31 October 2011

Does Good Design Alone Guarantee a Project’s Success?

LA Fall Lecture Series presents Timothy Marshall

Wednesday, 12/2 at 4:00 pm

Cook/Douglas Lecture Hall

3 College Farm Road

New Brunswick, NJ

Does Good Design Alone Guarantee a Project’s Success?

We are all too familiar with well-designed projects that have not been able to withstand the test of time, due to the lack of proper maintenance the site received after it was constructed. Worn path edges, broken benches/curbs, perennial plantings that are now annual or shrub beds, or worse, mulch beds, fountains and lighting that no longer operates, other visual clutter are just some of the changes made to a site over time due a inadequate maintenance or unanticipated use patterns.

What went wrong? Is it just a case of inadequate maintenance? Is it the design? Is it unanticipated use? Is it lack of proper management? Is it all of the above?

Maintenance and operations are, in fact, important “design considerations” and should be viewed and analyzed along with other professional input during design. The recent and dramatic improvements to Central Park have shown the importance of protecting the capital investment through understanding and planning for maintenance. Of course along with good design and improved maintenance comes more use. Central Park has seen its visitor numbers increase from an estimated 6 million annual visitors in 1985 to close to 30 million today. Not all of that use has been anticipated or planned for.

This presentation will look at a number of recently completed and designed projects where ETM ASSOCIATES, has worked closely with the design team during the design process to identify maintenance and operational issues and how those design modifications and ultimately, use has contributed to successful public space projects.

Project examples will include Central Park, the High Line, Houston’s Discovery Green, the proposed Olympic Park in London, Baltimore’s Mt Vernon Square and Pack Square in Asheville, NC.

E. Timothy Marshall, ASLA, principal of ETM ASSOCIATES, LLC , has been providing
professional public space design and management solutions, strategies and developmental guidance since 1984.

ETM Associates, LLC was formed in 1997 and specialized in Public Space Design and Management. The firm is concerned with all aspects of public space and sees design, implementation and ongoing management as a continuum of related professional activities. The firm presently employees a staff of five.

Timothy Marshall, principal and owner of ETM, has been involved with public space issues for more 25 years. Mr. Marshall was formerly the Deputy Administrator and Vice President for the Central Park Conservancy. As former Deputy Administrator and Vice President for New York City’s Central Park Conservancy, he was involved in the development of The Central Park Restoration and Management Plan, and was directly responsible for its on-going implementation as well as the day-to-day management of Central Park, one of the world’s most important public spaces.

Since forming ETM ASSOCIATES, LLC, he has served as the driving force behind an impressive list of significant national and international public space projects. Successful public spaces are achieved with forethought and planning. We have experience with a wide-range of projects and project scales. In addition to being physically attractive, parks need to be designed to suit the neighborhoods they serve. Parks that thrive and provide balance to the community are those that rise above the commonplace in the quality of design, facilities, maintenance and programs.

28 October 2011

Free movie tonight

FARMAGEDDON showing for free at Rutgers University

WHEN: Friday, October 28, 2011, 7:00 pm Movie

Following the screening, meet the film producer Kristin Canty, and participate in a panel discussion on food choice.

Americans’ right to access fresh, healthy foods of their choice is under attack. Farmageddon tells the story of small, family farms that were providing safe, healthy foods to their communities and were forced to stop, sometimes through violent action, by agents of misguided government bureaucracies, and seeks to figure out why.

For clips from Farmageddon, visit: http://vimeo.com/smallfarmproject/videos

WHERE: Voorhees Hall #105, Rutgers University

Sponsored by Cook Campus Dean, College Ave Campus Dean, Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, and the Office of Undergraduate Education


27 October 2011

Robert Moses bio pic

If Oliver Stone make HBO's Robert Moses movie, who will he cast in the lead?
h/t Kevin B

Obama on Innovation

I've been working on some writing about innovation and rediscovered my copy of the transcript from this year's State of the Union, which included a substantial section on innovation.  Since I never blogged it earlier, I'll throw in some now, with an emphasis on a couple passages that the GIS community might find more interesting.  First he reminded us of how American innovation can be:
The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation. None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn't know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do — what America does better than anyone else — is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We're the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn't just change our lives. It is how we make our living.

