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.

Steady she goes

Two losses. Two wins. Not much movement.

The Five Lost Cities of the Future

As we ponder the future, it is also interesting to read the The Five Lost Cities of the Future from Environmental Graffiti. The have identified 5 US cities that might not be significant parts of America's future.

10 November 2008

Lecture: Design with stone - Butler College as a case study

*Department of Landscape Architecture Lecture Series*
*Wednesday, November 12, 2008*

*Leo Lovinger*
Senior Associates, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., Landscape Architects

* *
*Lecture Topic: *"Design with stone - Butler College as a case study"
*Location:* Cook-Douglass Lecture Halls Room 110
* *
*Time: **4:00pm-4:55pm***
* *

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) has over twenty years experience designing building and restoring landscapes for a broad range of public, private, and corporate clients. Their approach to landscape architecture entails working closely with the site itself: the complex, existing, multi-layered place that has been shaped through an entire history of natural and cultural processes. MVVA embraces the dynamic nature of a living landscape whether designing for a small garden or a large urban park. In this lecture Mr. Lovinger will introduce the design processes of some of their major projects.

Bedminster merges land use boards

UPDATE: This is a corrected version. UGH!

Now that it is nearing build-out, Bedminster is merging its Planning Board and its Zoning Board of Adjustment to create a Land Use Board.

09 November 2008

Hiking Manhattan, Part 1

Zuccotti Park near the site of the World Trade Center.

Tourist friendly.

Native plants

The Home News is on the native plants bandwagon, why aren't you?

Workshop on Evaluating Trees for Hazards

Evaluating Trees for Hazards
at the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania
Wednesday, November 19; 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Jason Lubar, Associate Director of Urban Forestry, Morris Arboretum

Robert Wells, Arborist Consultant, Morris Arboretum

Are your trees a beautiful hazard? Tree defects can be examined and risks assessed if you are trained to detect and rate them. Decay, cavities, cracks, root rots, and poor limb connections are but a few of the defects that plague trees. Learn how to examine and measure defects,
and determine when a tree should be removed. An indoor lecture and discussion will be followed by an outdoor practical examination of a defective tree. A calculator is helpful for some aspects of this class.
Fee: $110 (including lunch)
To register online: http://www.businessservices.upenn.edu/arboretum/eventsprofessional.html
Or call the Morris Arboretum at 215-247-5777, ext. 125 or 156
9414 Meadowbrook Avenue
Phila., PA 19118
phone: 215-247-5777 x189
fax: 215-248-4439

08 November 2008

Langan Career Night

Career Night Open House
Thursday, November 20, 2008
5:00 - 8:00 pm
Elmwood Park, NJ headquarters

Presentations and demonstrations start promptly at 5:30 pm.
Open to students and faculty
RSVP at http://www.langan.com/CareerNightNov2008
or call (201) 398-4502 no later than 11/17/08.

Offices in: NJ, NY, PA, CT, VA, FL, NV and CA.

Langan is a land development engineering and environmental firm offering services in:
Geotechnical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Transportation Engineering, Environmental Science, Environmental Engineering, Landscape Architecture, Wetland Science, Geology, Surveying, Cultural Resources

DIRECTIONS TO LANGAN: http://www.langan.com/elmwood.asp
(201) 794-6900

07 November 2008

Cool Class: Blogging and Podcasting the Environment

9:15-12:15 Thursdays. Blake 131.

The goal of the environmental communication clinic is to give students problem-solving skills and hands-on experience to help them in the job market. Working in groups, students in the Spring 2009 class will develop audio and video podcasts to promote environmentally responsible behavior on campus. To do so, students will first determine their communication goals (Increase recycling at RU football games? Reduce bottled water use in the student centers? Reduce carbon footprint of the dorms? Or? Or? Or?). Next, they will identify appropriate target audiences (dorm residents, SEBS faculty, football fans, etc.) After drafting a storyboard outline, they will conduct interviews as the basis of episodes of an audio podcast, a visually enhanced audio podcast, and a video podcast. Although students will have the opportunity work on projects during class, they will also need to spend time outside of class developing ideas, conducting interviews, and editing.

Enrollment is limited and permission of professor is required. SEBS students of any major are welcome. Good visual, oral, and/or verbal communication skills required. Juniors are preferred so their senior year they can serve as resources for faculty, agricultural extension agents, and other students .

