31 December 2007

FAQ: Spring LA Classes

Q. I am interested in finding out whether I should major in Landscape Architecture. The only spring classes without prereqs look like Landscape Architecture Construction I: Site Engineering 11:550:341 and Architectural Design 11:550:433. Should I try to sign up for one of these?

A. No. Although these classes don’t list prerequisites, they both require a significant amount of drawing and design skill that you would learn from the earlier studios. Unfortunately, the landscape architecture curriculum is very hard to take out of sequence, which is why we post the graphic patterns (outside of the department office) showing the entire semester at a glance.

If you are really interested in landscape architecture here at Rutgers, there is really only one appropriate way to try it out. You need to wait until the fall semester and take a full slate of landscape architecture classes. To do this, you go to Pam Stewart's office (Blake 113) and get the fall patterns sometime around April. At the end of the fall semester you will submit your design materials from the fall studio and apply for admission to the landscape architecture program.

If you are accepted to the program (in January) you will need to take another 5 consecutive semesters of LA classes as specified in the class patterns. There is very little flexibility in this schedule, so it is best that you get good advising as soon as possible.

If you are not accepted to the program you can still easily move into one of the other options in Environmental Planning and Design, like Environmnetal Planning, Environmnental Geomatics, or Landscape Industry.

30 December 2007

IFLA Student Competition

[slightly modified from the original IFLA announcement]
The IFLA Student Competition 2008 has been announced and is named 'Transforming with water, the way to paradise?' IFLA has invited all students of landscape architecture to participate in this very interesting and inspiring design competition. For information about this competition please check the announcement for the 2008 International Student Competition of the 45th IFLA World Congress, held in the Netherlands.


The closing date of submissions is the 1st of May 2008. The prize-giving ceremony will be at the IFLA Worldcongress 2008 in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands.

Further questions should be directed to Marianne van Lidth de Jeude,
IFLA2008 Student Competiton Director
IFLA2008, PO Box 37756, 1030 BJ, Amsterdam, info@ifla2008.com

28 December 2007

GPS Navigation units

The NY Times has a video on the different G.P.S. navigation units. There is also a written piece on these units and it highlights how much they have changed in a very short time.

23 December 2007

19 December 2007

Lawrence Halprin: The Choreography of Gardens

Penn Architectural Archives presents a first-ever retrospective, "Lawrence Halprin: The Choreography of Gardens."

Event Date: November 16, 2007 February 29, 2008

Hours: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Description: Internationally known for a remarkable series of public spaces in San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC, the American environmental designer, Lawrence Halprin (b.1916) has designed nearly 400 private gardens over his 60 years of practice. From modest designs for postwar tract houses to the grand estates of his most active patrons, the Haas family (founders of Levi Strauss & Co.), this body of work provided a perfect laboratory to explore and develop themes central to his larger public work. To celebrate this legacy, the Architectural Archives presents a first-ever retrospective, "Lawrence Halprin: The Choreography of Gardens." Drawn from the Archives' extensive collection of Halprin's work, the exhibition features over 60 objects, including sketches, photographs, and period publications to vividly demonstrate Halprin's influence on the postwar landscape. With his wife, Anna Halprin-a seminal figure in the world of dance, Halprin explored the "scoring" of bodily movement and sensory stimulation through his designs, perfecting the process within the relatively uncomplicated conditions of the
private residence. To Halprin, the garden serves as "a framework for movement activities," where sequence and transition, paths, views, textures and materials, spatial definition and changes in level all determined the type, rhythm and speed of movement. In effect, as Halprin wrote in 1949, the garden would take on "the fine sense of a dance."

Architectural Archives/Kroiz Gallery
220 South 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

18 December 2007

Landscape Legend Videos

Here is a great way to spend some time over the Winter Break. The Cultural Landscape Foundation has posted videos of interviews with pioneers in Landscape Architecture as part of its Oral History Project. The interviews include Ruth Shellhorn who talks about her work at Disneyland, Rich Haag, Walt Gutherie and Larry Halprin. Many of the interviews appear to be clips right now, but Carol R. Johnson has a robust series of interviews that more fully capture the arc of her career.

17 December 2007

on Disney Highway

This 1958 clip from the Disneyland Show give a sense of where Walt thought America's transportation infrastructure was headed. It is interesting to see that they envisioned some very advanced scenarios, but no matter how sophisticated, they were still highways for cars instead of sophisticated and coordinated mass transit. Fun stuff.

Volunteered Geographic Information: The National Map Corps

The USGS is seeking volunteers to help accelerate the mapping of the world. My understanding was that this is still in a fairly experimental phase, but it seems like a great exploration of bottom-up contributions and how they can be stitched into a major national product.

