30 March 2011

Suitability Analysis revisited

A little while ago I posted the old handwritten Suitability Analysis notes from when Steve Strom used these techniques in his studio. This four page set of Suitability Analysis notes is online now as a PDF (broken link fixed).  His description of weighted analysis lacks a graphic, so I created a digital version of both some of his graphics and a new Weight and Rate graphic that should help you work through it all as you look ahead to Monday's exam:To be clear, each grid shows the very same piece of land but being rated for a different issue (soils, slope, vegetation).  Presumably that is fairly objective.  But each individual criterion is then weighted based on relative importance.  In this case, Slope has rather subjectively been weighted as 5 times more important that Vegetation.  If you click on my graphic it will enlarge and be more readable.

Why is redistricting so contentious?

Wonder why the papers are giving such close coverage to the efforts to draw new legislative boundaries?  The Star-Ledger sums up the power of these processes in this simple line:
"Three times in the last decade more New Jerseyans in total voted for GOP candidates for the Legislature, but Democrats easily won the majority of the seat"
Maps are power.

29 March 2011

Sounds a little like something from The Onion

The courts have weighed in and someone has to move that pile of dirt.

Scholarships in fields related to conservation

Three $2,000 Scholarships to be awarded in 2011

For the 32nd consecutive year, Freehold Soil Conservation District will award three $2,000 scholarships to students majoring in a conservation-related field in the summer of 2011. The Neal Munch, Mac Clark and Bill Schauer Scholarships are awarded annually to honor their years of dedicated and distinguished service to the Freehold District and to natural resource conservation.

All applicants must be:
· A New Jersey resident of Monmouth or Middlesex County

· Entering at least their junior year of college by the fall of 2011

· Majoring in a field related to conservation including, but not limited to: agriculture, environmental education, environmental science, environmental studies, forestry, geology, landscape design, resource management, soil science, etc.

Applications are available online at www.freeholdscd.org
by email request to info@freeholdscd.org, or by calling (732)683-8500.

Application deadline is April 15, 2011.

27 March 2011

Advising season is in full swing

While I try to keep the blog focused mostly on intellectual issues, once in a while it seems smart to sneak in something practical.  As we kick off the spring advising season, I thought I should let you know where to find many of the forms you might need if you are a student here at Rutgers-SEBS including:

If you are my advisee, I will be keeping a sign-up sheet for appointments at ENR 133.

26 March 2011

A totally different kind of lecture

Just down the road...

Sheila Bair Chairman of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
Some Lessons from the Financial Crisis. (Note: 4:30 p.m. in McCosh Hall 50)
Walter E. Edge Lecture

Being a good planner means understanding the different parts that make your community work, including finance.

25 March 2011

Science quote

I see in science one of the greatest creations of the human mind....It is a step at which our explanatory myths become open to conscious and consistent criticism and at which we are challenged to invent new myths.

- Karl R. Popper, Objective Knowledge

24 March 2011

Be happy

A positive attitude may not solve all of your problems but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

- Herm Albright (1876-1944)

This is why studios work

One must learn by doing the thing, for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.

- Sophocles, 400 B. C.

23 March 2011

A cool blog from our students

The students in our tectonics class have posted their work on a blog, Material Tectonics.

It has taken us years to get to this, so it is exciting to see the projects posted online (and outside the new LA offices in Blake).  Which project will be the one to get built?  Wait and see.

Did the earthquake mess up GPS?

Actually, just a little says Slate.

22 March 2011

Designing the future

Friend of the blog, Allan Shearer, gets a big shout out from the NY Times' Dot Earth blog.
Another is that breakthroughs only come with a lot of effort and experimentation and, unavoidably, failure. Learning involves breaking. This means that a useful trait these days is the “courage to fear” — a phrase used in a recent discussion of tipping points by Allan Shearer, an architecture professor at the University of Texas, Austin, who studies how humans design the future as much as he designs structures.
Great mention in the blog of record.

21 March 2011

18 March 2011

Lecture: Postindustrial landscapes in Germany

LA Spring Lecture Series presents Constanze Petrow

Wednesday, March 23 at 4:00 pm
Cook/Douglas Lecture Hall

Postindustrial landscapes in Germany: How Berlin, Hamburg, and Frankfurt developed their waterfront since 1990

The presentation compares three approaches of waterfront redevelopment in centrally located spaces in Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt/Main. Special interest is devoted to public open spaces and landscape design. We’ll have a look at Berlin’s Spree promenade, Hamburg’s HafenCity and Frankfurt’s Main promenade and Westhafen quarter. All sites became available in the course of deindustrialization – or, in the case of Berlin, after the Wall came down. As a result of differing urban development policies and image strategies they are part of, the places display distinct atmospheres and attract different kinds of people. The paper discusses the messages delivered by design and thus scrutinizes the political character of landscape architecture.

