31 August 2010

A reminder that infrastructure is important

Since no one seems to be taking infrastructure as seriously as we need to, the NY Times runs a piece with 5 different examples of crumbling infrastructure ranging from levees and dams to wooden municipal water pipes and problematic electrical wiring.

10 Towns: Bernards Township

The 10 Towns Committee was disbanded in June. Our fall studio will be looking at the Great Swamp Watershed and its 10 towns this fall. Coincidence? (mostly, yes)

We'll spend the next 10 days or so taking a peek at Land Use in the 10 towns. Even though newer LULC data is available, the posts will be using the 2002 land use. (Sorry) Since each map will use the same legend, I've included it below. None of the maps will include a scale bar - we'll explore scale in class.

Here's Bernards Township founded in 1760. Wikipedia reports that is is home to headquarters of Avaya, Fedders, Hitachi Power Systems and Verizon, but maybe we'll seek out some independent confirmation.

Tomorrow: Bernardsville

30 August 2010

Hasse and Lathrop in The Record

Dr. John Hasse of Rowan and Dr. Rick Lathrop of Rutgers-CRSSA were featured with a sizable opinion piece in The Record this weekend. Included in this was an assessment of where they think we should be looking for change as the first built out state in the US:
Today’s land management system is designed for the short term and small horizon of the single home buyer striving to maximize the amount of house that can be purchased in a town with good school systems; of the developer who is trying to supply that house under the existing big-lot zoning rules in play; of the municipal official, in office for only a short time, trying to chase that ratable.
It also includes a challnge for the future:
We didn’t ask for it, but our generation is the designer of what New Jersey’s built-out landscape will be like and how it will function for centuries to come.

In case you missed it, this comes on the heels of their well publicized and slightly criticized report on Changing Landscapes in NJ.

Rutgers' new Chair of Landscape Architecture

Dr. Laura Lawson has begun her role as Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture. She joins from the University of Illinois, where she was a member of the Landscape Architecture faculty and Director of their East St. Louis Action Research Project. In order to help everyone start to get to know Laura, we have posted information about her past projects on the faculty website http://landarch.rutgers.edu/fac_staff/Laura_Lawson/index.html.

Laura will be at ASLA in a few weeks and will be at our Alumni Table on Friday evening.

Go See DC: Portrait Gallery

(NOTE: This is a re-purposed post  from the past as part of the ongoing Go See DC series.)

Just a few blocks from the student hotel is the Foster + Partners new Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery.  They keep late hours, are free, and are well worth the stop, even if only for 15 or 30 minutes.
On the floor of the courtyard is this "fountain" which just has water sheeting across the granite. The drains on are the left side of the photo. (Mapped)While there I saw their newest addition, the iconic but controversial portrait of Obama by Shepard Fairey.

Los Amigos Community Garden

A former guest speaker (and fellow LSU alum) Richard Alomar has some great photos posted from a fun-looking garden opening in NYC.  We should have this much fun at all of our new parks and gardens.

29 August 2010

Go See DC: Olin's NGA Sculpture Garden

(NOTE: This is a re-purposed posting from the past to get you excited about going to DC this fall.)

Sadly, after digging through disks and folders, I can't find many of the dozens and dozens of photos I have taken at this elegant design.  Just steps off of America's front yard is this sculpture garden which provides one of the great spots for resting during an active day in DC.  At its center is this massive, yet simple fountain.  The garden uses a generous array of plant material to  soften it while it sits between the large institutional buildings that contain it on three sides.  And it uses classic forms and materials allowing the sculpture to take much of the credit here. 

28 August 2010

Go See DC: Washington Monument

(NOTE: This is a re-purposed post celebrating our upcoming Fall Field Trip to DC)

As part of a larger effort to solidify the security of the nation's monuments and critical buildings, Olin Partnership was hired to develop an attractive security enhancement for the Washington Monument. The result was an award-winning plan that completely hides its primary role as security enhancement, while enhancing the visitors' experience climbing up the hill.

One of the primary elements in the plan is a low series of stone walls which, while new, look like they could almost be original if only they had a light patina or bit of weathering. These walls and some retractable bollards, shape the rounded path systems as it encircles the plaza at the top of the hill.

The Bing Bird's Eye offers a great look at the hilltop plaza around the Monument. At ground level, it is easier to overlook the organization of the plaza, but the photo shows how the paving and benches subtly emphasize or reinforce the effect of the obelisk in. The rings of paving are part of Olin's more recent treatment of the site. These forms are elegant and universal, although it is easy enough to link them with more symbolic traditions by pointing out how the rings form a circumpunct (sometimes associated with the symbol for the greek letter Theta) around the point of the monument itself. Check the older air photos and you get a hint that it was pretty different before the remake.

View Larger Map

(BTW, when you look at the Mall in the 1949 historic Aerial, there is a large building West if the Monument. Anyone know what that is? A temporary WWII building? A temporary office building while something new was being built elsewhere?)

Finally, I find the benches at the top to be absolutely wonderful. Their shape makes them great for people who need to collapse on them after a death march down the Mall (sorry about that, alums!). The curve lets soda and rain roll off, and the cross-sections look very much like those Olin designed for Columbus Circle. But they also are large enough that many complete strangers can share them simultaneously without ever feeling like their personal space has been violated.

