30 June 2008


New York City has partnered with artist Olafur Eliasson (and the Public Art Fund and various donors, etc.) to open a temporary installation of waterfalls throughout the city. Not unlike The Gates, this will last a short time and then disappear, so media coverage has jumped on this as both a spectacle and tourist enticement. But responses get complicated. Eliason's new project raises new questions like, What is a waterfall worth? And why are economists evaluating public art anyway?

Since they are spread aruond the city, logistics are an issue. Maybe you could bike around, stop at Figment and see the Talking Heads thing. What an art day that would be.

27 June 2008

Jenna's Landscape Photos Day 5: Lighthouses

Last summer one of our students, Jenna Pauloski, spent some time taking landscape photos for our NJ LA project. Each day this week I'll try to post some examples of the photos from her Garden State Tour. Today is Lighthouse Day. Lighthouses represent an iconic form of cultural landscape that really speak to people of various backgrounds.

The Tuckerton Lighthouse

The Twin Lights of Navesink

Sandy Hook Lighthouse

Absecon Lighthouse

Barnetgat Lighthouse

Cape May Lighthouse

Maybe we should all celebrate the end of the week with a trip to the beach. Have a great weekend.

26 June 2008

Jenna's Landscape Photos Day 4: Historic

Last summer one of our students, Jenna Pauloski, spent some time taking landscape photos for our NJ LA project. Each day this week I'll try to post some examples of the photos from her Garden State Tour.

Today is History Day.

Thomas Edison NPS Site

Princeton Battlefield

MacCulloch Hall

Acorn Hall

Cannonball House and Garden

Olmsted's Weequahaic Park

25 June 2008

NJ LA Practice Act passed by the legislature

The NJ ASLA has succeeded in getting the NJ Legislature to pass the NJ Practice Act:
The New Jersey Chapter of ASLA is proud to announce that Monday, June 23, 2008 was a red letter day for NJASLA, as the bill that will upgrade the “Title Act” (protecting only the use of the word Landscape Architect for state Certified Landscape Architects) to a “Practice Act” that defines an inclusionary scope of work and duties that a state licensed Landscape Architect may perform and submit to government agencies, including “overlapping” practices in common with other professionals in the land development field. The new Act provides for all actively certified landscape architects to be automatically elevated to practice license status.

Sad made sadder

Last summer a former student of ours, Jenna Pauloski, took many photos of the NJ landscape. They included so many interesting places and unexpected perspectives that we are still discovering some of the details hidden within.
Unfortunately some memorials take a sad moment or memory and make it sadder, when instead they should have helped create closure and even celebration. The rush to build has created some unfortunate memorials like this United Flight 93 Memorial. It is clearly intended to memorialize the tragic, yet heroic, efforts of the passengers on that flight. But the photo they selected shows a much earlier era United aircraft than the contemporary grey and blue ones they would have been using on 9/11/2001. It may seem picky, but a 1968 photo for a 2001 tragedy ends up looking lazy or sloppy.

There is some controversy today over how long it is taking to build the World Trade Center Memorial in New York. But one of the (many) reasons it is taking so long is that they are being very careful, very diligent, and very aware of the countless details. At such a high visibility memorial, any error or misstatement will result ni a media frenzy only compound the pain and loss.

Jenna's Landscape Photos Day 3: Memorials

Last summer one of our students, Jenna Pauloski, spent some time taking landscape photos for our NJ LA project. Each day this week I'll try to post some examples of the photos from her Garden State Tour.

Today we'll take a look at local 9-11 memorials.

Woodbridge 9-11 Memorial

Wyckoff 9-11 Memorial

Allendale 9-11 Memorial

Bayonne 9-11 Memorial

Colts Neck 9-11 Memorial

A 9-11 Memorial from Chatham

Another 9-11 Memorial from Chatham

24 June 2008

Was it a stream or a pond?

The NY Times Science Section reports that a big reason that stream restoration projects were failing was that they were really ponds. (You can tell that this is a featured piece since it comes with a pop-up graphic, podcast audio, and a Times video)

Jenna's Landscape Photos Day 2: Parks and Rec

Last summer one of our students, Jenna Pauloski, spent some time taking landscape photos for our NJ LA project. Each day this week I'll try to post some examples of the photos from her Garden State Tour.

Today we'll look as a few sports and recreation landscapes.

Baltusrol, Ruining nice walks for more than a century

Galloping Hill Golf Course

Colonial Park's Putting Course

Tillman Ravine, a great place for a hike

A trail in Olmsted's Eagle Rock Reservation

Cliff Gennarelli Sports-plex

Roosevelt Park Sports Complex

Yanticaw Park

Island Beach State Park

23 June 2008

The Stanford Social Innovation Review has taken note of the plethora of web-mapping going on. The VGI party is getting bigger.

