30 April 2007

One of our own in the paper

Advanced Geomatics student, Angela Gorczyca, was in today's newspaper. She was part of a study that found that Middlesex County has nearly as many bird species (308) as Yellowstone National Park (318).

Sad day in DC

Washington DC has lost (or at least suffered serious damage to) one of its great old buidings. The Eastern Market suffered from a major fire today. I found a nice old gallery of photos taken at Eastern Market.

FAQ: Changing final grades

Q. I am unhappy with my FINAL grade and would like to see it changed. What can I do?

A. Unfortunately, you may have waited too long for most remedies. Now that the grades are final I will NOT:
* Offer additional extra credit opportunities;
* Change the break point between letter grades;
* Reconsider subjective grades (like a paper or a studio project) unless they were returned so late that you did not have the opportunity to review the paper until after the end of classes; or
* Accept late assignments or offer make-up exams without excused absences (as approved by Martin Hall).
You should understand that these are not fair to the students who worked so hard to come to class on time, take good notes, get their work in on time, complete the extra credit, and take advantage of office hours and test review sessions.

However, there are some appropriate reasons for which I would consider a grade change. If you are requesting that I reconsider your grade, you should suggest which of the following reasons applies:
a) there seems to be a computational error in calculating your grade;
b) there seems to be a reporting error in calculating your grade;
c) you believe there was a scoring error on one of your exams;
d) you believe that you showed significant consistent improvement over the course of the semester (65%->75%->85%) and should receive special consideration; or
e) you want to submit late work under an excused absence.

If you are going to argue your case on a subjective grade, you certainly should focus on the SPECIFIC element of the grade (like "Test #2", or "the graphics grade on the final studio project") that you think should be reconsidered, not the overall final grade.

If you are close to the next grade and don't see any justifiable reason to request a change, you should at least try to get a copy of your final (by the first week of classes of the next semester) and check that there was no scoring error.

You certainly should EXPLAIN why a change of grades would be appropriate. I won't even respond to vague general requests to reconsider.

Ask yourself this simple question, is there some strong evidence that clearly demonstrates that your ability and knowledge are superior to your performance on the measures used in class? Is there a specific and appropriate reason that your test scores were not as high as they should have been considering your level of knowledge and ability?

Your grade is YOUR grade. Please do not ask me to change it because of someone else's (e.g., "I worked harder than him but didn't get as good a grade". If I erred and gave him a higher grade than he deserved, it doesn't mean that you deserve it too.) Instead, show me how your grade would be wrong even if you were the only person in the class.

Try not to insult me in your requests. Telling me that I am not FAIR is a really good way to make me feel less like helping. Plus, if I am really unfair, you should probably be discussing the matter directly with the department chair.

Try to avoid obvious lies. Students shouldn't tell me that they never missed a class when they know that I called on them 6 times and they answered twice. Don't tell me that you are a good student when you know that a quick check of your GPA will reveal otherwise.

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

29 April 2007

New Urbanism

After our recent lecture on New Urbanism, I did want to mention some online resources.

Another notable project within a few hours drive is the Storrs Center near UConn's compus. They have an official site up for this planned community.

Washington Town Center, here in NJ, has been written about plenty including this older piece saying it was a smart idea and this newer one pointing out that it has been too successful.

I also recently saw this piece on the new Dardenne Prairie, which is a little more from DPZ.

You could look at the firms like Rutgers-related A. Nelessen Associates or the (in)famous DPZ.

The Congress for the New Urbanism maintains an official presence online that includes projects and images.

What I don't have handy is any written critique of New Urbanism. Maybe next time...

Takings cases

While we talked about a number of takings cases in class, we didn't have a reading to supplement those lectures. To help I've rushed to slap together some links, altough I can't claim to have read them. Which also means that I cannot vouch for their quality or usefulness other than in the most indirect ways.

From Wikipedia:

Cornell Law School has pulled up some of the SCOTUS texts:
Planning Magazine has some information on the APA's perspective and official filings with te court on Kelo:

How do you resolve this?

It turns out that even the wealthiest communities have problems worth people building homes that are too large. It has been added to our map.

Great Orange Graphics

The Great Park of Orange County is moving ahead with new details being revealed regulalry. This week, the OCRegister has detailed graphics showing how the Orange balloons would work. The ballons are designed to give up to 30 people a ride at a time.

28 April 2007

Great Falls State Park

I meant to link this a while ago, but since it happened before I started the blog, I was always going to be a little late.

