Posts from the Friday Five Category

The Next Great Urban Reset: “All civilizations get a template and replicate it. It is their ontological imperative. When a template, however, is ill conceived or for all intents is absent, as the ecological urbanists propose, the new system simply unfolds unsuccessfully within the outmoded patterns of the old society. A better approach is to reorient the civilization’s template; to reset the system so it can spin off in a different direction unencumbered by the old patterns.”

Least Resistance: How Desire Paths Can Lead to Better Design: “Informal ‘desire paths‘ can form with as few as fifteen traversals of an unpaved route, creating spontaneous new trails shaped by pedestrians effectively voting with their feet. These paths frequently become self-reinforcing: others intuit the potential advantages of a newly-forming route and follow it, thus eroding it further and enhancing its visibility.”

It’s Official: Construction Underway for Purple Line Extension to Century City: “The latest phase of the heavy rail subway will run approximately 2.6 miles, with stations located at Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and at Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars in the heart of Century City. Construction is already 30 percent complete the first phase of the project, which will extend service 3.9 miles from the Purple Line’s current Wilshire/Western terminus to new stations at Wilshire/LaBrea, Wilshire/Fairfax, and Wilshire/La Cienega.”

Why Race Matters in Planning Public Parks: “Neighborhood connectivity to parks was not a salient issue among park users in these neighborhoods, although this had been a primary finding from the 2014 Master Plan Survey and a favored option of 31 percent of respondents in our closed-ended question. Instead, they envisioned a diverse set of new or improved amenities—most prominently, restrooms and water fountains, and an array of recreational infrastructure—in better maintained and safer parks.”

Paris Plans a Suburban Forest Five Times the Size of Central Park: For its next major assault on bad air, however, the metro area is proposing to deploy an ancient weapon: trees. In fact, it would be using one million of them. These trees would be planted as part of what could yet be this century’s grandest urban and suburban re-greening projects: the creation of a new forest north of the city limits that, at its final 1,350 hectare (5.2 square mile) extent, will be five times the size of New York’s Central Park.

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.”

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.”

Photo: Gregory Han

Secrets to Share: “Until now, most anyone seeking in-depth guidance from Japanese master gardeners had to travel to Japan. That requires time, money, Japanese language skills, and finding a master under whom to work. Hands and Heart teaches Japanese aesthetics, garden history and design, stone selection and placement, Japanese tool use, and pruning. Participants also engage in a morning tea ceremony to understand a Japanese garden’s cultural underpinnings and observe how Japanese garden masters behave. Kazuo Mitsuhashi, a Tokyo native and a tea garden craftsman for more than 40 years, says, “I hope students learn not just the material we teach but who we are as Japanese people and how we present ourselves, in ways that can lead to their own practice in the garden.”

What Should Grow in a Vacant Lot?: “Some 14,000 vacant lots pockmark the city of Baltimore, where decades of population decline have left some blocks nearly abandoned…The idea behind Swan’s wildflower experiment is to help the city restore some biodiversity and reduce polluted run-off by converting these swaths of fallow land into temporary prairies while they await—hopefully—the return of new construction.”

The Life and Death of Nigel, the World’s Loneliest Seabird: “The story of a lonely seabird named Nigel who tried to woo a mate that had a heart of stone and died on an uninhabited island off New Zealand has captivated many on social media.”

An Urgent Crisis of Leadership, Climate, and Water is Unfolding in South Africa: “Cape Town is headed for unknown territory. After years of drought, the city of 4 million on the Western Cape of South Africa is facing an unprecedented disaster: Unless a major rainstorm occurs, officials are predicting that on or around April 12 the city’s water supply will run dry. After that, most residents will have to stand in line at designated areas to get their rations of water.”

Japanese gardens can calm you, kids, prisoners – Lessons on Zen-style ‘Visionary Landscapes’:“His vision of creating landscapes that give restorative experiences resonates perfectly with our mission” and the belief that gardens are not a luxury for the fortunate few, she says. “Connecting with something beautiful and natural is a fundamental need for human beings.”

Photo: Ted Soqui for LA Weekly

Meet the Former Angelenos Living in a Rent-Free, Ramshackle Desert “Town”: Slab City: “The last hour of the 190-mile drive inland from L.A. to Slab City is a sensory-deprivation dash through frowning, scrubby nothingness where humans go only to escape or to hide, or because they’ve simply been priced out elsewhere. Beyond manicured Palm Springs and the featureless fields of the Coachella Valley, the increasingly toxic Salton Sea forms a dying mirror of the vast Colorado Desert sky, State Route 111 a thin thread of civilization between its apocalyptic abandoned resorts and the distant Chocolate Mountains.”

Ridership on Metro fell to the lowest level in more than a decade last year: “Despite a growing population and a booming economy, the number of trips taken on Los Angeles County’s bus and rail network last year fell to the lowest level in more than a decade. Passengers on Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses and trains took 397.5 million trips in 2017, a decline of 15% over five years. Metro’s workhorse bus system, which carries about three-quarters of the system’s passengers, has seen a drop of nearly 21%.”

Everyone Deserves the California Dream. It’s Time We Build Enough Housing to Provide It: “Unfortunately, this rail infrastructure is massively underused, largely because we have failed to capture the value of new transit by not building housing around them. By having so much exclusionary single-family housing around these stops, everyone has paid for something that only a select few can easily access.”

Architecture Books You Can Borrow (For Free) From The Internet’s Largest Library: “Have you registered for your free library card? If you haven’t, you’re missing out on some serious perks! The Internet Archive has a lending feature that allows users to electronically “borrow” books for 14 days. With over 2,000 borrowable books on architecture, patrons from across the globe can read works by Reyner Banham, Walter Gropius, Ada Louise Huxtable and Jonathan Glancey. There are also helpful guides, dictionaries and history books.”

Promising New Ways to Finance Urban Nature: “A few start-up organizations are trying to figure out to how to make it easier for cities across the country to turn the carbon stored in urban forests into credits and offsets. If well-designed, implemented, and monitored, these new models have the potential to provide new revenue streams for strapped urban parks systems, protect existing green spaces from development, and bring more greenery to our cities and suburbs.