30 December 2008

Faster change than anticipated

The US Climate Change progam, led by the USGS, has released a report that says that climate change and sea level rise are happening faster than previously thought. According to the Washington Post:

In one of the report's most worrisome findings, the agency estimates that in light of recent ice sheet melting, global sea level rise could be as much as four feet by 2100. The IPCC had projected a sea level rise of no more than 1.5 feet by that time, but satellite data over the past two years show the world's major ice sheets are melting much more rapidly than previously thought. The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are now losing an average of 48 cubic miles of ice a year, equivalent to twice the amount of ice that exists in the Alps.

A four foot change really means something to a number of the more famous (and less famous) coastal attractions in New Jersey like Cape May, Atlantic City, Wildwood, or Sandy Hook. But it also will severly impact the less visitable coastal wetlands that make some of these places possible. Even in New Brunswick and 4' rise would be a serious thing to consider, so I hope the county isn't spending any more tax money on a marina down there.

28 December 2008

A river of sludge

A river of toxic sludge is flowing in Tennessee. The link includes a video that is dramtic enough to warrant watching the local ad that opens it. This is bad timing considering the recent change in federal rules.

26 December 2008

Just in time for Boxing Day


Best careers 2009

Readers of ASLA's DIRT have already seen their posting advertising that US News and World Reports' Best Careers for 2009 includes both Landscape Architecture and Urban Regional Planning. (It also looks like they've dropped architect as a career)

Even in tough economic times, these professions should be relatively strong. They have limited educational opportunities compared with the need for their work, especially as issues like green urbanism move ahead.

23 December 2008

green urbanism

Witold Rybczynski reflects on the recent green urbanism conference at UPenn. He asks if cities can really save the planet but also asks how we can change our cities if it is too late to prevent climate change.

19 December 2008


Old photos will have to do instead of real blogging since my grades aren't done. These are from Tarragona, Spain.

Here is their old market.

18 December 2008

17 December 2008

105 years in the air

Today is the anniversary of the first flight at Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

What did it look like and when?

There is a great commercial site where you can see parts of NJ (and some other states) at different points in time over the last few decades. Check it out at http://historicaerials.com/

16 December 2008

Small Sustainability

In LAND Online, Bill Thompson asks whether sustainability is affordable and whether smaller projects can afford to respond in meaningful ways to environmental concerns. He positions the question with this bit of evidence:
George Washington University’s program in landscape design now offers a Certificate in Sustainable Landscapes to teach landscape designers “best practices in landscape conservation and sustainability, adapted to the small-scale landscape at the neighborhood level.”

15 December 2008

Greenprint program in Maryland

Maryland has used a Greenprint program to develop a statewide GIS-based parcel map of open space.
The mapping project is partially a response to objections that the state was buying open space and preserving forests and farmland as they came on the market, rather than identifying the most important parcels that would protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Old slides

I found some old scans of 35mm slides. Some of the slides predate my time at Rutgers, but the scans just predate our better scanners, I think. I am sharing a few of those that look more like real slides.

(Photos: Grand Teton National Park, Montreal Olympic site, Saguaro National Park, Budapest Parliament, Budapest Streetcar, FLW's Hollyhock House, Long Island City)

14 December 2008

The NY Times

Since the New York Times is the paper of record, I had hoped that a small measure of my success might come from getting my academic work mentioned in the pages of the Gray Lady.

Well, I made it! Maybe a feature in the higher education special section or a mention in the Science Times, right? No, not those. I am in the lead photo for a restaurant review in today's New Jersey section. Fortunately for the world at large, the photo is not available online. And since printed newspapers are going the way of the dinosaur, it is like being almost famous.

13 December 2008

2009 Triad Internship

The Center for Public Horticulture at the University of Delaware is accepting applications for the 2009 Triad Internship. The purpose of this unique learning / working experience is to provide undergraduate students an introduction to the diverse careers in public horticulture and an exposure to the missions, resources, and operations of varied public horticulture institutions. The Internship provides broad exposure to career opportunities through a balance of job shadowing, hands-on work, and other learning opportunities. While this Internship is part of the UD Landscape Horticulture curriculum, undergraduate students from any college or university are invited to participate. Working with staff of the Center, students will choose three internship sites with differing missions and budgets, from a menu of approximately thirty public gardens from one of the following metropolitan areas:

. Philadelphia / Wilmington, DE
. New York City
. Washington, D.C.
. Baltimore
. Northern New Jersey

An applicant may also work well in advance with The Center to assemble an internship in another area of the country or with gardens not listed on the menu.