Volunteered Geographic Information: Powerplants for GoogleEarth

The New Mexico Consortium has posted KMZ files mapping out powerplants all over the country. Just click on the link and it will open the file in GoogleEarth complete with information (some still coming) about the power associated with each powerplant. The goal is for this to be a global, free dataset that anyone can download and use to understand energy networks and supplies.

Tis the season

For getting out your shootgun and shooting up some mistletoe.

15 December 2007

Volunteered Geographic Information Application: Geonomy

What would it be like if you mapped all of the Wikipedia entries? Geonomy offers a great first try. Now, if Wikipedia gets overtaken by Google's new product, there might be a new twist.

Volunteered Geographic Information Application: Wikimapia

Wikimapia has been around for a while but I can see that it has bee populated enough now for us to take it seriously. There is a little sense of humor and a lot of vigor behind this app.

11 December 2007

ASLA Sustainable Sites website

The ASLA Sustainable Sites Initiative has posted a report for review and reports that it is getting some good traffic:
Already, Sustainable Sites has been very popular. The website attracts 250 visits each day with the total visits nearing 18,000 from 88 countries. Thus far, the top cities in the U.S. to visit the Sustainable Sites website are:

1. Austin, TX
2. Washington, DC metro area
3. New York City metro area
4. Portland, OR
5. Seattle, WA
6. Denver, CO
7. Minneapolis, MN
8. Monterey Park, CA
9. San Francisco, CA
10. Chicago, IL

Getting hot in NO LA

Bowing to public pressure, New Orleans has temporarily halted a plan to demolish lower income housing projects that would be replaced by "mixed" income communities. Further complicating the matter is that FEMA has decided that now is the time to take back their trailers. (What are they going to do with them anyway?)

Not in the 3 landscapes, but...

This morning ESPN Travel (yes, ESPN Travel) has a post on the trip that every Packers fan has to take: a pilgrimage to Lambeau Field. Now, I wouldn't list it in my 3 landscapes, but it ranks pretty high with me. (It is worth noting that one job candidate listed Fenway Park in his list)

Another way to slow development

The Toll Brothers have asked East Brunswick Township for permission NOT to develop so quickly.

10 December 2007

National Heritage Areas

The Washington Post reports that the Heritage Foundation is going after heritage areas. In particular, they are looking askance at the NPS' National Heritage Areas which are declared by Congress but often overseen by local government (with some regions being coordinated by an NGO).
National Heritage Areas "pose a threat to private property rights through the exercise of restrictive zoning that may severely limit the extent to which property owners can develop or use their property," wrote Cheryl Chumley and Ronald D. Utt of the Heritage Foundation in a recent report on heritage areas. Chumley and Utt said such "regulatory takings" through zoning are the "most common form of property rights abuse today."
The WP reports that there are currently 37 such regions across the country, with more on the way. (BTW, the online comments are as interesting as the article)

Rutgers Vision for the Livingston Campus

Rutgers is pursuing a new vision for its Livingston Campus. This is a modification or extension of the 2003 physical master plan (pictured above).
To complement this academic vision, the university is exploring the possibility of creating an environmentally sound, sustainable, and attractive pedestrian-friendly community at Livingston, one that combines intelligent development with accessible green space and a reliable transportation network.
The project would include apartments for students, market rate housing as well as housing for current and retired faculty. And, as an indication that this isn't just about money, there are two firms involved at this stage: Ayers Saint Gross and Jones Lang LaSalle.

Munich as a transit marvel

We currently have a group of students mulling over the possibility of taking the 5-week studio in Munich this summer. Maybe this video on Munich as a transit marvel will help them jump in. It certainly makes me want to go.

08 December 2007

Summer jobs


The Heritage Documentation Programs (Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey), a division of the National Park Service, seeks applications from qualified individuals for summer employment documenting historic sites and structures of architectural, landscape and technological significance throughout the country. Duties involve on-site field work and preparation of measured and interpretive drawings and written historical reports for the HABS/HAER/HALS Collection at the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. Projects last twelve weeks, beginning in May/June. Salaries range from approximately $6,000 to approximately $11,000 for the summer, depending on job responsibility, locality of the project, and level of experience. Applicants must be U.S. Citizens. Applications Due: February 4, 2008 (postmark date).

Application forms and detailed information can be found on our web site: http://www.nps.gov/history/hdp/jobs/summer.htm

View examples of HDP documentation on the Library of Congress web site: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/hhhtml/hhhome.html

The Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) and the Council of American Maritime Museums (CAMM) announce the Maritime Documentation Internship 2008. The internship will permit a student or recent graduate of an architecture or history program, interested in maritime preservation, to work on a HAER maritime documentation project. The Intern must be a U.S. Citizen. The selected recipient will receive a stipend of approximately $6,000 and will work with a HAER team for 12 weeks during the summer. The Internship will require research and writing or measuring and drafting of historic maritime resources. Applications Due: February 1, 2008 (postmark date).

