Posts tagged with "Landscape Architecture":
2016 Best of Design Award for Landscape > Public: Lower Rainier Vista & Pedestrian Land Bridge by GGN
With the Lower Rainier Vista Project, GGN extends and completes the Olmsted Brothers’ historic vision for a monumental campus axis at the University of Washington. The project’s defining feature is the lowering of the roadway that isolated the last portion of the historic axis, reconnecting it with an elegant land bridge. This new connection allows pedestrians, cyclists, buses, and automobiles to move easily between the UW Husky Stadium light rail station and the campus heart. By creating a more generous, people-focused feel to the campus, the Vista Project reenvisions a disconnected landscape as a place to linger.
Structural Engineer and Civil Engineer KPFFElectrical Engineer and Lighting Designer AEI/Pivotal Lighting Design Irrigation Design Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company Gabion Basket Walls Hilfiker Retaining Walls Linear LED Lighting i2Systems
Honorable Mention, Landscape > Public: Governors Island Park & Public Space
Architects: West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture Location: Governors Island, NY
With an extraordinary 360-degree panoramic experience of the New York Harbor, the sculpted topography, winding pathways, and carefully planted trees of Governors Island Park create a beautifully choreographed celebration of nature while improving resilience for rising sea levels.
Honorable Mention, Landscape > Public: Newark Riverfront Park
Design Team: Weintraub Diaz Landscape Architects, Newark Planning Office, Hatch Mott MacDonald, MTWTF Location: Newark, NJ
Using a participatory design process with input from over 6,000 residents, this project transformed a brownfield adjacent to a Superfund site into an oasis meant to reflect its ethnically diverse working class community, while benefitting it socially, economically, and environmentally.
Questions of environment, ecology, and climate have never more intensely occupied the cultural zeitgeist. According to editors Christophe Girot and Dora Imhof of the ETH Zurich, as scarcity, ruin, and a siege mentality drove the functionalism that dominated architecture of the post-war period, the profession of landscape architecture is still in the midst of responding to a decades-long environmental crisis, and has produced similarly functionalist design. They suggest (as Elizabeth Meyer has for years in her Sustaining Beauty writings) that recent landscape architectural production is too highly conditioned by analytics, abstracted from site, and producing works that don’t rise above functionalist responses to an environment in peril.
Thinking the Contemporary Landscape, a 17-essay collection, attempts to set up a discourse between opposing ideologies, such as science and memory, power and territory, fact and myth, in order to present an all-encompassing theory of contemporary landscape practice. While this endeavor ultimately frays, revealing the unlikelihood (or frankly, undesirability) of such unification, the book itself is a must-read for landscape architects and urbanists. The editors wittingly construct a discourse about a schism in modes of practice, a reaction perhaps to the dominance in recent years of landscape urbanism and its hybrids. Despite the foregrounding of an environment in peril, they react to scientific positivism by advocating for a return to aesthetics, poetics, myth, and meaning. The current volume suggests other new identities. If we are to believe Charles Waldheim, landscape architect equals urbanist. Waldheim and James Corner in particular are intent on fomenting this shift in perception; beseeching practitioners to take control of urban design territory (presumably, before the architects and urban planners beat them to it).
Girot’s essay laments the modes of visualization epitomized by the “layer-cake” approach of Ian McHarg, author of the 1969 Design with Nature. He suggests that years of design with 2-D maps and collage have effectively broken down landscape thinking into abstract, and ultimately, meaningless, layers. Girot argues that the results of this diagrammatic thinking have stripped design of character, of local connections, and ultimately, of meaning.
As a counterpoint, Corner argues for the preeminence of the plan, composite layers, and collage, suggesting they have the capacity to become “engendering machines” of “rich and unpredictable interactions,” a method that comes from ecology itself. Corner plays both ends of the spectrum, at once advocating for performance and form. In a mediated (and ultimately modest) position, Corner’s conception of “format” is hardly memorable. In the context of design reviews as long as six years ago, Corner declared that the University of Pennsylvania was about form and aesthetics, and Harvard was about performance. This dissonance of Corner’s recent commentary with his earlier writings manifests as some subconscious and uncoordinated id-war, a shift away from the working landscape and toward the “pictorial impulse” he earlier reviled (in New Operations and the Eidetic Landscape).