While UD students can earn three hours of course credit, students from all universities and academic programs are invited to participate, but are urged to verify credit transfer acceptance at their home institution prior to registration. The Center cannot be responsible for any credit transfer problems.

The Center will provide a stipend to each student that includes $10 per hour of work at each institution, as well as cover transportation expenses, and, if necessary, housing expenses. A minimum of 135 work hours is required, with extensions entertained upon request, especially for non-UD students, pending availability of funds. The Internship is offered for credit only,
and all students are responsible for associated tuition and fees, including out of state tuition if applicable. The application deadline is February 1, 2009, with decisions by March 1st. For an application, list of host gardens, FAQ's, and more information, visit the Center's website at <http://www.publichorticulture.udel.edu/education/triad-internship.html>.

12 December 2008

Will Manville get wet?

Even as we are trying to wrap up our look at the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed, things are getting pretty dicey on the downstream side of things. Here is the threat assessment from the Home News and Tribune:
The Raritan River will crest just below flood stage in Manville, according to the National Weather Service. Flood stage in Manville is 14 feet and the crest is predicted at 13.9 at 1 p.m. Friday.

At 15 feet Dukes Parkway begins to flood Manville. At 14 feet, street and roadway flooding widespread in the Manville area. At 13 feet, Southside Ave. in Somerville floods. Cautionary stage is reached at 12 feet with minor street and roadway flooding. At this 11 feet, some flooding of roadways begins.

Federal spending on higher education

The Chronicle will help you monitor federal appropriations for higher education and science. If you aren't familiar with the process you'll probably be surprised at the number of categories that they track.

11 December 2008

OIRT shortcuts

As part of the conversation at OIRT today, we'll talk about newer computing things and I'm using some of these shortcuts...

Revolutionary War in NJ
Vernal pools
NJ LA Sites
History of Landscape Architecture
LA Field Trips - Boston, NYC, DC

Common Census
GreenMap for GoogleEarth

I'll probably also make a shameless plug of my First Monday paper.

Our keywords are PPGIS and VGI. You can just pretend you were there.

Andrea Cochran on the cover of LAM

RU LA alumna Andrea Cochran has an award-winning project in California's Russian River Valley that is featured in the most recent issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine. It is also the cover photo.

Distributed computing

IBM's World Community Grid wants to use your computer while you sleep to save the world. This approach to distributed computing isn't new, but with over 1,000,000 participants helping improve solar panels and energy solutions, this is more impressive than SETI.

10 December 2008

Better than astrology

The letter of the day is P and the number of the day is 10.

Wind turbines

Can you imagine the day when urban New Jersey neighborhoods might have more wind turbines than satellite dishes? Me, neither. But it is fun trying.

Green Showroom

A temporary green building as a showroom for sustainable techniques.

T. S. Eliot

from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

09 December 2008

Car-free Nagoya City

Some design students in Japan took off for 3 days and designed the future of their city without cars.

Cools Class: Gardens and Landscapes of Italy

Study Abroad

Gardens and Landscapes of Italy
3 Credits
May, 2009

Informational meeting on
Wednesday, December 10
4:30 PM
Blake Room 152

David Brooks on on New Localism

In his column this morning, David Brooks cites Joel Kotkin's 2002 book The New Geography (which probably just jumped on Amazon) and the phenomenon of New Localism which he then links to Obama's new infrastructure investment plan. He sets the stage well for both his discussion of the plan but also our current exploration of our watershed:
The 1980s and 1990s made up the era of the great dispersal. Forty-three million people moved every year, and basically they moved outward — from inner-ring suburbs to far-flung exurbs on the metro fringe. For example, the population of metropolitan Pittsburgh declined by 8 percent in those years, but the developed land area of the Pittsburgh area sprawled outward by 43 percent.
It is remarkable how rapidly much of this change occurred. Still more remarkable is how we act like nothing has changed - this is the America of Jefferson and Lincoln and Roosevelt. In reality, this is something new and very possibly something fairly transitory. Read Brooks' column and see if you think something new is coming down the pike.