Application forms and detailed information can be found on our web site: http://www.nps.gov/history/hdp/jobs/maritime.htm

For additional information regarding any of the Heritage Documentation Programs Summer 2008 Employment Opportunities, please contact:
Judy Davis, Summer Program Administrator
Heritage Documentation Programs Division
National Park Service (2270)
1201 Eye Street, NW, 7th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Tel: (202) 354-2135
Email: HDP_Summer_Program_Admin@nps.gov

07 December 2007

Making a model city (out of a real one)

We've been using Photoshop in studio and this is one of the new tricks we were playing with. I started with real photos and digitally altered them as if they were taken with a tilt-shift lens. Here's a tutorial for you to try it out.

06 December 2007

Happy Birthday Joyce Kilmer

Today is Joyce Kilmer's birthday. The Rutgers alum and New Brunswick native is probably most famous for his poem, Trees. The poem, written in 1913, is said to have been written under an oak tree (now fondly remembered as the Kilmer Oak) on what is now the Cook Campus. The tree is gone now (I gather it was over by the Labor School building) but some folks on campus still claim to have plaques made from the Kilmer Oak.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

05 December 2007

Career Fair

Career Services' 41st New Jersey Collegiate Career Day, a statewide job and internship fair, will be held Friday, January 4 at the Rutgers Student Center and Brower Commons from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The fair is open to staff, family members, and students/graduates of any college or university. More than 250 employers are expected to attend. Details including instructions for parking at the RAC and a list of participating employers are accessible at http://careerservices.rutgers.edu . For additional information, contact Janet Bernardin at jbernard@rci.rutgers.edu.

3 Landscapes: Ken Haines

He also mentioned:
Byxbee Park - An early Hargreves Park
Edward Burtynsky's Manufactured Landscapes photos

Lecture: Ken Haines, Hargreaves Associates

Ken Haines visited from Hargreavea Associates
His lecture featured recent and ongoing work including:

Nutria - they taste like chicken

Presumably by accident, we got a delivery copy of today's Star-Ledger. The front page feature story was on the invasion of nutria into New Jersey. But more entertainingly, they included a recipe that used nutria meat. These giant rats are eating up wetlands all over the US. I've seen them in Louisiana and Oregon, but will have to start watching for them here. I remember a late evening hike in Lafitte, worried about walking into a gator, but being surrounded by the creepy chirping noise of hundreds of these swamp rats.

2008 ASLA Awards Competition

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has posted their call for entries for the 2008 professional and student awards program. "Each year, the ASLA Professional Awards honor the best in landscape architecture from around the globe, while the ASLA Student Awards give us a glimpse into the future of the profession." They will be presented at the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Philadelphia, October 3-7, 2008. Student should be working towards the entry form deadline of May 9th.

04 December 2007

GPS rerouting trucks in England

More and more heavy trucks have taking the ridiculously inappropriate route through the British Village of Wedmore. Why? Because their GPS navigation units say it is the shortest routes. The NY Times reports on this increasingly common phenomenon and how difficult it is to change it:
Once, he saw an enormous tractor-trailer speeding by, unaware that in its wake it was dragging a passenger car, complete with distraught passenger.
This is yet one more little item to list in the lengthy compendium of GIS impacts on Society.

03 December 2007

The end is in sight

Well, the graph shows how LSU really started losing ground in the last few weeks. But, having been invited to the BCS' Everyone-Else-Is-A-Loser Bowl, it looks like everything worked out for LSU. And their speed could make the difference in that final game. Or, they might be tired from all of the close games.

Wisconsin, Rutgers and Kentucky all ended up close enough that bowl match-ups would have been close calls. Fortunately, UK and RU get pretty easy bowl games. UW gets to play Tennessee, again. Oh well, at least it will be in a warm and familiar bowl.

A revolutionary birthday

Today would be Aaron Ogden's 251st birthday. Born on this date in 1756, Ogden was a solider in the War of Independence, a governor of New Jersey and the named party in the very important interstae commerce Supreme Court decision of Ogden v Gibbons (1824). His house, in the city now known as Elizabeth, NJ is still standing today.

02 December 2007

Teaching opportunity in Landscape Design

Brookdale Community College seeks to find someone interested in teaching a Landscape Design course. The 4-credit course emphasizes residential design projects beginning with the conversion of field notes to a scale drawing and ending with a project that involves completing a residential design with planting legend.

The class is offered during the Spring 2008 term on Tuesday evenings starting at 6:00 PM.
The term runs for 15 weeks beginning January 22 and ending May 12.

Interested candidates should immediately contact:
Ron Kudile
Professor of Biology
Brookdale Community College
(732) 224-2405


How to get a job

The end of the semester generally means we'll have a few new jobseekers out there. Archinect started asking how to go about getting a job in architecture (we'll have to settle for a close cousin on this) but they asked real designers instead of just synthesizing some sort of educated guess. The thing I like most about it is the variety within the answers they got.