He then slipped into a free-enterprise innovation discussion that included a bit of geospatial: "That's what planted the seeds for the Internet. That's what helped make possible things like computer chips and GPS."

Finally, he made it part of a challenge to the country's future.  For GIScientists and technicians interested in the policy implications, this section gives some idea of where his administration is pointing us:

Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we would beat them to the moon. The science wasn't even there yet. NASA didn't exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.

This is our generation's Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race. And in a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology — (applause) — an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.
 Whether Democrat or Republican, the comments of a President's speeches often guide the actions of agencies and policymakers.  It is interesting to look to see how much is being said in DC today that reflects this speech given in January.  But without a budget (which is usually a major policy tool) it is hard to figure out who is winning the policy priority tug-of-war.
A very cool web app called History Pin has popped up that tries to get some serious crowdsourcing going for linking old photos with Google Maps and even Streetview.  Check out the short video.

A few years back one of our our alums at Azavea helped made an interface like this for Philly with an unbelievable number of photos that they mapped at Philly History.
It is a shame that the two aren't merged, but maybe that will happen down the road.

h/t Chris P

Looking back on the Highlands Act

The Star-Ledger takes a look at the Highlands asking whether, after a few years in place, it is more regulatory burden or boon to water quality and the environment.

26 October 2011

Common Lecture: Stephen Sears

Stephen Sears, University of Illinois
Points of Departure: The Potential of Vertical Workshops

Really a matter of applied problem and critique - that is our baseline

We begin with tools, but it is not the sophistication of the tool but the sophistication of the process
We bring natural impulses, intuition and balance between abstract and concrete foci
The student's design process can have an infinite number of permutations
The faculty member helps direct it through critques

Urban Transect of the Rio Atoyac, Pueblo, Mexico
Students discovered different aspects of the city embodied in different sites along the the river
How do we make this legible?
Clues included the purposeful habitation of public space

Digital media and the hypernarrative landscape
Imaging - Imagining
Looking at multiple moments at once gives us a distorted image of reality
When we create our images of the planned design, we can capture process in a static image
Like a Muybridge photo

The Round Barns | SITE
Built in 1907, at the same time as Ebeneezer Howard's Garden Cities of To-Morrow
On the Illinois campus
The barns were a reflection of the university's role as a forward thinking institution - an advanced technology helping farmers grow more cows without more help
In a land-rich setting where it is hard to manufacture program for a project

View Larger Map

That place by the The Thing
like the Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor
A time-based media studio
Students were all given a video camera and supplemented with phones, software, etc.
Investigated a site in Chicago

The course concluded with a 90 minute screening.

 Great takeaway:
 Even core studios are vertical, since everyone comes with a different level of experience and different sets of skills

Cool trail solutions

What works in trail and greenway design?  Just check the cool trail solutions from the National Trails Training Partnership.Whether it is something typical or specific, they've got photos from around the country.

Why did you put that tree there?

The Hairpin explores that question, but don't expect answers.

25 October 2011

Mapping NJ's future development

There is plenty of news and opinion coverage of the changing landscape of planning in NJ.  NJ Spotlight has an article on both the scrapping of the State Plan map (maps are so 1600s?) and trying to integrate more business and financial planning into the state smart growth plan.  Reactions?  The Home News and Tribune says that PlanSmart NJ is OK with the plan while NJ Today quotes Jeff Tittel as saying that this plan will just empower those who make sprawl.  And while it is hard to find other blogs that have studied it and given a full response, you can always count on plenty of opinion from Bill Wolfe.

