29 October 2010

Where's that little Devil?

Ready for Halloween?  Someone has mapped out the sightings of the Jersey Devil

As a bonus, ESRI has a nationwide map of where children are wearing costumes this year.

28 October 2010

GIS Day down south

Novemeber 17th is GIS Day, easily one of the biggest days on the spatial calendar.  Our readers in South Jersey might enjoy celebrating GIS Day at Atlantic Cape Community College at their May's Landing campus:
Atlantic Cape’s GIS Day event will include exhibits by GIS professionals, student project displays, interactive games and activities, and our popular geocaching sessions. Geocaching is a modern-day, high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure-seekers equipped with GPS devices. 
Readers in other parts of the country can use the GIS Day locator to find a celebration near them.

27 October 2010

LIve Blog: Jerome Barth on Bryant Park

Vice President of Business Affairs
Why Bryant Park Works

Since public funding for parks and green infrastructure has become increasingly scarce, an increasing number of parks are looking for alternative models of funding.  If annual rents around Bryant Park are $13 million higher (Say, at the Grace Building), and the property is worth an extra $217 million, how much is it worth for them to help fund the maintenance of the park? 

Making the park one of the most popular in the world requires lots of work, but at the core it has come from some basic improvements: Simple design, friendly but visible security, trash collection during the day, tons of lighting, flowers (send a message that someone is in charge), and movable seating.

Attention to design concerns can refocus attention on details that impact the park's usage: Stairs are an enemy of usage.  If you want people to come into your park, you might want to avoid them.  They make access harder for disadvantaged populations and make many people think twice about using them. 

Barth also talked about the park bathrooms as a detail that matters.  (Design for women)

But maybe the Park's greatest strength is programming.  Piano at lunchtime.  Chess events.  Outdoor reading room.  Wi-fi (technology is your friend).  Movie nights.  Skating rink.  Ping-pong.  Fencing.

The #1 pleasure outdoors, no matter who you are, is people watching.

References include:
Malcolm Gladwell's Blink
Kelling and Cole's Fixing Broken Windows

Bryant Park video

Photojojo's Time Lapse Video of Bryant Park from a collection called Photojojo loves you on Vimeo.

 Remember, today's Landscape Industry Lecture is Jerome Barth from Bryant Park.

25 October 2010

The Fall 2010 Landscape Industry Lecture

The Fall 2010 Landscape Industry Lecture
Jerome Barth

Wednesday, 10/27 at 4:00 pm,

Cook/Douglas Lecture Hall

Why Bryant Park Works

Bryant Park, a once desolate place and symbol of urban decay, is now a vibrant space that is the town square of midtown Manhattan. The park creates massive value for its neighbors without using public money and through a very deliberate management style. Discover how Bryant Park is managed and why, with plenty of opportunity for questions and answers.

Jerome Barth is Vice President of Business Affairs of Bryant Park Corporation, the 34th Street Partnership and the Chelsea Improvement Company. He is directly involved in the evolution of Bryant Park as a brand and the management of innovative public space of world quality throughout all 3 business districts, ensuring that they meet the expectations of every patron who visits them.

The Bryant Park Restoration Corporation is one of the largest efforts in the nation to apply private management backed by private funding to a public park. The park reopened in 1991 with a budget six times the level under prior city management, and has been a huge success with the public, press, and nearby institutions. Today's Bryant Park is favorably compared with th e great parks of London and Paris, and was the winner of the Urban Land Institute Excellence Award for public projects, as well as many other awards from design, real estate, and redevelopment groups.

For more information please visit:


22 October 2010

2010 Top 10 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...

The big mover this year is William J. Levitt.  Among other things, there have been 2 notable Levittown books in the last 18 months, one a collection of essays on the Bucks County Levittown while the other is linked to a notable moment in race relations. A Levittown ad was also featured this year in Lapham's Quarterly.

21 October 2010

Open space evaluation

After last week's lecture on the Evaluation of Open Space in Vienna, you might enjoy reading the more local evaluation of a piece of open space at Baldpate Mountain by Bill Wolfe.

19 October 2010

GIS job near campus

The NRCS is looking for a Natural Resource Specialist (GIS) to work in their Somerset office.

Christian Werthman lecture

We had an outstanding lecture yesterday by  Harvard GSD's Christian Werthman.  He spoke about the rapid growth and critical importance of informal cities around the world.  Called by many names, favelas, barrios and slums are all a neglected part of the urban landscape, treated as illegal and given little or no support by most governments even though they represent more than 50% of the population in some cities.  Werthman challenged the audience to step up to something new and described the landscape architectural response to it as a moral imperative.

Three different citations stood out:
  • Konstantinos Apostolos Doxiadis, whose Ekistics proposed a more focused effort of studying Human Settlement, but proposed it in a more top-down approach that isn't very well accepted today in places like the barrios in this talk
  • John Turner whose Housing by People argued for acknowledging the positive aspects of slums, which are really a locally-driven grass roots design
  • Patrick Geddes, particularly as described in Patrick Geddes in India, recognized the importance of green infrastructure as a tool for transforming these areas into less dangerous habitats (see also Civics: as Applied Sociology)
(This Geddes image is from Project Gutenberg's copy of Civics.)