Recalling David Gissen’s Subnatures, Vittoria Di Palma’s intriguing discussion of aesthetics engages the wasteland as site of primal disgust and ultimately, subversive aesthetics. She revisits the picturesque and its power to give “a new prominence to aversive landscape,” (a topic explored by Robert Smithson in 1973’s Frederick Law Olmsted and the Dialectical Landscape), an apt aesthetic history to sample when theorizing the entropy, asymmetry, and gnarliness of the Anthropocene.
Other contributors reject the editors’ prompt of aesthetics altogether. Notably, Kongjian Yu, a practitioner of ecological design in China, argues powerfully for landschaft or the working landscape, suggesting that “the quality and beauty of the landscape has been detached from the notion of a holistic land system for living and survival, and has now become high art landscape design exclusively for the pleasure of the urban elite.” In a similar vein, Saskia Sassen’s critique eviscerates the blunt hand of capitalism that is currently playing out in the form of global land acquisition.
Rather than a clear way forward, the diversity of this volume evidences a fraught world in need of urban design leadership, solutions for the anxious environment of climate change, and rethinking the future of landscape’s territory and meaning in the 21st century.
Thinking The Contemporary Landscape Christophe Girot, Dora Imhof, Princeton Architectural Press, $45
AILA International Award of Excellence Nanjing Tangshan Geopark Museum Hassell According to the AILA, the project is an "experiential and immersive gateway and forecourt" for the Nanjing Tangshan Geopark Museum, which was designed by Parisian architect Odile Decq. Multidisciplinary firm Hassell integrated a network of pathways and gardens into a 15-hectare park that includes a 300 million-year-old Paleozoic quarry.
AILA National Award for Parks and Open Space McCulloch Avenue Boardwalk Site Office Completed on a "modest" budget, the McCulloch Avenue Boardwalk sets travellers within the diverse topography and landscape of the site. "What could have been a simple boardwalk through a dune has become an experiential journey that rewards the user with a sense of pride and enjoyment," said the AILA. "No longer will be the destination be the focus."
AILA National Parks and Open Space Award of Excellence MacKenzie Falls Gorge Trail Hansen Partnership Creating new routes through Grampians National Park, urban design, planning, and landscape architecture firm Hansen Partnership were able to cast MacKenzie Falls Gorge (one of Australia's largest waterfalls) in a new light. Bolted steel bridges and mesh pathways are able to endure flooding and fires (but can't protect you from spiders).
AILA National Gardens Award of Excellence Forest Edge Garden Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture approached this project with the view to blend the garden into the terrain. The result was a subtle and elegant series of interventions that kept the existing landscape in harmony with the dwelling through careful design, plant species selection, and water management.
AILA National Tourism Award of Excellence Penguin Plus Viewing Area Tract Consultants with Wood Marsh Architecture On Phillip Island, tourists can catch glimpses of penguins both inside and outside this curvaceous, topographic timber structure by planning and design firm Tract Consultants with Wood Marsh Architecture. "The work is beautifully detailed and provides a replicable prototype for the development of other components of this fragile landscape into the future," said the AILA.
AILA National Award for Communities Get Sunflowered OUTR Research Lab, RMIT University Get Sunflowered saw new life come to the Latrobe Valley in Victoria, Australia. Community events include cleaning, planting, weeding, watering, and "harvesting"—all accompanied by local live music, food, and entertainment. The AILA praised Get Sunflowered for making use of a forgotten place which has been subject to a population and economic shift.