Regular season over

Wow. At the end of the regular season Rutgers has a higher Sagarin ranking than any of the other teams I follow.

But when you look at the ratings, the teams are closer than you might think. The difference between the bottom and the top is less than 6 points.

08 December 2008


Part of taking a crit is in the listening.

Dan Kiley's Westward Expansion

The NY Times writes about the current debate over the future of the historic park at the base of the St Louis Arch. The "history" is not that the site restores an ancient burial ground or a lean-to used by the Lewis and Clark expedition, but instead it is the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial park design by Dan Kiley. The park is considered one of the birthplaces of American modernism in landscape architecture.

One group has raised money for the park, but wants to "improve" the park in ways that might compromise the integrity of the original design. As the centerpiece of St Louis, the entire city thinks it should serve the city in various ways. But the preservationists point out that (aside from literal ownership by the NPS) the park is for all of America and not just the city:
“This is where it all begins,” said Charles Birnbaum, president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, a nonprofit group in Washington.

“Here are two of the most important place makers of the 20th century, and this is one of their most important commissions,” he said of Kiley and Saarinen. “You start putting in buildings, and it changes the geometry significantly.”

"Gardening" books

The NY Times Review of Books threaded several books together under the heading of "gardening" but I don't think that Métis and vertical gardens were meant to fit the normal ideas about what is included in gardening. Indeed, the Times itself admits as much:
This year’s offerings, with a couple of notable exceptions, seem more to do with thinking about gardens than with the act of gardening. And only a particular kind of gardener (one who has to survive a very long period of dormancy) will have the patience to tussle with the vexatious question on several writers’ minds: What is a garden?

Still, the review is well worth the time for reading even if you don't have the inclination to read these particular books further.

04 December 2008

OIRT is making Rutgers more like a game

Technologies for instruction are providing increasing opportunities for collaboration, student engagement, and active learning.

Rutgers' Office of Instructional and Research Technology is holding their annual Holiday Technology Showcase

featuring the
Grand Opening of the Rutgers University Second Life Island
and the
Launch of Rutgers on iTunes

Also featuring: Sakai, ePortfolios, Digital Storytelling, and Games
for Education
Thursday, December 11, 2008, from 10am-6pm
ASB Annex 1, Busch Campus

A list of exhibits and demonstrations is available at:http://oirt.rutgers.edu/showcase2008

Environmentally-friendly Christmas Trees?

Growing Christmas trees may not sound like the most destructive practice, but the NY Times reports on how some farms are finding ways to improve on traditional practices.

The rising waters of Venice

Venice is very wet this week. You have to check out the photos at The Big Picture. Just the photos of Piazza San Marco and the Doge's Palace alone are great. But the people buying food in waders is a sign of how extreme this city is.

03 December 2008

Live Blog: Joel Flagler (brief)

Today's liveblog was cut VERY short by technical problems and some of this is from memory...

The 2008 Landscape Industry Lecture

Taking Stock: The True Value of Horticultural Therapy

by Joel Flagler

Flagler has been at Rutgers for 21 years - he is a Cook grad and got his masters at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

The only ag extension agent with a teaching appointment - Rutgers is one of four Universities in USA that offer a degree in horticultural therapy

Our language is filled with many horticultural references – a reflection of how we integrate values into the dialogue.

Horticultural therapy is used in at least 3 different ways:

* Vocational
* Therapetic
* Social

There are myriad benefits including building self-esteem, enhanced motor skills, psycho-emotional healing, job skills, etc.

An exciting example in Bergen County is Health Barn USA. He promises we'll hear more about it soon.

