31 March 2007

Opening Day at Hilltop Park

On the Eve of Opening Day, the NY Times has published an Op-Art piece about old Hilltop Park. I am ready.

FAQ: Special Problems classes

Q. I see a class listed as Special Problems, can I take that? When does it meet and who teaches it?

A. Special Problems is a class in which a student chooses a willing faculty instructor and negotiates with them for a single-semester individual project or independent study. This allows student to pursue a special project (maybe a research project on the history of urban planning in Western cities or an applied GIS project identifying vernal pools threatened by development or volunteering for the summer at a non-profit that does a lot of planning-relevant work) or study an advanced specialized topic that we ordinarily do not offer as a class (like Conservation GIS or Advanced Readings in Transportation Planning). For the student, it is both a great opportunity and a big responsibility because it requires them to pick the topic and work fairly independently, although depending on the situation you will often find the faculty member providing weekly guidance and oversight.

You can choose any faculty in the EP&D program and ask them to work with you for a “special problems” course. What most require is a written proposal of the work to be done, complete with an indication of the hours per week involved, any final products that will be completed and turned in, basic criteria for grading the work, and perhaps a proposed reading list or maybe a proposed schedule of meetings between the student and faculty. It is somewhat different when it is a topical study than a special work experience, but both should be prefaced by a short (~ 1 page) proposal. There has been a little abuse of this in recent times so some may be a little tougher about what they are willing to fully count as 3 credit hours of work.

I am more than willing to discuss these matters further, but would encourage you to contact me with specific questions or concerns at dtulloch@crssa.rutgers.edu.

This and other FAQs are online at: http://crssa.rutgers.edu/people/dtulloch/faq/FAQs.htm


The McIlhenny family has been making Tabasco on Avery Island, which is less of an island and more of a salt dome. Over the years they've released invasive species (nutria) and dangerous ones (tigers) into the landscapes of Southern Louisiana. But they are mostly a true Louisiana tradition, making their sauce the same way they have for decades. While at LSU, we took the tour of the plant and the island, which was great. So today's report in the NYTimes business section was a welcome walk down memory lane:

The company has stuck to the same basic recipe for its sauce: peppers, salt and vinegar. It still uses the same production techniques as well. When the peppers are harvested, they are shipped back to Avery Island where they are ground into mash. Salt is added and the mixture is put into barrels to age for up to three years.
You must look at the slideshow to appreciate how simple the operation is. And I haven't even mentioned the whole hurrican levee thing.

As RU and LSU gear up for the Women's Final Four, it is another reminder of some eerie parallels and dramatic differences between the places we have lived.

30 March 2007

New Urban awards

The Congress for New Urbanism has announced this year's Charter Awards for the nation's best new urban work. One of the award winners is in Camden, NJ (above). The DC area had 5! The variety says a lot about how much the movement has grown over the past decade.

29 March 2007

Holiday cut-out

As we enter the multi-holiday season, what could be more fun than a cute little chick cut-out, fold and paste project. We'll have to try this one out over the next few days.

LSU helps rebuild

Bruce Sharky, one of my professors at LSU, led his studio in the redesign of the post-Katrina lakefront in Jefferson Parish. While the levees didn't quite brak, the area was still devestated and needed a vision for how they could get back on track. The student plan was so good that has been officially adopted by the Parish. That is really special:
“I hope the students recognize the significance of this,” said Sharky, a 16-year-veteran of the LSU School of Landscape Architecture. “This kind of thing doesn’t happen very often.”
He isn't kidding.

25 March 2007

Locked Memorial?

Along the monorail line at Liberty Airport in Newark is a large memorial that appears to be completely locked away from the public. There are large engraved granite blocks
at the ends of the paths, but the whole area is fenced and the Bessemer Street entrance looks sealed off. Here is the Gooogle Map location. Anyone know what it is? A temporary Flight 93 memorial?

FAA reroutes planes over NJ

After the development of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the FAA has announced how they plan to reroute planes over the NJ landscape. Aside from the usual deatils of an EIS, I found the supporting graphics to be quite interesting for their ability to reduce a complex decision to a cartoonish story.

24 March 2007

Saving the Roadless Yaak

471,000 acres of roadless wilderness in Montana remain as a unprotected but undeveloped wilderness in an area called Yaak. It has been made somewhat famous by the books of writer Rick Bass. But now Orion magazine has gotten a groups of writers together to produce a video showing the beauty of the area and helping argue for its permanent preservation. The greater presence of videos on the Internet is really impacting the broad reach of class for preservation like this.

FAQ: Environmental Planning Required Electives

Q. The Environmental Planning degree requires 5 “required electives” from a list that ends with the phrase “or advisor-approved courses”. What are they? How do I get my advisor to approve courses?

