31 August 2007

Edison: The Man and the Township

After a commemorative coin and some serious fundraising efforts it now looks like the Edison Menlo Park Tower in Edison is going to get the attention it deserves. When we talk about cultural landscapes in my classes, this clearly qualifies, but few have this sort of far reaching significance. And, while I am unconvinced by this statement of community support, I appreciate their recognition of the ubiquitous threat to historic sites:
The site where Edison worked has never been vandalized and is the pride of the townspeople, said Jack Stanley, the museum curator.
To be honest, I suspect that a poll of Edison residents would still find a high percentage who have no idea that the Tower is there and I suspect that a decent number of residents don't realize who the Township is named after.

Mass transit

Someone has taken the time to draw out subway systems from around the world all at the same scale. You can see which ones are leggy versus loopy and which are simple versus complex.

Based on this, I cannot believe Beijing is hosting an Olympics.

August 31st is a BIg Day

Malaysia - Independence Day/Malaysia Day
Trinidad and Tobago - Independence Day
Kyrgyzstan - Independence Day
(although it is no Sept15th)

30 August 2007

NOLA/DC Flooding comparison

As a tool for comparing the flooded areas after Katrina, one online tool overlaid maps of different cities with a shaded circle showing an area equivalent to those flooded by Katrina. It turns out pretty much all of DC would have been swimming.


Der Spiegel reports on Barcelona as one of Europe's coolest cities.

29 August 2007

Unhappy anniversary

To commemorate the 2nd anniversary of Katrina, I've posted some photos I took in and near Waveland, MS in November 2006 - 15 months after the storm.

The green building mismatch

Last week the World Business Council on Sustainable Development published a study that looked at the mismatch between percieved costs and damage of green construction and real costs and damage.

The two key findings were that:
  1. construction experts OVERestimated the added costs of green construction by 300%, but
  2. significantly UNDERestimated the contribution of buildings to greenhouse gases.
No wonder they aren't building better. If only they realized this:
  • It turns out that buildings are responsible for 40% of the greenhouse gas emissions on the planet.
  • It also turns out that green building usually cost only an extra 5%.
While lots of blogs have summarized it, I found Joel Makower's at PlaNetizen's Radar to be the most useful. He pulled information that looks in detail at how different groups can be influenced to make better decisions about buildings and who can best be influencing them. He also talked some about getting market forces in line with the the behaviors that we all need to see.

Demographically Correct DC

Demographically Correct Guide to DC, at Gridskipper, takes into account age before recommending different highlights in the District. Gridskipper is a great site from Gawker that helps track and explore cities around the world. You can read just the DC entires as a way of bracing for our Fall Field Trip.

28 August 2007

Zoning lawsuit in Princeton

A lawsuit over a zoning decision in Princeton is heading to court. For our students, this is a great opportunity to watch how the process can reach beyond the board meeting and into the legal system. But this is also an interesting case for trying to use the limited (and potentially flawed) information in the paper as a basis for a real understanding of the case. At the heart of the case is the decision by the board to treat the two-parcel proposal by the developer as two proposals:

The board decided, at its own initiative late in the final night of hearings, to treat each lot as a separate application even though the proposal had been submitted and reviewed as a single application throughout the 16-month period in which 12 hearings on it were held.

Some of the details in the paper don't fit or sound quite right, and I might speculate that it is partly due to something like this: the developer talking freely (and maybe imprecisely) while Princeton's attorney withheld as much info as possible and spoke in explicit and detailed terms about the few things that he felt the public needed to know now. What is the reporter supposed to do but report what they have found? Sometimes these cases sound like the developer (or the board) is trying these things in the media, but planning and zoning cases rarely get significant publicity except for big projects like the Atlantic Yards. As for figuring out the details, in Princeton you can also check the Town Topic for details that make things a little clearer.

Get Lost

NY artists were asked to make maps of NYC and the responses are quite interesting.

Katrina anniversary

I expect we'll see lots of Katrina stories this week, since it is the 2nd anniversary and the area is still barely beginning its recovery. As some of these stories are reporting, 65,000 families are still living in FEMA trailers.

The NYTimes had a piece of op-art looking at New Orleans before and after Katrina.