Last year the NJ DEP ran a design competition to develop a masterplan for Paterson's Great Falls. The competition entires have been posted online by NJIT, with entries from notable landscape architecture firms including WRT, Field Operations, and EDAW. The jury included Lance Neckar, a landscape architecture professor from Minnesota.

The final outcome was announced late in the year:
The competition winner, Field Operations of New York City, proposed a plan called "Paterson's New Outdoor Living Room," allowing residents to walk along the river, under the shade of its cliffs and up to the foot of the falls. The $10 million vision for the project's first phase centers on using a loop path to tie the park's various elements together -- linking the falls and Overlook Park to the ATP site, which would be restored as a landscaped path, the Valley of the Rocks and Mary Ellen Kramer Park.

27 April 2007

Battle of Bound Brook

After spending a chunck of the spring talking about the American revolution, I was looking forward to seeing the re-enactment on the 230th Anniversary of the Battle of Bound Brook this weekend. Sadly, it has been cancelled due to the flooding earlier this month.

Instead, I can spend some time this weekend reading up on the recently found George Washington letter.

The World Series is coming

The World Series of Birding is just 14 days away and things are getting pretty exciting. Since the playing field is the entire state of New Jersey, we get a pretty good view of the action. I am sure that some teams are making a final review of the more unusual rules (it is, afterall, a sport of honor) and cleaning their lens. As a non-competitor, one way to prepare is just reviewing old entries. You can see how a team of 1-5 graders identified over 100 species last year. La Puma et al. competed in digiscoping, which involes taking digital photos of birds through scopes (my favorite is their Black Skimmer photo).


The Yankees brought up their 20-year old phenom pitching prospect, Phil Hughes, last night. How did he describe the experience? “Hopefully, I won’t remember it too much."

26 April 2007

Ag Field Day

Just a quick reminder that this Saturday is the 89th Annual Ag Field Day. It is a great chance to catch up with other alums, the faculty, and our current students. The School has a website up with a full list of activities (http://agfieldday.rutgers.edu/events.asp) but I thought a few were worth mentioning.

1) Our highlight every year is, of course, the daylong open house at Blake Hall. We'll have up new student work with both students and faculty around to give tours to prospective students and interested parties. Make sure you check out the giant model of Paterson, NJ in the upstairs back studio. We'll have our list of alums who we've lost touch with, hoping that other alums can help us find them again. And we'll have lots of stories and news to share.

2) My second home on campus, the Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis, is holding an open house from 10 to noon. We'll be giving away posters and showing off high-tech mapping toys.

3) The Marine Science program is showing their highly acclaimed IMAX film on the somewhat smaller screen in the Alampi Room at IMCS. "Volcanoes of the Deep" is showing at 10am with the lead researcher there to introduce it and answer questions. It is a fascinating film and yet another RU product to be proud of.

It'll be a great day that we look forward to sharing with you.

Map Contest

We are excited to announce that the Advanced Environmental Geomatics class has returned from the NJDEP Map Contest in Trenton with three map awards. The team had ten members: Vanessa Beuschel, Philip Bosco, Angela Gorczyca, Peter Hugger, Maura McShane, Emmanuel Ndiema, Dennis Quinlan, Matthew Vitullo, Kaitlyn Walsh, and Michael Yaffe. Their map of the Spatial Dimensions of the Revoloutionary War in New Jersey captured hundreds of events and places that are an important part of New Jersey's history. You might want to note that the above map is a draft and not final. We'll try to update it and give it a more permanent web home in the coming days.

The awards they brought home were:
  • 1st Place Best Newbie
  • 2nd Place Most Unique
  • 2nd Place Best Overall (Non-NJDEP)
And as an added but fitting twist, they won them at the War Memorial. But the story of the data may prove to be more interesting than the map. We'll have to save that for another day.

What makes the birds sing?

Is it love? Is it spring? Is it streetlights??? According to a new study, urban birds are singing at night because the noise during the day drowns them out.

24 April 2007

St. Guadi?

The Belfast Telegraph reports that there is a possibility that Gaudi will add still another credential to his resume: saint. Some already call him God's Architect, but that could make the title really stick.
Jose Manuel Almuzara, an architect and president of the Association for the Beatification of Gaudí, said: "We do not see any serious obstacles to him becom-ing canonised. His greatest creation has made faith accessible to the average person and inspired thousands who were not Catholics before they visited. We do not know how long this may take but we are confident.