Jenna's Landscape Photos Day 1: Gardens

Last summer one of our students, Jenna Pauloski, spent some time taking landscape photos for our NJ LA project. Each day this week I'll try to post some examples of the photos from her Garden State Tour.

Well Sweep Herb Farm

Ven der Goot Gardens at Colonial Park

Cora Hartshorn Arobretum

Cape May Plants Materials Center

The Wallbridge Rose Garden in Taylor Park

Avis Campbell Garden

Wincester Gardens

Edwin Duff Garden

Freylinghuysen Arboretum

Shakespeare Garden

The Ronald Rogers Arboretum

Hunterdon County Arboretum

Tomorrow we'll get a little more active.

22 June 2008

Gas Maps

The rapid increase of gas prices has fueled a new form of volunteered geographic information: gas mapping. On GasBuddy.Com people are almost constantly posting prices of both cheap and expensive gas so that you can see where to stop on your way to the bike store. Maybe this is how you fight back against pricing scams. Or maybe this is how you simply help develop a more cultivate consumer. in any case, it doesn't work without the volunteers doing it all over the country.
In fact, the national coverage is so complete that the point data can be aggregated into large choropleth maps. Quickly people will realize that they may better off getting gas in Manhattan than along the Merritt Parkway. Or maybe those brisdge tolls are worth it to get the cheap NJ gas for your Hummer.

The creative customizations also include graphing of price changes. These may be very helpful in explaining to your kids why you have canceled the summer trip to the Ozarks and joined the local pool instead.

Of course, with such high gas prices, the cheapest way to get around is probably a Google Map driving simulator.

21 June 2008

Gardening hotlines

Before that problem in your garden turns into a crisis, the Home News suggests you try calling the Master Gardener's Hotline. This is a way that the University is using its extension branch to serve the nearby communities. It is worth noting that the Department of Landscape Architecture is not the place to call for this type of assistance.

19 June 2008

Cool Class on Public Monuments

Senior Seminar on Public Monuments
Sarah Blake McHam
Fall 2008

This seminar will address the issues surrounding public monuments from the nineteenth century through the present day. It will focus on sculptures commissioned to commemorate major events in the United States, but will also consider some important European examples. Until the unveiling of Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the early 1980s, conventional wisdom held that the public monument was a dead form, killed by the lack of common cultural associations and bonds among the citizenry. That evaluation has radically changed. Through the discussion of weekly readings about a selected group of recent memorials, the seminar will investigate how and why this happened. Students will be expected to prepare presentations of the readings, and ultimately to select a specific monument that they can study in person and do research on through original sources and documents, for example, through the Smithsonian listing of American monuments and at the archives of local historical societies. They will then present their research to the class, and write it up as a term paper.

The original Olmsted map of Central Park

For a limited time you can see FL Olmsted's original 1858 winning Greensward Plan for Central Park. It is on display at the Arsenal in New York.

18 June 2008

The NJ LA Sites are finally online

We are finally unveiling the first public product from our Landscape Architectural Sites of New Jersey project with the ASLA and NJASLA. This is an effort to find different ways to help more people find interesting landscapes and sites throughout New Jersey and beyond. As a first draft we have posted both a Zoomify image and a KMZ file for Google Earth.

Since the list has been developed, in part, by culling information from other sources, I haven't yet visited all of the sites myself. Here are a few that I am interested in visiting sometime soon:
Most importantly, we hope to continue improving the static web site this summer while trying to get our online map hack up and running too. We need to add the list of 9-11 memorials, link more of Jenna's photos and improve the data representations (we hate the current Google Earth symbols as much as you do). But to really make it work, we could really use your help. Please use the comment section below as a way to add to our to do list. What surprised you? What are the glaring omissions? What form of data do you still want?

Yet another bear

It maybe time for us to develop a family bear plan, since the human-bear conflicts just keep coming here in New Jersey. Hopefully this one will end better than some others.

Job: Park Naturalist/Nature Center Director

Since some of our Geomatics Certificate students come through other majors, I thought this might be of some interest:

Park Naturalist/Nature Center Director

The Mercer County Park Commission is seeking a motivated and experienced individual with a strong background and knowledge in Natural Sciences, Forestry, Conservation and Educational Program Development for the full-time position of Park Naturalist/Nature Center Director. Potential candidates must possess the ability to plan and develop educational programs; have strong organizational and communication skills and management ability. A Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Science, Forestry, Conservation, Natural Resources Management or Agriculture and 5-8 years experience are required, to obtain a detailed job description visit www.mercercounty.org. Salary Range: $49,069-$77,348. Please submit resume and references to the Mercer County Park Commission, 640 South Broad Street, Trenton, New Jersey 08650, Attn: Kevin B. Bannon, Executive Director or via email to kbannon@mercercounty.org, by July 15, 2008. Mercer County Park Commission is an EOE/AA/ADA Employer.