The Nation has committed much of an issue to the topic (h/t to Michelle at FCI).

NPR's All Things Considered visited NOLA families living in Houston to see how they are faring. Some are not doing well there, but others find Houston to be better than home:
Her subdivision is so new "it's not even on MapQuest," Gabriel exclaims. "God is good. I love it. I mean, I feel as though I fit right in; I don't feel like a sore thumb. Every day I wake up, I feel like a million bucks," she says.
Celebrities, like Brad Pitt, might be helping or hurting. I can't tell.

But I am finding the information about the Mississippi coast to be limited mostly to local papers. Even though the eye of the storm when up by Pass Christian and Bay St Louis.
(The photo is one I took in Waveland, MS 15 months after the storm.)

26 August 2007

Sagarin football Fall 2007

It promises to be an interesting year for my four primary college football allegiances, so I thought I might try to track the progress right from the start this year. I am going to try to track the progress of all four throughout the season, no matter how painful it gets, using the Sagarin college football rankings. Here they are for the start of the season:

Team Rank Score
LSU 4 90.47
Wisconsin 15 84.53
Rutgers 16 84.24
Kentucky 60 71.12

It means that if UK and LSU met on a neutral field, LSU would be expected to win by nearly 20 points. But, since the Sagarin computer rankings are based on networked comparisons of game outcomes, Jeff Sagarin himself suggests that we should trust the numbers until some games are played and data are compiled. Meanwhile, I need to figure out how to make graphs for the blog.

Steve Strom Memorial Lecture

Rutgers Department of Landscape Architecture
Steve Strom Memorial Lecture

"1,000 Years of Landscape Planning"

Carl Steinitz
Harvard Graduate School of Design

Thursday, September 20, 2007
5:30 p.m.
Art History Building (Douglass Campus), Room 200

The Department of Landscape Architecture is pleased to announce that this year's Steve Strom Memorial Lecture will be given by Carl Steinitz, the Alexander and Victoria Wiley Research Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. In this presentation, Professor Steinitz will discuss the intellectual history of landscape planning.

Over his career, Professor Steinitz has broadly and deeply transformed the practice of landscape
architecture. Stemming from his early efforts at the Harvard Lab for Computer Graphics, his research has provided fundamental contributions to Geographic Information Systems (GIS). His work on visual analysis and assessment has influenced both the work of practitioners and government agencies. Above all, he has substantively informed education in the discipline through seminal writings including, "A Framework for Theory Applicable to the Education of
Landscape Architects (and other Environmental Design Professionals)," and "Design is a Noun; Design is a Verb."

Professor Steinitz has directed landscape planning studies around the world. Sites of investigation include the Gunnison region of Colorado; the Monadnock region of New Hampshire; The Snyderville Basin, Utah; Monroe County, Pennsylvania; the region of Camp Pendleton, California; the western Galilee in Israel; the Gartenreich Worlitz in Germany; the West Lake in Hangzhou, China; the Upper San Pedro River Basin in Sonora and Arizona; Coiba National Park in Panama; the regions of La Paz and Loreto in Baja California Sur, Mexico; and Castilla La Mancha in Spain.

His honors include the Alfred LaGasse Medal from the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Outstanding Educator Award from the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, a Lifetime Achievement Award for his pioneering work in Geographical Information Systems from ESRI, and a Distinguished Practitioner Award from the International Association for Landscape Ecology (USA). He has been a Fulbright Distinguished Professor and he is an honorary Professor at the Beijing Forestry University in the People's Republic of China.

The Art History Building is located at 4 Chapel Drive on the Douglass Campus.
For directions, see http://maps.rutgers.edu

More Memorial Controversy: MLK

A new controversy is emerging regarding the soon to be built Martin Luther King Jr memorial on the Mall in Washington DC. Some members of the African-American community are now questioning the selection of a Chinese artist, Lei Yixin, to sculpt the centerpiece sculpture of MLK. The Washington Post makes it clear that the complaints aren't that the proposal is for something that won't be grand enough:
The statue Lei is creating -- which at 28 feet will be a full nine feet taller than the statue in the Jefferson Memorial -- will be the centerpiece of the tribute to King. The memorial will span four acres near the Tidal Basin between the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, facing Jefferson. Visitors will first walk through a grove of spruce and magnolia trees by a waterfall and read a selection of the civil rights leader's famous words carved on walls. At the end of their walk, they will see King's likeness emerging from a chunk of granite.