While the examples like the Kolkata Sewage Fish Ponds from informal cities may be new to many of us, it is interesting to see how old some of the solutions are. 

18 October 2010

Frank Gallagher lecture

Ecology & Evolution Graduate Program Seminar
Dr. Frank Gallagher

Administrator NJ Division of Parks and Forestry
Visiting Scholar, Urban Forestry Program
Rutgers University

"The Ecological Risk of Urban Brownfields, Lessons from Liberty Park"

Thursday, Oct 21, 2010

4:00 p.m.
Alampi Room, Marine and Coastal Sciences
Host: Dr. Peter Morin
Refreshments at 3:30

15 October 2010

Steve Strom Memorial Lecture

Next week we have our featured talk of the Fall, the Steve Strom Memorial Lecture.  This year our guest is Darrel Morrison, FASLA, presenting current works from NYC and beyond.  As a fellow of both ASLA and CELA, Darrel is widely recognized as both a designer and educator.  He was one of the founding editors of the Landscape Journal and has served as LA Chair at Wisconsin and Dean at Georgia, taught at the Conway School, and is now leading Columbia's Landscape Design program.  His ecologically-oriented design approach has been featured in any number of magazines and high-profile venues, but maybe his most prominent design work has been at the Storm King Art Center where more and more mowed lawns have been converted to tall grasses (as seen in the poster below).

Darrel was also a friend and mentor of Steve's, so it is particularly touching that he is able to participate in the series. The talk will be at 7pm on Wednesday evening October 20th at Trayes Hall in the Douglass Campus Center.  Mark your calendars now.

Another language found

Since place matters, it seemed worth noting the language, Koro, has been "discovered" in a small part of the rather large country in India.  But what makes it blog worthy is the guy recording Koro is wearing a Cincinnati  cap.  "And this one belongs to the Reds"

14 October 2010

13 October 2010

LIve Blog: Dagmar Grimm-Pretner

Dr. Dagmar Grimm-Pretner
Institute of Landscape Architecture
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna

The areas around Vienna have a variety of landscape types as it is the meeting places of the Alps and the lowlands and is divided by the Danube.

Traditionally it has several different types of open spaces including:

Vienna has worked to preserve its Forest and Meadow

Evaluation can emphasize spatial and functional structure, comfort, and activities, with specific groups in mind.  One example was an evaluation of Bruno Kreisky Park.  Another case study looked at Fritz Imhoff Park. The same principles can be applied to something like the forecourt to Schönbrunn or a biotechcology center at Robert Hochner Park.  The Rudolf Bednar Park used orange vertical elements (sticks?) which change the personal experience of the park.

Turning towards Sustainability and Park Design we need to operationalize the concept with the intent of building a basis of for future parks effort.  As a holistic, normative concept, sustainability builds on three columns of ecology, economy and society.  A series of 9 goals were developed to assess how well proposed designs satisfied these sustainability measures.

Conext matters

As I have been saying I studio, context matters.  At all scales.

12 October 2010

COAH change

The NJ Appellate Court has found that the current Third Round COAH Rules didn't satisfy the constitutional obligation for affordable housing.  The Record had a column today.  Blue Jersey offers their perspective.  And the League of Municipalities has a letter to mayors about the situation.  And here is a response from the builders community.

Location-based U apps

Since college students are more likely, demographically, to use social media and mobile phone apps than investment bankers and sanitation workers, it only makes sense that Universities would engage them at the level.  The Chronicle reports on how schools are starting to use location-based apps, like FourSquare, to tap their energy.  (h/t PeterM)

11 October 2010

Common Lecture: Dagmar Grimm-Pretner

LA Fall Lecture Series presents Dagmar Grimm-Pretner

Wednesday, 10/13 at 4:00 pm,
Cook/Douglas Lecture Hall
3 College Farm Road
New Brunswick, NJ

Landscapes of Vienna - Qualities in Public Open Space

The presentation discusses various aspects of quality in open space. It gives an overview of c ontemporary landscape architectural work in Vienna and it presents results of research work dealing with open space design and the concept of critical sustainability.

Dr. Grimm-Pretner is an associate professor teaching and researching at the Institute of Landscape Architecture, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, since 1993. Her research focuses on contemporary landscape architecture in urban settings. Important topics within the research are public open spaces in densely populated urban areas and the interaction of usage and design of open space. Landscape architectural quality, as well as evaluation strategies of designs and sites, are fields of interest.

(My contemporary photos from Vienna aren't very contemporary, it turns out)

Columbus Day

I am surprised to realize how many Columbus pieces I've seen in recent years.

