Render by AECOM

Will the LA River through Downtown ever look like this?: “Splashy new renderings show what a greened-up LA River—surrounded by parks, jacaranda trees, restored marshlands, and new high-rises and mixed-use development—might look like decades from now.”

Why MacArthur ‘genius’ Kate Orff says designing for nature can protect our cities: “We have to design adaptive landscapes that can accept flood waters or extensive green roofs and streetscapes that absorb rain. But we also need to mitigate the projection of carbon in the first place and decarbonize our built settlement pattern. For me, that is the combination of landscape design and urban architecture that I try to operate in.”

Obesity Thrives in the Suburbs: “So why is obesity less common in densely built areas? The obvious answer is walkability. When amenities are within easy walking distance there is, quite simply, more incentive to walk to them, while densely built environments can also de-incentivize driving because of their congestion and limited parking. The study’s authors also suggest another factor.”

Young Architect Guide: What Is Behavior Modeling in Architecture?: “Behavior modeling programs employ complex algorithms that predict, with an impressive degree of accuracy, the way people will move through a space under a given set of conditions. They’re most often used to analyze the design of buildings that accommodate large crowds, like transit centers and stadiums, though the range of events and decisions that can be modeled is quickly expanding. This means the range of scales and project types that can be analyzed is expanding, as well, increasing the usefulness of these programs to architects who incorporate them into their design process.”

Things to do in Los Angeles This Fall: “The 26 best places to visit in LA, from the iconic Stahl House to a highly acclaimed exhibit on radical women artists.”

A landscape is an experience.

Traveling through any space is an invitation to reflect and learn more about an environment – and in turn, about your city and yourself. When a landscape offers a place for reflection and incorporates formal educational programming, the space additionally becomes a learning space. An active education program can take the form of demonstration gardens, inter-operative signage, interactive features, etc.

Photos: AHBE

A series of gardens and courts at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools was designed by AHBE – a procession of passive spaces inviting reflection – to serve as a stage in memorial, commemorating Kennedy’s legacy to social justice. The school’s 24-acre site is where the Ambassador Hotel once stood, the site of Kennedy’s assassination in 1968, while the park itself inhabits about one third of an acre along the school’s frontage parallel with Wilshire Boulevard.

Although Inspiration Park’s “rooms” include an outdoor classroom space, much of the linear park is designed as a classroom with a series of walls adorned with inspirational quotes from Robert F. Kennedy. These contemplative spaces were developed in coordination with artists May Sun and Richard Wyatt, adding an educational layer to create a truly experiential landscape. Also included in the design is a restored pylon from the original hotel and palm grove.

The sum the space provides a beautiful and much needed open space along Wilshire, giving the community a contemplative space inspired by the life, legacy, and words of Robert F. Kennedy.

Photos by Katherine Montgomery

A few weeks ago, I pulled off the 210 freeway onto La Tuna Canyon Road to take in the devastation of the recent fire that engulfed and scorched more than 7,000 acres. Having been extinguished only a couple weeks before, the land was still raw with soot and ash. I parked at a trailhead, ignored the “Closed” signs, and wandered into an otherworldly canyon landscape.

When fires strike California it can feel apocalyptic. The contaminated sky changes to an eerie orange glow along the mountains. I could see the La Tuna Canyon Fire from my front porch for the first few nights, looming like Mordor in the distance. I woke up several times to check on it in the night, thinking about the fatigued firefighters, and the tragic loss of ecosystem. I tried to reason through my emotional response, telling myself that every region has its natural disasters, rationalizing wildfires as part of California’s natural systems. But is that still true?

The ground was black, except in areas where ash had swirled and gathered at the base of the canyon, mimicking snow. There were still oaks standing, with burnt brown leaves, and sycamores with white trunks and charred limbs. With the brush burned away, litter, old bottles, and pull-tab beer cans were exposed on the ground. The landscape was eerily silent except for the occasional scrub jay, and the twinkling of pebbles tumbling down the barren hillsides. How and when does life return to this landscape?

Understanding the natural history of wildfires in comparison to modern day occurrences, there arises a concern that the increased frequency is preventing native ecosystems from rebounding, inviting invasive plants to take over. I am curious to know more about how the land regenerates: which plants sprout first, which trees can survive being charred, and when do the critters return? La Tuna Canyon last burned in 1955. Will it be another 60 years until the tree canopy is as dense as it was a few months ago before the fire?

I hope to return to this site and repeatedly photograph it to document the changes. Also, the Theodore Payne Foundation is hosting a series of talks geared towards landscapes after the fire. I am especially interested in hearing insights from the perspective of the California Chaparral Institute, to better understand how we as stewards of the land can support the natural ecosystems that make California so beautiful.