AILA National Award for Civic Landscape Glenorchy Art and Sculpture Park (GASP!) Stage 2 McGregor Coxall Multidisciplinary firm McGregor Coxall's work the second stage of the Glenorchy Art and Sculpture Park pays extensive tribute and homage to the dramatic landscape of Wilkinson’s Point. The "build it and they will come" approach has paid dividends and is, according to the AILA, a well-used civic and cultural space. "It has captured the imagination of locals and visitors as well as being recognized nationally and abroad."
AILA National Award for Infrastructure Sydney Park Water Re-Use Project Stage 2 Turf Design Studio and Environmental Partnership Juggling numerous constraints, Turf Design Studio and Environmental Partnership educate visitors to Sydney Park on environmental issues and the value of inner city green space. Integrating ecology, play, stakeholder management, engineering and sustainable water management requirements within an existing and well-loved inner city park is a difficult brief in any context," the AILA said. "The project beautifully expresses the forms, shapes, context, ecology and management of water, while also focussing on people, place, habitat and ecology."
AILA National Award for Land Conservation Shipwreck Coast Master Plan McGregor Coxall Shipwreck Coast in South Victoria is a popular tourist destination on the Australian southeast coast. Tourists, however, are the issue at hand with their presence threatening the site they flock to. Tackling this challenge, McGregor Coxall (in their 4th mention in the full list of 40) tie in habitat preservation with investment opportunities while maintaining and amplifying the sight-seeing experience–something which is a must for the economic prosperity of the area.
Reyner Banham, in his 1971 Los Angeles: The Architecture of the Four Ecologies, chose to view L.A. as an interwoven network of ecological systems: freeways, suburbs, mountains, and beaches. This urban expanse, even in the 1970s, was not only a landscape radically different than what people of Banham’s time had seen before, but more importantly, presaged the prevailing type of urban geography that would become a defining characteristic of the late 20th century and beyond. This new type of urban region, where the lines between and among the city, its suburbs, and nature are increasingly blurred, defines the so-called “megalopolises” of today.
With Banham’s Los Angeles in mind, landscape architects, geographers, and researchers came together at University of Southern California (USC), under the direction of Kelly Shannon, director of the USC School of Architecture's Landscape Architecture Program, and USC assistant professor Alison Hirsch, for the Landscape as Necessity conference September 22–24 to focus on issues relating to the connections among megalopolis, nature, and the future of both on a rapidly warming planet.
The three-day-long conference was built around the idea that the landscape architecture discipline is, as stated on the conference website, “uniquely able to synthesize ecological systems, scientific data, engineering methods, social practices, and cultural values, integrating them into the design of the built environment.” It was organized around six prevailing themes: “Preemptive Territorial Design,” “Cultural Agency,” “Water Urbanism,” “Landscapes of Infrastructure,” “Productive Landscapes and Food Security,” and “Energy Fields.” These topics point to the ever-expanding mantle the landscape architecture discipline has increasingly embraced in recent years. This positioning has enabled landscape architects to achieve a new level of prominence in society, both in the rapidly urbanizing areas of the world and in legacy cities, where urban renewal, post-industrial society, and climate change mitigation are being harnessed in an effort to make cities more equitable and sustainable.
These considerations come heavily into play in the work presented at the conference, which was broadly based and featured research and projects from around the world. One panel discussion, called “Resource and Risk,” mined the generative potential of “resource-strained geographies” and featured the work of Miho Mazereeuw, director of the MIT Urban Risk Lab, Eduardo T. De Mesa, chief of the Planning Division at the Los Angeles District of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Kristina Hill, associate professor at University of California, Berkeley, and Gerdo Aquino of Los Angeles–based SWA landscape architects. Mazereeuw presented research from her project “Risk Ecologies– Haiti Evacuation System,” a complex and multivalent study of the currently practiced strategies deployed in Haiti to adapt to the region’s many climatic and social struggles. Aquino presented his firm’s work for the Sava Promenada in Belgrade, Serbia, a project that introduces a one-kilometer long, variable urban waterfront that accommodates seasonal river flooding the Sava River.
