Posts tagged landscape architecture

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Architecture & Design Film Festival: Los Angeles
The Architecture & Design Film Festival, celebrates the unique creative spirit that drives architecture and design. With a curated selection of films, events and panel discussions, ADFF creates an opportunity to entertain, engage and educate all types of people who are excited about architecture and design. With well-attended screenings, legendary panelists, vibrant discussions and events in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, it has grown into the nation’s largest film festival devoted to the subject. The ADFF also programs for international film festivals as well as cultural institutions and private venues.
When: March 15-18th; various show times
Where: The Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Forest Bathing
“Slow Down. Awaken your senses. Bear witness to yourself and all beings. Inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku, Forest Bathing has been scientifically proven to boost immune strength, reduce stress, and improve cognitive functioning. But beyond these physiological changes, Forest Bathing also offers us the opportunity to deepen our relationship with the natural world. By slowing down and carefully observing with all our senses, we may begin to notice incredible things that may have eluded us for our whole lives. In escaping the rapid pace of our daily routines, we may find unparalleled beauty in the moment and in doing so, relax into the beauty all around us.” $25 per session Arboretum members / $35 non-members (Includes Arboretum Admission)
When: March 17th, 8:00AM-10:00AM
Where: Meets @ Main Entrance of the Los Angeles County Arboretum

The Other Art Fair Los Angeles
The Other Art Fair is a leading artist fair presented by Saatchi Art, showcasing the work of the very best in emerging art to art lovers from all backgrounds. On March 15-18, 2018 the Fair makes its West Coast debut at Los Angeles’ historic The Majestic Downtown, presenting 100 talented emerging artists alongside a unique and immersive features program.
When: Thursday, March 15 at 6 PM – 10 PM
Where: The Majestic Downtown, 650 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, California 90014

Highland Park Heritage Trust 35th Anniversary Celebration
Join us for a day of lively activities! Timed tours of the historic Abbey San Encino plus a Local Artisan Fair and Live Music in the gardens from 10 to 3pm. A special closing Anniversary Reception with Wine, Cheese and a Silent Auction will be held from 3pm to 5pm.
When: March 18th, 10am – 5pm
Where: The Abbey San Encino, 6211 Arroyo Glen Street in historic Highland Park

Huntington Beach Cherry Blossom Festival
The Sister City organization is a volunteer group dedicated to maintaining the tradition of friendship and cultural exchange with Huntington Beach’s Sister City in Anjo, Japan. Historic Wintersburg—a National Treasure goldfish farm and mission property representing over 100 years of Japanese American pioneer history in Huntington Beach—proudly supports our Sister City organization and the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
When: March 18 at 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Where: Huntington Beach Central Park Amphitheater, 7111 Talbert Ave, Huntington Beach, California 92648

Camera trapper hits jackpot with stunning video of 4 mountain lions near L.A.
“What you’re seeing is Limpy and her 10-month-old kittens returning to an area where I hadn’t seen them since November. So when she showed up on my video, and the sun was setting, I was really excited! I was waiting for her eventual return with her new litter.”

6 Cities That Have Transformed Their Highways Into Urban Parks
“Building a highway in a city is often thought of as a solution to traffic congestion. However, the induced demand theory has shown that when drivers have more routes, they choose to continue using this medium instead of using public transport or a bicycle, and as a result, congestion doesn’t decrease. As a result, some cities have chosen to remove spaces designated for cars and turn what was once a highway into urban parks and less congested streets.”

Requiem for a bookstore: Caravan writes its final chapter
“DTLA’s Caravan’s closing is more than the loss of another bookstore. It is the loss of a rare opportunity to get lost, to ignore the signposts of popular culture and discover something new. It helped that Bernstein was always nearby, happy to answer questions, scatter breadcrumbs along the way. The store’s absence — for those inclined to ask — now raises an important philosophical question: How will we learn about something if we never knew it existed?”

