31 January 2008

Office Hours Spring 2008

I'll start holding my office hours on Fridays 11-12 at Blake 228. If that doesn't work, just email and we will find a time.

New Scholarships

As reported in today's Targum, Cipriano Landscape Design has donated money for 4 scholarships to support students in Plant Science, Landscape Architecture and Landscape Industry. The article mentions something that I have referenced before: the US Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics has identified Landscape Architecture as a major growth field.

But there is at least one point worth clarifying:
"Contributions from groups like the 'Cipriano Keeping it Green Foundation' help make difficult career path decisions easier for students," Tulloch said.
I meant that the choices are difficult, not the careers.

I can't stress enough that we are grateful for the support that our students receive from the community. And one of the best parts of my job is notifying students when they get a scholarship. Getting to do that more, is always good.

URISA Journal

The URISA Journal has published a paper I co-authored with Francis Harvey called, "When Data Sharing Becomes Institutionalized: Best Practices in Local Government Geographic Information Relationships." It includes our examples of the three different impacts that can result from limited access to public data.

30 January 2008

Responsible Gardening Symposium

The Master Gardeners of Mercer County are encouraging more responsible gardening with a day long symposium called, "Responsible Gardening with Pizzazz!" It will feature noted horticulturist Allan Armitage and HGTV's Erica Glasener as well as other guest speakers. The meeting will be on March 15th in Princeton.

Luxury housing in Highland Park

An interesting slow-motion debate is continuing in Highland Park (right across the river from campus) a small 2 sq mile borough with about 18,000 residents. A proposal has been made to convert an old industrial site along the tracks into a 178-unit development of luxury apartments and townhomes. At a public meeting the other night, the public was not able to comment but did ask questions:
Avalon Bay has asserted that changing the zoning to allow the residential community would be "deintensifying" agent because of diminished truck traffic that would be traveling the adjacent roadways.

Several residents were suspicious of that claim.

"So the extra 300 people down the block from me will make it less intense for me?" Rein asked.

Lange said "Yes."

29 January 2008

Highlands Coalition Rallies Behind Plan

The NJ Highlands Coalition has rallied support today for the Highlands pressuring Gov. Corzine to step in with an Executive Order while the Council finishes the process of adopting the plan. THe public hearings would be great opportunities for our Environmental Planning students to learn more about the policy and process (hint):
The plan, which was to be completed in 2006, is now expected to be finalized in the spring. Public hearings are set for Feb. 6 in Morristown, Feb, 11 in Paterson, and Feb. 13 in High Bridge.

Noguchi park in Japan

Noguchi designed a great-looking park inside a river ox-bow Sapporo called Moerenuma Park. Unfortunately, it is far from Osaka and Tokyo and not a place that as many LAs are likely to visit. It is a hude park experience - like the California Scenario times 10. But, in this park almost every feature is meant as an object for play.

It is fairly widely described online including an entry in Wikipedia, a profile in Land+Living, a nice Flickr photostream, a nice write-up on a Sapporo site, and some early post-construction photodocumentation. Check themout, because the photo (above) from Wikipedia doesn't even begin to capture the variety and volume in this park.

I don't know how I would pull it off, but as a Noguchi fan I look forward to visiting someday and will keep it on my lifelist.

26 January 2008

Design Week Peek

Here is a quick peek at some of the activity from the annual vertical studio experience we call Design Week. It took a lot of people to make it such a success, but it was especially successful because of the leadership we got from Kathy Poole.

25 January 2008

The Best of the Worst in Planning 2007

PlaNetizen has started the new year with a list of the Best of the Worst in Planning in 2007. Highlights include the cemetery in LA that has gotten rid of grave stones and provides GPS to find the final resting place of your beloved. It also listed Voorhees, NJ where the city spent $20,000 to fight a restaurateur (who spent $70,000) in a legal dispute over paint colors (“creamy yellow" vs. "sandy yellow").