Peter Marino focused on the resume:
Don't send resumes in weird/small formats, booklets etc. They may look graphically interesting, but they are difficult to file and work with. They also are easy to lose.
Jubany NAC hit on one of the classic mistakes we see around here:
What are the most common mistakes potential employees make on their applications?
Bad grammar / spelling, being unaware of the requested qualifications (if responding to a particular ad), generic cover letters.
And Lettuce points out that you have to use your hard and digital copies differently:
Do you prefer to review applications (including portfolio) in digital or hard copy format?
Digital for inquiries, hard copies for f2f interviews. As long as the digital inquiries are not huge files are not readable on the screen. Do not want to open CDs. Will visit a website.

01 December 2007

30 November 2007

Mapping polluters

A new web app has emerged that uses public data (especially sources like TRI) to map out where
polluters are in your neighborhood.

28 November 2007

What a load of trash

When I took this photo over the Meadowlands, I saw a landfill. But now, years later, I see a powerplant.

A team of scientists here at the New Jersey Agriculture Experiment Station worked on a NJ Board of Public Utilities project to study the potential for biomass as an energy source across the state. Since garbage and landfill gas are both part of the equation, NJ has some pretty rich resources to tap. At the end of this initial study we found that NJ's total biomass resources could light about a million homes. As quoted in the papers:
"For the first time, we have an extremely detailed understanding of our bioenergy capabilities," said Margaret Brennan, who directed the biomass study for the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. "This gives us something to strive for. Before, we didn't know what the potential was."
The project has an NJAES page now and is a pretty good place to start. It has the bioenergy calculator and basic project info.

The final report is big and grand. But the highlights are Caroline's maps. At least I think so.

Pretty soon our landfills will start looking like model landscapes...

Common Lecture: Georgeen Theodore, Interboro Partners

Georgeen Theodore
Interboro Design

Allan Shearer described them as "One of those young, hip urban design firms".

She started with:
In the Meantime, Life With Landbanking (e.g., PDF)
which looked at the "dead mall" phenomenon with a case study of the Dutchess Mall.

Interboro's methodology works around three rules:
  • Detective work - do you know the problem?
  • Ghostwriter - Identify people on the ground who need someone to sing their life.
  • Life Coach - entails advocating for a person or place, advocating for a specific solution or outcome
The next example, Improve Your Lot, emphasized the problems with the individual lots in Detroit. This one has been written up as an academic paper (PDF). THis project involved looking around Detroit for "blots" - lots that were vacant but have been caught up in the New Suburbaism. Their ghostwriting captures how those who stayed have been rewarded.
You can see one of the areas she talked about here on Google Maps.

The final project was The Critical Path, set in Columbus, OH. This was their winning entry in Columbus Re-Wired. As an example of how their vision would work, they re-worked an area in NW Columbus without displacing anyone.

Georgeen mentioned Paul Davidoff in contrasting the old advocacy with the new work they are pursuing.

The Most Famous Tulloch

Well, it looks like the title of "Most Famous Tulloch" has changed hands.

It used to be Lieutenant Colonel Tulloch, of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District. The (in)famous wetlands Tulloch Rule was named after him and specified how excavations would be treated as opposed to just the dredging and filling under the Corps' 404 duties. Since it was first created in the early 1990s, there has been a Federal court ruling overturning it (in the late 1990s) and now there is a new Tulloch II rule established by EPA and COE. And I trust that wetlands advocates and home builders will help keep the Tulloch name alive in the courts for years to come.

But now, ruining everything for Lt. Col. Tulloch, comes along an actress named Bitsie. after some other minor roles, Bitsie Tulloch is starring in quarterlife which is an online tv show which has been picked up by NBC for wider broadcast. NY Magazine's headline captures it well, "Quarterlife's Bitsie Tulloch on Her Role as the World's First Attractive Blogger."

Cool class: 20th Century Architecture

Carla Yanni is teaching 01:082:392 20th Century Architecture this spring. It is a great way for LA students to learn more about architecture while developing academic skills. ask your advisor for further details.

27 November 2007

Data visualization videos

Yesterday I noticed a colleague brought an Edward Tufte book to class, but never got around to talking about it. After class I took a few moments to see some of Tufte's latest work online. The ones that stood out the most right now are some Wavefields that mix video of water reflections and data visualization. The text suggests that the ideas haven't been taken as far as he hopes, but the videos are lovely and the idea has a great depth that will keep me checking his site.

Piping plovers closing beaches

The NY Times writes about the efforts to help the piping plover, an endangered species that nests on beaches. It represents a classic human-species conflict since helping the bird requires closing some beaches. But have people learned, slowly, that sometimes these things happen?