Photo by Sibyelle Algaier

One of the first projects I worked on soon after joining AHBE was the Cal Poly Pomona Business Administration Building, a landscape architecture project that eventually became one of my favorite projects. Cal Poly Pomona is my alma mater, so the project presented an amazing opportunity to contribute back to the school and campus.

Photo by Sibyelle Algaier

The Cal Poly Pomona Business Administration project – located adjacent to the iconic Kellogg Rose Garden, and on the site of the former Horticulture building and greenhouses – consists of three new Business Administration buildings, each designed by architects, AC Martin Partners.

Sketch by Calvin Abe

The formation of the new buildings was formed to create a courtyard to invite students to gather, study, and build relationships. The courtyard itself represents a physical and spatial metaphor for the various stages of business relationships: introduction, the forming of connections, negotiation, and social gathering. The outdoor spaces are where students first meet – beginning in the entry forecourt, transitioning to other more intimate and group social areas where building relationships seems a natural outcome of the welcoming environment.

Photo by Calvin Abe

The geometry of the courtyard was derived from the formal nature of the nearby Rose Garden, radiating from the concentric circles of the floral garden itself, while the pathways through the courtyard are lined with vegetative swales that act as biofiltration areas, treating stormwater runoff during the wet season.

Photo by Calvin Abe

Since the location of the new buildings required demolition of the existing horticulture building and greenhouses, we invited Cal Poly Pomona’s Horticulture professor to help choose specific tree species he preferred as part of the project’s plant palette, an extension and support of the horticulture program. Tree species in the palette eventually chosen included Calodendrum capense (Cape Chestnut), Acer Saccharinum (Sugar Maple), Schefflera elegantissima (False Aralia), and Maytenus boaria (Mayten Tree). I believe this collaboration between our team and the university’s Horticulture professor resulted in a playful planting design represented by an eccentric collection of plants that harmoniously work together, forming a unique botanic garden experience presented in an urban campus setting that matures and evolves every year.

The Cal Poly Pomona Business Administration courtyard in 2017. Photo by Mateo Yang

I learned a great deal working on Cal Poly Pomona Business Administration project – from how to layout hardscape joints, to the thoughtful process and relationship of where softscape, hardscape, and building meet – a particularly memorable and enriching first experience for a recent college graduate that showed me the process by which the conceptual became a reality.

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Japanese Garden at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, California, USA. Photo: Creative Commons/Public domain.

Descanso Gardens Japanese Garden Festival
Descanso celebrates the 50th anniversary of its Japanese Garden with this family-friendly festival. New this year: Experience the ancient music and dance performed in the Imperial Court of Japan! Activities free to members except where noted. Click here to see Sunday’s schedule.
When: Saturday, October 14, 9:00AM
Where: Descanso Gardens

Downtown LA Art Walk
Art exists in every part of Downtown—from morning to night—you will always encounter artistry that feeds all of the senses. From the eye catching Murals found throughout the City streets to the enticing scents and tastes of restaurants, each of our tours offers a unique experience of Downtown. Curated for a variety of audiences, from Kindergarteners and Art Enthusiasts to new and experienced Collectors, we pride ourselves in bringing enriching experiences to a larger public.
When: October 12, 2017
Where: The next Gallery Tour meets at the Lounge at 634 S. Spring St

44th Annual LA Korean Festival
Already on its 43rd year, the Los Angeles Korean Festival has become a yearly event promoting the Korean culture as well as providing an instrument in which the different cultures of Los Angeles can come together in fun and entertainment. With the different cultural communities in Los Angeles and free admission, the Los Angeles Korean Festival does a wonderful job in promoting the Korean culture as well as advocating the cultural diversity, a characteristic that defines the city of Los Angeles is known for. With the idea of multiculturalism in mind, the Los Angeles Korean Festival has grown to be one of the largest ethnic celebrations in the nation.
When: October 12-15, 2017
Where: Seoul International Park, Los Angeles

LA Documentaries at Union Station “Roller Dreams”
Metro Art is pleased to present “Roller Dreams,” (2017, 82 min, Dir. Kate Hickey) as the first installment of our documentary series about Los Angeles. Introduction by director Kate Hickey. Post screening Q&A with featured roller dancers Mad, Terrell Ferguson, Larry Pitts and Jimmy Rich.
When: Friday, October 13, 2017 from 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Where: Union Station Historic Ticketing Hall

12th Annual Pasadena ARTwalk
The 12th Annual Pasadena ArtWalk celebrates the Playhouse District with a FREE juried art show and sale from a wide variety of local artists while also offering patrons the opportunity to experience all of the amazing art the District has to offer. Set in the cultural heart of Pasadena with art, music, and activities, Green Street will provide the perfect shaded canopy for this unique, all-ages art event.
When: Saturday, October 14, 11:00AM – 6:00PM
Where: Green St. & Madison Ave. Pasadena