Public Education vs. Ivy

The US Senate is looking into the high tuitions and huge endowments of the nation's most expensive schools. Princeton University's endowment is $2.2 million per student. The NY Times quotes Senator Grassley: “Tuition has gone up, college presidents’ salaries have gone up, and endowments continue to go up and up,”

Spread over a couple recent issues, Business Week has carried a dialogue about the appropriate balance between public and private. First, BW ran a feature asking whether the "wealth of the Ivy League" was dangerous to higher education. The provosts of the Big1T1en wrote back pointing out that their schools combine to educate 1 out of every 8 PhDs in the US. If only they could count.

New Jersey's response has been to see if college education can be squeezed into three years instead of 4.

23 January 2008

3 Landscapes: Kathy Poole

During a previous visit, Kathy Poole played the 3 Landscapes game:
Gainesway Farm

Woodland Cemetery
Miller Garden

LectureBlog: Kathy Poole, ASLA

Kathy Poole, ASLA
Evolutionary Infrastructure of Boston's Back Bay Fens: Model of Cultural and Ecological Dynamics
Design Week 2008

This requires thinking about the fens well before Olmsted and following them to the present
Infrastructure is an essential component for us to live in a congregated manner

The bay had a reputation for murkiness and wildness
The bay became a source of valuable salt hay, Spartina
But then a mill dam was built across the Back Bay to support a road, railroad, mill, etc.
Eventually the city gave permission to flush sewage into the Back Bay
Its status slowly became more ambiguous - no longer natural, but not fully part of the city

Olmsted turned it into a working stormwater garden
It was a functioning kidney for the city
Olmsted's brilliance was to make it into a park that would rooted in the city's history

Channels slowly transformed it into parks instead of sewers
By 1920 museums (like the MFA) and schools lined the Fens

(The Liveblog ends abruptly today. Sorry. Just enjoy the photo.)

Potsdam from Above

I posted the link to Versailles from the Air the other day and stumbled back onto Potsdam from Above. I am ready to go to either.

22 January 2008

Lecture: Kathy Poole, ASLA

The spring speaker series starts this week with Kathy Poole, ASLA. Her lecture, which is also part of the Department of Landscape Architecture's Design Week, will be called Evolutionary Infrastructure of Boston's Back Bay Fens: Model of Cultural and Ecological Dynamics. Our weekly speaker series is each Wednesday at 4pm in CDL 110.

The lecture is open to the public.

Design Week 2008: IFLA and the Meadowlands

The theme for Design Week has been announced. Our special guest, Kathy Poole, will be giving a public lecture one Wednesday at 4 in CDL 110. Our students are breaking into teams to explore the IFLA student competition theme of “TRANSFORMING WITH WATER, THE WAY TO PARADISE?” For the week, students will be focusing on an area in the southern part of the Meadowlands that is near Snake Hill and Secaucus Junction. IFLA asks them to develop a new innovating and inspirational solution for the problem. But what problem is here?

To start thinking about the problem/s I pulled out some old Meadowlands photos of my own. These photos do not show the site for Design Week, but capture areas directly adjacent and show the basic nature of the area.

I notice that some train enthusiasts have captured glimpses of the landscape in their YouTube videos, too. It is remarkable that the landscape of the Meadowlands is more famous for its barrenness and old cultural histories and industrial past than for its remarkable natural processes and looks.

21 January 2008

Master Plan for the Princeton Campus

Princeton University has released its new campus Master Plan. It is structured around themes and neighborhoods and will impact the way campus looks when this little guy is old enough to enroll.

Damaged landscapes

An interesting piece appeared over the weekend. In a paper in AAAS, a team of researchers has provided more detail on how damaged landscapes can still perform basic natural functions. The paper, "Coastal ecosystem-based management with non-linear ecological functions and values", looked at how some coastal ecosystems could support a limited amount of human use (or impact) and still perform much of their natural role.