Efforts to protect the birds have led to closed beaches, canceled fireworks, lawsuits, warnings to cat owners and shelters to not release the animals near the shoreline and closed trails for all-terrain vehicles.

“When I first started this job almost 20 years ago it was really heated,” said Susi von Oettingen, an endangered species specialist with the federal Fish and Wildlife Service.


26 November 2007

Levittowns revisited

In my lecture on the Top 10 Shapers of the American Landscape, I talk a little about the Levittowns and their impact on American suburbia. Celebrating the 60th anniversary of Levittown NY, Joel Kotkin looks back at the Levittowns, fairly fondly, and reflects on their contribution and where they have ended up.
Today's Levittown, N.Y., is still only 10% nonwhite, but Willingboro, N.J., another Levittown development (in the Philadelphia suburbs), is now majority black. Indeed, more than one in four suburbanites nationwide is a minority-group member. Along with immigrants and their offspring, African-Americans have been consistently moving to the suburbs; the percentage of blacks living in the periphery has risen to well over one in three.

Changing architecture

John Silber has written a book called Architecture of the Absurd in which he describes his complaints with contemporary (not Modern) architecture. In particular, this former president of Boston University seems equally upset with buildings where details fail (like Pei's John Hancock with windows that popped out and Gehry's Stata Center currently tied up in a lawsuit) and buildings that are deliberately designed in ways he can't comprehend (like Gehry's Stata Center and Holl's Simmons Hall, both at MIT). The Wall Street Journal reviewed the book recently:
A recurrent theme of Mr. Silber's is Genius architects' talent at verbal persuasion -- often a combination of jargon and bullying. For Mr. Silber, no one does it better than Frank Gehry, whose "misconception...that architecture has no distinct purpose or consequent limitations that distinguish it fundamentally from painting and sculpture has led him to impose on clients works that are profligate in cost and grotesquely unaccommodating to their purpose." Which brings us back to the Stata Center, "the pièce de résistance of absurdity in architecture."
Silber seems especially interested in buildings in the Boston area. For instance, Sert's Peabody Center on the Charles. Based on the descriptions online, I suspect that I agree with his assessments of some individual buildings but would tend to disagree with his contempt for architects trying to achieve new and exciting things with their buildings. Practicality is probably underrated these days, but it isn't the only measure of success in design.

If reading isn't your thing, you can watch an interview about the book online.

(The photos is of Gehry's Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota)

25 November 2007

A day beside the park

On Thanksgiving morning we got within about 100 feet of Central Park, but some sort of parade kept us from getting across the street.

This one was an art piece based on a smaller art piece by Jeff Koons.
Just some fun photos from Turkey Day as a final respite before
the real work begins.

23 November 2007

Ten Crucial Days

Set yout TiVos now. NJN will be showing a new High Def Special on the Ten Crucial Days that included Washington's Crossing and the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. There will even be a special public screening with reservations still available.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007 at 8 pm • Friday, December 28 at 9:30 pm

Nouvel's MoMA

A towering change to midtown will be Jean Nouvel's MoMA Tower. The images online are smooth and you can see in this one where some of the people are even blurred ghostly figures.
Nice examples for or graphics studies.

21 November 2007

Things have settled down now. The changes in Sagarin rankings a small, although a loss by LSU could still cost them the National Championship.

The SEC's South

In recognition of the 75th anniversary of the SEC, NPR sent a reporter to visit and experience the SEC's South. Like a cultural anthropologist, he didn't try to judge the experience so much as let it wash over him. Travelling from Baton Rouge to Ole Miss, he met a pretty wide variety of people all connected in some way or another with football. There were the familiar stains of the LSU's Golden Band from Tigerland and there were interviews with some folks who might not normally get as much attention.

When one person was about Tiger Stadium:
"Why is it so loud?" he asks as he stands outside the 92,000-seat colossus of a building. "It's the weight of the sky, the density of the air here. It's really louder than anywhere else. We have to blame the sky."

20 November 2007

Highlands Council disappoints

It took a six-hour meeting for the Highlands Council to reach a point at which they could approve a new plan for the NJ Highlands. It was not unanimous and was not appreciated by environmentally-oriented groups:
"Basically, what they've done tonight is gutted the whole Highlands Act," said Jeff Tittel, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, who was in the audience. "This plan's now about development and not about protecting water supply."

In a lengthy statement preceding her vote, Pasquarelli said the plan now favors development and described it as "political pandering under the guise of environmental protection and growth management."
There is no such thing as the "last word" on the Highlands, so just sit back and wait for the next twist.