25 August 2007

More football fans on campus?

Earlier this week the Star-Ledger reported that campus bus tours are up 64% leading to speculation that the football team's successes are responsible. Or was it something else that bright them here?
As they passed the football stadium, Piercey noted that the football team "did very well" going to a bowl game last year: "We pretty much sold out every game, so we're really proud of that."

He also mentioned that the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the dalai lama, spoke at the stadium in 2005. "It was really great."

Applying to grad school

Ann Forsyth, from Cornell, writes suggestions for applicants to graduate schools in planning.

22 August 2007

Controversial memorials

The controversy over the Flight 93 Memorial has turned a new corner as the father of one of the victims has complained about the islamic overtones and demands having his sons name removed from the memorial. It is another reminder of how difficult it can be to balance the complex desires and demands of the families and others mourning the loss being memorialized.

When the World War II Memorial opened Slate.com offered some commentary on that controversy. In that case designers were complaining about the design that was created at the request of the survivors and families. And the authors do a good job of pointing to problems elsewhere on the Mall:
Would you like to see what a truly kitschy war memorial looks like? I invite you to walk down the Reflecting Pool from the World War II Memorial and take a gander at the Korean War Veterans Memorial, dedicated in 1995 and obviously intended to be the anti-Vietnam memorial. As with Lin's memorial, there's a black marble wall, but instead of names, it has pictures of soldiers, and in front of these are rows and rows of sculptures depicting individual soldiers. The effect is as though someone grabbed your collar and shouted, "I dare you to question whether the Korean War was worth fighting."

21 August 2007

Beijing Olympics

I think we are going to keep hearing lots about the design side of the Beijing 2008 Olympics, enough so that I might as well create a tag for it. There are plenty of story lines ranging from the design competition, the treatment of some Western designers, the high-profile venues, the rapid development of Chinese design talent, and the response as all the world rediscovers the amazing growth in design that China is experiencing. Anyway, Dwell has a story on Sasaki's design of the high-profile venues that helps set the stage for this continuing story.

Job: Calthorpe in CA


Calthorpe Associates, an urban design and planning firm in Berkeley, has one positions open for a full-time Designer.

Responsibilities include creating plan drawings, urban design diagrams and maps (including hand and digital linework, coloring, scanning, digital output and archiving); area takeoffs and spreadsheets; and, depending on experience, site design, design of building prototypes and development of urban design guidelines. Designers work under the direct supervision of a Principal, Associate or Project Manager.
Minimum Requirements: Applicants should have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in architecture or landscape architecture (license not required) and some prior professional design experience. Urban planning experience or education is desirable, though not required. AutoCAD skills are required, as well as hand sketching or rendering skills. Knowledge of other basic computer programs, such as Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator and Sketchup is desirable. A portfolio of architectural or urban design drawings will be required; carefully selected sample drawings are encouraged.

Salary: depending on credentials, with benefits including paid vacation and holidays, medical and dental coverage, retirement plan, 401(k) and employer-paid transit vouchers.

Please send resume, along with cover letter, references and up to five pages of your best design work, either via email to jobs@calthorpe.com, to our mailing address below, or by fax to 510-548-6848, attention: Designer Opening

We regret that the volume of applications does not permit us to acknowledge individual applications. No phone calls, please. Thank you.

Mailing address: 2095 Rose Street, Suite 201, Berkeley, CA 94709

Hitler's Oak taken down due to fungus

One of the notorious Hitler Oaks from the 1936 Olympics has been taken down. (h/t L+L)


According to Research Design Connections, a recently published study in the journal Emotion found that V's capture our attention before other shapes in the same image. It also suggested that we tend to linger on them longer. I've posted a few images (one from Seattle, one from San Diego) to help you decide if it is a relevant finding.
Christine Larson, Joel Aronoff, and Jeffrey Stearns. 2007. “The Shape of Threat: Simple Geometric Forms Evoke Rapid and Sustained Capture of Attention.” Emotion, vol. 7, no. 3., pp. 526-534.