As the world's population continues to crowd coastal zones, it is important that multidisciplinary approaches emerge for describing the impacts of the human footprint:
“Too often, poor ecological data lead to inaccurate valuation of these benefits, resulting frequently in an ‘all or none’ choice of either preserving or converting all coastal habitats to human use,” Barbier says. “This ‘all or none’ outcome is at odds with EBM strategies, which are trying to find acceptable compromises between conservation and development.”
It will be interesting to see if this becomes a more broadly understood idea, or just gets used as an excuse for developing sensitive landscape.

20 January 2008

Tanner Springs Park

One of the design precedents that has been suggested for Design Week '08 is Tanner Springs Park in Portland OR. This urban park, filling one block of the Pearl District, was conceived by Peter Walker & Assoc and designed by Atelier Dreiseitl and GreenWorks. Built on the site of an old springs, this very urban park celebrates the natural processes that used to flourish in this low area near the Willamette River. The official web site from Portland Parks offers a little more background.

These photos are from the summer of 2006.

15 January 2008

DRAFT LA Department Computer Recommendation

While we remain committed to maintaining the highest quality computer lab for teaching new technologies and their integration into design, the LA Department is increasingly finding students using their own machines as a way of avoiding the waits, working at the drafting table instead of the lab, and pushing the envelope with customizations and Open Source exploration. Students keep asking, "What should I buy?" So here is a stab at the answer, posted here hoping for additional comments and prodding.

As of today, 1/15/07, this is still a DRAFT document and only a recommendation or set of guidelines.

This is NOT a requirement but a strongly encouraged set of guidelines for laptops that will be most helpful in the design studio setting. Every feature (memory, speed, etc.) that you cut back on will probably shorten the time that the machine is useful. On the other hand, a slightly slower or older machine can still be more useful than waiting for the shared machines in the lab.

Ideally, this would be a great machine right now. If you find a deal you might adjust it some, but just be aware of the tradeoffs.


CPU Processor: Intel-compatible (Pentium, AMD): 2 GHz or higher

RAM: 3-4 GB (one of the most important issues for LA students)

Hard Drive: 100 GB or more strongly encouraged (160GB @7200 rpm)

Monitor: 14" or larger - Display that supports 32-bit color at 1280x1024 pixels

Video Adapter: 256 MB VRAM or more

High resolution graphics adapter w/ 256 MB video RAM , support for Open GL 1.5 or higher recommended

OS: Windows XP Professional

Sound Card: 100% Windows compliant sound card


Wireless Card: IEEE 802.11b/g/n compatible (Blake Hall will primarily be an N-band wireless zone)

USB flash drive, (for file transfers), at least 1GB recommended

Ethernet Adapter: Built-in or Xircom, 3Com Megahertz or Netgear brand (RJ-45)

Warranty Service: minimum 3-year onsite parts and labor

Recommedned Software:

Microsoft Office 2007
Autocad 2006/2007 Student

Adobe Creative Suite 3 (The Creative Suites come in several different bundles. Rutgers has a negotiated rate for one under $400 that is a good set for students.)


Due to the graphic-intensive nature of the landscape architecture coursework and the competitive cost of computers, it is advisable for students to purchase a laptop with the fastest processor, the most RAM, and the largest hard drive you can afford. In general, the best balance between performance and price is found in a computer with a processor that is one step below the fastest available processor.

Before you purchase your personal computer for school, you may want to look over the general advice that Rutgers offers for students considering a laptop purchase: http://www.nbcs.rutgers.edu/newcomputers.php

(A special thanks to other programs like Mississippi State, Cornell, NC State, which have already posted their requirements or recommendations online. These were helpful in starting our recommendations and may help you find other useful links.)

Halprin Exhibit

I had already mentioned the Halprin exhibit in Philly, but now others are adding some great details. The one that caught my eye today was Garden Design Online, which had images of 2 great Halprin garden sketches.

But the exhibit runs out soon, so plan your trips now. Plus, on January 25th you can get a tour from the guest curator.