This talk is the kick-off event for the International Design Workshop Wednesday  3-23 to Saturday 3-26
Architecture students and faculty from the Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany) will visit the New York/New Jersey region and will join the Landscape Architecture senior design studio for a four day intensive workshop. The topic will be urban redevelopment and open space design for a section of the Newark Waterfront. 

Dr. Constanze A. Petrow is a licensed landscape architect. After studying landscape planning at the Technische Universität Berlin and working for landscape offices in Berlin she lectured and researched at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar from 2001 till 2009. In 2007 she was a visiting faculty at Washington Alexandria Architecture Center (Virginia Tech). She has been writing for landscape magazines since 2001. In 2009 she received her Doctorate from Leibniz-Universität Hannover with a thesis on the relationship between landscape architecture and the public, focusing on perceptions of the profession’s work by leading newspapers in Germany and Switzerland. Since 2009 she has been a post-doc researcher and member of the ‘Urban Research’ Centre of Research Excellence at the Technische Universität Darmstadt.

17 March 2011

Balancing Environmental Remediation and Economic Issues in NJ

Professional Science Master's Program
Building New Jersey’s Innovation Ecosystem Lecture Series

Balancing Environmental Remediation and Economic Issues in NJ

Monday, March 21, 2011
CoRE Auditorium, Busch Campus

Mr. N. DeRose
Senior Principal, Langan Engineering & Environmental Services.

Mr. De Rose is a Senior Principal at Langan Engineering and Environmental Services who has over 30 years of environmental consulting experience specializing in Site Remediation and the Cleanup of Hazardous Waste Sites. His experience in New Jersey includes working since the inception of New Jersey’s Environmental Cleanup and Responsibility Act (ECRA) on cleanup projects driven by property transactions.

In 2008, Nick organized the Licensed Site Professional (LSP) Consultants Coalition in New Jersey in response to anticipated legislation to establish an independent LSP regulatory program for remediation cases in New Jersey. In this role, Mr. De Rose has led the efforts of the LSP Consultants Coalition in a comprehensive legal and technical review of SRRA and in ongoing meetings and discussions with key regulators and legislators. Mr. De Rose currently serves as President of the New Jersey Licensed Site Remediation Professional Association (LSRPA) which is recognized as one of the leading and most respected voices on regulatory and technical issues associated with SRRA and the newly established LSRP Program in New Jersey.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

To celebrate, we are thought we should look at Ireland's two Cultural icons on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. Since I haven't been to either, I'll add them to my life list of places to go see.

First is Skellig Michael, a monastic complex on a pyramidal rocky island. It's rocky paths and ruins look like settings from any number of movies, making me wonder if it has influenced those as well.

(Photo by GDR from the Wiki Commons)

The second is the Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne which is a series of prehistoric sites which combine to form "Europe's largest and most important concentration of prehistoric megalithic art."  The sites have a variety of henges and tombs, feature solar alignments, and predate the pyramids.

(Photo by Rodrigo y Pamela from Wikicommons)

15 March 2011

Make some picks

Even though Rutgers didn't quite make the field of 68, Places and Spaces readers are invited to join in the 13th annual "FoD - Friends of Dave" NCAA picks group on ESPN's Tournament Challenge.  If you want to get all sciency about it, Nate Silver applies his know-how to picking.

The free throws are called "free" for a reason. Photo Credit: D. Tulloch

10 March 2011

Getting high

Are we over-reliant on social media?

Well, of course the answer is yes.

(Twitter break)

But I mean as a tool for giving community groups a voice?  A group had citizens mark properties in New Orleans that they wished were being used better.  But they didn't do it on Google Maps or using GPS.

(Facebook break)

They used name tag stickers.  But, instead of saying My Name Is... the stickers said I Wish This Was...

(Check Linked-In)

The stickers are low-tech, easily accessible technique that has a totally different kind of impact and reach than online approaches.  But in some parts of NOLA it might be considered vandalism, too.  Tell us what you think.

09 March 2011

LiveBlog: Sustainable in a Material World

Meg Calkins, Ball State

Editor of the forthcoming Sustainable Sites Handbook to be published in October 2011 by John Wiley and Sons.  Author of Materials for Sustainable Sites (described by L+U as a "must read")was published in October 2008.

For an aluminum rail in Indianapolis she breaks down all of the environmental impacts of that rail.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) concluded that ecosystem resources are critical to support life on earth.  And that society has caused irreversible damages.