Landscape Change

We've updated our Landscape Change webpage.
You might want to look it over.

What is a tree worth?

Someone wrote to ask me about the valuation of landscape architecture, and I had to admit that I know very little about the process of assigning value to designed landscapes and elements.

But I do know that there is a fairly well established process for estimating the value of existing trees in the landscape, either as a fixed value to the owner (what you you owe them if you killed their tree) or as an annually accruing value (what are the benefits of this tree to the community). Researchers have just conducted a street tree survey of all 5 boroughs of NYC and found that after you factor in costs for planting and maintenance, the city is benefitting $122 million per year from its street trees. According to the NYTimes, these benefits aren't evenly distributed...
The tree census found that Queens has about 40 percent of the city’s street trees, followed by Brooklyn, with about 25 percent; Staten Island, with about 16 percent; the Bronx, with about 10 percent; and Manhattan, with roughly 8 percent.

23 April 2007

Spring migration

Dave, at woodcreeper.com, says the spring migration is in full swing.

From cornfields to backyards

In yet another Slate slideshow, Witold Rybczynski explains the details of how a farms turns into houses. These slides are in support of Slate's publication of excerpts (1, 2, 3) from his new book, Last Harvest: How a Cornfield Became New Daleville. The development he looks at, New Daleville, isn't that from us, but instead of driving there you could just visit the website. Or look at it on the EPD map.

If you read the details you'll find that his ideas on sprawl and architecture are probably not as simple as you might first have suspected.

21 April 2007

Weekend Eye Candy

Last Summer I finally made it to Peter Walker's classic project, the Weyerhaeuser Headquarters. As you can see from the photos, it was extremely hot and dry (98 degrees), but it still felt lush. A sign of the timlessness of the project is that the Walker firm posts their photos of the 1972 Weyerhaeuser Headquarters in the same project list as the very recent Novartis campus in Basel. After those, look at the other 100+ PWP projects that are online.

A long drive

If you have always wanted to drive from New Jersey to Portugal, you may still get your chance. The Russians are proposing to build a tunnel across the Bering Strait. Ah, but will there be enough gas for Americans to take in such a long trip? The tunnel is part of a larger proposal to connect Siberia's gas and oil with America's cars and wallets.

Close-up on GPS

The BBC focused "Close-up" on GPS.

20 April 2007

Green: The New Red, White and Blue?

Since I haven't seen it, I don't know how seriously I can recommend this, but it does sound intriguing...
"Green: The New Red, White and Blue," a documentary featuring Tom Friedman¹s reporting on green technology, premiers on the Discovery Channel on Saturday, April 21 at 9 p.m. EDT.

Land Steward

New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF), one of the nation’s premier land conservation non-profits, seeks a Land Steward to manage preserved land primarily in the northern half of the state.
Responsibilities include basic land maintenance, habitat restoration, creation of hiking trails, monitoring of preserved lands and working with partner organizations, in addition to various physical tasks. Significant in-state travel required.
Candidate must possess passion for the environment and a willingness to work hard. Qualifications to be considered include: knowledge of native ecology, practical skills including carpentry and operating heavy machinery, excellent interpersonal skills, and a college degree in biology, ecology or a related field.
Please send resume & salary requirements to Maria Hauser, 170 Longview Road, Far Hills, NJ 07931 or e-mail maria@njconservation.org. EOE M/F/V/D

19 April 2007

The most popular poem in America?

Robert Pinsky's Samurai Song

When I had no roof I made
Audacity my roof. When I had
No supper my eyes dined.

When I had no eyes I listened.
When I had no ears I thought.
When I had no thought I waited.

When I had no father I made
Care my father. When I had
No mother I embraced order.

When I had no friend I made
Quiet my friend. When I had no
Enemy I opposed my body.

When I had no temple I made
My voice my temple. I have
No priest, my tongue is my choir.

When I have no means fortune
Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.

Need is my tactic, detachment
Is my strategy. When I had
No lover I courted my sleep.

18 April 2007

3 Landscapes: Thomas Rinaldi

Ah, the final list of the season. Surprisingly, none of his examples of landscape architecture were from the Hudson valley.
Naples - The living ruin pictured above (photo from Wikipedia)
Hazmberk Castle
Namesti Miru (Peace Square) in Prague

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

Hudson Valley Ruins

Thomas Rinaldi spoke today in support of the recent book, Hudson Valley Ruins, that he co-authored with Rob Yasinsac. He spoke about buildings along the Hudson that aren't what they used to be. So many of them have only been lost recently. He suggested that housing is a key pressure; one NGO has identified a toal of 15,000 proposed housing units along the River presently.

