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Will the real Los Angeles please stand up? “To the world, Los Angeles seems like a hyper-real fabrication. But what lies behind the mask? Foreground speaks to LA resident and landscape urbanist Mia Lehrer, ahead of her keynote lecture at the 2017 International Festival of Landscape Architecture.”

Speculative Urbanism: Must-Read Megacities of Science Fiction & Fantasy: “Urban worldbuilding is at the heart a lot of speculative fiction classics. But authors don’t develop the history, geography and ecology of their imaginary worlds in a vacuum. Often, their creations reflect present (or predicted) conditions right here on Earth.”

Native or Invasive: “Lantana is not well suited to questions about origins. The plant’s genes were muddled to begin with by plant breeders and have further intermixed across wild populations. Wild lantana after two centuries of adaptation to tropical climates is not the same as its tame cousins relaxing in California gardens. It’s fitting that one of lantana’s landing points across the Global South—the Indian subcontinent—also happens to have one of the most genetically diverse human populations on Earth. But it is targeted by policy makers as an invasive, as an invader, as a rootless hybrid immigrant doing just a little too well for itself in its present environs.”

Map Drawings of the Landscapes: “The map-landscape-drawings present a visually distinct means to document a place, a site, a landscape. Paying homage to Corner and MacLean seminal book, Taking Measures across the American Landscape, the purpose here is to interpret the Southern Ontario landscape in a similar fashion.”

Behind the U.S. Botanic Garden there’s … an architect?: “A garden can mature and evolve in a way that a building cannot,” says Nick Nelson, the botanic garden’s landscape architect. “I still do love the power of a hand sketch and a hand-drawn perspective. Even though I’m not selling anything, I still need to sell people on my idea.”

Summer has come to an end here in Los Angeles. Despite the unabated high temperatures, the days are becoming shorter. Gardeners are already planning the transition from the growing cycle of warm weather into the cooler autumn months in preparation to plant next year’s bounty. Vacation season has come to a close too, with students returning to school. In recognition of this seasonal transition, we’ll be focusing on a Back-to-School theme for September, specifically one from the perspective of the landscape architecture education and profession. We hope you’ll learn something from their lessons.

About 30 years, from the early 60s into early 90s, downtown Haifa was the vibrant center of the city. Back then, the Architecture school of the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology was located in downtown and responsible for the annual Jewish Carnival (“Purim” פורים in Hebrew, the Jewish version of Halloween). The  event was known as Archi-Parchi-Tura, and every year the architecture students of the Technion participated in special classes and workshops where they’d build art installations over cars and floats in celebration of the holiday event.

On the day of the Carnival, thousands of people would our to celebrate and watch these decorated cars drive across the streets of downtown. The Carnival was well known across the country, and became the biggest event in Israel during the holiday. However, by the early 90s, downtown Haifa had become neglected and dangerous. The architecture school eventually was moved to a suburban area of the city, and with this move, brought the end of Archi-Parchi-Tura.

 

The carnival in the 60’s. Photos used with permission: Professor Shamay Asif

When I was in my second year in landscape architecture school in 2011, a new wind of activism began blowing around the world, including across Israel. There were many new activist movements, including urbanism movements that arose from the big cities within Israel. It was during this atmosphere of activism that my roommate and studio member came up with the idea of reviving Archi-Parchi-Tura in the very same streets it used to happen twenty years ago.

I have to admit I wasn’t very optimistic about this plan. I was sure that no one would permit us do it, that funds would be impossible to organize, and the chances of the celebration being allowed to happen again in downtown unlikely. Surprisingly the city was very receptive, alongside some professors from the Technicon who still remembered the annual event from their own days as students.

During the work in the studio. Photos used with permission: Adi Baum-Tamir

After about a month into this project our numbers had grown already to a group of 20 people managing more than 150 volunteers from the architecture and landscape architecture schools. By then, many other groups of artist and other design schools studios decided to join us. We were divided into groups of about 20 students, and every group was responsible for one truck to decorate. The concept was to create designs representing the city of Haifa and architecture. My group took a humorous angle of a monumental granary and the masses of birds that can be seen flying around it daily (shown above).