(The above photo shows people shopping for some happy healthy improvements at Ag Field Day)

02 December 2008

3d GIS Symposium

Join the GITA New York/New Jersey Chapter for their 3D Infrastructure Symposium

Thursday, December 11, 2008
The Graduate Center/CUNY
Skylight Conference Room 9100
365 Fifth Avenue (at 34th Street)
New York City, NY 10016
(view map), http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=365+Fifth+Avenue,+ny&sll=40.748419,-73.983639&sspn=0.00595,0.007242&ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=40.749858,-73.986268&spn=0.011899,0.020106&z=16&iwloc=addr

This event will focus on 3D/4D applications of infrastructure modeling and management. New York City is home to some remarkable 3D infrastructure projects and is an excellent location to challenge the capability of technological solutions provided by our key sponsors. You can read more about these technologies on the Web or walk in for powerful sessions at our event.

Symposium Outline:
08:30 - 09:00 Registration
09:00 - 12:00 Invited Presentations
12:00 - 01:00 Lunch
01:00 - 04:00 Technical Breakout Sessions
04:00 - 04:30 Awards

Keynote Speaker:
Cosema E. Crawford, P.E.
Senior Vice President and Chief Engineer
Department of Capital Program Management, MTA NYCT

Featured Speakers:
William E. Goodrich P.E., Program Executive, MTA Capital Construction
Judith Kunoff, AIA, LEED AP, CCM, Chief Architect, CPM, MTA NYCT
Geoff Zeiss, Autodesk
Mike Williams, CIO Parsons Brinckerhoff
Christopher Reseigh, SVP, PB Americas
John Okerman, Bentley
Abhi Basu, Basu Technology
Hosney Abdelgelil, NYC BIM Group
& few more award winning speakers!

View more information here!, http://gita.org/chapters/new_york/3D-Infrastructure-GITA-NYNJ-Dec11-.pdf

Registration is FREE. Pre-registration is required for this event. Please email nynjgita@gmail.com with your contact information or you can register online., https://www.gita.org/forms/forms/Default/GITA_NY_NJ_3D_Symposium.aspx

Travel Notes:
The building is across from the Empire State Building, and is convenient to all major transportation routes. Grand Central Terminal, Pennsylvania Station, the midtown PATH, and all major New York City subway and bus lines are within easy walking distance.

For more information or questions, contact us at nynjgita@gmail.com.

Plans for the Depot

The current plan for the General Services Belle Mead Depot is to turn it into a park. They need a plan before they can receive Brownfields funding for the clean-up.

The Depot's history is at least a little interesting, according to the Home News:

The depot was an Army warehouse facility through the Vietnam War. During World War II, the facility was used as a camp for captured members of the Italian military. The property was then turned over to the General Services Administration and was used until its closure in 1991.

StreetView gets more visible

Wired describes how GoogleMap has brought their StreetView into greater visibility. The video is goofy, but fun.

01 December 2008

Old news

Catching up with news and links that I meant to post earlier...

The shake-up continues

Rutgers has climbed to 42 with LSU at 40. When you look back at around the 5th or 6th week, and see the chasm between those two teams, the change is quite impressive. It will be interesting to see if anyone can make a big change between now and January.

30 November 2008

Watershed thinking

When I saw this at Philadelphia's historic Academy of Natural Sciences, I thought it was a pretty fitting thought for this point in our semester.

Parking ticket map

The NY Times has a fascinating block-by-block interactive map of NYC showing all the parking tickets issued over the last year. No surprise that hospitals and campuses are hot spots.

26 November 2008

Timelapse GIS

A Timelapse GIS tutorial on Digital Urban has lead to a cool video demonstrating its application as an analytical tool. This is just one more reason that LA's need to figure out GIS, because the spatial analysis of human movement is just as important as knowing about the soils on your site or calculating slope.

Cool Class: Transportation and the Environment

Transportation and the Environment 10:762:495:01 Index # 54668

TTh 2:50pm-4:10pm Hardenbergh Hall- Room A4 (CAC)

This course will provide students with an understanding of the complex interrelationships between transportation and the environment. It will provide an overview of the various environmental impacts caused by the provision and use of transportation, give a background on some analysis techniques for estimating impacts, and discuss technology and policy solutions to environmental problems. The course will also focus on the economics of environmental, land use and transportation policy and how these affect environmental outcomes.