One example would be the Bannerman Castle on Pollopel Island, in the Hudson River. It has laid is ruins for some town with little hopes of reuse. A more positive example is the reuse of an old industrial site that has been transformed into DIA: Beacon. More controversial is the proposal by Alsop for the Yonkers Power Plant.

A lesson learned: Some might still be confused about Andrew Jackson Downing and Alexander Jackson Davis. Davis was the architect. Downing was the landscape architect who died prematurely and is one of the top 10 shapers of the American landscape. Both were very important to the history of this region.

The image above (from the LoC) shows the old Newburgh, NY. Implied in the talk is the idea that Newburgh itself today is a ruins on the Hudson.

(I've mapped the Castle, Dia, and Power Plant on the S&PGoogleMap)

Jinhua Architecture Park

Jinhua, China is home to an intriguing new park. The park is the brainchild of Ai Wei Wei who has gotten 16 significant architects to design pavillions for this riverside park. The pictures remind me of a less consistent version of the follies in La Villette. Despite the somewhat gray weather, Iwan Baan's photography just makes me want to visit so badly.
I've mapped it for the more spatial readers.

Stay home and watch TV

If you missed last night's NOVA, First Flower, you get another chance in our area Thursday evening. Thursday night, WLIW 21 will rerun the episode at 8 (and The Office is a repeat, so you can miss it). NOVA follows a plant hunter into the wilds of China looking for evidence of the oldest known flowering plant. According to Slate, the story really follows two paths: a human one and botanical one.
The human story begins with Chinese paleontologist Sun Ge who, after 10 years of slicing rocks out of limestone and volcanic ash layers in northern China, found the fossil of what he thought might be a flowering plant.

Sun brought the fossil to University of Florida paleobotanist David Dilcher, who'd been looking for traces of the earliest flower for some 35 years. Professor Dilcher assured Sun that what they came to call archaefructus (old fruit) was indeed a flowering plant and that it was probably 142 million years old—thus it could be called the first flower.

And at 10, WLIW is showing a Globe Trekker which looks at Cuba and Haiti. I saw a few minutes of the Haiti segment and couldn't help but change the way I think about that island.

Princeton Junction redevelopment

West Windsor is undergoing a process for planning and designing the redevelopment of the area around the Princeton Junction train station. This is a very active station on the busiest train line in the US, and all it has right now is a tiny building and large surface lots. They are planning a public comment meeting in May before Hillier reveals their plans this summer. As New Jersey moves towards more transit-oriented hubs, this could be an important demonstration of how you convert after the station has already been established as a suburban park and ride.

17 April 2007

Cracks in the wall

The NYTimes has yet another cool graphic. This one shows all of the cracks that have been revealed in the structure of the Guggenheim Museum.

Summer position: GIS Work on the New Jersey Highlands

Summer position: GIS Work on the New Jersey Highlands

Full time position. Pay range: $12 to $18 per hour depending on qualifications. The work, to be done at CRSSA on the Cook Campus at Rutgers, would entail modifying a GIS of the New Jersey Highlands with special attention to two layers, one concerning growth in open space parcels and the other concerning changes in zoning regulations during the past 35 years. If you are interested, please contact Tom Rudel at rudel@aesop.rutgers.edu or at 732-932-9169x317.

A time to celebrate plants

Today's Times takes a little time out to celebrate the true and full beauty of plants as a biological delight.

16 April 2007

Will sell Tiffany windows for food?

A church in Elizabeth is considering selling off its remarkable Tiffany windows to generate
needed for hunger alleviation.

Nor'easter 2007: Part 1?

The rain has stopped (for now) but everyone is home today because RU and the local schools are all closed. This has already been quite a storm, and now some areas have to brace for the melted snow to hit their streams.

There are pleanty of videos and photos online. Here are a few that stand out to me:
Photo from Bound Brook
Bound Brook along the Raritan?
Video from in or near Bound Brook

The coverage at http://blog.nj.com/reporter/bound_brook/ has been worth looking at.

I assume that there will be more interesting tidbits over the next day or so.

PP videos

As citizens try to fight planning decisions and change public perception on environmental issues, they are turning to videos as a tool for education and persuassion.

