Posts tagged landscape architecture

If you’re like me – and I figure most people in 2017 are – you listen to music while walking, running, ride sharing, or driving through the landscape. Music has the power to express complex emotional and spiritual concepts, teleporting the mind to a certain time and place, or even bring about an altered state.

Beyond its role in audio-visual bias in spatial perception, your earbuds and track 13 on Anderson .Paak’s Malibu album can heavily influence experience and emotions, or even spiritually connect to your surroundings.
This augmented experience becomes landscape around you.

When I think of the tie between music and landscape, or music and nature, I think of a few examples of music augmenting the landscape. An artist can teleport you to a certain setting. An artist can reify a natural landscape’s unpredictability or ominous scale. Music can explain concepts within nature that are too broad for our consumption. Music can mimic nature. An artist can capture and isolate parts of nature.

That is a lot to think about!

Before we get into it let’s get some definitions out of the way:

  • Landscape n. – in a broad sense, the features of an area of land and its landforms; how these features interact with the broader nature and man-made features. This includes features both physical and cultural, natural and anthropological. Landscape can also be described as setting, a geographical location at a moment of time.
  • Music n. – sounds combined to produce a beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.
  • Nature n. – the physical world and its organisms; features and products of the earth as opposed to humans and human creations.

When I think about a song that can teleport the listener to a discreet place and time, I think of Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day”. The song vividly describes a series of scenes as Ice Cube through the urban landscape of South Central Los Angeles. The scenes and experiences he describes have direct references to the city, teleporting listeners to South Central on the alleged date of January 20, 1992.

The song also teleports me to that warm August night in 1996 when my sister first played the song for me. I remember listening to it at a low volume, so my mother didn’t hear us listening to “grown-up” music.

Bjork is one of the greatest examples of an artist who seeks and finds inspiration in nature, one who utilizes landscape as a sonic experience.

I’m specifically thinking about Bjork’s album, Biophillia. Inspired by the hypothesis linking humans with nature, Bjork explores the nexus where nature, technology and human experience all intersect. She used nature as an inspiration for musical structure, theme, and metaphor for human experience. Bjork taps into our intrinsic and primal connection to what is beyond human invention.

In the song Crystalline, Bjork uses the growth and facet structure of a crystal in designing her changing time signature and concept for the song. This creates an uneasy beauty that only feels complete because of its tie to nature.

More Connections to Nature
Many songs sample nature, including Blackbird and the Storm, who use samples of bird songs and calls to add to the theme of the bird wing metaphor, while adding to its serene atmosphere.

In 1970, Beaver and Krause released an album abstracting nature themes into a hybrid of sample, tape loop, and synthesizer electronic music. This album samples the broader landscape, things both natural and man-made.

Using Nature as metaphor
Ok, so this is a stretch. Not because it isn’t accurate, but because the music isn’t a metaphor using nature. Rather the following is a sonic adaptation or literary metaphor using nature/ animals. (I’m really including this because it is one of my favorite concept albums).

Based loosely on George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Pink Floyd’s Animals album describes the capitalist conservatism in the 1970’s England.

This is a very brief exploration of concepts and songs. Think about songs you like. How do they make you feel? Is there a connection between any of your favorite songs and the nearby landscape?

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.

Zoning and Logistics of the Port of Long Beach by Jorge C.

“Our research considered of analyzing several factors and conditions such as sea level rise, ecology, mitigation strategies, demographics, all of which determine what type of intervention is the most effective in addressing the issues of a particular area. I created this map to better understand the land-use of the Port of Long Beach, which is adjacent to my team’s project site in West Long Beach.” – Jorge C.

Strategies to dissipate wave energy by Andres R.

“Our team developed strategies that attempt to dissipate wave energy which is a significant contributor to Sea Level Rise (SLR), while also supporting public use and ecological communities. The coastal resilience strategy strives to provide a space that can adapt to SLR, while also providing habitat niches for the fauna of Long Beach. The channeling concept refers to slowing down the wave energy and dispersing the water towards branching canals where the water can generate a new zone for human interaction with flourishing ecosystems. The groin and breakwater concept strives to provide an accessible space for pedestrian’s off-shore, while also accumulating SLR to generate a tide pool where fauna can congregate and be exposed to the public.” – 
Andres R.