A. Since Rutgers has some great classes popping up here and there, we can’t possibly keep our list as to date as we’d like. Plus, if you are pursuing a track that is a little unusual, you may need the flexibility provided by “advisor-approved courses” in order to achieve your personal goals. They still need to be classes that build your planning knowledge and abilities in the same ways that the other required electives classes do.

Before you ask your advisor to consider approving a class, you should provide the following:

a) a statement of your area of interest or focus;

b) the name and number of the class;

c) a description of the class (perhaps the syllabus or the catalog description of the class);

d) an explanation of how all 5 classes get you closer to satisfying “a”.

A few additional guidelines would include:

(1) asking about classes that are level 300 or higher,

(2) asking BEFORE you take the class,

(3) making sure that you are clear on why this is such a good option for you with your interests,

(4) avoiding any explanations that base the need for this on scheduling.

And, finally, please treat the decision with respect. Many times it will have involved more faculty than just your advisor. And, should reflect a larger interest (like protecting the academic integrity of the program) and not just your personal situation.

This and other FAQs are online at: http://crssa.rutgers.edu/people/dtulloch/faq/FAQs.htm

23 March 2007

Spring has sprung

As the snow melts and the sun moves North, we can turn on some fountains and let the water flow. In celebration of the start of spring I am dusting off some fountain photos.

(Photos: FDR Memorial in DC, Tanner Fountain at Harvard, California Scenario by Noguchi, Country Club Plaza in KC, Buckingham Fountain in Chicago, Meeting of the Waters in St Louis, Peter Walker's Jamison Square in Portland)

22 March 2007

Lighting notes (Updated)

Charles Stone, of Fisher Marantz Stone, spoke to us about lighting design. He repeatedly mentioned terms or ideas that you might look into:
While he mentioned many examples of work, I'll offer this link to a virtual tour of the Indianapolis Canal Walk. Other nearby examples include the Washington Monument and the Rose Center at the AMNH and the Tribute in Lights at the WTC site.
Great talk.

Mies Masterpiece in trouble

As some of you know, some of my earliest exposure to architecture was very squarely within the Mies-ian tradition. I remain an undeterred fan and find many of the criticisms of his work to simply display a misunderstanding of it on the part of the critic. So it pains me to read the report in the New York Times that his Tugendhat House in Brno is deteriorating while the Tugendhat's and the city can't even agree on who owns it. It also demonstrates, in a larger sense, how hard it is to get Modern buildings maintained as historic structures.

I had considering altering our travel plans a few years ago so we could stop by, but was unsure how much we could see. Man, how I regret that decision.

21 March 2007

Charles Stone: 3 Landscapes

Charles Stone might not be a practicing Landscape Architect, but he really gets it. He gave us 3 mighty fine landscapes:

Vaux le Vicomte
Oklahoma City National Memorial
The Great Lawn at UVA

For background, go here: http://hahawall.rutgers.edu/tulloch/Candidates.html

The BASF house

BASF is applying their expertise to improving the technology of home building. They have built a house in nearby Paterson, NJ that demonstrates how the technology can advance Green construction with more efficient and affordable techniques. Sounds like a field trip?

Is that really a good thing?

US News and World Report recently published their annual review of careers and ranked landscape architecture as one of the Best Careers of 2007. They show NYC as the highest paying place to work as an LA, and describe Landscape Architecture in a somewhat accurate manner:

Yes, you might end up creating palatial backyards for rich people. But you might also help design restored wetlands, mountain resorts, urban plazas, and zoos. A landscape architect must have talent for both the aesthetic and the functional, the art and the science–you're creating an ecosystem that must thrive over time.

Godwin's Law in Planning

I don't think I've ever heard of someone declaring an instance of Godwin's Law in planning before, but the Anitplannner has done it. The Washington Post described it as:
There is a dictum in Internet culture called Godwin's Law (after Mike Godwin, a lawyer who coined the maxim), which posits that the longer an online discussion persists, the more likely it is that someone will compare something to the Nazis or Hitler.
The key here is that people care enough about planning issues to get caught up in such heated debate.

16 March 2007

15 March 2007

Open Architecture

The folks at Architecture for Humanity have brought you The Open Architecture Network. This is a place to learn about design and construction techniques that make better housing and lifestyles available for as many people as possible. Some rely on cheap materials, like the straw bale cottages. Others are focused on helping in a specific situation, like in Katrina-ravaged Biloxi.

Most importantly, these are people who are trying to make the world a little better, not just flashier or bigger.