An interesting example comes from Fort Lauderdale where a major waterfront development is being opposed by a group of citizens who have turned to YouTube to express their concerns.

As a different use of You Tube, I point you towards Future City in Elizabeth (disclosure: I work with them). They have produced some environmentally-focused videos looking at issues facing the Elizabeth River-Arthur Kill Watershed (and all of urban America). They work to advance awareness as a general goal and not directed at a specific conflict on the calendar.

It all feels very David and Goliath. It is hard to be critical of a small group trying to protect their town or environment. So it may be equally hard to suspect or believe that jumpy little videos made by a anti-shopping mall group could really made by a group funded by another developer who is pro-resort hotel. And how do you research these groups to discover their full intent? With a group like Future City in Elizabeth, there is a 10 year history. But when citizens spontaneously respond to a new "threat" there is no history.

FAQ: County College transfer classes

Q. I'd rather take a few classes at a County College. How will I know if they count? How many can I take?

A. Sometimes there are some real benefits to taking a few classes at County Colleges. However, before you take them you should be sure that they will properly fulfill your goals. Here are a few issues to consider:

In your last 42 credit hours here at Rutgers, 30 credits have to be completed AT Rutgers. That means a maximum of 12 credits elsewhere.

Will the Pre-Calc class at your local school count as pre-calc here? Just check the website at http://www.njtransfer.org/. They will give you definitive answers on equivalent courses. Several different College area requirements might be handled that way.
To use it, go straight to http://www.njtransfer.org/ and find the link to "Find Course Equivalencies". Set the Sending Institution to your local County College and set the Receiving Institution to "Rutgers-Sch Env Biol Sci-Co". If you have a specific class in mind, you can just type in the course number. If you are looking for general requirements just click on the "Keyword Look-Up" button and use the "Rutgers-Sch Env Biol Sci-Cook Co GEd:" pulldown menu to pick the set of requirements that you wan to investigate.

When you find some courses that have equivalency, you still need to go back to the County College's schedule and see when they are offered.

Be warned, very few of the Landscape Architecture requirements can be completed with transfers. And they almost always require approval of the faculty of the Department.

Another Century in DC

As the National Mall in Washington DC enters its third decade, planners and designers are trying to figure out how to make it durable while remaining a central democratic space. A day-long symposium at the National Building Museum examined many of the issues surrounding the future of the Mall and the District. The Washington Post's coverage described how security is becoming a major impediment to quality experiences:
Larry Beasley, a former planning director for Vancouver, B.C., brought this nugget of Canadian wisdom: "The whole world is going mad about security," which has become, in terms of architecture and planning, the most important force shaping our cities. He lamented the return of above-ground parking garages (to prevent a car bomb from taking out a building placed above underground parking) and the use of huge setbacks (they create dead zones in the urban fabric). Cities that are finally reflecting the virtues of density, mixed-use development and walkable spaces are being shoved in the wrong direction by security-mad bureaucrats.
And then there is that problem with the grass too...
It was also a day of soapboxes. Lucy Barber, author of "Marching on Washington: The Forging of an American Political Tradition," sagely pointed out that no matter how much the locals may dread the spring season of political protests, the idea of gathering on the Mall to demand something from the government is deeply embedded not just in the city's sense of itself, but in the American sense of identity as well. All those politicians who think "we have to do something about marchers" get it wrong. The marchers' right to make our beloved Mall a barren wasteland of trampled, stubbly grass makes us who we are.

15 April 2007

an idea that is catching on

In his book, Six Degrees, Duncan Watts explores and explains how complex networks cause results that seem indirect or chaotic but are really quite organized. In today's NYTimes Sunday Magazine, Watts published a summary of his recent work called, "Is Justin Timberlake a Product of Cumulative Advantage?" In their recent research, Watts' team demonstrated how our social networks and perceptions of popularity more strongly influence our taste in music than does the quality of the music.
So does a listener’s own independent reaction to a song count for anything? In fact, intrinsic “quality,” which we measured in terms of a song’s popularity in the independent condition, did help to explain success in the social-influence condition. When we added up downloads across all eight social-influence worlds, “good” songs had higher market share, on average, than “bad” ones. But the impact of a listener’s own reactions is easily overwhelmed by his or her reactions to others. The song “Lockdown,” by 52metro, for example, ranked 26th out of 48 in quality; yet it was the No. 1 song in one social-influence world, and 40th in another. Overall, a song in the Top 5 in terms of quality had only a 50 percent chance of finishing in the Top 5 of success.
That reminded of an old Advanced Environmental Geomatics problem that we explored on the Intrinsic Values of the Landscapes of Highlands. It was a follow-up to Jones and Jones' Intrinsic Values project in Puget Sound.