For permission contact Professor Caron Chess chess_c@aesop.rutgers.edu.

06 November 2008

Princeton is underwhelmed by campus plan

The Princeton Packet reports that the town and gown relationship is being strained a bit by the latest proposals for Princeton's campus. In particular, PU wants to move the Wawa and Dinky station to make room for a transit neighborhood. As a minor note they mention the added sustainability features:
Other environmentally friendly university efforts call for a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The university also plans on expand the number of “green roofs,” which entail covering the roofs of structures with energy saving plants.
Elsewhere in the watershed, Cranbury will make a cameo appearance on TV tonight.

Obama on the Fall Field Trip

On our DC Fall Field Trip in 2007 Barack Obama smiled and waved to our group.

So I'll ask it just one more time: Who runs the best LA field trips in America?

Future transit

Aside from personal hovercraft, it turns out that we aren't very good at imagining the future of transportation. Fortunately, other folks have figured out some better ideas about how transportation might look in the future. These images from BusinessWeek are pretty focused on examples that are already real, but that means it is in the future of our study area.

From dump to park

A neighborhood in Pittsburgh got a visit from the NYTimes when they took a lot that was an old trash dump and turned it into a park. As this quote shows, some of its value is as a participatory experience:
“We were just strangers before, and this made us neighbors,” said Doug Harper, a sociology professor, still a bit surprised that something as simple as planting crab apple trees, hydrangea bushes and day lilies could have such a profound impact.

05 November 2008

Hiking the island of Manhattan

Starting around 2003, Jake Woland and I built a pseudo-tradition of hiking Manhattan tip-to-tip with the RUOC. In 2006 we tried something different and hiked Brooklyn from Coney Island to the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Interesting architectural stops may (or may not) include Tschumi's new blue tower and/or 40 Bond.

As the Times reported, To Walk a Landscape is To Know It. After this hike, you'll know it better than you can imagine (and will probably want to get it know it much more).

If you think you want to make the hike this Sunday, you should email me in the next day or so.

Grabosky talk on Friday

The Plant Biology Seminar Series is hosting a special performance this week,
Trees in parking lots from Windows XP-Vista: The same old seminar from
Windows 3.1-2000, but with some new data
Jason Grabosky, Ph.D.

Dept of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Friday, November 7, 2008
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Foran Hall, Room 138A
59 Dudley Road, New Brunswick

A look at the Foran Hall parking lot illustrates the point; tree establishment in paved areas is hallmarked by reduced growth and management challenges. How we define success, and how we have approached designing soil volumes for urban trees in such situations has shifted in the past several years from mutually exclusive options, trees success versus pavement success or trees at the expense of parking stalls, to one of integrated design. This seminar will provide a brief overview, then discuss some recent work in designed soils for root growth under pavement. Studies tracking a working installation over ten years will suggest direction for ground penetrating radar work in progress. The results from three studies over the past 13 years will describe aspects of water relations in designed soils. Such data can provide context for stormwater management on parking lots. Vegetation stocking profiles to use captured and stored parking lot stormwater would compliment other canopy environmental services such as air quality. Finally, if the intention is to grow tree roots under pavement, then a method of modeling root growth for pavement section design is needed. A series of investigations defining the behavior and geometry of the system in relation to upward root growth will inform developing finite element models to design for tree roots without loss of pavement service life.

As the supply of coffee and time allows, video of simulated hurricanes on large oak trees, CT scan methods in tracking wood decay, and other strange images will provide humor and entertainment from other aspects of the urban forestry program.

West Windsor Redevelopment Plan

Meanwhile, West Windsor is working on its redevelopment plan.

The future of freeways

Could the future of freeways be to tear them down and replace them with boulevards and surface streets? Next American City suggests just that.

Forty years later, the lifespan of most freeways has come to an end. This leaves urban planners and local governments with a choice: Do they demolish the existing infrastructure to make way for surface roads and boulevards? Or do they invest in freeways yet again, when it makes even less sense to do so – given their crummy past and the ever-rising cost of gasoline?

In our region the CNU has encouraged tearing down Route 29 in Trenton and the Sheridan Expressway in the Bronx.

04 November 2008

Sad policy

Thing about the complex nature of responses to Katrina is that they seem to be very effective at making the sadness of the overall situation linger. The Chronicle reports on how the New Orleans campus of Southern University, a historically black college or university (HBCU), is having a hard time getting FEMA to help them out. One of the problems is that they let students move back into a damaged building which FEMA sees as evidence that it isn't so bad.