CELA wrap-up

This should probably be the last post on our trip to CELA 2007 at Penn State where we saw some good talks and great friends. Highlights included seeing some of our newer colleagues present their research and learning about the trends at LA programs nationwide. But particular standouts include a very techo-geeky discussion about 3D laser scanning of heritage buildings and sites and a discussion of ethics in participatory research and design. Tom Nieman presented a controversial paper on the work of planners in Nazi Germany, like Krebs and Geisler, and explored how Central Place Theory and an understanding of physical terrain influenced their misguided efforts to expand their motherland.

One of real highlights of the meeting was a panel celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Landscape Journal. Presentations included Arnold Alanen and our own Darrel Morrison talking about their days as the first editors of the Journal. Ellen Deming spoke about the current challenges and opportunities facing the Journal as it attempts to remain relevant in a digital era. Someone pointed out that many researchers, if the Journal isn't digital then it doesn't exist.

A highlight of the session came as Jason Walker and Matt Powers presented some preliminary findings from a study of the content of the Journal over the last 25 years. Hope fully they will find a suitable outlet for a more detailed analysis than they were able to quickly present, but the findings were quite interesting. Walker and Powers found that 40% of LJ authors have their Ph.D. and nearly 75% of the published papers are written by single author. They also about a 1/3 of the authors as women but showed that in recent years it was closer to 2/3.

A personal note: One of the lowlights of the meeting was the constant confusion over University names. It seems to me like it shouldn't be that hard to tell the difference between Iowa State (which has an accredited and historic program) and Iowa (which does not). And introducing the speaker from a place like UNC when they are in fact from NC State should be especially easy to get right with notes. As an academic community with so few members, we should be able to keep this sort of thing straight.

State College
turned out to be a fun town for a meeting with good food and nice exhibits. I really enjoyed their temporary exhibit on Ansel Adams and Edwin Land at the Palmer Museum of Art. I had no idea how much work Ansel Adams had done with Polaroids.

20 August 2007

Talk: Pathways to Healing, A Sustainable Approach to Horticultural Therapy


Nancy Minich, HTR, RLA, ASLA
Horticultural Therapist & Landscape Architect

Candidate for the Position of
Extension Specialist in Landscape Architecture

Pathways to Healing, A Sustainable Approach to Horticultural Therapy

Wednesday, August 22, 2007
11:00 a.m.
Room 138B, Foran Hall
Cook Campus

The Stuckeman Family Building

The CELA meeting was held at the reasonably new Stuckeman Family Building which houses Penn State's School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. The Overland Partners -designed building was LEED-certified as Gold and included a few interesting design features.

On a trip like this it takes 3 things to get good photos: good light, enough time, a camera. As these prove, I almost never had all 3 and often didn't have any of the 3. Better something than nothing.

Best Neighborhoods in America

I enjoy it when the Project for Public Spaces posts a new list, even if I disagree with it. But their newest list is pretty intriguing.

This time, instead of listing THE Top howevermany sites or places, they settled for a less controversial list of Five OF the Best Neighborhoods in America. And the best new neighborhood is The Pearl in Portland. I love visiting the Pearl which has some great new places to live, two new parks (see the photo from last summer) and a great location within the larger downtown area. People really walk the neighborhood and enjoy it as a reasonably dense urban setting.

The neighborhoods in New Haven (yes, New Haven), Montreal and Northfield, MN all sound great too. But I can't speak to them directly.

They also featured Country Club Plaza as a real neighborhood that is also a shopping area. I haven't been there in years, but my memory of it is that it was a great neighborhood to walk around. And I still regularly use a photo of the fountain at the entrance to the neighborhood.

19 August 2007

CELA Presentations

This year Rutgers had 4 faculty and one recent departure presenting papers at CELA. I suspect that is a Rutgers record. The papers were:
  • Allan Shearer, "US Military Landscapes: Balancing National Security and Environmental Security"
  • Wolfram Hoefer, "Approaching Extreme Landscapes"
  • Seiko Goto, "The First Japanese Garden in the Western World: The Garden in the Louisiana Purchase Exposition"
  • Elizabeth Graff and David Tulloch, "Green Map Exercises as an Avenue for Problem-Based Learning in a Data Rich Environment"

Immersive Environments Lab

While visiting Penn State for CELA, we had the chance to take a tour of the Immersive Environments Lab led by Tim Murtha. The 3-d frog (above on the right) really seemed to come out of the screen. But the purpose of the lab isn't for giant frog skeletons. This is a place to test 3-d landscape models and animations. It is also used by design students for presentations and explorations of other digital media.