But does Watts' work prove scientifically that there is no such thing as the intrinsic or aesthetically perfect landscape? How do designers learn from this? And does this mean we should build cheap, plain parks and just work to get people excited about them? I really hope that this raises some exciting new research in regards to landscape perception and popularity.

13 April 2007

GIS Job -- Hunterdon County

HINT: They are looking to get resumes by April 27th.

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


ABILITIES 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.

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

40 Hr Work Week: Salary Range of $28,340 - $41,050

Please submit a resume and a <http://www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/personnel/jobapp.htm> County Application for Employment By April 27, 2007 to:

Hunterdon County Department of Human Resources

Cheryl A. Wieder, Director

Route 12 County Complex
Building #1, 2nd FloorPO Box 2900
Flemington, New Jersey 08822-2900
908-788-1114 * FAX 908-806-4236

<http://www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/Misc/adaeeo.htm> AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

The next Steinbrenner

Andy Borowitz of the NY Times writes about the potential replacements that George Steinbrenner might want to recruit and mentor as his new heir apparent.

While the frontrunner candidates have the last name of Steinbrenner, there is one other of special note. In regards to AG Alberto Gonzales, Borowitz reports:
“On the negative side, Gonzales doesn’t seem very good at remembering things that were said at meetings,” says the insider. “But on the plus side, it looks like he’s going to be available soon.” Gonzales’s biggest fan may also be the most important one: The Boss himself. “Steinbrenner is totally blown away by Alberto,” the insider says. “Even George has never fired eight people in one day.”

12 April 2007

California dreamin'

(Photos: Union Station San Diego, Costa Mesa, Santa Monica, La Jolla, Cottonwood Spring Joshua Tree, Joshua Tree)

Landscape Architecture talk in Central Park

David Kamp, ASLA, LF

"Collaboration in the Garden: Creating Restorative Environments"

Monday, APRIL 16, 2007

6:00 -8:00 PM

The Arsenal, Central Park, 5th Avenue at 65th Street, New York, NY

Learning Units: 1.5 (HSW)
ASLA Member Price: $10
Nonmember Price: $15

When designing accessible spaces for "special needs" populations, one designs not just for the disabled, but for everyone. The Elizabeth and Nona Evans Restorative Garden in the Cleveland Botanical Garden, winner of the 2006 National and New York Chapter of ASLA Honor Award, was created to accommodate the full range of the human condition. This presentation will outline the collaborative approach used to incorporate nature, healing, and design in the development of the Restorative Garden. It will also explore the renovation and expansion of a treasured Library Reading Garden into an exemplary setting that expresses the
restorative powers of nature.

That guy from Freshman English

That guy that was in my Freshman English class just got a new job.

Second Life for Les Halles?

Paris is on the verge of replacing Les Halles with something new. So, the BBC reports, they've turned to Second Life to get a full and robust set of suggestions on its future.

11 April 2007

Vonnegut dead

Kurt Vonnegut has passed away.

One of the great talks I saw in college was by Kurt Vonnegut and he was still making the rounds in recent years. His writing was groundbreaking and still reads as fresh and fun. His official website seems to have gone into a fairly inert state. But Archive.org lets you review what was there last year.

10 April 2007

MVV on poetry

While it wasn't exactly central to his talk this evening, Michael Van Valkenburgh cited a poem by Wallace Stevens called Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. I believe that the quote he referenced was:

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.
But you might want to read the whole poem.

And I've topped this post with the photo of Robert Rauschenberg's Migration, which was referenced in the talk too.

Stewards of the Environment?

In recognition of Landscape Architecture month, PlaNetizen.com interviewed three landscape architects. I found Steve Martino's comments to be particularly telling:

How do you think landscape architecture has changed since you first entered the field?
The quality of design has increased drastically since I started, but I think the basic services are still the same. When I joined the ASLA in 1980, the main market for landscape architects in my area was providing "sprawl" design services for developers. The ASLA had a motto in these days that made me feel good about the profession. It stated that we were "Stewards of the Environment." However, as I looked around, not much of that "stewardship" made it down to the street level. I used to say maybe we were the Martha Stewarts of the environment. The Savings and Loan robber barons were dumping their money into huge projects that displace the natural environment with exotic landscapes that tried to make the desert look like somewhere else. Landscape architects would stand in line to be these developer’s stooges.