The Carnival, downtown Haifa. Photos used with permission: Ira Khalistonov

In the end, the event turned out to be a great success. Many people came to witness and participate in the celebration with us, coming from all over the country. Former students came back with their children and grandchildren. The art installation wasn’t very professional or too impressive, but the atmosphere definitely honored the history of downtown. It was amazing to witness this idea turn into a reality in only a few month. Reviving Archi-Parchi-Tura turned into an unforgettable experience for all of us – one marked by the impressive teamwork of all those who came together to make it happen. We revived a historic event for downtown Haifa, a celebration which continues annually today.

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Summer has come to an end here in Los Angeles. Despite the unabated high temperatures, the days are becoming shorter. Gardeners are already planning the transition from the growing cycle of warm weather into the cooler autumn months in preparation to plant next year’s bounty. Vacation season has come to a close too, with students returning to school. In recognition of this seasonal transition, we’ll be focusing on a Back-to-School theme for September, specifically one from the perspective of the landscape architecture education and profession. We hope you’ll learn something from their lessons.

Looking back to my time in graduate school to today, one thing that sticks out in my development as a designer is the evolution of my thoughts about representation and landscape. The power of representation – collecting layers of a site’s history to tell a story – gives designers the tools to communicate, inform, and influence design in unexpected ways.

I took one studio during graduate school entitled, Stateline, a class that focused entirely on representing a site’s history in varying ways. We were to portray the Lower Wabash River between Illinois and Indiana with drawings, culminating with a group gallery exhibit of our work. There was an emphasis on digital media and hyper-narrative landscapes, and the studio was divided into different assignments that experimented with organizing a site’s history in numerous ways. The following is what unfolded:

All images: Jessica Roberts

For the montage assignment we were directed to ignore space and time. Instead, we were advised to layer moments of the landscape on top of one another – the extinct Carolina Parakeet, historic canals, railroad systems, whiskey barrel, and glacial movements – they were all stacked up with no respect to scale.

Conversely, for the narrative montage assignment we were told to compress time in space. Highways and historic canals were to exist at once, and abandoned trains and displaced buffalo returned to the present.

Click above for full image.

The timeline explored the site through a deep ecological perspective, visualizing the connections across the epochs. For example, glacial sand barrens and current melon production in the area that benefited from the sandy glacial deposits are shown sharing common ground.

These exercises taught me about the rich palimpsest of landscape and the importance of understanding a site’s histories, rather than glorifying only the new. Looking back at this studio helps me remember the strength that comes with storytelling, and the possible design opportunities that can only be unearthed in the process of creating a drawing.

Summer has come to an end here in Los Angeles. Despite the unabated high temperatures, the days are becoming shorter. Gardeners are already planning the transition from the growing cycle of warm weather into the cooler autumn months in preparation to plant next year’s bounty. Vacation season has come to a close too, with students returning to school. In recognition of this seasonal transition, we’ll be focusing on a Back-to-School theme for September, specifically one from the perspective of the landscape architecture education and profession. We hope you’ll learn something from their lessons.

Photos: Katherine Montgomery

I returned to school as an adult while working full-time. I attended classes in the evenings and weekends, all with the purpose of earning a degree in landscape architecture. The program required a large amount of self-guided learning, and outside of class, I sought knowledge within the quiet aisles of bookstores.

More than any class or studio I took during school, books provided a multi-faceted depth to my understanding of the landscape. From field guides to novels, I’ve accumulated a library that now I can repeatedly dip into for inspiration and perspective. My own understanding of landscapes comes from logical, scientific, artistic, and emotional descriptions. I’ve divided some of my favorite books into these categories to share and recommend.

At the heart of my list is a very dog-eared copy of Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. This book resonated, evoking memories of my childhood love of nature. It was Louv’s words that inspired me to consider landscape architecture as a career. I’ve included this title in my stack of non-fiction “Landscape Analysis” books, which includes essays on natural systems and historic context. Each of these books touches upon a different angle of the human impact on landscapes. Another favorite, Trees in my Forest by Berndt Heinrich, describes the interconnectedness of trees with a scientific, yet personal perspective. John McPhee’s The Control of Nature thoroughly investigates a handful of landscapes, looking closely at how humans have attempted to impact them. Even more so, Emma Marris’s Rambunctious Garden proposes that nature has become just another human system. While I don’t necessarily agree with the outlook and opinions of these authors, they spark critical thoughts about how to interact with and design in our modern world.

In a similar category are the urban design books like Site Planning, Pattern Language, and Design with Nature – mainstays of landscape architecture school. I’ve kept these three books to refer to again and again when considering the built environment.