Ordnance Survey in Second LIfe

CASA's Virtual London has been politely removed from Second Life out of respect for a request by the British Ordnance Survey. As the Digital Urban blog reports:
Details on the work currently unavailable are in the post below, we are reserving comment at request on this one, but i guess you know our views...
Since I have never met Andy I can only guess that this is a very polite British way of saying that the Queen's rules on mapping are a tad bit crazy and oppressive. I have never fully grasped the rather extreme British system, but always thought it was just because I was an American, on the outside. This little episode reveals more fully the extremes to which this system continues to prevail upon the GIS community, even in a metaverse.

Artifical Momma owl

It isn't clear to me why baby owls are easier to fool than our children. You would think they would notice that their Momma has a clearance tag.

19 November 2007

New Look the RU LA online

The new web page for Rutgers Landscape Architecture is up and is (presumably) compliant!

Defiant Gardens Dot Com

Kenny Helphand has sent out word that, by popular demand, he has created a Defiant Gardens blog/site. I can't say that I am surprised. The posts I have mentioning his book and appearance here at Rutgers have continued to get unusually high visitation rates. And, I see how popular his appearances have been elsewhere. Defiant Gardens has remained one of the best recent publications in the field. And the information he is posting is new and will energize many readers.

18 November 2007

Ken McCown visits IIT

Cal Poly Pomona's Arizona State's Ken McCown keeps an awesome Flickr stream online, but I've said that before. Now he has a photostream of Koolhaas' IIT Student Union on the Southside of Chicago. You can still see it under construction in the Google Map photos.

Vernal Pools in the Highlands

Potential changes in development policies are seen by some to be threatening the vernal pools of the Highlands. CRSSA has been active in explaining vernal pool habitat loss and mapping out the locations of pools. But it isn't as if the Council member don't recognize the potential harm, the debate seems to be centering more on the costs of these policies:

"I'm concerned with the logic of why, as a matter of policy, we would allow the exacerbation of water deficits," said member Tim Dillingham. "We should be very, very prudent in the watersheds we know are in a deficit."

"We have to do the right thing here," said Jack Schrier, the council's vice chair from Mendham Township. "If we are going to prohibit flat out any more depletive uses, we are essentially stopping all development. I don't think that's our purpose."

Even if the policies change it doesn't mean that the debate will end. This is a fundamental tension between property rights, development pressures, societal valuing of wildlife, and concerns over environmental quality.

17 November 2007

Trees of Toronto

A Canadian arborist got to take lots of aerial photos of Toronto's late fall color from a helicopter. Like any good arborist, he stops to explain the science behind the color. But the photos would be great by themselves.

16 November 2007

GPS as an employee surveillance tool

Islip, NY has been using GPS as an employee surveillance tool and it is sparking an interesting controversy. They installed GPS trackers on government vehicles as a way of monitoring how the vehicles were used. Ostensibly, many employers use tracking as a means for monitoring fuel usage and identifying more efficient alternatives.

Barton said Delaware paid $425 per unit for the GPS devices, as well as $24.99 a month per vehicle for tracking services. Information from each car is sent back to a central location, where things like fuel consumption and speed are recorded. He estimated the investment will be recouped in 3 1/2 years.

"If we're getting fuel reduction, less accidents and have our people slowing down, it more than pays for itself," Barton said.

But others worry about this as an intrusive tool that has the potential to violate the privacy of employees.
The use of GPS has led to firings, stoking complaints from employees and unions that the devices are intrusive, Big Brother technology. But city officials say that monitoring employees' movements has deterred abuses, saving the taxpayers money in gasoline and lost productivity.
In 3 months Islip saved 14,000 gallons of gas. Does it matter if it was because of more efficient routing or because employees stopped using public vehicles for driving to Michigan?

Video games changing the environment?

Andrew Revkin writes, on the NY Times' Earth Dot Blog, about how some new video games might actually change the way that people see the environment. For instance, the new SimCity forces players to recognize the tradeoffs that happen when we simply don't have enough power, coal appears cheap and dirty, and solar isn't well developed. It leads Revkin to ask, could these games surpass Inconvenient Truth in overall impact.

15 November 2007

2 GIS jobs in Hunterdon County


The County of Hunterdon seeks to fill the full time position of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist III in the Department of Information Technology / Division of GIS.


ABILITIES Extensive knowledge of and experience with ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute) products ArcInfo, ArcView, ArcMAP, ArcCatalog as well as Trimble GPS equipment. Knowledge of and experience in computerized data entry and formatting, data base management, and data base utilization. Ability to maintain your focus on long-term work assignments. Knowledge of all phases of computer map preparation including digitization, data transmission, data reformatting, and map production. Experience with Trimble GPS products and software including data dictionary development, GPS data collection, correction and export. Knowledge of and experience in Metadata creation.

Knowledge of ESRI products Spatial Analyst, 3D Analyst, ArcIMS and ArcSDE, Visual Basic Scripting as well as Microsoft SQL Server and Adobe Illustrator a plus.

EDUCATION Graduation from an accredited college or university with a Bachelor's degree.