Adaptation Strategies for Amphibious Neighborhoods by Illiana

“Amphibious Neighborhood is a design strategy that can work along areas with high concentration of sea level rise as well as near residential zones. In the process of creating typologies for amphibious strategies, the urban human habitat and the emergence of biodiversity are highly important. Therefore, a recognition of existing conditions but also of future scenarios that Long Beach will be adapting to.” – Illiana V.

Marine Terracing / Saltwater Tolerant Plants by Amanda F.

“Sea level rise will inevitably cause drastic changes within the urban ecosystem. As the ocean rises, the shoreline is brought in closer to the city, shifting the margins in which plants are able to thrive in various salt-inundated microclimates.

Large, open areas would be ideal for marine terracing strategies to create socially and ecologically adaptable wetlands as the water level continues to rise. Color is used in the plant diagram to highlight the variety of potential plant growth that can be installed to adapt to these new conditions, and across various scales, including the marine terracing scenario.” – Amanda F.

Re-using Shipping Containers to create dunes by Tong X.

“By burying shipping containers we can create a large displacement of sand that can be used to cover, create a series of dunes to protect against sea level rise, and will still function as a public beach” – Tong X.

Ecological Armoring Strategies with recycled concrete by Tong X.

“Enhanced seawalls take advantage of recycled concrete to provide armoring along with a surface that encourages the growth of marine life and broadens the marine ecosystem, support growth of various marine plants and animals. These surfaces provide shelves, notches, overhangs, and shade that replicates the natural formations seen along rocky coastlines. They can be tailored to induce growth of specific species of conservational value. This developing marine ecology provides an educational location for local school and facilities.” – Tong X.

Stepped Pools for wave attenuation by Tong X. & E_Esquier

“In our project, we designed terracing walls that account for high and low tides allow for the creation of artificial tidal pools that creates an interactive zone between the community and marine life. This developing marine ecology provides an educational location for local school and facilities.” – Tong X.

The question now is how we can start implementing these tactics and strategies to prepare and minimize the effects of sea level rise in our coastal communities.

The Quest To Grow Cities From Scratch: “The prospect of building cities out of materials that can grow, self-heal, and adapt to changing circumstances on their own is near the point of becoming a reality, according to some working in the field. Eben Bayer, founder of the biomaterials startup Ecovative, predicts it will happen before 2050.”

City infrastructure could turn Los Angeles into a pedestrian paradise: “If Los Angeles wants to get serious about the street safety of Angelenos, it needs to rework the walkability of its streets. Right now, streets in Los Angeles are clearly utilized with the driver in mind. For example, the majority of space on almost every street is allocated to cars, while pedestrians are confined to small slivers of sidewalk space. While this is how we are conditioned to think of streets, this does not have to be the case.”

For Urban Transit, a Hostile Budget: “The budget proposes “funding to projects with existing full funding grant agreements only.” That means Boston’s Green Line extension and the Portland-Milwaukee light rail project in Oregon would be safe, among others. But some of the most “shovel-ready projects” in the country, to use a Trump team-favored phrase, don’t have a full agreement in place, including Caltrain’s electrification project. Dozens of projects would be in limbo, among them several metros that passed major transit referenda in November, including Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and Seattle. ”

I’m 35 and I love gardening. Deal with it: “Gardening is many things: beautiful, meditative, healthy, exciting, rewarding and creative. However, I often feel as if gardening is not particularly popular among my peers. It seems to come down to one thing: age. I’m 35 years old and I’m passionate about gardening.”

The Crushing Defeat of Measure S Is a Defining Moment for L.A.: “The election this week revolved, in so many ways, around development. There was Measure S, the controversial anti-development ballot measure, but also the mayor and City Council races, in which the incumbents were attacked, time and again, for allowing density in L.A. It’s no exaggeration to say the election was a referendum on development, on density, on urbanization. And density won.”

It is doubtful anyone in Los Angeles needs convincing about the near-record amount of rainfall that drenched the city this winter. In comparison to drought-stricken winters past – and according to the LA Almanac – Downtown Los Angeles has received approximately 17 inches of rainfall since December of 2016. That’s impressively almost 8 inches more than for the same period of time during a normal winter.