Taking a step back from analysis, my next stack is a series of field guides and indexes of birds, plants, wildlife, and how those systems function. I find comfort within the objective facts of science: a scrub jay is a scrub jay. I find studying bird guides and plant identification books extremely calming, but also helpful in navigating and integrating design with the natural world.

The final grouping of books in my library is based on subjective experiences of landscape. While a scrub jay is a scrub jay, everyone’s experience of its squawk is different. The novels, memoirs, essays, and poetry shown above all describe the human experience of a physical place. Willa Cather’s rugged Nebraska and Alice Munro’s descriptions of rural Canada help me understand the physical experience of place that influences the characters’ lives. Literary narratives can translate these visceral qualities in ways that blueprints cannot.

The ponds are uprisings from the water table, shallow and shape shifting as sand from the dunes blows into them, creating mass here, causing the water to spread in a generally southeast direction, away from the prevailing winter winds which day after day bite and rasp and shovel up the great weight of the sand. – Mary Oliver, Upstream

The most striking landscape narratives come from a combination of meditating on personal experience and an objective understanding of natural systems. There are so many varied perspectives to absorb and grasp, I love having them all mingling on my bedside table and bookshelves. I can only hope these books continue to guide my understanding of the world and design process.


Signal Tide
Signal Tide is a sound and extraterrestrial radio installation artwork, which combines real-time signals from an abandoned satellite, currently orbiting the earth, with specially-commissioned music and sound. It is the culmination of over two years of research and development by 2016 Art + Technology Lab grant recipients Kovács/O’Doherty, and features music created by David Bryant (of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Hiss Tracts), Drew Barnet, and James Hamilton, in collaboration with Kovács/O’Doherty.
When: Thu, September 21, 2017, 6:50am
Where: LACMA | Hancock Park

ASLA Southern California Mixer
USA Shade and Fabric Structures is pleased to sponsor an evening mixer for the ASLA Southern California Chapter!
Come enjoy some libations and good food and hear the latest from ASLA National regarding the upcoming Annual Meeting in Los Angeles. It is sure to be a fun and informative evening. Free to attend!
When: Thu, September 21, 2017, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Where: USA Shade and Fabric Structures, 1085 N Main Street, Suite C, Orange, California 92867

LACMA Panel Discussion—The Diversity Bonus in the Knowledge Economy
What if workforce diversity is more than simply the right thing to do in order to make society more integrated and just? In this panel, Scott E. Page will discuss the power of cognitive differences, a subject raised in his latest book, The Diversity Bonus: How Great Teams Pay Off in the Knowledge Economy, the second volume in the Our Compelling Interests series—an initiative of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Free, but registration in advance recommended.
When: Wed, September 27, 2017
Where: LACMA | Bing Theater

Opera at Expo Park
LA Opera presents Opera at the Park, a live broadcast sponsored by Los Angeles County and by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. CARMEN starring Ana Maria Martinez and conducted by James Conlon, will be broadcast live in high-definition from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to the big screen at Exposition Park. Thanks to Los Angeles County’s support of an annual simulcast in a different supervisorial district each season, Carmen will be the first Opera in the Park simulcast at Exposition Park, located in the Second District.
When: Saturday, September 23, 2017, Doors open at 5:00pm
Where: Exposition Park

Japansese Classic Car Show
10 years ago a group of Southern California car enthusiasts got together with the idea of putting on a new event – one that would celebrate vintage Japanese automobiles and the culture that surrounds them. At the time this was a pretty bold idea, as classic Japanese cars had yet to reach mainstream acceptance.Fast forward 10 years, JCCS has become one of Southern California’s premier car gatherings. In recent years the event has grown right alongside the popularity of classic Japanese cars themselves.
When: Saturday, September 23, 2017, 9am – 3pm
Where: 1126 Queen’s Highway, Long Beach, CA 90802

Breakfast with Richard Llewellyn
The 2017 AIA|LA CITY LEADERS BREAKFAST SERIES serves as an opportunity for architects & designers and other community stakeholders to meet directly with key individuals transforming Los Angeles in a roundtable setting to discuss innovative ideas that will ensure a healthy, sustainable and economically competitive future. This week: Richard H. Llewellyn, Jr., Esq. – Interim City Administrative Officer, City of Los Angeles
When: Friday, September 22, 8:00 – 9:30am
Where: PSOMAS – 555 South Flower St., Suite 4300 Los Angeles, CA 90071