The class is being taught by Professor Robert Noland, Director of the Voorhees
Transportation Center.

24 November 2008

Awards videos

The ASLA awards announcement this year includes a (grainy) summary video of last year's winners. HINT: This might make an interesting start point for Tuesday's studio conversation.

The end is in sight

Defending national champs LSU (7-4) are down to #34. Every year it seems like the Sagarin ranking penalizes the brutality of the SEC schedule by undervaluing the middle of the SEC pack. Then in the bowls the SEC runs a string of upsets. We'll see.

22 November 2008

Cincy campus

The University of Cincinnati campus has gotten a fair amount of attention for its design work. Unfortunately, my only recent visit was during a winter break when there was no activity at the activity centers. The campus was impressive but hard to assess as a social space - which is a pretty fundamental concern with a campus design.

A new book provides a closer look at one of the new areas on campus: Moore Ruble Yudell: Arc of Interaction | Joseph A. Steger Student Life Center/University of Cincinnati, Edited by Oscar Riera Ojeda. The Joseph A. Steger Student Life Center is at the heart of a series of impressive projects including a Morphosis building and a series of Hargreaves landscapes that contribute to the campus' famous Main Street. not unlike the campus, I haven't had a fair chance to review the book, but the PDF ad they have posted has enough photos to seriously entice readers and demonstrate the uniqueness (if not the intrinsic value) of this campus design.

Team work is hard

That is why it includes the word "work"

21 November 2008

"It's not our intention to use eminent domain"

Nowadays, the phrase "It's not our intention to use eminent domain" almost sounds defensive, doesn't it?

Of course, the full sentence changes the context: "It's not our intention to use eminent domain or any sort of condemnation of land unless there was no other choice." It is a little like the scene from Blazing Saddles where Bart takes himself hostage and threatens to shoot if any one comes closer. Don't make us use eminent domain!

20 November 2008

GPS for kids

PBS' Dragonfly recently ran an episode in which kids compared GPS with a compass and map.

The Sustainable Sites Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks

While I prefer to avoid reposting other people's boilerplate, I wanted to share some of this in its nearly as-sent form:
The Sustainable Sites Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks Draft 2008 is available for download at www.sustainablesites.org and the PDF has features that make an electronic document easier to read and look through. It is a collaborative group effort funded and managed by three partners, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanic Garden along with the ASLA.

This new report is a result of countless hours of research by a diverse group and represents the potential to change the design, construction, and maintenance of the built landscape. But to be ultimately successful, we need you to agree to be an active participant of the public comment period review. We want to insure a broad based and wide group of respondents.
Here is some of the summary that ASLA sent out on the project:
These guidelines will enable built landscapes to support natural ecological functions by protecting existing ecosystems and regenerating ecological capacity where it has been lost. The report includes more than 50 prerequisites and credit options that cover everything from initial site selection to construction and maintenance. The report represents thousands of hours with input from 37 technical advisors in hydrology, vegetation, soils, materials and human health and well being. These credits were tailored to apply to any landscape, with our without buildings.
It is a very interesting project and has the potential to be a defining effort for ASLA and its partners.

18 November 2008

Mt Holly Gardens Eminent Domain

The Mount Holly Gardens case is getting enough attention that it seems plausible that this case could trigger a larger response about eminent domain. The news descriptions capture some particulalry interesting twists, like this Inquirer account of how one person owed more than the Eminent Domain covered:

The problems accompanying the Gardens' redevelopment have been especially acute for seniors, the report found. One resident, Carole Richardson, 71, said she received $54,000 for selling her house of more than a decade to the township in March. Now she lives in a trailer in Columbus. Another resident, Evans Jackson, 63, anticipated paying off his home loan in three years but had to enter into a new 30-year mortgage after receiving $116,000, including a loan, from selling his house to the township two years ago.

With more an more homeowners upside down, could eminent domain be a new threat
The Gannett report on the case offers a fact of limited usefulness in determining whether this is an abuse of ED or just an unfortunate but necessary situation:

The township offered nothing to the displacedan unfortunate renters but well over the legal minimum to owners, from $27,000 to $49,000 per unit. That was far less than what residents said they needed to relocate in the region, where an average price for a home is $206,000.