Aside from panels, the conference featured paper presentations, such as “Preemptive Territorial Design, Energy fields, Infrastructures,” and showcased work from experts such as, Barry Lehrman, assistant professor of Landscape Architecture at California State Polytechnic University Pomona, who presented a substantive hydrological analysis of his Los Angeles River research. It also featured work by Bradley Cantrell, a Harvard-based researcher who presented the robotic modeling techniques his team uses to create abstracted sediment simulations for riparian landscapes and that of Yusuf Zoheb Nazerali, an architect, landscape designer, and educator who presented his urban design project “Basha Wolde Chilot” for the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that seeks to stitch together old and new parts of the city through landscape infrastructure and economic re-orientation.
The lengthy and impressive grouping of presenters, which ran the gamut from heroes of the field to rising researchers and visionary thinkers, lent a sense of urgency to the conference’s major themes, reinforcing Shannon’s notion for the meeting, that, “More than ever, there is a fundamental necessity for landscape architects to continually expand the public realm, creatively repair polluted sites, and develop innovative hybrid programs.” As conference attendee Kelly Majewski, principal at Los Angeles–based landscape architecture firm Superjacent said: “There was overall feeling from the conference of a call to action for landscape architects from Los Angeles and around the globe to get involved at all levels of the process from design to politics to funding.”
This article was part of our Oct. 12 issue which focused on how water is shaping today’s landscape architecture and urbanism. Communities face deluges and droughts—for some, the stakes can be survival itself, but others see opportunities for decadence. To explore these stories from around the U.S. and the world, click here.
This cartoon was excerpted from the fourth edition of the book Cartooning the Landscape by Chip Sullivan, available now from the University of Virginia Press.
“Landscape Architecture as Necessity” conference at USC aims to “counter the onslaught of politically-correct eco-speak”
In Lawndale, California, Rudolph Park host a myriad of paths of which feature a range of interactive spaces and landscape elements interspersed on the way. Not long ago, however, the 1.5-acre lot contributed little to the city and the state's South Bay area, which was deemed "park poor" due to its lack of pedestrian access to such park. Two non-profit organizations From Lot to Spot (FLTS) and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) worked with Laguna Beach, CA and Pasadena, CA-based landscape architecture firm EPTDESIGN to rejuvenation Rudolph Park. Upon its re-opening, Lawndale Mayor Robert Pullen-Miles described it as "the crown jewel of the city." The Architect's Newspaper spoke to the firm to discuss their approach and reasoning behind their design decisions.
The Architect's Newspaper: What informed the development of the “intellectual” and unstructured play experiences created for children’s areas? Why was this focused on?
EPTDESIGN: The park’s program was developed through community workshops led by FLTS and TPL. Program elements included green space, an amphitheater, a climbing wall, natural play, a restroom, a walking loop, fitness equipment, play for all ages, a picnic area, and a gently rolling lawn. EPTDESIGN developed a concept narrative to tie the program elements together. A narrative based on the site’s natural history grew from the public’s stated desire to have a “natural” space, and as a way to distinguish the park from others in the general area...that centered on a singularly themed play structure.
Could you explain the thought process behind the various topographical elements that feature throughout?
Lawndale sits where the coastal dunes once met the inland prairie, a land characterized by [a] unique topography of dunes and vernal pools. The park seeks to reintroduce the neighborhood to the dunes and prairie that once formed their landscape and to the ecosystems of the hills that frame the region. The park is divided into three zones: The Dunes, Prairie, and Hills. As a result, this playful topographic design allows the visitor to traverse high and low spots. [It] also highlights the site's low-impact stormwater strategy. To enter the site, one crosses over a vegetated swale and infiltration basin where all stormwater is collected.With regards to the climbing wall, how does the form and arrangement link to the overall scheme? What material is this and how was the wall constructed?
