Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. 

Lucas Museum of Narrative Art Breaks Ground in Los Angeles
“The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art broke ground yesterday in South Los Angeles’ Exposition Park. Designed by MAD Architects’ founder Ma Yansong, the $1-billion, 300,000-square-foot museum will house George Lucas’s extensive collection of art and transform existing parking lots on the site into 11 acres of new green space…”

Who owns water? The US landowners putting barbed wire across rivers
“Prohibiting access from the public is privatizing what has been historically ours, and the way this happened is chilling,” says Robert Levin, New Mexico director of the American Canoe Association. “The process was hasty and moved through more quickly than it should have been. From a recreation standpoint on this, you start to worry about an erosion of inclusion.”

Why does Australian landscape architecture have a gender problem?
“Evidence points to significant pay disparities between women and men in landscape architecture. To better understand the issue, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects is launching a new gender equity study in collaboration with Parlour and Monash University’s XYX Lab.”

Herbal high: the best landscape architecture across the world
“From verdant visions to paved paradises, Wallpaper*’s round up of garden design and landscape architecture will give you a herbal high. Visit these grass-filled zen courtyards and bucolic botanical gardens for ideas from green-fingered designers and architects across the globe – make sure you’re in landscape mode.”

$1.6M grant may turn sediment into port city pay dirt
In ports throughout the Great Lakes, landscape architects, scientists and engineers may soon spin muddy sediment into environmental gold. “Our project tries to build on recent work called ‘beneficial use’ of dredged material. It positions sediment and dredged material not as a waste product that must be disposed of as cheaply as possible, but instead as a resource, a building block for the community and ecology.”

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Camera trapper hits jackpot with stunning video of 4 mountain lions near L.A.
“What you’re seeing is Limpy and her 10-month-old kittens returning to an area where I hadn’t seen them since November. So when she showed up on my video, and the sun was setting, I was really excited! I was waiting for her eventual return with her new litter.”

6 Cities That Have Transformed Their Highways Into Urban Parks
“Building a highway in a city is often thought of as a solution to traffic congestion. However, the induced demand theory has shown that when drivers have more routes, they choose to continue using this medium instead of using public transport or a bicycle, and as a result, congestion doesn’t decrease. As a result, some cities have chosen to remove spaces designated for cars and turn what was once a highway into urban parks and less congested streets.”

Requiem for a bookstore: Caravan writes its final chapter
“DTLA’s Caravan’s closing is more than the loss of another bookstore. It is the loss of a rare opportunity to get lost, to ignore the signposts of popular culture and discover something new. It helped that Bernstein was always nearby, happy to answer questions, scatter breadcrumbs along the way. The store’s absence — for those inclined to ask — now raises an important philosophical question: How will we learn about something if we never knew it existed?”

Market-Based Solutions Cannot Forge Transformative and Inclusive Urban Futures
“Herein lies a fundamental problem as we look to the future. We know that unless urbanization of the future is very different from current trajectories—especially for a region such as Asia, which is urbanizing rapidly—that our chances of meeting the objectives set out in Paris are extremely limited. We also know that current patterns of urbanization are likely to intensify inequalities and social differentiation. And yet, the “new urban agenda” is not even on the agenda.”

Untapped potential: Increasing diversity in landscape architecture
“Not to make generalizations, but unfortunately, landscape architecture isn’t well-known in the African American community,” she said. “I grew up in the African American middle class. I knew what an architect was, and I actually thought about being an architect. But instead, my undergraduate degree is in painting because I never knew what landscape architecture was.”