Posts tagged landscape


Groundwater and the Drought: How the West Is Miscounting Water Supplies: Years into a historic drought, Western states like California are wrestling with an inconvenient truth: there’s likely even less water than people think. This animation illustrates why the more water is extracted from underground, the harder it becomes to restore the region’s rivers and reservoirs…

Expandable “Origami” Pot Grows Along With Plants to Cut Waste: “GROWTH, a new design concept by London-based Studio Ayaskan, offers a dynamic take on the standard flower pot—one which not only saves gardening time and effort, but also promotes sustainability and cuts down on unnecessary waste.”

7 Takeaways from the So-Cal Lawn + Landscaping Dilemma: “Some landscape designers argue that there are consequences for the ecosystem to getting rid of lawn. So what can and should Angelenos do to cut back on lawns responsibly? The advice can be conflicting and overwhelming…”

Federal Buildings In SoCal Caught Wasting Water Amid Drought: An undercover news investigation records government workers breaking the City of L.A.’s Emergency Water Conservation Plan, watering government facilities for over two hours…

Los Angeles Sanitation Composting Workshops & Compost Bin Sales: This Saturday at the Griffith Park Composting Education Facility the Department Of Public Works and LA Sanitation is offering a composting workshop, alongside heavily discounted compost bins for LA city residents.

Located next to the Santa Monica Municipal Airport, the Santa Monica Airport Park includes two soccer fields, an off-leash dog park, concession facilities, playground, passive open space, picnic areas, and permeable pavement parking.

Located next to the Santa Monica Municipal Airport, the Santa Monica Airport Park includes two soccer fields, an off-leash dog park, concession facilities, playground, passive open space, picnic areas, and permeable pavement parking.

Newly constructed landscapes need time to mature. With some exceptions, landscape projects typically have budgets that do not allow for the installation of many, if any, large-sized trees or specimen plants and, hence, younger nursery stock is used. Landscape architects are challenged to design with consideration of a project’s aesthetic and functional value immediately upon construction and the long term consequences of time and maintenance practices.

After an appropriate time, we often return to our completed projects to see for ourselves how they have held up. As landscape architects we’re pleased when a design achieves its intended goals, but equally pleased when we discover the landscape re-invented, functioning in a somewhat different way to better serve the needs of the people who use it.

Santa Monica’s Airport Park opened in 2008

Santa Monica’s Airport Park opened in 2008 and its dog park has become a popular socializing area for animals and their owners.

I am a regular user of a public park which our firm designed. The Santa Monica Airport Park opened in 2008, and at that time it was the first new park the city had built in nearly three decades, drawing the attention of several divergent special interest groups. From my perch at Airport Park’s dog park, I have observed the park’s maturity beyond its plant palette – which, by the way, has had some modifications. As a community space the park has held up to the original design intent and much more, becoming a popular destination for soccer matches, family celebrations, community group gatherings, picnics, children’s play and, of course, dog play.

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Among the park’s unexpected surprises for me are the establishment of new friendships which would not have occurred without the creation of this public space. The park also has a wider reach than we originally anticipated. For example, owners of specific dog breeds hold monthly meet-ups at the park which are announced through social media, a technology emerging since the park’s inception.

On a recent visit to the park I heard a group of people complaining about the lack of parking on weekends and how far they had to walk to get to the park. I smiled. This landscape has become a social routine for people, one worth an extra effort.

South Park Streetscape in Downtown Los Angeles

Inspiration Park in Los Angeles; AHBE Landscape Architects


The word is ubiquitous, yet has layers of meaning. Said out loud in isolation, landscape will trigger images of remembered places, moods, or emotions based on our own histories. My landscape memories are defined by an urban upbringing and a life spent within the urban core of major cities. The word does not conjure visions of agriculture fields, river deltas, or forests. I respond instead with everyday scenes of bustling sidewalks and “pocket” spaces tucked between high-rise buildings.

Plan view the SouthPark Streetscape in Downtown Los Angeles

A plan view of the South Park Development and Streetscape in Downtown Los Angeles, showing the private spaces tucked between three condos; AHBE Landscape Architects

Our relationship with outdoor spaces, whether natural or designed, is based not on our past experiences alone but evolves over time with us. In the transformation of a site to “place,” we must start by listening to the people in the communities we serve because their stories will reveal their inherent connections to a particular site. Through this process, we hope to “find the gold” in design that meets their deepest needs for belonging and identity.

When I was filming From Sea To Shining Sea in 2013, one of the things I wanted to capture was how different landscapes sound. So every time we stopped the car to reset the camera and download footage, we recorded a minute or so of wild sound – whatever was happening around in the environs.Since we were on the side of the road it was usually the rumble of cars and 18-wheelers whizzing by. However, as I was editing together the audio collage, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that the sound of the landscape changes: one hears seabirds on the Virginia coast; the rain in Indiana; the rumble of the Golden Gate Bridge; the barfly chatter in Kentucky; the vast emptiness of Nevada; the crickets in Kansas; the canyons in Colorado.

Enjoy this audio collage – I hope to do the same thing in Iceland.

April is officially World Landscape Architecture Month. All month AHBE LAB will be exploring and celebrating the many facets of our profession, specifically the topics, ideas, and themes which influence our work as landscape architects, both locally and globally.

Photo: Calvin Abe/AHBE Landscape Architects

Photo: Calvin Abe/AHBE Landscape Architects

This photograph captured while flying over Lake Casitas, a man-made lake located about 80 mile north of Los Angeles, illustrates an interesting landscape pattern formed by the ongoing California drought. As the water level drops in the lake – at its max Lake Casitas offers a capacity of 254,000 acre ft. – we begin to see how vegetation is associated through its topography. The varying layers of vegetation is due to the mositure content of the soil, topographic elevations, and the physical soil composition. This demonstrates how nature builds an ecology that is interdependent on multiple levels.