24 October 2011

Lecture Announcement: Stephen Sears

LA Fall Lecture Series presents Stephen Sears

Wednesday, 10/26 at 4:00 pm

Cook/Douglas Lecture Hall

3 College Farm Road

New Brunswick, NJ

Points of Departure

When students at multiple levels collaborate in a topical studio it is virtually necessary to invent new ways of thinking and working. This talk focuses on the potential of the vertical workshop model to catalyze fundamentally unique studio experiences.

The premises and outcomes from several workshops will be presented: Urban Transect of the Rio Atoyac; Digital Media and the Hypernarrative Landscape | RE-IMAGinING [xxxsitexxx]; and That Place by the Thing…

Stephen Sears is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, teaching studios ranging from foundation site design to advanced-level urban design; and seminars about theory, practice, media and culture.

Sears maintains an agenda of practice that includes design for marginal and contested urban territories, techniques in new media, and studies of the vernacular-cultural midwestern region. His initiatives have led to creative works about Chicago, Boston, New Orleans, Buenos Aries, Puebla and Rome, and for numerous Midwestern agrarian territories. His recently edited volume, Round Barns Projected, features student design proposals for a historic experimental dairy complex.

He holds a BS in Landscape Architecture from Purdue University and a Master of Landscape Architecture in Urban Design, with distinction, from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. He is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome (2000); and a Fellow of the Institute for Urban Design (2009).

22 October 2011

Private parks for the public?

New York has some high profile public spaces that are really private.  NYC's Paley Park, shown above, is a classic example of a privately-owned public space.  WNYC points out that the OWS crowd is occupying another such park, Zucotti Park.  As such they had on both a reporter and a Harvard Professor, you can pick the one you trust more.  Previously, former Rutgers Instructor Kristine Miller wrote a book on the subject.
h/t puk

21 October 2011

Small projects aren't always minor

Our own Rich Bartolone gets a nice mention in the Home News today for a school's courtyard design that might impact the next generation of designers.

20 October 2011

Hutcheson Memorial Forest Tour

Hutcheson Memorial Forest Tour
Sunday, October 23rd at 2:00 p.m.

Tour Leader: Dr. Jim Quinn
(Plant Ecologist)

"A Wild Plant Walk Amongst the Colors of Fall"

The Hutcheson Memorial Forest (HMF) is a unique area consisting of one of the last uncut forests in the Mid-Atlantic States, along with the surrounding lands devoted to protection of the old forest and research into ecological interactions necessary to understand the forest. The tract is administered and protected by Rutgers University.

It is apparently the only uncut upland forest in the Piedmont of New Jersey, and appears on the National Park Service Register of Natural Landmarks.

Tours leave from the entrance of the woods on Amwell Road (Rt. 514) in Somerset. From New Brunswick, follow Hamilton Street west past JFK Blvd, Cedar Grove Lane and Elizabeth St. HMF is on the left past Gardener’s Nook Nursery. The driveway is located just past the guardrail over the brook.

The trail may be muddy in places so come prepared.

The tour through the woods and fields takes between one and two hours.

Tours are free and reservations are not required for these guided tours.** Groups of more than ten persons may not attend the guided tours. Such groups are invited to arrange special tours.

For more information and a complete tour schedule visit: http://rci.rutgers.edu/~hmforest/
**HMF is not open to the public on a daily basis.

18 October 2011

Campus entertainment

Twitter provides an entertaining new way to see how many people noticed that today's Targum was the fake Mugrat edition.

Internship opportunity in PA

Internship opportunity

Langan Engineering & Environmental Services is now offering GIS  intern and co-op opportunities in our Doylestown, PA Office.  Langan has immediate openings and are looking for qualified candidates for the winter, spring and summer 2012 semesters.  If you know of any students that would be interested in an opportunity, please have them contact Brett using the information provided in the signature below.