16 June 2008

Lecture on Applied Geostatistics


Recent Development in Applied Geostatistics:
Going Beyond the Generation of Pretty Color Maps


Pierre Goovaerts

BioMedware, Inc.

516 North State Street

Ann Arbor, MI 48104, USA

Since its early development for the assessment of mineral deposits, geostatistics has been used in a growing number of disciplines dealing with the analysis of data distributed in space and/or time. Nowadays, geostatistical techniques are routinely used for spatial interpolation of point measurements in diverse fields ranging from earth and atmospheric sciences, to agriculture, soil science, environmental and health studies. The end-product of most geostatistical studies is thus a pretty colour map that displays smooth changes in kriging estimates. This seminar aims to demonstrate that geostatistics is not confined to kriging but offers a vast array of applications that keeps expanding with recent methodological and computational developments. The first part will present an overview of geostatistical tools available for processing space-time data and their application to three environmental data sets: soil dioxin around an incinerator, arsenic in groundwater across Michigan, and air pollutants in LA area. This will be followed by a presentation of recent applications of geostatistics in medical geography or spatial epidemiology, which is concerned with the study of spatial patterns of disease incidence and mortality and the identification of potential “causes” of disease, such as environmental exposure or socio-demographic factors.

Dr. Goovaerts will present a workshop for a limited number of people on June 24th. If you are interested in attending please register with Peter Oudemans at oudemans@aesop.rutgers.edu. You can also find out more about the software Dr. Goovaerts has developed and will be discussing at http://www.terraseer.com/products_stis.php.

Seminar: June 24, 2008, 10:30-11:30am

Workshop: June 24, 2008, 2:00-5:00pm

Room 223 Environmental Science Building

Geographically stable

We've all heard how more than half of those surveyed said they'd change their summer vacation plans if the price of gas keeps going up. But there is also some reporting that the housing crisis is causing more families to keep from relocating. When you get that great job offer in Texas or Minnesota, selling your old house at a loss of a few hundred thousand can be a real deal killer.

The combined factors could really change local economies as people suddenly discover new ways to enjoy their own places. It could also change perspectives. Has the high level of mobility undermined the commitment of property owners to actively participate in improving the quality of their own communities? Could this change?

Iowa flooding

Every year in the Fundamentals of Environmental Planning we talk about the problems with building in floodplains, and every year we seem to see a new mix of surprise problems and completely avoidable disasters. This year we have the flooding in Iowa (they call it "record" levels), which has received remarkable coverage by the Des Moines Register. They have published a map of the floodplains (above) that shows exactly what should have been anticipated (actually, worse things should be anticipated since the 100 year floodplains are rarely updated to reflect changes in the physical landscape). Their photo galleries and videos have been remarkable.

Iowa City is a lovely old city built along a river, and older buildings in the floodplains are simply part of the deal. Balancing historic preservation with environmental preparedness often means finding ways to perpetuate a campus like the University of Iowa's, knowing full well that its entire core is in the 100 year floodplain. Again, that's part of the deal. But new buildings in these areas are a baffling problem that are both costly and sometimes dangerous. Just take a look at this picture of the new Art Building at Iowa. When Des Moines built its baseball stadium in the confluence of two rivers, did they not know that it was a risky idea?

While some of this is simply natural - rivers flood, that's what they do - our land use patterns have exacerbated the problems in multiple ways. We've destroyed the natural wetlands upstream that could have absorbed more of this water. We've created more impervious surface, causing flashier flooding downstream. And, most unforgivably, we've built new expensive buildings in places where they are predictably at risk. To be clear, these are complex events with all sorts of contributing factors and problems, and flooding will always happen and will often come with some associated cost. But some of the problems are inexcusable and should have been avoided.

Lives are being shattered if not lost, and some degree of blame falls squarely on planners and designers that have encouraged this pattern of development. Perhaps the most upsetting part is that (like New Orleans) some of the students, homeowners, and other residents placed their trust in the agencies that allowed these patterns to unfold. Planners and designers keep letting the public down in ways that undermine the public trust. Even worse, the notion that these groups are watching out for the landscape itself is not in any way supported by these outcomes.

Here in the New Brunswick area we saw the "unpredictable" storm event of Hurricane Floyd in 1999 which created historic flooding. What could we do? It was unprecedented. Surely it would be another 100 or 500 years before we saw that again. Then, a few years later we had a nasty Nor'easter which matched or surpassed the historic flood levels. Maybe we should all learn to study odds a little better.