EXPERIENCE Two (2) years of experience with geographic information systems including computer graphics and computer hardware digitizing procedures, focusing on spatial data development and maintenance. Experience in reading and evaluating land surveys a plus.

NOTE: A Master's degree in Geography, or Environmental Science may be substituted for one (1) year of the indicated experience.

NOTE: Applicants who do not possess the required education may substitute additional experience as indicated on a year-for- year basis.

NOTE: A specific Bachelor's degree in Geography, Environmental Science or related field with twelve (12) semester hours in computer mapping/GIS which shall have included spatial programming and digital image processing may be substituted for one (1) year of the above experience.

LICENSE Appointees will be required to possess a driver's license valid in New Jersey.

Salary Range: $30,800 – $44,620

Please submit a resume and a County Application for Employment to:

Hunterdon County Department of Human Resources

Cheryl A. Wieder, Director

Huntedon County Human Resources

PO Box 2900
Flemington, New Jersey 08822-2900
908-788-1114 * FAX 908-806-4236




The County of Hunterdon seeks to fill the full time position of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist Trainee in the Department of Management Information Systems / Division of GIS.


ABILITIES Knowledge of and experience with ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute) products ArcInfo, ArcPlot, ArcEdit and ArcView as well as Trimble GPS equipment. Knowledge of Windows NT Operating System. Knowledge of computerized data entry and formatting, data base management, and data base utilization. Ability to develop effective work methods. Knowledge of all phases of computer map preparation including digitization, data transmission, data reformatting, and map production. A successful candidate will have the ability to work with diverse agencies and departments in determining, coordinating and developing GIS data sets, goals and activities.

Knowledge of ESRI products Spatial Analyst, 3D Analyst, Arc CAD and Map Objects as well as Microsoft SQL Server and Adobe Illustrator a plus.

EDUCATION Graduation from an accredited college or university with a Bachelor's degree in Geography, or Environmental Science including or supplemented by twelve (12) semester hour credits in computer mapping/GIS which shall have included spatial programming and digital image processing.

NOTE: A Master's degree in one of the above disciplines including or supplemented by the additional credits as shown may be substituted if the applicant holds a Bachelor's degree in another field.

LICENSE Appointees will be required to possess a driver's license valid in New Jersey.

Salary Range: $28,340 – $41,050

Please submit a resume and a County Application for Employment to:

Hunterdon County Department of Human Resources

Cheryl A. Wieder, Director

Huntedon County Human Resources

PO Box 2900
Flemington, New Jersey 08822-2900
908-788-1114 * FAX 908-806-4236

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Visitors Center

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial turned 25 this week and has some wondering about a proposed Visitors Center. US News and World Report mentions the new controversy but also revisits the old.

14 November 2007

Big Change in NJ Affordable Housing Law?

NJ's assembly is trying to change the current Regional Contribution approach to affordable housing. Newsday describes the impact of the former controversial policy, which allowed wealthier towns to send money to other cities to compensate for not building affordable housing in their own town:
According to the state, 120 suburban towns have paid $210 million to 53 cities since 1988. The cities use the money to provide affordable housing. For instance, Colts Neck recently agreed to pay Long Branch $2.83 million to repair and develop 107 homes for low-income residents.
Builder online reports more fully of the Democrats' 12 point plan.

Happy GIS Day

Today is the biggest holiday of the GIS year - it is GIS Day! It is the one day of the year when everyone is spatial.

While you could celebrate by making a digital map product, you might settle for visiting a GIS Day event near you, or just checking out the GIS Day website.

12 November 2007

LA Times: Did succulents save her home?

One woman in California showed the LA Times how the succulents around her home may have saved it from the fires.
Their garden of aloes, agaves, euphorbias and more -- created by Suzy with the help of San Diego landscape architect Robert Dean -- encircles the Southwest-style home, which is adjacent to a palm- and eucalyptus-filled canyon. The garden is intact, but many of the canyon's trees are blackened skeletons.

Land Use Change and Riparian Buffer Zone Status in the Barnegat Bay Watershed


Rutgers Center Assesses Land Use Change and Riparian Buffer Zone Status in the Barnegat Bay Watershed

New Brunswick, NJ--The Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing & Spatial Analysis (CRSSA) at Rutgers has completed a project to assess recent land use change in the Barnegat Bay watershed. The updated mapping reveals that urban land use increased from approximately 25 percent in 1995 to approximately 30 percent of the watershed in 2006. Including all altered land uses (i.e., agriculture and barren lands) puts the percentage of altered land in the watershed at over 33 percent in 2006.

"The Barnegat Bay estuary system is continuing to experience a significant conversion of forested and wetland habitats to urban land cover and thereby exacerbating nutrient loading to the estuary," said Richard Lathrop, director of CRSSA. "The Barnegat Bay Estuary Program has identified the protection of riparian buffers as vital to meeting the goals of water quality and habitat protection within the Barnegat Bay watershed."