14 January 2008

Talk about a green town

After suffering through a devastating tornado that destroyed 95% of their homes and businesses, Greensburg, KS has decided to make sure that it is rebuilt even better. They are becoming the first entire Green Town in America, with every building over 4,000 sq ft being required to achieve LEED Platinum status. The Discovery Channel will film a series about the Greensburg called Eco-Town. (H/T DIRT)

11 January 2008

Highlands case dismissed

A developer in Liberty NJ was suing to have the Highlands Act overthrown because it was developed with incomplete data and included/excluded some specific properties based on political favoritism.

A judge threw out the case today apparently preventing the case reaching a full-blown trial. The Real-Time News at NJ.com reports:
But the judge said the right question is whether the law has a rational basis, "not whether every property that was excluded or included was property placed." As a whole, the Highlands Act "has a legitimate purpose and rational means of achieving that purpose," he said.
Tomorrow's papers may have a few more details on the implications, but it certainly won't be the end of contention surrounding the Highlands of NJ.

(The photo was taken by former RU student Jenna Paulowski)

10 January 2008

The Value of Undeveloped Land

NPR's Marketplace reported recently on how the NJ DEP determined that the undeveloped land in New Jersey is, in fact, valuable as undeveloped land. While it was worth looking at just to see the name of the host, Kai Ryssdal (I heard it on the radio but never seen it written out), it was also interesting to see the quantification of the value of the landscapes. When asked about the value of the natural capital, the DEP's Bill Mattes said it was worth:
At least $26 billion a year worth of goods and services. And that $26 billion a year is worth about $850 billion in present value terms.
(The photo was taken by former RU student Jenna Paulowski)

09 January 2008

On Walking

The Sunday Times included a wonderful essay on walking as a means of exploring landscapes. The essay focused on the author's personal examples of walking across places like Scotland. In a complete contrast I think of the RUOC hikes down the length of Manhattan Island or across Brooklyn. The slower process of walking forces the traveler to see and experience things differently. And that is something landscape architects need to do.

08 January 2008

TV Listings: A Year at Kew

One of our local public television networks, NJN, has started showing a 12 episode series on a Year at Kew. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is, of course, one of the great gardens of Britain (and the world). The series is showing on Thursday evenings. This description is from the show's NJN webpage:
The Royal Botanical Gardens are located on the banks of the Thames River in Southwest London. Better known as the Kew Gardens, the 250-year-old horticultural phenomenon boasts an unrivalled collection of plants. A Year at Kew gives viewers exclusive behind-the-scenes access to this major British attraction. It is a delightful journey with a charming and passionate group of people who value the natural world and do their best to preserve one of their country’s great botanical treasures
Show times might vary around the planet.

Geaux Tigers!

Wow! What a great year. First, my favorite college team (and original alma mater) beats the number 1 team in America, the LSU Tigers. Go Cats!

Then, despite losing to Kentucky, another one of my alma maters, LSU, wins the official BCS National Championship 38-24. A good season indeed.

Back to work.

07 January 2008

A Vision of Students Today

I was at a meeting today where they showed us this great YouTube video, A Vision of Students Today. (Actually, the YouTube video isn't a very good resolution, but if you click on "About This Video" you can download a higher resolution version.)

The video highlights how different the educational environment is today than 15 or 20 years ago. But it also shows how collaborative a class of 200 can be.

The Gateway gets a hearing

The Home News reports that Tuesday night will be the big night for the NB Planning Board to hear about the proposed Gateway project. While details are sparse, DEVCO offers a basic description of what would become New Brunswick's tallest building. The report today is short but gives hints of what we be reading about on Wednesday:

Opponents of the project say Gateway's scale is out of character with the neighborhood's historical components. They say the project would dwarf St. Peter the Apostle Church, Rutgers University's Queens campus and Old Queens, the university's administration building. All three are state and federal historically designated sites.

Not unlike the Highway 18 process, this seems likely to speed through. But the comments along the way could highlight potential points of debate for the College Ave changes in the coming years.

