Posts tagged earthquake

modern skyline of Los Angeles resulted from the termination of severe height restrictions in 1957
The practice of landscape architecture seeks to engage in proactive decision-making rather than corrective post-disastrous action. Cities vulnerable to sea level rise are adopting new planning schemes that consider potential flooding scenarios capable of displacing current housing residents, then plan accordingly to ensure future development does not take place within that zone of risk. In doing so cities reduce loss and deploy natural landscape systems and infrastructures (restored wetlands, salt marshes etc) capable of partially consuming the looming threat.

NASA_Radar generated 3d_View_of_San_Andreas_FaultHaving gotten intimate with city regulations, strict codes, and precise landscape requirements of the city of Los Angeles over the past months of practice here, I wonder if there is a city scale zoning code relevant to city planning in relation to earthquakes, and whether open space availability in relation to built-up environment should be enforced? A code that allows the city to acquire land on the basis of providing open space accessible by either foot or bike.

This space – a new typology –  is not necessarily a park. Instead, imagine a safe-marked street, an adjacent school court, a community garden, a collection of pocket open spaces, or a collective of other outdoor spaces designed for emergency situations. The area allocated for each of these sites would be calculated on the basis of being able to host the community in its direct proximity and in open air. The park would be planned according to a new set of park design standards and codes (e.g. the ratio of tree clusters/vertical elements to open space).

Think of a building emergency exit plan. Residents are trained about exits and safe destination outdoor sites to convene, while also being given a defined exit path – a number of them – precisely designed to lead people to safer spaces in case of an emergency. Street parking lots are not always the best refuge, but as landscape typology, they can act as a post-crisis refuge, an emergency center, and a first aid node, etc.

Now think of a neighborhood-scale emergency exit plan. This is definitely an over ambitious and impractical proposal that probably ends up with more open space than livable space. Nevertheless, as a resident of Los Angeles for a few months now concerned with the forthcoming threat of an upcoming historical earthquake, one wonders about the resiliency of our living environment and infrastructure, and whether building codes have served to reduce the risk and loss sufficiently in any significant way.

We have packed our neighborhoods, developed every parcel of land, and also have built up towers arguably disproportionate with the street/neighborhood’s own capacity. This idea of communal safety areas on the other hand is a conceptual resilient-focused approach to the planning and design of safe open space systems across the city scales. After all, parks are not only a matter of recreation.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Infrastructure: A short, yet funny John Oliver segment about the “unsexy” topic of national Infrastructure and its current decrepit state (with a funny cameo by Edward Norton, too!).

Where do you take a New York design writer who’s seen everything?: Orange County! What’s to see down in the O.C. for the design-minded? How about the hidden Noguchi Garden tucked behind corporate towers near South Coast Plaza, Welton Becket’s old Bullock’s store at South Coast Plaza, and the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove (not to mention all the great food south of Los Angeles).

Emergency supplies: Tools to put on the list for earthquakes and more: Batteries are just the start when putting together your emergency supplies kit. Better prepared today than emptied handed tomorrow when disaster – possibly in the form of an earthquake – finally strikes Southern California.

Streets Made By People: “Projects like PARK(ing) Day and Neighborhood in Motion show how the removal of cars affects the urban space and the mindsets and lifestyles of the residents. Ghent has another bottom-up approach where 16 residential streets were transformed into collectively created spaces for no less than 2.5 months.”

California seeks to build one of world’s largest recycled water programs: The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is in talks with Los Angeles County sanitation districts about developing what could be one of the largest recycled water programs in the world.