Here is Dr. Shearer wondering why I am not in 3-d.

Sidwell Friends School

I don't know whether we can visit this in DC but it is intriguing. Sadik Artunc was talking up the Sidwell Friends School as a great, award-winning Green Building to visit. This website sure makes it sounds worth a peek. And there are some great photos to peek at on Archidose.

Aerial Archaeology in Northern France

I was recently directed to great website called Aerial Archaeology in Northern France that is quite fun to explore. It walks you through their process and illustrates how the same ancient site can look different on different days. For those familiar with aerial photography, it is no surprise that ancient, buried remnants can present themselves as crop anomalies, but it is impressive to see how it plays out in a country with rich history.

18 August 2007

Citation Rankings in Landscape Architecture

This morning I attended a great panel discussion on the Landscape Journal in celebration of its 25th anniversary. I'll write more about what was said, but here is something that wasn't discussed, the most cited papers from the Landscape Journal. I ran it through the semi-reliable Google Scholar (LJ isn't included in the major indexes) and came up with these as the most cited Landscape Journal papers of all time:
  • Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames by Joan Nassauer, 1995 - 66 citations
  • Perceptual Landscape Simulations: History and Prospect by Zube, Simcox and Law, 1987 - 47 citations
  • A Framework for Theory Applicable to the Education of Landscape Architects (and Other Environmental Design Professionals by Carl Steinitz, 1990 - 41 citations
  • An ecological aesthetic for forest landscape management by Paul Gobster, 1999 - 31 citations
  • Prospects and refuges revisited by Jay Appleton, 1984 - 27 citations
So, that got me wondering how things stacked up in LAM, which probably isn't indexed as well. I was impressed with what did come up:
  • The beholding eye: Ten versions of the same scene by DW Meinig, 1976 - 41 citations
  • Hand drawn overlays: their history and prospective uses by C Steinitz, P Parker, L Jordan, 1976 - 29 citations
  • Quality corridors for Wisconsin by Phil Lewis, 1964 - 20 citations
  • Cellular worlds-models for dynamic conceptions of landscape by RM Itami, 1988 - 15
Its quite possible that one or two papers are really getting shorted by this, but the results mostly make sense.

17 August 2007

New rankings

US News and World Report has released their new rankings, America's Best Colleges 2008, and Rutgers is 59th. My alma maters are scattered around with Wisconsin at 38, Kentucky at 122, and LSU is ranked low enough that I can't find it online. It appears that UK has a ways to go before they become a Top 20 University.

Like a lot of people in academia, I have a problem with the rankings and I have a problem with what they are doing to academia. A story in the Home News capture it this way:

"This particular ranking is bad social research, it's anti-intellectual and misleading in about 20 different ways," Weisbuch said. "I have a friend at another university who says he uses the survey to reward his friends and punish his enemies."

I also can't resist looking and talking about it.

Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest

As many readers know, I watch the NGO community pretty closely. So I am not sure that I fully agree with Paul Hawken's thesis in his new book, Blessed Unrest. He suggests that there is a burgeoning movement made up of many grassroots movements that was so subtle in its slow and gentle formation, that even the organizations and people involved didn't see it happening. TO be clear, I agree that the NGO community is becoming an increasingly important player in a variety of issues that are slowly relating more and more to Environmental Justice, but I am not convinced that it is such a surprise how this grassroots effort is emerging.

To be sure, I need to read the book to understand what he is really arguing. But the reviews are intriguing enough to motivate me:

15 August 2007

Old DC photos

As we prepare for our fall field trip in Washington DC I am finding random interesting tidbits. The National Geographic Society took a look at the ways that the Mall is getting nibbled away (excerpt). This photograph was taken showing the Air and Space Museum under construction. Even today these places look different every time we visit.