The pictures make it seem like the housing is probably not comparable to the average in Mt Holly, so that number isn't really relevant except in reminding us that ED usually impacts people already living in housing that is well below the community average.

The use of eminent domain is quickly approaching a status in New Jersey (and elsewhere) where its application is so unpopular that it no longer matters if it is being used appropriately and fairly. The very mention of its name creates such a public stir that it chills any further conversations. I suspect that we will be seeing some new legislation soon.

Joan Miró

I enjoyed Miró's art, but didn't appreciate the full impact of his career until we visited his the La Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona. So, I was pretty excited to see that MoMA had an exhibition of his work from 1927 to 1937 through January 12. I was even more excited that Slate developed a Miró slideshow to try to save me the trip into the City. (although MoMA's online version of the exhbition is so thorough that the SLate piece is really just the Reader's Digest version of the exhibit)

17 November 2008

Public Land Survey System

When I described Thomas Jefferson's Public Land Survey System in EDA on Friday, I was reminded how new this is to New Jersey students who've spent very little time in the Midwest.

Not only did I find a link to the official-sounding description of the PLSS from the National Atlas, but I also found a few images that highlight the degree to which Jefferson's system really does continue to shape a significant portion of the American landscape today.

Getting close to done

Losing to Vandy is never a good thing...

Princeton Science Park

The economy has cause Princeton to hold off on selling some land for a Science Park on US 1. The development would include 2 hotels, as well as several office and lab buildings.

GIS Day 2008

Geography Awareness Week is here and GIS Day is approaching. Since Rutgers doesn't seem to have a formal event, you might try one of these other local colleges that are hosting events to promote GIS:
  • Essex County College is hosting an event on Wednesday November 12th. Alison Hayes is the Event Contact - 973-877-3498
  • Burlington County College is hosting an event on Wednesday November 19th. Merrilee Torres is the Event Contact - 609-702-7067
  • Atlantic Cape Community College is hosting an event on Wednesday November 19th. Loretta Dicker is the Event Contact - 609-343-4985

Olmsted's Buffalo

The Sunday NY Times Arts Section included an examination of the historic architecture of Buffalo, NY and how it is both underappreciated and threatened. While Frank Lloyd Wright gets the most play in the piece, Frederick Law Olmsted is featured too:

In Buffalo he realized an even grander ambition, creating a vast network of parks and parkways that he hoped would have “a civilizing effect” on the “dangerous classes” populating the American city. Flanked by rows of elm trees, the parkways were broken up by a series of gorgeous landscaped roundabouts, slowing the city’s rhythms of movement into something more majestic yet distinctly democratic.
The online version includes a slideshow that begins with an Olmsted parkway but leads on to include a great building by Burnham. It is almost as if the NY Times is endorsing my list.

A talk on Valley Oaks

Ecology & Evolution Graduate Program Seminar
Dr. Peter Smouse
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources Rutgers University

Thursday November 20, 2008

Mixed Maternity Analysis of Natural Quercus lobata Recruits
The "Pericarp Problem"

4:00 p.m. Foran Hall, Room 138A Host: Dr. Rebecca Jordan
Refreshments at 3:30

16 November 2008

Tony Hiss and Christopher Meier's H2O online

You can read H2O: Highlands to Ocean – A First Look at the Landscapes and Waterscapes of the New York /New Jersey Metropolitan Area online at RegionBuilder.org. It might be tough to read the whole thing before Wednesday night's Steve Strom Memorial Lecture, but it'd be worth a try - it is a quick read.

14 November 2008

The 2008 Top Ten Shapers of the American Landscape

Here is the list of Top 10 Shapers that I am presenting in EDA listed in alphabetic order. For comparison purposes I have linked each one to its entry in Wikipedia, but these are not definitive descriptions. And the Top 10 Shapers tag at the end will find you a few other interesting links...

Daniel Burnham

Andrew Jackson Downing

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Herbert Hoover

Thomas Jefferson

William J. Levitt

Robert Moses

John Muir

Frederick Law Olmsted

Gifford Pinchot

Hiking Manhattan, Part 3

Apretty random set of scenes from the Manhattan hike...