14 March 2007

Thom Mayne

It seems like Thom Mayne is really starting to get famous. Although, in 2005, he became the first American to get the prestigious Pritzker Prize since 1991, he still hasn't become as well known outside architecture as names like Gehry, Meier, or even Calatrava.

One reason that his might be that his architecture, which really acheives some important qualities, isn't as eye-catching. Maybe that means it is less superficial, or maybe it means it is altogether less about visual aesthetics. This recent review of his Federal Building in San Francisco proves that good writing can overcome a less photogenic building. It sounds beautiful in a way that a camera might simply be unable to capture. And part of the challenge is does it all while acheiving LEED Silver and creating a better workspace.

His firm, Morphosis, teamed up with Hargreaves Associates to enter the Rutgers' College Avenue Campus Vision/Design competition. Their vision offered to change the spine of campus and the spaces spinning off of that.

You can get a nice overview of his work at Slate.com.


Since this week is our spring break, I realized that it was exactly 1 year ago that we were in Barcelona. The Met currently has a great exhibit on Barcelona's architecture and art. Even if you can't join us on our next trip, you should visit the exhibit. Heck, you should visit the Met.

Anyway, I thought I would celebrate by posting a few favorites from Barca.

Ken McCown

Ken McCown teaches landscape architecture at Cal Poly - Pomona. And he has an awesome Flickr stream.

12 March 2007

Book Map

The Gutenkarte is the website that helps convert classic books into maps of the geographic text. For instance, check out A Tale of Two Citites. The fact that the work is all done with open source software is even more impressive.

Anti-environment taxing

New Jersey seems to be one of those places with the unique ability to penalize well-meaning people at every turn. So, it should not come as a surprise that the reward for installing solar panels in New Jersey is higher taxes. You don't even want to hear what they do to people who recycle.

11 March 2007

String music!

The brackets are out. Its time to pick who'll win the field of 65. And then tear up your brackets.

I have formed a group called FoD - Friends of Dave at the ESPN Tourney Challenge site. Sign up and pick 'em!

As UK tries to get to play KU, check out the history. And enjoy the thrill of EKU trying to become the first 16 seed to win a game. But, whatever you do, be sure to read this story about what happened to the coaches of a former 16 team that almost made history.

All are welcome. Even our Eurpoean readers.

09 March 2007

A dozen distinctive destinations

There is a continuing trend of recognizing places that are "real", unique, and true-to-themselves. In that light, it is nice to see the National Trust for Historic Preservation recognizing towns that have saved themselves.
In recognition of this travel trend, The National Trust for Historic Preservation, the country's largest private, nonprofit preservation organization, today announced the selection of its 2007 Dozen Distinctive Destinations, an annual list of unique and lovingly preserved communities in the United States.
I've been to most of the dozen and am only surprised by a few. Aside from making me want to travel a little, the list forces me confront how I already perceived a few.

07 March 2007

Human Footprint

For the Spring 2007 Environmental Geomatics lecture we were visited by Eric Sanderson of the Wildlife Conservation Society (via the Bronx Zoo).

Dr. Sanderson spoke about his GIS mapping of the human footprint on the Earth. His mapping also highlighted the Last of the Wild areas on Earth. Its hard to imagine the Congo as an impacted landscape, but photos of a remote highway made the point. And the discussion about how rivers and streams even serve as highways into the Amazon suddenly make the wilderness sound so small. He also spoke a little, afterwards, about his work on the Mannahatta Project. Very exciting stuff.

So, the human footprint is pretty big. How big is yours? MyFootPrint.Org calculates your personal footprint. How many acres do you consume? If everone lived like the average American, we would need about five planets to supply them.

06 March 2007

Is mapping an inherently political activity?

We've been talking in some of my classes about maps and messages. Is this map inherently political when you simply present the facts? Or is the politics in the social filters through which we read it? Is it possible to produce this map in a less politically loaded way?

Crossroads of the American Revolution

While we are studying the spatial dimensions of the American Revolution in New Jersey, it is fun (and important) to see what other people have assembled on the topic. A significant resource to which we hope to be complimentary is the Crossroads of the American Revolution. Their map of the key Revolutionary areas of New Jersey gives us a good idea of where we could be looking for more information. Their links provide a very helpful list of places to start digging.

Mark your calendars for the 2007 Battle of Bound Brook on April 28-29th. The re-enactment promises be loud and maybe the Colonials can turn the corner this time.

Thirteen Towers of Chankillo

Scientists have declared some ruins in Peru to be the oldest space observatory in the world. Built 2300 years ago, the Thirteen Towers of Chankillo indicate how well early peoples understood the basics of astronomy.