Photo by: unknown Date: n/a Number: 2001-9138 From: Smithsonian Images

Free software

This weekend Google started helping users get a free copy of StarOffice as part of a GooglePack download. According to Bits at the Times, this move combines Sun and Google in an alliance that should make Microsoft a little nervous.

14 August 2007

Beatrix Farrand's Last Garden

With Marc visiting Maine, I started thinking back to some of the great spots we've visited there. One that we haven't visited yet is Garland Farm, Beatrix Farrand's last garden. On the outskirts of Bar Harbor, it strikes me as a classic Farrand landscape with hints of Dumbarton Oaks but at a much smaller and simpler level. Now that it is getting some preservation attention, it should become a little better known. Definitely a place that I want to check out in person, and one that I have added to the Spaces and Places Map.

GIS in the New York Times

Sunday's Times had a feature on GIS which included a very nice mention of the GIS Corps. Primarily the piece looks at GIS career opportunities, but it also does a nice job of explaining how broad the field is and how it has modernized so many different activities. I am assuming that they were responding, in part, to a press release that URISA put out after their most recent GIS salary survey. In any case, it is good to see some extra attention on the field that clearly has a labor shortage:

"Many jobs are with the government, but technological advances have also helped drive private-sector jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists G.I.S.-related jobs as among the fastest-growing new or emerging fields."

"More companies see the value of G.I.S. services, and there are not enough people to fill all the available jobs, said Richard Serby, a founder of GeoSearch, which recruits people for jobs in mapping sciences."

13 August 2007

Study abroad

Today's NYTimes takes a closer look at the industry behind study abroad programs at many schools. Having just taught a class overseas, I am a little shocked to hear about the largess and kind treatment that these folks received. We were drafting on sheets taped to the hotel floor and hoping to somehow stay within the budget - and loving it. But I did appreciate their perspective on how important this rite of passage has become:
As overseas study has become a prized credential of the undergraduate experience, a competitive, even cutthroat, industry has emerged, with an army of vendors vying for student money and universities moving to profit from the boom.
It wouldn't be a successful industry were it not for the recognition that students, parents, employers and grad programs all have about the importance of these programs.

Puget Sound

I haven't gotten a copy yet, but I see that Jane Amidon's latest book is out Grant Jones / Jones & Jones: ILARIS: The Puget Sound Plan and receiving favorable attention. The ILARIS work had already gotten an ASLA Award and inspired our follow-up looking at the Intrinsic Values of the NY/NJ Highlands.

a growing circle of friends

While my primary purpose for starting the Spaces and Places blog was for our students, it is nice to see that other blogs and services have picked it up. Since it is on Blogger, it gets picked up a lot in Google's BlogSearch. But I was happy to see both Pruned and Garden Design Online link to it as well. And now I am adding a Technorati Profile just to see what happens with that.

If this isn't the perfect storm, what is?

The folks at the Urban Land Institute list many of the different factors that make the current real estate stumbles seem particularly worrisome. It will be fascinating to see the impact this has on design. Will it get smarter or more rash? What projects will get stopped in mid-stream? Or will everything just go ahead because we have learned how to weather these storms?

Green Colleges

A few of the blogs I read seem to have picked up this story from Grist listing 15 top Green Colleges and Universities. While the whole list is worth reading, there are a few that mean more to me than others.

Their number 1 choice, College of the Atlantic, is simply awesome. I got to spend a week there 10 years ago this summer and it was an incredible experience. I had breakfast with Ian McHarg (who was credited with giving the school's founder the idea in the first place) and I was inspired daily by the setting and their school's devotion to its mission.

Chico State sounds like a great example of a state school where the atmosphere of learning and exchange of ideas is being transformed by the energy that students and faculty have brought to campus. It isn't enough for some administrators simply to commit to buying solar panels or green electricity, it has to sink in.

I can't help but notice how few of thes schools are schools with landscape architecture programs. It is a a lost opportunity when more LA programs aren't pushing their campus harder, but it is also shame that some of these great efforts are happening in places where it is harder for the nation's small pool of future professional landscape architects to learn from the experience.

It is interesting to ask what it means for Rutgers. Some of the efforts, like solar arrays and purchasing green energy, seem like easy and quick advances. But it would be nice if we could see a Cook campus-wide response that gets students excited about spending 4 years at SEBS energized by trying to find new ways to improve our campus.