The Smithsonian's Museum of the American Indian includes a display on Columbus.  It talks about his second visit, with 17 ships, which included a stop at St Croix.  You can see the Columbus Landing Site at Salt River Bay in this picture.  While it is his only known landing site in what is now US territory, he is not believed to have gotten off his ship.  Still, imagine those ships sitting out there and the natives having no idea, yet, about guns smallpox or NYC Ivy League schools.

In Barcelona, one of the big landmarks is the Columbus statue on a very high pedestal.But they also have a plaza where he supposedly met Ferdinand and Isabella and the Cathedral where he had 4 Carib tribe members baptized. 

A complicated bit of history.

10 October 2010


You can celebrate the symmetry of the date by contributing to the Global Work Party.

Who is Howard Boyd?

"If it weren’t for Howard {Boyd], there would be no Pine Barrens," said [Louis] Cantafio, a Ph.D. conservationist.
Di Ionno tells you all about this 96 year old Pinelands hero.

06 October 2010

Live Blog: Laura Lawson, Rutgers

Dr. Laura Lawson
Chair, Department of Landscape Architecture
Community Gardens: Trend or Fad?

Official Summary:
To some, the recent upsurge in interest to start community gardens, school gardens, and socially-based urban agriculture programs is a reactionary fad that satisfies the impulse to “do something” amid multiple social, economic, and environmental crisis. To others, however, it represents a trend towards more sustainable communities and food systems. Which is it? Acknowledging the many timely benefits associated with such programs, it is also important to frame community gardening in the context of over one hundred years of advocacy and programs.  This presentation will describe the evolution of community gardening from the 1890s to present.  While past phases tended to be opportunistic and temporary responses to social and environmental concerns, today’s programs are increasingly framed as permanent resources to serve individuals and communities. Developing and sustaining gardens that in turn sustain communities requires attention to land tenure, community outreach, and engagement of a wider network of support.

 With the beginning of this fall semester, Dr. Lawson has taken over the leadership of the Department of Landscape Architecture. She has joined us 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.  Laura has been involved in a broad range of landscape architecture practice and teaching.  Her scholarship focuses on community building through landscape design and activism.  We highly recommend her books, especially City Bountiful: A Century of Community Gardening in America (University of California Press, 2005).

 Let the liveblog begin...

What are the benefits?
What is our contribution as LAs?
  Turning red squares into green squares
What does it take to sustain an urban garden program?

The history goes back to the 1890s
One example is the creation of Vacant Lot Cultivation Associations (1893-1897)
   a response to the depression
Then there was a children's school garden movement (photos)
Vacant lots and backyards became important resources
War gardens of WWI
  A community effort
   then everyone celebrated the end of war by getting away from this
Relief and subsistence gardens (1931-1935)
  Selling food was discouraged - use it as local aid but don't compete with farmers
WWII Victory gardens (1941-1945) were much more notable - but some wondered whether it was efficient
10 days after Pearl Harbor the desire to do more was so great that the government embraced it
  treat it as a lifestyle

  Victory Garden posters
  The response from landscape architecture? "Yes, but with discretion."
Community Garden Movement (1970s-????)

Learning from Successes: Seattle
Seattle is a major success - P-Patch Program
Here is Thistle from above:

View Larger Map

Here is Bradner Gardens P-Patch in StreetView:

View Larger Map

One of the challenges today is that they are still seen as temporary by many people and viewed as a very local use.  (You can drop in and play soccer at the park, but you can't drop in and eat a carrot at a garden, unless you are willing to let Mr McGregor chase you.)

Urban Personalities
Place-based character and sustainability
Why are Chicago's gardens different than other places
_Great organizations, but does the alderman system keep them from coordinating better?  Redundancies occur
_Growing native plants instead of veggies
_NeighborSpace Land Trust

Land availability in Detroit creates a different pattern - 10 month growing season (hot houses, etc.)
Food desert forces more farming than gardening

Important enough that streets get named after this:

View Larger Map

Community + Garden

Here is a nicely maintained community garden in the Boston Fens that we saw on a Fall Field Trip several years ago.  You should join us on the next trip...

We didn't need to ask 3 Landscapes because we did it so recently.

01 October 2010

Cool mappings

In class we talked about some online outlets where you could find interesting maps. I've taken an old list and updated just a little:

NJ State Mapping contest - with Rutgers students as winners
ASLA 2008 Student Awards - more than just good graphics
ESRI's Map Museum - maps on virtually every topic
Visual Tools for Planners from the Lincoln Institute - 2 links since I can't tell the difference

Now here is where I go astray:
Hipkiss' Scanned Old Maps - Could give us ideas for faux-antique
Strange Maps - clearly not such good design ideas, but plenty of fun
Data Visualization - a few great examples that have nothing to do with our project
Edward Tufte - a graphics and visualization blog from a real master
things to look at - a blog for graphic ideas
Election "maps"
NYC Subway "Map"
Map links


Is New Jersey's GDP really equivalent to Russia's?  That is what this state GDP map suggests.