Just over a year ago, AHBE Lab examined three recently constructed AHBE projects, setting out to identify how each were responding to that year’s El Nino storm event. Today we revisit these three sites, curious about each of their performances during this winter’s unusually inclement conditions. Here is what we found:

Photo: Jennifer Salazar

Monrovia Station Square Transit Village
The Monrovia Station Square Transit Village project included streetscapes envisioned as a sustainable connection between the surrounding neighborhood to the station. The Chilopsis trees shown above are planted in infiltration flow-through planters along Pomona Avenue and have captured recent rainfall, a feature we credit for the healthy tree growth.

Infiltration planters along South Myrtle Avenue have grown in with the grasses, while large oak trees and taller groundcover plants have filled in the wide buffer between the sidewalk and the parking lot. Photo: Katherine Montgomery

Carex alma (Sturdy Sedge) and Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘Lenca’ (Regal Mist Pink Muhly) were grasses specifically chosen for this project, and they appear to have grown in to fill the planters. The Silva Cells installed adjacent to each street tree are topped with permeable pavers, the combination likely helping to increase the size of the trees with an increased amount of rainfall being delivered to the trees’ roots.


The rainwater fed creek running across Johnny Carson Park. Photo: Evan Mather

Johnny Carson Park
The plants in the now natural bottom stream continues to fill in at this ASLA Southern California Quality of Life award-winning project. Some areas still hold recent rainfall in the creek. Rainwater also appears to be flowing as designed into the restored creek, later to be infiltrated into the sand bottom or to empty into the L.A. River.  Various riparian Salix, scrub, and perennial species have grown vigorously adjacent to the stream channel, providing a more natural appearing edge to the restored stream. Ducks have also been spotted swimming in the standing pools of water between storms.

Photo: Wendy Chan

Torrance Stormwater Basin – Entradero Basin
Entradero Stormwater Basin is one of many detention basins in the City of Torrance that mitigates and cleans storm water runoff before it’s released into the Santa Monica Bay. This stormwater basin was integrated into an existing park with baseball fields and playgrounds, so it essentially became a recreational feature for the community park. The park has evolved into a lively and well frequented public space populated with the activity of little leaguers, children playing along the basin edge, water fowl, and residents exercising  along with their dogs in tow across the trails.

Photo: Wendy Chan

Thanks to the plenitude of rain this winter the basin is currently filled with water. A pair of geese, a family of ducks, and various others birds currently make the seasonal basin their home. The planting is filling in and working overtime to help clean the runoff water. A restoration ecologist helped AHBE develop a planting palette to correspond with the various levels of inundation along the sloped basin. For example Lupinus spp. and Salvia spp. were planted along the upper slope of the basin where plants are rarely inundated with water, while Frankenia salina inhabit the lower basin where plants are seasonally inundated during the rainy season.

Entradero Park. Photo: Wendy Chan

The Entradero Basin provides a natural system for storm water mitigation, but also provides residents trail opportunities to enjoy the basin as a natural feature in the park. The basin appears to be working wonderfully to clean pollutants from storm water runoff and recharge groundwater aquifers by permitting water to slowly infiltrate, while additionally providing habitat for surrounding wildlife – in its entirety, the project is an example of how green infrastructure can be integrated into a community.

This post was authored by Wendy Chan and Jennifer Salazar.

After living in the San Gabriel Valley for nearly 30 years, I thought I had seen and done everything nearby until I started researching about the forests of California. Partially due to proximity and also thanks to television news covering various fires over the years, nearby forests like Angeles National Forest, Cleveland National Forest, and San Bernardino National Forest are well known.  But the San Dimas Experimental Forest (SDEF) right in my backyard? Until recently I did not even know it existed.

Photo by Kathy Rudnyk

According to the US Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station, the San Dimas Experimental Forest is the only experimental forest in Southern California. This forest is used to gather data for multiple organizations, such as US Forest Service, USDA, National Atmospheric Deposition Program/National Trends Network, and UNESCO. Established in 1933, it was designed to study hydrology and ecology, but then it grew into many more research opportunities.

Listed as a Biosphere Reserve through UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB).  This organization gathers and studies scientific data to investigate just how people relate to their natural environment – a “landscapes for learning”, “experimental ecological reserve” or a “laboratory regions of sustainable development”.  According to the MAB, there are 669 biosphere reserves located in 120 countries all over the world. Of that total number, America hosts 47 biosphere reserves. (more…)