(The photo is fromNOLA's French Quarter, far from the campus. But I wasn't sure when I would get to use it if I didn't pull it out today.)

Eagleton discussion of the election

The Morning After: A Discussion of Yesterday's Election

The Eagleton Institute of Politics is pleased to host "The Morning After: Election 2008 Edition" on Wednesday, November 5 at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, Douglass Campus. Refreshments will be available at 9 a.m. followed by the program at 9:30 a.m. Panelists will include Herb Jackson of The Record; Steve Kornacki of The Observer and CNN; Keith Wailoo of Rutgers' Center for Race and Ethnicity; and Ruth B. Mandel and John Weingart of the Eagleton Institute of Politics.

TED looks ahead

As we try to look towards the future, I have tried to pick out a few TED Talks that say something about trends or changes worth watching. This should be a nice break as you try to sort out what you think will matter in looking forward to 2050.

Cameron Sinclair's Architecture for Humanity is a favorite of mine. While socially-responsible design isn't the same in Princeton as in Kosovo, but it is still a relevant and important consideration.

Majora Carter talks about her community-based work in greening the South Bronx. The watershed lacks a comparable landscape, but the ideas are still transferable. What are the greening challenges that will face the watershed over the next few decades? Who is available to address them?

Ray Kurzweil spoke about his expectations for technology changes that will change us.

Jaime Lerner talks about cities.

Robin Chase wants to change the way we drive.

Sociologist Barry Schwartz explains why too much choice is a problem for humans.

Edward Burtynsky won the TED Award for his photographs of industrial landscapes.

Carl Honore offers a quick synopsis of the slow movement. Does a regional design reinforce this behavioral pattern? What are the implications for our watershed?

Amy Smith shows how design can change lives.

Bald Eagle at Lake Carnegie

As we discuss/debate our visions for the future of the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed weread th data we are given and try to synthesize it. But the real experiences and anecdotal evidence sometimes seem more meaningful. So ,when we saw data about habitat for Bald Eagles it was harder to take it as a genuine issue until seeing this picture of a Bald Eagle on Lake Carnegie just last month.

Election maps

Well, you can be sure that you'll see an awful lot of election maps today. While the Google Map hacks continue, since the 50 states are a simple set of shapes, there should also be plenty of custom flash graphics. Although it is too early to see all of their details, here are a few that seem intriguing...

03 November 2008

It's a gas

It's A Gas: A Classic Early-American Scientific Experiment Is Re-created
Wednesday, November 5, 2008 4:30 PM
Millstone River, Delaware & Raritan Canal Park

Rocky Hill, NJ

A re-enactment of the famous experiment by General George Washington and Thomas Pain. Their discovery of the nature of the fiery Will-O'-Wisp of marshes and rivers. All are invited at twilight to watch the re-enactment, which can be viewed from Rt. 518 where it crosses over the Millstone River. A reception will follow, from 5:30 to 6:30 at the Delaware and Raritan Canal Park Headquarters, 142 Mapleton Rd., Kingston, NJ.


Advancing the ball slowly

We are at that point in the season when, for my teams at least, exciting wins and bye weeks all have about the same result. We just continue to inch towards the end with the rankings looking harder and harder to change. Last year's Sagarin rankings were more volatile in late October/Early November, but that might just be about the seasons these teams are having.

02 November 2008

At Exit 15x

Squeezed in between the NorthEast Corridor and the NJ Turnpike, Xchange at Secaucus provides a new housing opportunity people who wanted to live closer to the Frank R. Lautenberg Rail Station.

Wordle makes art out of words

OK, so maybe it isn't truly art. But Wordle took the text of the last 2 months of Places and Spaces and turned it into this image. While it is completely automated, it is also pretty nice looking and most of the words make good sense. And, I really appreciate their use of the Creative Commons License Creative Commons License as a basic tool for protecting their work while encouraging its use widely.

01 November 2008

Lilypad 2100

Vincent Callebaut has gotten a fair amount of attention for their ideas about how Lilypads could be the land use solution of the future.

The future

This postcard, from RootsWeb's Penny postcards collection, offers a rich look at how some imagined the future of Boston. The transportation is transformed while the clothing and buildings are not. How much better is your imagination?