Twenty-five years later, most of the firms in my area have grown into rather large firms catering to developers conquering and displacing the natural environment. Unfortunately, I think we are still a profession servicing sprawl.

Ouch. Happy Landscape Architecture Month!

09 April 2007

Washington Township

New Jersey's premiere New Urbanist community, Washington Township, has been overwhelmed by families with kids.

2007 ASLA Professional Awards announced

The 2007 ASLA professional Awards have been announced. This annual review of built and published works usually results in showing several projects that I wish I could visit. This year is no different. I pick over them some over the next few weeks, but the standouts to me right now include Reed Hilderbrand's Leventritt Garden at the Arnold Arboretuem, Kenny Helphand's book (previously mentioned here, here, and here) and Ned and Molly's plan for the Lower Howard's Creek. I also notice that Portland keeps racking up awards for stormwater-related designs. Looks like a diverse and deserving group.

07 April 2007

Success is a choice

Where else can you announce a pep rally on four hours notice and draw such a large crowd? Kentucky has a coach and something new to celebrate and speculate about. The Lexington Herald-Leader kicked off the excitement Friday with an "extra-edition front page on the hiring of UK basketball coach Billy Gillispie". You can still get a copy if you call their 800 number.

He says he understands the high expectations...

"The expectations are extremely high, as high as they are anywhere in the country," Gillispie said of UK basketball. "But if they give you the things you need to win, and you're expected to win, that's what I want to do.

But does he really understand what he is in for?

Gillispie even embraced the famously surreal UK fan expectations, best illustrated by the caller to Tubby Smith's radio show who said, "We're 22-3, but I'm not giving up."
John Clay says it is a great match and that UK fans are just going to love this guy, his persona and style...as long as he wins. His style is built on some intense man-to-man defense and "boot camp" type condition at the start of the practice season.

The Lousiville Courier-Journal discovered Gillespie a few weeks ago since they were seeded into Louisville's NCAA bracket and ultimately sent the Cards home. Eric Crawford's column this morning is revealing"
What I've found is a guy who has made team managers run sprints for not wiping up sweat the right way.

A guy who wrote the name of all of the players' mothers on the board after a poor rebounding game, then got the attention of several by pointing out that they had gotten as many rebounds as their mothers.

A guy who once was so irritated that his players weren't playing fast enough in a game that he forbade them from running through the entire next day's practice, forcing them to walk the whole way while telling them if they weren't going to run hard in games, they might as well not run in practice.

I read about him storming out of practices in disgust, proclaiming that he couldn't watch another minute, only to have players discover later that he watched the rest from a secret spot.

OK, so maybe this guy is ready for Rupp Arena. But he needs to start figuring out how to hang those banners up there, or this is going to be another short-lived relationship.

06 April 2007

Let the sun shine

After a touch of snow yesterday, it seems a bit odd that it is so sunny here. And the crisp shadows this morning got me thinking about how dynamic and temporal shadows are. And that quickly led me to sundials. The Samrat Yantra in Jaipur, India is said to be the world's largest sundial. It is 73 feet tall. But then someone turned the Mont St. Michel into a giant, temporary sundial. Very cool.

05 April 2007

Margaret O. Cekada Memorial Lecture for 2007

Tuesday, April 10, 6:30 pm
Trayes Hall, Douglass Campus Center

Michael Van Valkenburgh
Recent Work

The Rutgers Department of Landscape Architecture
is pleased to announce that the 2007 Margaret O.
Cekada Memorial Lecture will be given by Michael
Van Valkenburgh, principal of Michael Van Valkenburgh
Associates and Charles Eliot Professor in Practice
of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate
School of Design.

As one critic wrote, "To look at Van Valkenburg's
work is to see a landscape architect coming to
grips with a number of particularly contemporary
challenges. It is to be witness to an effort to
marry an essentially placeless modernist language
with more recent contextual concerns, whether
defined in terms of regionalism or local ecology."

In this talk Mr. Van Valkenburgh will share thoughts
on interpreting and engaging the built environment
in several of his recent projects including Alumnae
Valley on the Wellesley College Campus, which won an
American Society of Landscape Architects Award of
Excellence for 2006. Part of a seven-year reworking
of the campus, the design restores ecological function
to a once-contaminated landscape. The award jury
concluded: "The landscape architect backs up an
understated, sophisticated design with real science.
This project totally transforms the campus and sends
a very strong environmental message. Excellent
planning and execution--truly elegant."