In a report in the current issue of the journal Science, a Peruvian archaeologist and a British archaeoastronomer wrote that the 13 towers, varying in height from 6 to 20 feet and extending 1,000 feet, are clearly visible from an imposing complex of concentric circles of relatively well-preserved walls enclosing ceremonial buildings. They said the position of the towers in relation to observation points inside the walled complex was firm evidence that this was a place for solar study in calendar-making and ritual ceremonies and feasts of sun cults.

It does make Stonehenge look pretty small.

05 March 2007

One of our own?

The latest two Landscape Architecture Magazine issues (2/2007 and 3/2007) included features on one of our own. Last month there was a feature on Darrel Morrison’s prairie restoration work and this month the Reflections column is written by Darrel.

For those who don’t know him yet, Darrel is currently teaching our planting design class with Rich Bartolone. He's been involved in that class for the last three years. Before helping us out, Darrel Morrison was the chair of landscape architecture at Wisconsin, Dean at Georgia, and has taught at other schools including the Conway School and Utah State. He is a familiar name to those of us at RU; while at Wisconsin he helped mentor Steve Strom while Steve was a new faculty member there in the 1970s and taught Jean Marie Hartman when she studied there.

Having Darrel around has been a great experience. His professional network of contacts have helped our students. His highly visible list of built works – including the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and recent changes at Storm King Art Center – bring some great stories and experiences into the classroom with him. We hope that the chance to learn from our students will be a real capstone to an already great career.

If you get the chance to meet Darrel this spring -- maybe at one of our talks -- I hope you’ll let him know how much we appreciate his contribution.

(Sorry about the kid in the photo, but the only handy images of Storm King had the boys. This one clearly shows Darrel's tallgrass or alfalfa growing behind Ian.)

04 March 2007

Prizm groups

How much information can demographers find out about you? Honestly, they usually are less interested in you and more interested in groups of people like you. Claritas Prizm groups have become one way that they describe the American population as groups. MelissaDATA has posted all 65 groups and their icons (Park Bench Seniors are shown above) along with some extra details about their purchasing habits. A little scary how much they know?

landscape architecture blogs

It is always interesting to see some of the other landscape architectural blogs out there. Sometimes they are geared to large audiences, like Pruned or The DIRT. But some of them are more personal expressions like Michael Spencer's badlandscaping and Jord Wilson's Exploring Concepts of LA. When I think how hard it was to find any quantity of writing or reporting on landscape architecture a few decades ago, it is hard to imagine the "firehose" of information that these blogs can connect us with today. Some are opinionated while others just report. But, if nothing else, they will connect you to more photography and places that you would otherwise visit.

03 March 2007

Geography games

Geosense lets you play a spatial geography game either alone or against others online. OK, it isn't quite Mario Bros.

02 March 2007

Weed Awareness

This comes a little late, but we nearing the end of National Invasive Weed Awareness Week. This is an annual time to raise awareness of the impacts of non-native species and work towards minimizing their use and proliferation. Everyone seems to be on board. The Nature Conservancy is a participant. Folks at the Kentucky Capitol building are fighting the good fight. NAWMA is holding their annual DC meeting wherein they push Congress and Federal agencies towards better practices. Today is your last chance to see their posters at the US Botanic Garden.

Olin's Security Enhancements

When the Olin-designed areas around the Washington Monument opened last April, ASLA's LandOnline visited it and reported in detail on some of Olin's improvements. Having been twice since then I have to agree that it is elegant and desrving of such a prominent spot at the crossing of the Presidential and Congressional axes. Why am I only posting it now? Well, it is a recognition of the fact that we are getting ready for a Fall Field Trip to DC. But it is also due to the fact that I didn't have a blog last April.

Seaside turns 25

Seaside, Florida has turned 25. Both fans and critics can agree that this has become a very influential design icon and it continues to be THE centerpiece of New Urbanism. In Celebration of Seaside's birthday Slate.com has published a new Witold Rybczynski slide show looking at how well the work of Robert Davis, Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk is holding up.

01 March 2007

3 Landscapes: Kenny Helphand

After a riveting and moving talk, we got a chance to ask Kenny Helphand his 3 favorite examples of landscape architecture questions. As an honored guest we let him go to 5:
And I haven't visited any. Great list.

For background, go here: http://hahawall.rutgers.edu/tulloch/Candidates.html

Cairo's Metropolitan Region

As Cairo, Eqypt has urbanized significant portions of the city have also remained rural and self-sufficient, fixing their own water and power lines and catching their own food. The New York Times has a video up The Villages Inside Cairo.

In my recent LA Speaker Series lecture I talked about the idea of the Metropolitan Region and this is a very different element that contributes to how we think about these areas at a global level.