Posts tagged Cal Poly Pomona

Jessica, Jenni, Chuan, and Wendy searching for sea turtles along the San Gabriel River. Photos by Jenni Zell.

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of exploring the Lower San Gabriel River and Los Cerritos Wetlands with colleagues, students, and Professor Barry Lehrman of Cal Poly Pomona. We abandoned our computers for the day to  set out to explore the waterways by kayak, bicycle, and on foot with the express purpose of direct and unmediated experience of this landscape, and also to collect primary perceptions to inform meaningful design.

I was there for adventure and to provide support AHBE’s collaborative studio with fourth-year landscape architecture students at Cal Poly Pomona. The students are spending their winter term exploring the speculative transformation of the AES Alamitos and the DWP Haynes power generating facilities from fossil fuel burning behemoths into something still yet unimagined (my colleague Brett Miller wrote about the collaboration).

Jessica and Chuan in the San Gabriel River channel. Photos by Jenni Zell.

The AHBE staff is playing a mentorship role again, collaborating with the senior Cal Poly Pomona studio to work together on a Long Beach remediation project exploring …

As we rode our bicycles along the levee of the soft-bottomed channel of the San Gabriel River we witnessed dozens of large silvery fish jumping out of the river with the seeming symmetry and choreography of a Busby Berkeley dance. Biologist Eric Zahn later informed me the fish were striped mullet, a species of fish commonly found in coastal estuaries and in the lower reaches of coastal streams.

Wendy and Chuan stopping to check out where the river channel transitions from a concrete lined waterway to a soft-bottomed flow.

But, why were these fish jumping? Striped mullet are known to feed on organic detritus like diatoms, bacteria, and micro-invertebrates. The fish were not trying to catch insects for food; and unlike topsmelt, which jump to avoid being eaten, the stripped mullet are about 18” and 3 pounds in size and had little need to jump to escape predators. According to Eric, we don’t really know why the fish jump.

During our bicycle ride we also observed several Pacific green sea turtles, a docile species occasionally found swimming in the San Gabriel River.

It is essential for landscape architects to know the occurrence and distribution of plant and animal communities in order to protect and restore critical ecosystem functions and to better understand how plants and animals respond to various conditions. The relationship between ecological science and design must be strengthened in our profession. AHBE’s collaboration with Cal Poly Pomona students is one effort to focus on the complex infrastructure of human modification and natural systems.

All photos: Brett Miller

The AHBE staff is playing a mentorship role again, collaborating with the senior Cal Poly Pomona studio to work together on a Long Beach remediation project exploring various solutions for an industrial site off the Los Cerritos Channel and the San Gabriel Channel. Our mutual goal: investigate long term site conditions spanning the next 100+ years.

The project began this month with a meeting and charette, with each student presenting their case study focusing upon interventions for our site. And this weekend, as part of the inventory/analysis phase of the project, the AHBE staff and students from Cal Poly took to the water together to kayak a stretch of the site.

Our visit gave our project partners a firsthand look at the site from the waterways/channels. While there are some main roads and paths skirting around the site, getting into the water and sharing space with the wildlife (both fauna and flora) offers a much more palpable and accurate experience versus simply scanning maps or even driving by/around the site.

Crossing under the Pacific Coast Highway bridge, the scenery dramatically changes to a barren industrial site (still featuring several functioning oil pump jacks). But even here amongst a landscape of industry can be found a thriving wetland in its center, an ecosystem only accessible by water. Our kayak tour concluded greeted by refineries, an industrial presence dominating the channel landscape.

Our Los Cerritos Channel excursion will play a valuable role in shaping our observations and work back within the studio, providing context for the students as they begin determining future interventions for the Los Cerritos Channel, San Gabriel River, and the surrounding environments.

Welcome to our last in a series of Cal Poly Pomona Coastal Resiliency posts, featuring the observations of 4th year undergraduate students in the Landscape Architecture program.

With today’s post we mark the conclusion of our collaboration with the Cal Poly fourth-year undergraduate studio.  In the course of 11 weeks, the students explored both natural and manmade strategies for adaptations and mitigation for coastal resiliency in Long Beach. Almost as important, as practicing professionals we’ve noted we too learned so much from these “bravely curious” landscape architecture students instructed by Professor Barry Lehrman.

The students presented strategies in proposal of applications to their areas of focus in Long Beach during their final presentation at AHBE. We wanted to share with you some of their amazing strategic diagrams, inventory, and analysis these students have been working on during this quarter.

Ecological hotspots in Long Beach Estevan C. and Amanda F.

“Mapping out observed bird sightings in the City of Long Beach, a pattern was shown that not only does the rich ecology try to follow bodies of water, lakes and the ocean, but the areas with the highest density were places with the highest density of people.” – Estevan C. (more…)

I was first exposed to the seminal short film produced in 1977 by the iconic team of Charles and Ray Eames, Powers of Ten as a student of landscape architecture at Cal Poly Pomona. I remember the mind-blowing film even today, one that takes viewers on a visual journey that begins with an aerial shot of a man lounging in a park, gradually zooming upward at scales of 10 further and further away, until the perspective is taken to the edge of the universe. From there the viewer is zoomed back downward back into the hand of the man lounging the park, eventually transported inward into an individual atom within the man’s body.

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Welcome to our ongoing series of Cal Poly Pomona Coastal Resiliency posts, featuring the observations of 4th year undergraduate students in the Landscape Architecture program.

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Photo by Barry Lehrman

Joining the powers of the left and right sides of the brain is central to the practice of landscape architecture, while tapping into our creativity and brain muscle allows our profession to give shape to previously unexplored opportunities. The Cal Poly Pomona students have been applying their minds to the science and art of our profession: see their observations on the process below.

Amphibious Neighborhood Team: Amanda F., Iliana V., Elise A., Andres R.

Amphibious Neighborhood Team: Amanda F., Iliana V., Elise A., Andres R. / Amphibious neighborhood strategies by Amanda F.

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