Federal web resources

Here is a list of some "US Government web sites you didn't know you could use". Even for the skilled web searcher there is probably something new here. And for our students, who know how much I treasure resources, this is a great place to explore and imagine the potential.

12 August 2007

Rockefeller mitigates global warming damage

Sure there is lots of talk about how we can reduce our contribution to global climate change. There is even coverage about how difficult things will be for people who are fortunate enough to own vacation homes on the beach. But many of the people most impacted are so poor that they can't see the media coverage of their plight and won't understand that they are suffering at the hands of a global event.

In recognition of this, Rockefeller Foundation has announced a $70 million program for needy farmers and cities in Asia and Africa. This isn't just development in coastal zones. As the Times reports:

The latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that changes in rainfall and temperatures could deplete farm yields in some African countries 50 percent by 2020.

11 August 2007

Home Gardener's School

The 31st Annual Home Gardener's School will be held Saturday, September 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hickman Hall, Douglass Campus. Expert instruction in the latest gardening and landscaping topics will be presented through a wide variety of classes. Speakers from the commercial horticulture and landscape design programs will offer instruction along with faculty and staff from the NJAES/Rutgers Cooperative Extension and the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. For more information and to register, visit http://www.cookce.rutgers.edu .


One thing I have never heard anyone say was that Spain was a great place for models, but that is the way it seemed. The first two are of Gaudi's work at Park Guell.

In Segovia there was a great model of the entire city with a meticulously detailed aqueduct.

Back in Barcelona we visited a VERY large model that made the Senior's recent model of Paterson look trivial. As shown in the first photo, the model is so large that it has its own grandstand.

This last set of photos were taken by students during our visit to Barcelona Regional. Very cool people with very cool models.

Open space funds

It isn't enough to get voters to let you create a special tax for open space. In Hoboken they are fighting over how to divert it.

10 August 2007

Steve Strom Memorial Lecture

Mark your calendars now. Carl Steinitz will give this fall's Steve Strom Memorial Lecture on Thursday, September 20th. The lecture will be, "1,000 Years of Landscape Planning."
Time and place will announced soon.

Sea Dragon and Photosynth

If you like using image catalog software, like Picasa and PicasaWeb, you'll want to watch this video from TED which shows a demo of the next generation of image software, which extends far into the spatial realm. The only missing is a full temporal component that figures out ways to link our 30-year-old photos with 2-year-old shots. Still, it is really amazing to see what is just within reach and I struggle to imagine the implications for GIS.

Art and Personality

Recently published research in The Psychologist looked at differences in preference for art and how that related to personality. It found that men preferred cubist art and renaissance art while older people preferred impressionism and Japanese art. The article online is only viewable by those of us with university accounts, but is has been summarized by the Research Design Connections blog who quotes it saying:

People who prefer representational art [such as impressionist paintings] were significantly more agreeable and conscientious, and less open to new experiences, than those who [preferred] the more abstract works [such as cubist art].

The research raises some interesting questions about whether there are some ages after which it is too late to teach art. It also reinforces questions about how response to art is learned versus innate. Is there even such a thing as intrinsic beauty?

This research connects with the BBC's online survey (n=100000+) that asks visitors to rate artwork and answer a battery of psychological profile questions. The BBC survey takes about 15 minutes and is pretty interesting. If nothing else, you get to look at paintings and talk about yourself. They found that:

  • People with low emotional stability tend to prefer abstract and pop-art paintings.
  • People who score high in agreeableness like paintings and tend to dislike forms like pop-art.
So, apparently, I took the above photo of Georges-Pierre Seurat's Evening, Honfleur at MoMA because I am not "older", my desk is messy, I like rainy days, and didn't want to wait in line to see the Pollacks.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Adrian Furnham, and Stian Reimers. 2007. "The ARTistic personality," The Psychologist, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 84-87.

09 August 2007

GIS job article

A recent news article in San Antonio looked at GIS jobs. It looks at the need for more workers in the GIS workforce but it also describes the breadth of the field:

GIS specialists are in demand across a broad cross section of industries. These include oil, gas and mineral exploration, city planning, election administration and redistricting, public health and safety, law enforcement, military analysis, real estate information management, hydrology planning, marketing research and many other fields.