You can look at the plaza in isolation, but the Monument is something larger than that. Looking across from Lincoln to Washington, we like to talk about them together as reminders of the Birth and Redemption of the nation.

It is a big hill, but worth the climb. Olin helped make it a much more pleasant climb. Although the view from down here is pretty good too.

It even adds to its neighbors...

It is a shame that Olin couldn't help finish the project as it was originally planned:

On October 21, at 6:30pm, Laurie Olin delivered the Steve Strom Memorial Lecture at the Douglass Campus Center. Don't miss this year's Lecture, to be announced soon.

26 August 2010

Go See DC: Best of the 2007 Fall Field Trip

A few of my favorite photos from the 2007 DC Fall Field Trip...RE-purposed from an older post, naturally.

25 August 2010

Go See DC: VIsualizing Washington DC

Although we've written about it before, it bears mentioning again. The University of Maryland-Baltimore County's Imaging Resource Center has built a resource to help imagine what Washington used to look like. The Visualizing Historic Washington project was made for a PBS show on Latrobe, but also helps us visualize how this estuary turned planned city slowly came to be the traffic-snarled mess of diagonals that it is today.

24 August 2010

Go See DC: Dumbarton Oaks

(NOTE: This is re-purposed from an old post, in honor of the RU LA Fall Field Trip to DC)

A while back,  Harvard Magazine featured one of Harvard's finest properties, Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, DC. As detailed in the article, Dumbarton Oaks is both a phenomenally historic house and one of the classic American landscapes. Designed by Beatrix Farrand, Dumbarton Oaks is maintained by Harvard as a key home for the humanities. The house was home to John C. Calhoun, has been modified by Phillip Johnson, hosted a meeting where the UN was essentially created and holds a fabulous library of LA history works and pre-Columbian art.

Every time we take our LA students to DC we stop to visit Farrand's incredible gardens, which function as an interconnected series of rooms. The structure of the spaces and the incredible grace with which the gardens have aged are a testimony to Farrand's deserved place in the annals of American landscape architecture. These photos are all from the most recent Fall Field Trip.

23 August 2010


Do you think Photoshop will add a DataBending option anytime soon?

Go See DC: Pentagon 9/11 Memorial

(NOTE: This is re-purposed from an old post to celebrate out upcoming DC trip.)

The 9-11 Memorial at the Pentagon is open 24/7 which makes dusk an interesting time for a visit.
Regrettably, the last lines of Witold Rybczynski's Slate piece on the memorial rang very true.  Some of trees are already failing and a few light bulbs were temporarily out.  Hopefully these can be addressed, because this is an important memorial at an important place.  Reading reviews like this and then visiting the place in person is an important design experience for students.  The Fall Field Trip is a great time to try it - just take the Metro to the Pentagon stop.

21 August 2010

Another St Croix

Having looked at the postcard St Croix, I thought we could look briefly at a different St Croix. The weather there can be fairly intense with some spots on the island (and the MREC site) having some pretty high winds, plenty of humidity, add in some salt, and then lots of direct sun and maybe the occasional hurricane, and things might get beat up in spots.

Not many of the signs had been wiped clean like this one, but it shows how the weather treats some places.

The weathered buildings also give the place its unique feel. 

Outside of the the tourist areas, some of the stores weren't as adorned as we are used to in New Jersey.

The other St Croix isn't all rusted, some of it is institutional or just unexpected.

Chain link fencing is used a a visible marker too.  Especially in parts of the island that have a little more rural character.

20 August 2010

Go See DC: Painful Reminders

(NOTE: This is the first in a series of re-postings about DC)

While visiting DC this past weekend, we stopped for a while at The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. One of the most notable features of the memorial is a series of panels with the names of fallen officers inscribed. But, with 17,500 names it becomes detached and impersonal. Technically, you know they had parents, spouses, kids, and friends and are missed in deeply meaningful ways. Similarly you know that those names represent valiant deaths and decades of service. But, unless you are there with someone already in mind, you just see the large white walls and don't identify the individuals.

I encouraged our students to get a paper and pencil a do a rubbing. I looked for one that was close to home and recent. I found Dwayne Reeves who was a Newark Schools Police Officer.
Dwayne Reeves was a father. He was a hero. The trials that followed revealed the sorts of problems that continue to plague Newark:
Dwayne Reeves, a 35-year-old father, was shot in the head at close range because Kahlil Tutt's teenage sister, Jalisa, got in a fight with some girls at Weequahic summer school and her brother went looking for revenge. A man died because of a high school catfight, no matter who pulled the trigger.
It has an unpredictability and senselessness that makes it so hard to prevent. And it has a gravity that can't be accessed on your first stroll through the monument. Remembering Dwayne Reeves makes the other 17,500 names seem more real too.

If you go to DC this fall, I would strongly encourage you to  take the short walk over to this wall and make a rubbing.  When you get home, look up the fallen officer's story.  As an aside, the original posting of this back in 2007 has remained a regularly visited story - clearly Officer Reeve's story remains important so some.