The concept narrative espoused playful topography as a way to tie the design to the site’s natural history, but the grading was also a very useful design tool to promote safety. The climbing wall and restroom were both grant-funding-contingent program elements that posed site security challenges. Both are large vertical elements that could obstruct sightlines from the street. Through the use of creative grading, the restroom was built into a constructed hillside. The climbing wall was oriented perpendicular to the street, sharing the same earthwork as the restroom structure, thus eliminating hiding spots. Behind and above the restroom and climbing wall, the finish grade slopes away gently, allowing unobstructed sightlines to the back of the park while creating a universally accessible route from the lowest spot in the park up to the highest.
The 50-foot-long climbing wall is an innovative feature, and an expression of horizontal strata, which involved extensive collaboration between the landscape architect, civil and structural engineers, architect, artist, and contractors. The climbing face is built from precast concrete modules that are anchored to a structural retaining wall. To keep cost down, there are only four different modules. Through the use of 3D modeling, the modules were laid out to create a varied and unexpected yet climbable texture while...avoiding the tacked-on look of off-the-shelf climbing wall handholds and integrating artwork.
I would also ask the same thing about the tiles. Are they featured throughout the park or just those pictured?
The tile work was done by artist Frank Bauer. EPTDESIGN worked with Bauer on the subject matter and locations. There are multiple pieces, and they are displayed in each of the three zones. Within the Dunes zone, ceramics were placed in a water runnel, and feature three-dimensional pieces for kids to discover. In the Prairie, tile work can be found in the entry plaza. And in the Hills zone, ceramic flower mosaics were placed in the climbing wall niches. All are intended to be “touched” and not just for visual display.
In a basement laboratory at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, Bradley Cantrell flips a switch, and a river begins to flow. On a table surveilled by movable sensors and a Microsoft Kinect, pulses of water carry bits of colored sand down a model riverbed.
As an associate professor of Landscape Architectural Technology and director of the GSD’s Master in Landscape Architecture Program, Cantrell runs experiments like these to better understand the natural elements that make up his profession’s palette. But by using computational methods to analyze and even redesign nature, he’s also breaking new ground in the field. Cantrell’s work blurs the lines among environmental engineering, landscape architecture, and artificial intelligence. He sat down with The Architect's Newspaper contributor Chris Bentley in April.
The Architect’s Newspaper: Your work has been described as “computational landscape architecture.” How would you define it?
Bradley Cantrell: I like the term “responsive technologies.” I use a slightly more provocative term sometimes and talk about “cyborg ecologies” or “cyborg landscapes.” It’s really that there isn’t this differentiation between natural systems and human constructed systems. Our technologies actually augment and, yes, change these, but we should celebrate that synthesis as opposed to setting up a duality. We think about nature as being bound in this one place, humans being bound in another. My take is that we should celebrate the connections between those two. It’s not my goal to put computation into everything. But my work uses computation to set up this set of interconnected relationships in a more advanced way.
You talk about embedding sensors and computational technology into the physical landscape, so the landscape reacts to its users in a kind of conversation—what are some of the possibilities of that?
We have this fluid modeling table, but we’re not really modeling a known landscape like the Mississippi Delta. What we’re really doing is using the dynamic nature of that fluid flow and looking at the way the sediment behaves within that. And we’re trying to then use ways of sensing the surface morphology so we can get a digital model of that surface. We can also get spot elevations so we understand how high places are; we can understand how fast water is moving. But then using that data, trying to imagine what are the interactions with that data in real time. We could begin to calculate the actual power of the river to build land or erase land. We could use it to stabilize certain portions, allow other portions to be more in flux.
But the idea there is that by using computation we could take on multiple goals. So it could be about building land, but also that land ebbs and flows because there’s another cycle of a bird species or something like that. Right now we’re taking a very naive approach and just saying, “What are the possibilities of how we can manipulate the system?” And then ideally beginning to layer complexity into that. Right now, when we want to change a river system, we dredge or build a levee to hold water over here and make it dry over there. So it’s a much more traditional construction method, and this one speaks to this kind of real-time interaction with the landscape.