Market-Based Solutions Cannot Forge Transformative and Inclusive Urban Futures
“Herein lies a fundamental problem as we look to the future. We know that unless urbanization of the future is very different from current trajectories—especially for a region such as Asia, which is urbanizing rapidly—that our chances of meeting the objectives set out in Paris are extremely limited. We also know that current patterns of urbanization are likely to intensify inequalities and social differentiation. And yet, the “new urban agenda” is not even on the agenda.”

Untapped potential: Increasing diversity in landscape architecture
“Not to make generalizations, but unfortunately, landscape architecture isn’t well-known in the African American community,” she said. “I grew up in the African American middle class. I knew what an architect was, and I actually thought about being an architect. But instead, my undergraduate degree is in painting because I never knew what landscape architecture was.”

The visual preference survey (VPS) was originally developed as a public consultation tool by urban visionary, Anton Nelessen in the 70s. They’ve remained a ubiquitous tool used within the planning and design fields for evaluating individual components of future built environments. Though originated as an appraisal planning instrument for decision-making, VPS continues today as a participatory design and research tool with valuable applications, with some caveats.

Photo manipulation based survey comparing planting alternatives for a pocket park, conventional vegetation (left side) against xeriscaping (right side). All images:  Cristhian Barajas

We have all seen some form or derivation of these surveys. They use distinct photographs to illustrate and present different proposals, illustrating the options a project can take, while specifying individual design or program elements. Traditionally, there has been a distinction between the conventional approach using non-uniform sets of photographs and photo-manipulated VPS – academically, the latter receiving more praise for their more accurate representations.

Photo manipulation-based VPS are more suitable for academic research exercises, and for projects presenting a narrower spectrum of possibilities. The level of skill they take and the fee-consuming time associated with their production renders them not viable for ordinary practice. But when utilized using common photographs easily collected online, VPS remains a flexible tool offering endless applications, invaluable for projects requiring a component of public engagement.

A photograph-based visual preference survey comparing different types of benches using wood slats in many ways.

How VPS Benefit Projects and the Public

VPS is most valuable when establishing a system of criteria to filter the public’s likes and preferences, and also to shape design decisions operating under a common language between project participants. Factors evaluated may include: materials, colors, shapes, sizes, layouts, styles and functions. Theoretically, the surveys are meant to democratically represent what the stakeholders and users want. However, there are some inherent flaws capable of jeopardizing the public’s objective perception.

Criticisms associated with VPS include their ability to be used as a manipulation tool, alongside their use in engaging in disinformation. Manipulation refers to designers and/or developers who purposely enhance or position design preferences from a favored vantage point over and above the rest of other options. Disinformation refers to biased activity shaped by inaccurately presented options or through the use of higher-quality images to promote favored results.

All photographs are subject to factors like lighting, weather, composition, context, angle, zoom and resolution – each a powerful determinant with the potential to shift the viewer’s reaction toward either a negative or positive rating.

The visual preference survey above does not present consistently sized photographs, strongly favoring those with a higher hierarchy. Similarly, images of some water features may be deemed less appealing due to the captured angle, lighting, or context present.

In the second part of What Are Visual Preference Surveys and Why They Matter, I’ll explore another pitfall related to the use of visual preference surveys, and recommend several do’s and don’ts when utilizing this valuable public assessment tool.


The orthogonal layout of plants showcases their individual beauty accompanied by adjoining reflecting basins designed to show the water as a still reflecting pool. The resulting soft waterfall sound is a soothing, meditative accompaniment to the view. All photos: Amanda Flores

As the weather begins to warm up (somewhat) across SoCal, I’ve begun taking note of the numerous outdoor destinations on my “to visit” list. While winter’s on and off rainy, foggy, icy weather is welcome, it’s California’s warmer and sunnier summer days I most long for – weather ideal for appreciating the beauty of our state’s landscape, best enjoyed with a hat on and an ice-cold pink lemonade in hand.

One particular place to appreciate the many varieties of resilient Californian plants native to the desert landscape resides nearby in Riverside County’s Rancho Mirage. I visited Sunnylands Center and Gardens for the first time two years ago and I still remember being awestruck by the artful arrangements of drought-tolerant landscape across the 9 acres of desert gardens. With over 53,000 drought tolerant specimens and over 50 plant species on display as living sculptures, Sunnylands is an unforgettable experience for anyone working within the landscape architecture profession.

