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.