Riparian zones may constitute the immediate buffer to a stream as well as areas that may be more physically distant but are connected through groundwater flow, such as when wetlands are in close proximity to a stream. Protected riparian buffer zones adjacent to water bodies and streams, where human development and agriculture is excluded or minimized, is advocated as a "best management practice" to reduce the impact of human developed land uses on adjacent aquatic ecosystems and downstream water quality.

"Unfortunately," said Lathrop, "our assessment shows that between 1995 and 2006, approximately 1,920 acres of riparian habitat were developed. The northern portion of the Barnegat Bay watershed, which encompasses the Metedeconk, Beaver Dam, Kettle Creek and Silver Bay sub-basins, was especially hard hit with greater than 20 percent of the riparian zone being altered for land development."

On the positive side, the study identified approximately 1,300 acres of barren land and 677 acres of agricultural land within the mapped riparian zones that could serve as potential targets for re-vegetation and restoration.

Funding for the project was provided by the Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program. To access a copy of the full report go to http://crssa.rutgers.edu/projects/coastal/riparian.

CRSSA is a research center of the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.

What do you do when memorials get old?

What do you do when your memorial or monument starts to show signs of wear? As this NY Times video shows, multiple voices are emerging on how to handle the aging of the Tomb of the Unkowns at Arlington Cemetery. This serves as a small rehearsal of the larger conversation that we will have one day about places like the WWII and Korean War Memorials or the countless 9-11 Memorials that have been constructed around the country.

11 November 2007

Great images of Paris Exposition of 1900

A very nice collection of postcard photos from the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle is available online. (You can buy posters of the photos, too.) It is amazing to see how many lasting structures were built, like the Alexander III Bridge, Gare d'Orsay, and the Grand Palais.

And they all moved up

It was a great week. All four of my teams climbed in the Sagarin standings. LSU is seen as the frontrunner for the National Championship. UW beat Michigan. UK kept their distant hopes alive for the SEC championship game.

To me, the close clustering of UW, RU and UK shows how much could still change in the next couple of weeks.

09 November 2007

EPA Design competition

Thanks to Jason Berner, I got a heads up on the The EPA's P3: People, Prosperity and the Planet Student Design Competition for Sustainability which is still open for a few more weeks.

Horticultural Heroes

Charles Birnbaum visited campus earlier this week (although, sadly I missed it). Still, his visit sparked a quick trip through the website for The Cultural Landscape Foundation. That is where I discovered this year's winners of the 2007 Horticultural Heroes. The winners aren't horticulturalists, but trees. The bald cypress grove at the Spring Grove Cemetery and the bamboo grove at Avery Island both stand out as marvelous examples that I still enjoy reflecting on even though I haven't seen them in years.

08 November 2007

Environmental Geomatics/GIS position

See complete details at
Deadline has been extended to November 16, 2007.

Information Officer
(GIS/Data Manager - Hudson River Estuary Program)
The New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) is seeking an information specialist with experience in database design and management to manage GIS and other data, perform analyses on a wide variety of datasets and to develop methods for synthesis of data to derive projects, maps and tools for outreach programs. Position located in Albany, NY. The successful candidate will hold a BS degree in mathematics, information or computer science, engineering or related field, with work experience in database design and management. Experience using ArcGIS 9.1/9.2 to create, edit, analyze and maintain spatial data. Submit application, including cover letter, resume and writing sample.

More lessons for professional practice classes

Other reports on the Gehry/MIT lawsuit reach beyond the building and into the landscape. The contractor is claiming that they tried not to build the amphitheater (pictured above) this way:

An executive at Skanska's Boston office yesterday blamed Gehry for problems with the project and said Gehry ignored warnings from Skanska and a consulting company prior to construction that there were flaws in his design of the amphitheater.

"This is not a construction issue, never has been," said Paul Hewins, executive vice president and area general manager of Skanska USA. He said Gehry rejected Skanska's formal request to create a design that included soft joints and a drainage system in the amphitheater, and "we were told to proceed with the original design."

After the amphitheater began cracking and flooding, Skanska spent "a few hundred thousand dollars" trying to resolve the problems, but, he said, "it was difficult to make the original design work."

I am sure that all parties will produce reams and reams of data before this is over. This could turn into a lesson for Pro Practice classes for decades to come; we just have to learn what that lesson is first.

Sagarin update in a slow week

Sorry for the late post. It is getting harder and harder to make a big change in the rankings:

06 November 2007

MIT is suing Frank Gehry

The NY Times is reporting that MIT has filed a lawsuit against Frank Gehry for his Stata Center. No, not because of how the building looks or what it has done to their campus image. Instead, it is because they feel he inadequately accounted for the water and snow and mold.