The Gatehouse at CCNY.
Battery Park City.
Irish Famine Memorial entrance.
Public restrooms aren't just at Starbucks anymore.
George Washington slept here.
Either a school or a jail - a little hard to tell which.
We saw lots and lots of this stuff.

Nervi's George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal at the George Washington Bridge. They say it is one of his only buildings outside Europe.
You never know when I'll need a picture of people buying Subway tickets.

COAH order in the NJ Highlands

COAH has issued something of an emergency order requiring Highlands communities to fulfill COAH obligations. The Star-Ledger reports:
"The point of it is to ensure that there's sufficient land, water and sewer to meet the affordable housing obligations in the Highlands region," said Lucy Vandenberg, executive director of the Council on Affordable Housing, or COAH.

As I read it (and I read it very quickly) this is part of a continuing expansion of the diverging sets of interest that multiple players have in the Highlands. The Highlands Council, the builders, environemtnal groups, and now the Council on Affordable Housing all have somewhat different interests, obligations and expectations for the region. In a basic sense, that is how democracy works and evolves. But, since the Highlands got left behind in so many policy discussions in the 80s and 90s, it has been a rush now to address the conflicts between the water supply demands, environmental quality issues, housing pressures, regional food supply, tax systems, etc. The Task Force, the Council, the Plan, and this COAH order have all been rapid responses that look (in the media) pretty different from policies that have emerged over decades.

John Muir c.1900

Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, you can read John Muir's 1900 essay on The Forests of the Yosemite Park in Atlantic Monthly. Much of it is timeless, although the mention of "the lately established system of parks and reservations" sets you back a little. And he writes about a visit from Mr. Emerson, which would have been quite the experience. He eventually visited Emerson's home turf:
But there remained many a forest to wander through, many a mountain and glacier to cross, before I was to see his Wachusett and Monadnock, Boston and Concord. It was seventeen years after our parting on the Wawona ridge that I stood beside his grave under a pine tree on the hill above Sleepy Hollow. He had gone to higher Sierras, and, as I fancied, was again waving his hand in friendly recognition.

Cool Class: Spaceship Earth: Urbanism and the Environment in the 1960’s

Kate John-Alder is teaching a special topics class in EPIB this spring called, Spaceship Earth: Urbanism and the Environment in the 1960’s (listed as 11:374:427 TPC:HUMN ECOL RURAL). It should be an unique opportunity for students interested in people like Ian McHarg or Buckminster Fuller.

13 November 2008

Local tree makes it big!

A tree from Hamilton, NJ is going to be this year's Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

Cool Class: Research in the Disciplines

I recently received a brochure on the writing sections in Research in the Disciplines. This class counts as the second class in the SEBS writing and communication area requirement. It is structured around thematic sections meant to challenge students to write about an area of interest to them. This helps the student advance their writing skills (a necessity in the modern workplace) while developing a specific vocabulary or writing style the helps them explore or express their own ideas in an area of interest. Some of the more interesting ones for our students might include:
  • Visual Culture And Technology
  • Architecture, Design And Public Space
  • Ethics And Decision Making
  • My Space, Your Space: 21st Century Communication
  • Environment
Unfortunately, Architecture, Design And Public Space is offered at the same time as the Landscape Architecture Common Lecture series, but for students working towards entry to the program it would still be beneficial.

Barcelona's sand Obama

Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada and a team of volunteers went down to the beach in Barcelona and sculpted a 500 foot long portrait of Barack Obama. The AP photo shows that this is right next to the Forum and Foreign Office Architecture's Auditoria Park making one of Barcelonas most interesting corners even more interesting.

Moshe Safdie

His new courthouse building for Springfield, MA is a bit different than his Habitat67.

12 November 2008

NYC Hike, Part 2: MVVA

On our hike through New York City last weekend we saw at least three different projects by MVVA. Lots of magnificent bluestone at Teardrop Park.

We also peeked MVVA's work at the New School (below) and raced along the Battery Park esplanade (too dark to show).