More than 90% of the materials that goes into the average US product is waste before it reaches the users.  80% is molecular waste that goes into the air or water, etc.  But if you consider closed materials and resource loops, "true waste does not exist".  Good green design recognizes that and makes use of it as a guiding principle.

The first case study is the High Line. The heavy reliance on cement is a good starting point.  We can often reduce it.  Sometimes we can use substitutes like fly ash, slag, and natural pozzolans like calcined shale.  Another concern are the woods used.  If they were rainforest materials they are not renewed as well as others.  Certified wood would be better - this can include accounting for the chain of custody.  Plastic lumber is a much harder sell, but if you use it make sure you avoid PVCs.  For materials like stainless steel and aluminum, we should be considering the level of embodied energy.

If we are going to make progress on this front, we need to make a minor or less radical shift on projects like this.
But we need a major shift in materials that we need to seek out as well.

The 2nd case study is at the Queens Botanical Garden.  One innovation was rammed earth structures, which can be used anywhere.  It is high-labor, low-cost and low-impact.  Don't confuse it with Compressed Earth block (CEB).  The radical shift in materials is needed to "close the loop".

Alternate materials can include gabions with concrete or stone rubble from on-site. Stabilized soil pavement requires binders, whether they are plant-based (agave, pine resin, seed oils), and polymer binders can help us stop using so much paving.  Natural barriers can replace fencing. 

Ecobalancing - life-cycle flow of resources that balances inputs and outputs to support vital whole systems.

Finally an example was provided using an interdisciplinary student project from outside Muncie.  One included a 5ac demonstration site for a family, because 5ac is the footprint of a single family.  The designs also included selective harvesting of a forest on site, permaculture areas, strawbale construction (currently not legal in the US) and AlgaeWheel technology.  Even an incremental shift in construction methods will require proving the reliability of these techniques and showing people the benefits.

08 March 2011

Water meeting at Penn

In the Terrain of Water

Symposium at PENNDESIGN: April 1 – 2, 2011

Conversations and presentations will be organized around three themes:

design ACTIVISM / ADVOCACY in the Terrain of Water
design STRUCTURE / INFRASTRUCTURE in the Terrain of Water
design IMAGING / IMAGINING in the Terrain of Water

The symposium will be structured around a series of dialogues, exhibits, workshops and talks, enlisting contemporary thinkers who are willing to go beyond addressing water simply as a design opportunity or an environmental challenge. Participants will come from across disciplines and the globe – joined in their intentions to re-imagine our relationship with water, challenge current visualizations, and
probe projects and design thinking that constitute water, its visible and invisible presences, in fresh ways.

Information and registration: http://www.design.upenn.edu/calendar/terrain-water

Contact: terrain@design.upenn.edu

24th Annual NJDEP Mapping Contest

If you aren't pursuing the DeBoer Travel Prize you could spend your free time during spring break cleaning up an old map for the NJ DEP Mapping Contest.  This year's contest is on April 28th, 2011.

07 March 2011

Making Spring Break useful

Make your Spring Break count by spending a day learning about energy and weatherizing a building through the PIRG Energy Service Corps.

Wednesday lecture: Sustainable in a Material World

Meg Calkins

Sustainable in a Material World

Wednesday, March 9th at 4:00 pm,Cook/Douglas Lecture Hall
3 College Farm Road, New Brunswick, NJ

Meg Calkins, ASLA, LEED AP is the Editor of the forthcoming Sustainable Sites Handbook to be published in October 2011 by John Wiley & Sons. Her other book Materials for Sustainable Sites was published in October 2008. She is a frequent Contributing Editor to Landscape Architecture magazine. She is a co-founder of SITES and member of the Technical Working Group. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture at Ball State University.

Assigned Reading

While I am assigning this for all of our readers, it will be assigned as a class requirement in 372:231 EnvPlan today. It is the notes on Development Suitability by Steve Strom.

Berry Quote

"We are destroying our country - I mean our country itself, our land. This is a terrible thing to know, but it is not a reason for despair unless we decide to continue the destruction. If we decide to continue the destruction, that will not be because we have no other choice. This destruction is not necessary. It is not inevitable, except that by our submissiveness we make it so."
- Wendell Berry

Jobs in Bristol, CT

Assistant Planner and Intern

CCRPA (Bristol, CT)

The Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency (CCRPA) is seeking qualified applicants for the positions of Assistant Planner and Intern.  Applications are due by noon ET on April 8, 2011. Job descriptions and
application forms and instructions can be found at http://ccrpa.org/employment.htm.

06 March 2011

Berry Quote

"A proper community, we should remember also, is a commonwealth: a place, a resource, an economy. It answers the needs, practical as well as social and spiritual, of its members - among them the need to need one another. The answer to the present alignment of political power with wealth is the restoration of the identity of community and economy."