That feedback is one that I think is really important. It speaks to the flora and fauna, too. There’s the idea of resistances among all of these different actors, that there is a form of evolution. And that leads to more resilience within that system because in some ways we’re not depending on a single moment that holds everything together.
You want to let natural systems run their full range of behaviors, but it’s risky to engineer unpredictability into our landscapes. What’s the right amount of uncertainty?
This is a really big question that I don’t have an answer to. But I think it’s a really interesting one. If you think of the way we’ve manufactured something like the Mississippi River, the current state of it has all been put into place for human beings. It’s about navigation up and down the river; it’s about protecting human settlements. And then there’s a whole series of effects from that that alter the surrounding ecosystem. But we then build other things to remediate those effects. My take would be that the relationship could just be more advanced between all of those systems. Sure, there’s going to always be these issues that pop up. But ideally the way things are being managed can propagate those changes back out to the system.
It’s not about taking all the levees down. It’s about how we’re interacting and changing the way the flow occurs in one spot, but we aggregate that off of a thousand points and suddenly the whole river system behaves slightly differently. Can we hold the river in place for a certain amount of time with some certainty? And then can we open that up and allow the river to take on a new course?
When you use terms like “cyborg coast” and “synthetic ecologies,” it sounds like you’re the Dr. Frankenstein of landscape architecture. But building responsive landscapes does not mean replacing natural systems with technology, right? What’s the ideal balance between reengineering nature and conserving it?
I think a lot of people have issues with the idea that we’re actually extending even more control over the landscape. I think there is a fear of that we’re constantly in discussion about how we relinquish control. I think it’s an open question. I would say that you do run the possibility of basically manufacturing everything. As our technologies have gotten more advanced, what we’ve seen is really having more and more control over deeper and deeper levels of biological life. Commercial agriculture is a good example of how we’ve extended that control in a way. But one of the issues there is that it all hinges on basically one variable, and that’s productivity. When everything is hinged on that, then we get a very homogenous situation across commercial agriculture. And that’s where I think this idea that there are competing goals and that humanity might not always be at the center of all of those goals—that takes somewhat of an enlightened viewpoint, but it also is one that is necessary for us to have.
Where do digital representations of the environment still come up short? Is it impossible to model a natural system without oversimplifying it?
I think there’s a kind of clarity in terms of the actual changes we’re making. It’s very difficult for me to say that when I perform this operation, it propagates up through the system in this way. It’s not all about us having better models and better simulations. Part of that is about having a clear understanding of what we’re modeling and the relationships in those models. I think that part is one that’s somewhat missing. Some of these get ironed out just by convincing someone in a small plot of land that this might be an interesting idea and going out and starting to test it.
Even an art project that takes the sediment diversion and uses it as a way to kind of print or paint the landscape—that isn’t all about exactly how the ecological system performs—may sound silly, but it’s a step in that direction. Then people start to see the potential. Building the system and letting people see how it operates is an important step—even if it’s art first.
What’s the next step in actually implementing these ideas?
All the work now is in the lab. I try to make the work a bit more robust by actually working with civil engineers, computer scientists, and ecologists to make sure that they understand that this work exists, because those conversations are the ones that become the most interesting. When an ecologist says, “I never really thought of the idea that you would create basically a robot that would create an ecological system that was outside of human construction.” Suddenly there’s a new place where, is that wilderness? Is that commercial agriculture? Is that design, when you’ve made a robot that thinks for itself and is actually changing the world around us? If we haven’t really manufactured it and it’s a place that we don’t actually understand how it completely works, because it’s this other thing making it, it’s almost wilderness on one hand. The genesis is human construction, but the actual actions are computational logics.
We’ve tried our hardest throughout time to make sure we’re not part of nature. In some ways we’re realizing that there is no separation. We’re actually remanufacturing the Earth similar to any other species that has the same capabilities we might have. That’s something for us to come to grips with. When we do, we suddenly have a new responsibility in the world. It’s not about us doing something and nature responding. What we’re doing is possibly just wrong. It’s not about responding. It’s that we need to be the ones that rethink our processes.