Brett Milburn, GISP
Corporate Data Solutions Manager                
Direct: 215.491.6555
Mobile: 215.605.0066

Langan Engineering & Environmental Services
Phone: 215.491.6500   Fax: 215.491.6501
2700 Kelly Road, Suite 200
Warrington, PA 18976

17 October 2011

GIS Day at Burlington County College in Mount Laurel , NJ

GIS Day at Burlington County College in Mount Laurel , NJ

Wednesday, November 9th 9-4:30

The event is FREE (including Breakfast and Lunch)

Registration is requested but walk-ins will be accepted.

Register at www.co.burlington.nj.us\dit

This event should have something for everyone; from beach dune maintenance and environmental remediation to using GIS for election campaign management and how ArcGIS Online is being applied locally, plus interactive GPS and GIS workshops.

9-12 Speakers

12-1 Lunch

1-2:15 GPS Activity

2:30-4:30 GIS Lab

Be a part of GIS Day! --

*** Display your map in the map gallery! ***

In addition to the speakers and workshops, a map gallery will be on display all day. All entries will be accepted from beginner to advanced.

It's easy to enter - Just send your map to Merrilee Torres either as hardcopy (to the mailing address below) or as a PDF or JPEG (to the email address below).

Please include your name, organization and a brief abstract about your map (optional).

This is a chance to show your work - Maps that show how GIS or GPS was used to answer a question, make a decision or make someone's work easier are especially of interest!

Please send your map by the morning of Tuesday, November 8th or bring it with you on the 9th.

All maps submitted for GIS Day will also be included in the Burlington County Map Gallery and Contest the following week (see attachments for details).

13 October 2011

Great Public Spaces from APA

The APA has released their list of great public spaces for 2011 and it includes an impressive variety of public spaces from unknown urban and grand landmarks to natural places and preserved historic sites.

11 October 2011

Cheap energy = sprawl?

One of the smart growth measures used in New Jersey places the burden of new infrastructure on the new developments that need it.  If a new neighborhood needs an expensive extension off of the power grid, either the new neighbors should pay for it or maybe the neighborhood shouldn't get built.  But a change in policy might shift the burden of infrastructure for McMansions to the people who are already living in less inefficient ways.  Is this about finding appropriate policies for BPU or part of an ongoing fight against government efforts to shape the NJ landscape?

07 October 2011


The Homes News and Tribune had as its top story the other day, a difficult environmental dilemma.  A protected meadow area in Franklin, the Negri-Nepote Grassland Preserve, has been overtaken by the Canada thistle an invasive species.  And, since the the thistle is spreading very quickly and impacting nearby farmland, many in the community want to see it sprayed with an herbicide that will minimize the weed for some time.

But wait! It turns out that the thistle have been great for bees.  And everyone knows that the diminished population of these pollinators has been an important issue.  So maybe we should wait an talk about this trade-off for a while.

Once there is a frost, the herbicide is not effective.  So if they are going to use it, they have to decide now.  Maybe.

Or could they go organic?

It would all be easier if invasives weren't brought in to begin with.  And maybe that is the lesson for future efforts.

06 October 2011

More bikes

In addition to those DC bikes (posted this morning), I am reposting these photos of a Nice Ride bike station in downtown Minneapolis.  Admittedly DC has rough winters (remember Snowmegeddon?), but biking in a place where the football team has to play indoors seems like an occasional leisure activity than a serious form of transportation.  But the Twin Cities turn out to have plenty of 4 season bicycle commuters.  Think you could do it?

Guest Lecture in Fundamentals of Environemtnal Geomatics

One of the things we talked about was the UCGIS GIS&T Body of knowledge.  Most importantly, here is the list of 330 topic worth knowing about the field.

I also spoke briefly about the importance of open data sharing.  You can find a more complete explanation of my findings from that study at the URISA Journal (free).

We talked about the early days of GIS. Here is one of the people we talked about:

Links to different organizations and agencies mentioned in the lecture include:

Bikes in the nation's capitol

Like many other cities, Washington DC now has a pretty comprehensive bike rental system.  If you pop up the 2nd photo you can clearly see the map of bike stations across the city.