Today I got an email message from a headhunter that was mistakenly addressed to a faculty member at NC State. Classy. Anyway, this isn't the first that I have heard from a headhunter (that is to say, employment recruiters) looking for leads on graduates that might be looking for work. It is becoming more common in both the LA and the GIS fields for me to get emails or calls from headhunters trying to place someone at a firm that is hungry enough for talent that they are relying on something more than word-of-mouth or ads in the newspaper.

I think it is a great sign that larger firms are ready to use these firms as aggressive talent scouts to fill positions. It demonstrates that as a profession we've grown to a serious level and it also shows that talent is a resource that is valued in the marketplace. It might show that Universities are not graduating enough LAs. But it also made me wonder how good these firms really are. As I Googled around on it I found this firm's page which was so dreadful that it was hard to believe anyone could trust them with a search for a designer. It appears that they are using cheap off-the-shelf landscaping software (and pixelated fonts) to market themselves to sophisticated designers and firms.

After looking around some more I really wonder how successful headhunters are going to be in a field where so many employers are still so particular. I mean, we haven't become like accounting yet, have we?

BTW, know anyone that wants an LA job in Raleigh?

Iclandic coastline photos

Some great photos of the coastline of Iceland. (h/t Metafilter)

08 August 2007

Cracking up

It turns out that the Guggenheim isn't the only place where cracks are appearing. Speigel reports that after only 2 years Peter Eisenman's Holocaust Memorial in Berlin is developing a series of cracks. With over 400 cracks already marring the structure, the project team has identified a synthetic resin that will be injected to address the situation. But, says Eisenman, this isn't any big deal:

"Whenever you build something that is going to sit out in the rain, in the sun and in the frost, sooner or later you're going to have problems, and especially in a climate like Berlin's," he told the newspaper. "Every construction has to be taken care of, repaired and mended. It's completely normal."

Maybe he should focus on building things indoor then?

More on the Ford Site in Edison

Where are the students when you need them? The news continues to march ahead on the former Ford Motor Company site in Edison (formerly here). And it is happening in ways that could create some good learning opportunities. The plans for the 98-acre site are pretty intense and a dramatic change from what it used to be like. The issues have included questions about shared parking, contamination cleanup standards, when the public gets to participate, how the developer works with the planning board, and which decisions are for the board versus the council. Plus, it is increasingly interesting to compare the the multiple news sources covering the story. Just read these very different recent accounts:

Aside from Hartz Mountain, one of the key players in the deal is the Trenton firm, Clarke Canton Hintz.

Time lapse map

Here is a very cool (albeit sad) time-lapse map of obesity from CNN. Celebrate the graphic technique, not the patterns they show.

San Francisco after the fire

With ASLA being in San Francisco this Fall, it seems like I am being bombarded with maps and images and places to see. As a compliment to some of the more predictable San Francisco info is this one: Strange Maps has a map of the burned area of San Francisco right after the fire of 1906. It is hard to imagine the way the city must have felt with block after block of rubble. Aside from the way a huge portion of a city was destroyed, it also reminds us of eerie parallels to the Katrina response:
The quake lasted 42 seconds, causing severe damage. Ruptured gas lines (and the scarcity of water due to ruptures in those lines) caused city-wide fires that eventually were responsible for up to 90% of the total destruction. Additionally, since the insurance companies didn’t refund the actual quake damage, many people set fire to their own homes.
It is hard to call that a rational response to the insurance situation, but it is also hard to describe it as irrational. And, as the current mortgage market shake-ups may remind us, the institutional side of property ownership and rapidly change the face of cities.

07 August 2007

Governor's Island

When I originally posted the link to the Governor's Island competition info, it was through a slideshow at Slate.com. But now Peter Primavera has sent out a message advertising the fact that his firm, CRCG, was on three of the five teams in the competition. For those that don't remember, we had Peter visit for a Department Lecture last year and he also served on the College Ave Design Jury. His message highlights two connections to the competition:
  • Now is the time for public comments. So, look at all 5 designs online and submit your own personal response.
  • Governors Island has an official website which helps you explore the myriad of activities and histories. It is a more dynamic place than I had realized.