Mr. Van Valkenburgh is a Fellow of the American
Society of Landscape Architects and of the American
Academy in Rome. He was awarded the 2003 National
Design Award in Environmental Design by the
Smithsonian Institution's Cooper-Hewitt Museum and
has been the recipient of grants from numerous
organizations including the Graham Foundation and
the National Endowment for the Arts. He received
a BS in landscape architecture from Cornell University
and an MLA from the University of Illinois at

For questions, please contact the Department of
Landscape Architecture at 732-932-9317 or visit the
web site at landarch.rutgers.edu

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates website . . .

ASLA Award for Alumnae Valley website . . .

Flashback: Ian McHarg

When I found this old 1991 Planning Magazine article about Ian McHarg, I just had to share. While some of the pieces of his work seem a little dated, the ideas and the work itself have held up so well over time.
McHarg's reputation is most often linked with a method of suitability analysis which, as everyone who has read his 1969 book, Design With Nature, knows, is a way of planning land uses using hand-drawn, translucent overlay maps of geology, soils, vegetation, and other critical factors.

When the maps are superimposed, sensitive areas, as well as areas suitable for particular human activities, are revealed as in the "light shining through a stained-glass window." The concept was not original with McHarg. It had been tried as early as 1912 by landscape architect Warren Manning in Billerica, Massachusetts, and later, in various rough incarnations, by others. It took McHarg to turn an old refrain into an environmental call to arms.

And in our planning class, it is nice to see how his work keeps coming up in different units.

Michael Van Valkenburgh

The Margeret Cekada Memorial Lecture for 2007 is going to be given Tuesday April 10th by Michael Van Valkenburgh. While waiting for the lecture you might visit the official website of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

04 April 2007

3 Landscapes: Roy DeBoer Jr and Bruce Crawford

Two speakers with a total of three sites between them.

Roy DeBoer Jr.
Old Fairgrounds in San Diego - Balboa Park
Golden Gate Park

Bruce Crawford
Inner Harbor

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

Rutgers Gardens Common Lecture

Today's common lecture was given by Roy DeBoer Jr and Bruce Crawford and presented their vision for the future for Rutgers Gardens. It included a thorough review of the site and their analysis of the conditions. One of the biggest problems continues to be circulation and access. But they also need to expand the visitors facilties and distribute parking throughout the property instead of focusing it all in one place. But they also need to coordinate their activities with other future changes to the area including the Equine Center and a potential Conference Center.

We've mentioned it before. This is one of the very special places at Rutgers.

03 April 2007

Walrus GPS

Well, it isn't exactly TomTom, but scientists are going to start tracking walruses with GPS tags.
They'll be attached from a distance by shooting a crossbow at the walruses. Much of the effort is aimed at getting a better sense for how these animals move around, but it might also help monitor changes in patterns as an impact of climate change. It is amazing to realize how much we have left to learn about an animal that seems so familiar and common at zoos.

IKEA houses?

Sure, that IKEA lamp looks nice on that IKEA table next to your IKEA chair. But will that IKEA house look so good on the IKEA street in your new IKEA neighborhood? IKEAtown will help you answer that.

02 April 2007

Strange Maps

A great blog that has been distracting me is Strange Maps, which posts unusual maps for your perusal and entertainment. The map above is from Lewis Carroll's Hunting of the Snark. Some of their others are pretty memorable too. My favorite might be the Eisenhower Interstate System.

April is National Landscape Architecture Month

Is it really that time of year already? Well, let the celebrations begin. National Landscape Architecture Month is here and I can't think of a better way to celebrate than by hiring a few more LA faculty. Seriously. We are searching for three positions:
Ah, but didn't those searches close already? No, they have a date on which we began reviewing candidates but no set date on which we close the search. If you know a qualified individual, please send them our way. And HAPPY LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MONTH!

01 April 2007

Free Wireless Broadband!

I know some people never trust Google that much. But this seems like a worthy exception. They are helping turn the existing household infrastructure into a broadband delivery system that can work free in nearly every home! This could revolutionize the way that people blend the most mundane of daily functions with the constantly streaming flow of, um, data and information. And the FAQ clearly answers those questions about privacy that TiSP raises.

What a great way to start off the month of April.