Check out this massive glass shed of bikes at Union Station. They look like they have enough bikes for every tourist in the District.
And the result, that I found exciting, was an increased number of bikes at the monuments and attractions.

05 October 2011

Streetscapes in design competitions

In class we've been talking about how design competitions bring out some of the wilder solutions.  But the winning entries in "Designing the 21st Century Street" seemed to emphasize how realistic solutions that already exist (in some form) can be applied in a careful and coordinated manner to transform an existing street in New York City into something that is safer and more livable.  A common theme was making the city streets work for as many users as possible, often resorting to different kinds of traffic calming devices to make the streets safer.

For example, while Rogers Marvel Architects used some of the same elements as other entrants (bike lane in the middle, better pedestrian connections, reaching out beyond the street, etc.) their Streets for Everyone! design employed paving patterns in ways that emphasized their design concept.  "Shared Space" lives up to its name by altering the boundaries between sidewalks, bike lanes and car lanes to make the entire street space feel shared by all users.
If you want something wilder, you might have to look to Di Magazine's competition for a Beijing streetscape.  You can only get a tiny peek at the results of the Sunset Junction Competition.  And I don't see the entries, but you can check out the results of the Syracuse Connective Corridor process that began with a competition.

Who needs winners?  If we can look past streetscapes, the Rising Waters competition posted ALL of their entrants online.  So you can see the realistic, the visionary, the colorful and the wacky.

If all else fails, you should at least look over the ASLA Student Design Awards.

Avoiding Powerpoint comas

LifeHacker posted a guide to making presentations that suck less.  Edward Tufte's Congnitive Style of Powerpoint might be the best overall guide. If you want ongoing commentary, Presentation Zen offers some greate examples of ways to improve your visual aids.  And, watching Ted Talks is never a bad way to get some ideas.

A peanut park

New York City has a new park inspired by peanuts.  (Not Peanuts)

04 October 2011

Jens Eschrich on Frankfurt Oder

LA Fall Lecture Series presents Jens Eschrich

Wednesday, 10/5 at 4:00 pm
Cook/Douglas Lecture Hall
3 College Farm Road
New Brunswick, NJ

Frankfurt Oder—Reconstruction of a City
The city of Frankfurt (Oder) was founded in the 13th century. During World War II, the historical centre was destroyed with the conquest by the Soviet Army. In the socialist society of the 1949 founded “German Democratic Republic”, the city was supposed to be developed as an industrial centre and a “Socialist City”. The city centre itself was totally restructured, only the main churches, the city hall and very few historical buildings of normal lodgement survived. Towards the end of the GDR in 1989, the city was one of the centres GDR of chip-technology with a population of about 88,000.

After 1989 and the reunifications of the two German states, the city had to find a new role in a changed society. Losing about 1.000 to 1.500 inhabitants every year, today the population down to 60,000 people, but it is projected that the shrinking process will continue.

The presentation provides an impression of the historical city as well as the socialist city. Three examples of reconstruction are presented: A church, the marketplace and a park. They illustrate a changed paradigm aspects of city development and reconstruction in the new political system and the transformed society after 1990.

Jens Eschrich, holds a degree  Art History, History and Sociology from the Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg. Since 1990, his work as an art historian focused different aspects of conservation of monuments in Berlin and Brandenburg. In 2000 he joined the Historic Preservation Office of the City of Frankfurt (Oder).

Career field of the future

Jack Dangermond writes about the job market, pointing out that spatial isn't just special but it is also going to be in high demand:
I think that the real growth opportunity is in the area of spatial thinking. As people in all types of positions become more familiar with the value of geography, they begin to ask more intelligent questions about the world, and they begin to make more informed decisions. The coming opportunities for spatial thinkers will be even greater than those we are seeing for geospatial technology professionals.

So do you want a job or not?

03 October 2011

Designing infographics: sports edition

Information communication guru Edward Tufte has posted a interesting discussion by Ric Werme about creating communicative sports graphics. But it could could just as easily apply to changing demographics or stormwater runoff, etc.