- Wendell Berry
A great discovery solves a great problem, but there is a grain of discovery in the solution of any problem.

- George Polya, How to Solve It

05 March 2011

Planning Board Meetings

New Brunswick is scheduled to have a planning board meeting on March 8th at 7:30 pm in the Council Chambers, at New Brunswick City Hall, 78 Bayard Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Berry Quote

"There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places."
- Wendell Berry

04 March 2011

GIS jobs

Civil Solutions has some entry level opportunities down in South Jersey.

Berry Quote

"We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it."
- Wendell Berry

What is a suburb?

I remember an exercise a few years ago where we tried to find a formula for defining which municipalities in New Jersey were suburban.  None of efforts ever treated Jersey City as suburban.  But Joel Kotkin appears to be treating places like Jersey City as suburbs in his latest analysis of sprawl.

03 March 2011

Should our designs make us sweat?

 Active design is trying to integrate subliminal exercise into designs by creating spaces that encourage taking more active paths than passive ones.  Are we fighting obesity or saving energy?  Are we encouraging physicality or creating barriers to free movement?

Here is one effort to make stairs more fun that escalator:

EnvPlan Word Cloud

I made a quick word cloud of the online class notes and questions leading up to Exam 1 in 231 EnvPlan. Please note that it doesn't include hardly any Chapter 4 words because it is biased by what is online.

Drink up

The cover story on USA Today basically says that we need to drink our own sewage. Crisis averted!

Native species are special

Here is a great column about how the native species, Chamaecyparis thyoides, has key qualities that give the Atlantic white cedar swamps of the Pinelands their great character.  Note that she also uses the term "endemic" to describe them.

Berry Quote

“The earth is what we all have in common.”

- Wendell Berry

02 March 2011

3 Landscapes: Tim Baird

Parc Clichy B'atignolles - New park in Paris with galvanized steel channels
Prospect Park
Crissy Field

LiveBlog: Tim Baird

Teaching Design Education in the 21st Century
C. Timothy Baird, Penn State University

An LSU graduate - Geaux Tigers!

Change is hard.  Leroys and vertical curves are no longer part of most technology sequences.

He begins with the origins of the abstract concept of the contour.  Building on his experiences at Hargreaves, he has a strong interest in building clay models and has integrated that into the sequence instead of stacked contours.

One of the new classes is Materiality.  Hard materials.  Trying to simplify the way to look at things, makes the start easier.  Part of the class is research-driven, just like some design practices.  For a while there weren't many landscape architects looking for new materials.  But the proliferation of catalogs, an increase in new building techniques and even the Internet, have combined to give designers access to far more material choices that seemed imaginable.  But it also places a new level of responsibility on designers to understand these new materials before they use them.  Photocatalytic concrete and translucent concrete are examples of changing materials.

Systems Workshops are another part of the new sequence.  The class takes a trip to NYC where they visit  Material ConneXion.  Eventually they move on to drawings, which force a clearer cognition and representation of how the materials come together.  They go out and learn a little bit about welding at the art shop (just enough to understand how hard it is). 

Materials Operations - Cut it, bend it, perforate it, join it, shape it.  They use an aluminum shop that allows them some special opportunities for exploring technology.  But while the new tools, like water jet cutters, are cool they aren't a substitute for learning how to use a hammer.

Ultimately the students get out on construction sites to see the work being done.  It makes concrete pours and geotextiles seem much less abstract.  Visiting a site under construction with Ken Smith is just icing.  The students learn from that and then explore the design of new seating walls which ultimately get built.

Application - if you learn about grading in 2nd year and then don't make a grading plan until 4th year, is it a disservice?   If you can intergrate the ideas into a design competition does it help test them out?
Vanalen Institute's Urban Voids Design Competition

Wendell Berry honored at the White House

Earlier today President Obama awarded National Humanities Medals or National Arts Medals to writers Harper Lee, Joyce Carol Oates and Philip Roth; artist Mark di Suvero; actress Meryl Streep; and musicians Sonny Rollins and Quincy Jones.

Congrats to all of them. But only one of them taught me in college. So for the next few days we'll celebrate with Wendell Berry quotes. Enjoy.

Exam detail

Not that it really matters, but the first exam for EnvPlan will have 33 T/F questions, and 36 multiple choice.

Bald eagles live

A nesting pair of bald eagles have settled in again on the Duke Estate just a few miles upstream from campus. What are they doing right now? Look here and see:

Streaming Video by Ustream.TV

01 March 2011

Research quote

Inquiry is the creation of knowledge or understanding; it is the reaching out of a human being beyond himself to a perception of what he may be or could be, or what the world could be or ought to be.

- C. West Churchman, The Design of Inquiring Systems