Some examples of plants with different forms and textures, displaying the variety of plants preadapted to thrive in arid desert climates with ease across Southern California.

Walking through Sunnylands is like walking through a museum of sorts, or like meandering through a live 3D painting populated with fauna preadapted to thrive amongst arid plants of the desert.

While Sunnylands also features a lawn, its size is dwarfed in comparison to the rest of the grounds, serving as a functional platform for viewing the sculptural, artfully designed arid landscape in all directions.

Amongst Sunnyland’s layout of desert plants I find great inspiration in observing the variety of forms, textures, and colors on display. Plants appropriate for arid climates are often described as dry, dull, boring, or even ugly by a public used to equating stretches of lawns as the garden standard of beauty (thankfully this viewpoint is rapidly changing). The Sunnylands Center and Gardens stands as an inspiring counterpoint to the misinformed and outdated preference for lawn, showcasing the inherent beauty of a resilient landscape artfully arranged.

Which summer destinations are you looking forward to visiting this year?

Photo: Gary Lai

Congratulations, Los Angeles, you’ve won the title of city with the worst traffic in the world! According to INRIX, a transportation analytic company, Los Angeles has won the title now six years in a row – a distinction I was completely unaware of when I wrote this piece about LA’s traffic back in 2016. Back then, I mistakenly believed we only had the worst traffic in the country. Silly me.

With a recent move bringing me closer to work, my commute has dropped down to just 25 minutes from door-to-desk, and thus I’ve fallen completely out of the loop about average commute times. But last week, I got reacquainted with the plight of the average Angeleno. I had to travel across town to the Westside for a seminar. I needed to be at the Sunset Luxe Hotel by 9am, and I cheerfully left my Little Tokyo apartment at 8am believing this would be sufficient, with time to spare.

For those of you who regularly commute across Los Angeles, you can stop laughing now.

The distance between Little Tokyo to the Luxe is about 16 miles. The trip took me an hour and 25 minutes to arrive, even while aided toward the fastest routes by GPS. This comes out to an average of a little over 11 mph, or roughly, the speed of a bicyclist.

I don’t have to tell you how our city’s congested traffic affects our health, air quality, pocket books, and the overall economy. We’ve already voted to tax ourselves several times over the past decade in an attempt to alleviate these problems. Unfortunately, as with every large infrastructure project, relief will not be realized for another decade. For now, let’s just look ahead:

  • Our investment in public transportation will transform the city of Los Angeles. Planned rail lines and the development around those rail corridors will get thousands of people off the city’s freeways. The effects may not be apparent for a number of years, but our investment in rail will define the landscape of Los Angeles beyond mere transportation.
  • Ride sharing services like Lyft and Uber are here to stay for the foreseeable future, contributing in ways we have not yet foreseen, for better or worse.
  • Autonomous vehicles are coming. A paradigm change, autonomous vehicles will ideally allow Angelenos to maximize the use of our existing automobile infrastructure, while hopefully still reducing overall congestion.
  • Dedicated express busways will fill in the gaps where rail will not and cannot go. Express buses like the Orange Line and the 720 Wilshire will need to bridge the gap for riders currently using  our current road infrastructure until full rail implementation becomes available. Over time, like in the case of the Orange Line, ridership will hopefully reach a tipping point where demand from bus to rail emerges. Express buses are the proof of concept properly implemented transportation corridors can work.
  • Pedestrians and bicycles will have a large role in shaping our commute, helping us stay healthier. Believe it or not, people will walk (and bike) in Los Angeles if the facilities are safe, well designed and take us where we want to go. In many instances, walking or biking might actually be the fastest mode of transportation available. This is certainly true in Downtown LA right now.

Buckle up fellow travelers! The evolution of transportation in Los Angeles will take awhile to complete, but brighter days glow ahead across our horizon. But till then Angelenos, we’ll all have plenty of time to ponder these improvements as we crawl to and from work, stuck along the 10 or 405.