06 January 2008

Political mash-up

You can see a nice Google Maps mash-up of the Iowa Caucus results by county. And, Ames and Iowa City (2 big college towns) both went to Obama but split between Romney and Huckabee.

One of the exciting things about mash-ups is that they allow rapid responses by individuals of limited programming skill (but a touch more than me).

04 January 2008

Best Careers 2008: Landscape Architecture, Urban Planner

US News and World Report has published their Best Careers 2008 issue and has both Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning in their Top 31.

The LA feature includes a "Day in the Life" but I am curious who helped them write it. THeir explanation of the ownside is interesting: "To be content in this career, it helps if you're an avid environmentalist and can tolerate the often labyrinthine approvals process." They also picked a "Smart Specialty":
Ecosystem Restoration. Governments and nonprofit groups are restoring increasing amounts of land to their primitive states.
The planning description helps clarify why GIS is so important these days, "planners gorge themselves on data".

Gardening and movies

Slate has a post about "What movies get wrong about gardening". The thoughts of digging around in the soil and watering some plants is quite warming right now:
If you own or work a plot of land, you are, like it or not, the director of a garden scene. Your garden reveals something of your income, your state of mind, your character, your taste. Even if that state of mind is "I don't care much," or "I care sporadically" (very common), or "I'm someone who hires a landscape service."

03 January 2008

A step towards the Crossroads

The Star-Ledger reports that the NPS is awarding $150,000 to the recently designated Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area.

The federal funding is a far cry from the $10 million the 14-county Heritage area was promised over 10 years, but staffers say they're happy.

"The federal budget is tight and we all recognize that," Cate Litvack, Crossroads director, said today. "We are hopeful that down the road we will see more funding, but $150,000 is so much more than we had. I am thrilled. It is certainly a good start."

Land Ethics Symposium

Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve presents its 8th Land Ethics Symposium: Creative Approaches for Ecological Landscaping on Thursday, February 21, 2008 at the Sheraton Bucks County Hotel, Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Stay ahead of the curve with innovation ideas and successful solutions from experienced practitioners at this day-long event.

Who should attend: Landscape architects, architects and contractors; landscape/horticulture industry professionals; land managers, planners and developers; environmental consultants; state/municipal officials; students

Program and speakers:

This year’s presentations focus on conservation development and land stewardship, sustainable landscaping and the new Sustainable Sites Initiative, innovative residential stormwater management, a public LEED® certified landscape and building project, and natives-only streambank restoration.

Featured speakers are Marcus de la fleur, Conservation Design Forum; Holly M. Harper and Ann Hutchinson, Natural Lands Trust; John W. Munro, Munro Ecological Services, Inc.; Jennifer Ward Souder, Queens Botanical Garden; and John Peter Thompson, Behnke Nurseries Company.

CEUs applied for from the New Jersey Landscape Architect Evaluation & Examination Committee. Fee: $99, fulltime students: $65; Pre-registration required.

For more information, call the Preserve (215) 862-2924, e-mail Hildy Ellis (ellis@bhwp.org), or visit www.bhwp.org/educational/symposia.htm.

02 January 2008

Building the High Line

The workers building the High Line have to deal with distractions from falling construction debris to Kid Rock. But, as this video from the NY Times shows, they are determined to make NYC's first mid-air park a reality.

01 January 2008

Travel photos

I remember learning in my construction class that sometimes when you can't grade things tight enough, you have to resort to a retaining wall. It isn't ideal, but sometimes it just takes a wall. Even a really big wall. (Look at the semi under the wall for a full sense of scale)In Huntington, WV the hills are pretty steep. But it turns out that Chick-Fil-A serves breakfast.

More Efficient Routes

UPS uses a form of geospatial technology in their "package flow technology" which helps (among other things) route deliveries every day. This $600 million software package has eliminated 29 million driving miles from the annual system, saving money and fuel, and improving the environment and local traffic situation. A key to this system has been the recognition that left-turns often require a minute of idling at the light.

The NYTimes video on energy innovations this year includes the UPS routing changes alongside with upper-atmosphere windmills.