3 Landscapes: Leor Lovinger

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

Live Blog: Leor Lovinger on Designing with Stone

Design with stone - Butler College as a case study
Leor Lovinger, Michael van Valkenburgh Associates

Theme: Using bluestone to explore and experiment with ways that it works while leveraging its geologic connotations

The project is part of larger efforts on campus, which struggle to deal with the fact that the campus has grown to 5 times the size of it historic boundaries. As the campus builds down to the "natural feature" of Lake Carnegie, they are using it as an opportunity to build the natural landscape back up into campus. Sustainability was a subtle theme in Beatirx Farrand's original design work and remains an inspiration for MVVA today.

Some of the Butler Campus work has been focused on specific projects at Holden, Wilson, Butler, and Whitman Halls but also around Scully and Bloomberg Halls (see the campus map). They refer to their work there as inventing within the traditional. For an amphitheater design, they began to use straight lines as their datum, with the shaping of the landscape as a contrast.

From an early point in the process they collaborate with the quarry to ensure that their uses of the stone are authentic and not contrived. The two kinds of blue stone are Portage and Hamilton, but the Hamilton is stronger and is what they work to get. But you still have to cut the rock carefully and with explicit expectations to get the right colors. And the cut impacts the different effects, like the horizontality and variety which is a key element in the design for their amphitheater wall. And, while the construction details determine how water travels down the wall, the rock cut also plays a role. Scale models are key for getting the seating and personal experience right.

New ideas were integrated. The sloped footing was an innovative solution for the site. Even the plants for the project had to be prepared for months/years so they could be planted in a mature state up against the rock walls. And after all of this planning and design, they'll still return to the site to work the stone and match the feel to their design intent.

Students interested in stonework won't have to look far for good and bad examples of how this technique can be successful or not. And in the Q & A it was inevitable that someone would ask about Opus 40.


61 Trees

NPR Reports that it turns out that there are about 61 trees per person on Earth.

I'd like my 61 trees to be Redwoods (the above photo is from Muir Woods and is taken by Tonya T) but it isn't clear that we get to pick, and it seems likely that the number is going down.

Maya Lin at Storm King

Maya Lin's newest work at Storm King will open Spring of 2009 but you can see it now in a video from the NY Times.

11 November 2008

2008 Steve Strom Memorial Lecture

Please join us for the 2008 Steve Strom Memorial Lecture on Wednesday, November 19. Please see attached poster and share it with others who might be interested in attending.

Tony Hiss, well-known author, lecturer, and consultant, will present
The H2O Area and You: Finding Your "Two Addresses"

6:30 PM, Wednesday, November 19
Cook Campus Center, Multi-Purpose Room C, Rutgers University

"By drawing on the insights of planners, ecologists, psychologists, and environmentalists, he outlines a more experiential place-based way of looking at and dealing with our urban and rural environment. Hiss sensitively explores how people experience public places, and why different
places bring about different experiences." http://pps.org Project for Public Spaces

Some of his recent publications are:
  • The View from Alger's Window: A Son's Memoir, Vintage Books, 2000.
  • Building Images: 70 Years of Photography at Hedrich Blessing, Chronicle Books, 2000.
  • Moments of Grace: Spirit in the American Landscape (Aperture Vol 150), with Bill McKibben and Lucy R. Lippard, Aperture, February 1998.
  • All Aboard with E.M. Frimbo: World's Greatest Railroad Buff, with Rogers E.M. Whitaker, Kodansha International, 1997.
  • A Region at Risk: The Third Regional Plan for the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Metropolitan Area, with Robert D. Yaro, Island Press, 1996.
  • The Experience of Place, Vintage Books, 1991.

A prediction about the future of NJ

From Jim Hughes and Joe Seneca: This will be the decade of lost jobs.
"Things are going to get worse before they get better," said Hughes, dean of Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.
I think it is safe to assume that these guys would like to be proven wrong.

Ted Dudek

We mourn the recent loss of one of our alums, Ted Dudek, Class of '75.

A time for memorials

As we reach the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we'll probably hear a bit more about memorials in the press today. But after my recent EDA guest lecture on memorials, I saw this nice article revisiting Helms Roberts' Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It talks about the labor intensive work that was required by the architect as well as his continuing commitment to giving tours of the memorial.