30 July 2012

Variable definitions of walkability

Steve Mouzon has an article up that describes changing walkability distances for different settings.  His category set comes, primarily, from the different transect zones. While it doesn't quite help me describe why the walkability distances are different in Newark than downtown Seattle (which look roughly the same on the map), it is an easy to understand concept that more planning and design students need to recognize.  And, weirdly, it would sort of suggest that you need more 7-11s closer together in suburban NJ than in downtown New Brunswick if you want people to walk there.

Business writing for designers

As many design projects keep moving towards

While some think that brainstorming is dead, this HBR on brainstorming frames it as a still productive creative exercise in business.

Tammy Erickson writes about collaboration as the hot new skill, but

Related to that is also trying to maintain creativity in a business setting.  This short piece on innovation seems related.

28 July 2012

Summer tweeting

Two fun twitter feeds to watch this summer:
KimKierkegaardashian @KimKierkegaard The philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard mashed with the tweets and observations of Kim Kardashian.
One of my favorites was this:
Each individual fights for himself, with himself, within himself, in order to free himself before God. I'm gonna be sooo sore tomorrow!
Elsewhere is an exploration of technology and silliness with
Zooey Asks Siri @ZooeySiri    Sometimes I get confused, so I ask Siri... 
 She asks questions like:
Siri, why don't we just recycle more rubble?
Siri, do states have Official State Restaurants? 
 Since Siri is wonderfully flawed, I find the answers to be as interesting as the questions.  Here is the answer to that last one.

27 July 2012

This makes home rule look trivial

In New Jersey we often hear complaints of how home rule sets apart individual municipalities. But the City of London (which is surrounded by London) turns out to be a much more dramatic version than anything in NJ. This fun video begins to explain:

25 July 2012

Satellites making news

NASA has released findings on an unprecedented ice sheet melt in Greenland this summer, and it is getting play in the larger media. Of course it is only possible with satellites, in particular with satellites that have collected consistent data over 30 years. As GIScience matures, imagine the impact that longitudinal satellite data will have on other areas as disparate as conservation, agriculture, traffic, land use change, and historic preservation.

24 July 2012

Cool conference name

If you missed this week's Esri UC in San Diego, maybe you should plan a trip elsewhere. Georgia Tech is planning a conference with one of the catchier names for a conference: Spatial Plexus.

Automated advising

I have considered the faculty-led, individual advising in our program here to be one of its greatest strengths. Between complex, dynamic schedules, and difficult life decisions, there is a lot of ground to cover. So it is with disappointment, but not surprise, that I read about the new online advising algorithms. Another sure way to keep students from asking faculty questions, hearing answers they don't want to hear, and prevent them from developing relationships that would be useful in an advising/life emergency.

20 July 2012

Lots of drawing

One guy is trying to draw, one building at a time, all of the buildings in New York.I am looking forward to seeing the Gristede's on 26th (which should also include a long line of UCB fans).

18 July 2012

Yet another online masters in GIS

It is interesting to see the growth of online masters degree in GIS. Georgia's Delta State has announced a one year online MAS. Penn State, USC, and Florida are among the other schools already serving the online market. It truly remains unclear to me how much potential employers are ready to embrace online degrees and MAS degrees.  But I suspect that GIS may get an interesting test in that area if the GIS Certification Institute moves ahead with accreditation of individual programs.

17 July 2012

Parks as a political tool

Has Bloomberg made parks a centerpiece of his three terms as mayor?  Not only does Frank Bruni think it is one of the lasting legacies of Bloomberg's NYC, but he sees urban parks as a new trend. Add to that the idea that parks make you smart and you've really got something.

16 July 2012

Clinton and Geodesign

in some recent comments, President Bill Clinton wasn't talking directly about geodesign, but Esri's Jack Dangermond took them as being directly applicable to the topic:

"He talked about all the policies and discussion about climate change and population, and he said, 'I'm not really sure all these discussions are going to matter.' There was silence in the room. He said, 'What I actually have faith in are real projects. I'm dedicating my life to doing projects.' He said where the rubber hits the road is doing real project work. Isn't that really what geodesign is about?"

If you look at the work that academics in landscape architecture pursue, they often use projects as a foil for investigating or demonstrating the implications of the human dimensions of our uses and costs in the landscape.  The profession's academics had learned this lesson long before the former president.  But where will it lead?
Years from now, Dangermond said, people will look back at geodesign as "an evolutionary step for humans. It's going to be, 'Ah, finally we connected the dots. Finally we began to realize the implications or the consequences of our actions.'"
 With the possibility of integrating instantaneous feedback tools into geodesign software, we may soon become increasingly aware of explicit environmental or social costs  of design elements and schemes in a way that stops sounding like a gimmick and starts to change the underlying design processes.  Interesting stuff indeed.


Is the map dead?

Rebecca Rosen at The Atlantic writes about why maps may not be the best way to display spatial data. She gets some of that from Ed Parsons at Google, so it might be both insightful and biased, but it is well worth the read.

11 July 2012

Heat waves aside, summertime is often a dry time. But drought conditions are supposed to be exceptions to the regular patterns of dry weather. But with 56% of the country currently shown in drought (below, from the US Drought Monitor at Nebraska) and with climate scientists anticipating significant dust bowl effects, it is worth asking whether the ASLA is doing enough on water efficiency. They give awards to projects that demonstrate innovative and sensitive responses and provide general guidelines, but many members continue to design water-intensive landscapes. How much should we lead and how much must we follow?


10 July 2012

Kevin Roche's Pyramids

When I first saw Kevin Roche's Pyramids in Indianapolis, I was still a high school student and was excited simply to see something other than the same old same old. By college I began to write them off as gimmicky without knowing who had designed them or thinking seriously about what they were really like.

While I would like to think that I am generally more thoughtful about such these days, I am particularly influenced on this by having an office next to Kate John-Alder who has both written and lectured on Roche's work and his sophisticated explorations of nature from within modern architecture.  So when I had the chance to check them out this past weekend (but only from the outside), I was really struck by how different they seemed to me now.  These quite solid buildings sit on a rectilinear parcel that juts into a very constructed lake, facing other office buildings.  Nature doesn't seem much part of the picture.  And yet the relationship with the water and sky is impressive.  And the recent re-landscaping creates experiences that connect with nature a tiny bit, if you look past the drought conditions that make these photos seem less inviting.

While others have more complete and well considered photosets, here is my quick drive-by:






While Roche might have been able to control the site, these large iconic buildings are heavily embedded in a suburban sprawl context that has probably changed significantly since the Pyramids were built. With that in mind, I offer this last photo from a distance.

05 July 2012

Missed Connection

A reader recently wrote with a few questions about Germany.  Unfortunately that email got lost before I could respond.  Not that I have answers, but please write back so I can send you to a better source.

A new old map

One of the thrills of visiting the map  collection at the Library of Congress was getting to see Martin Waldseemüller's map which identified America. Now scholars in Munich have found its non-identical twin.


03 July 2012

GIS Job in Central Park

The Central Park Conservancy is looking to fill a senior GIS position. It could be a great opportunity for someone looking to connect a love of great landscape architecture with experience in GIS.

02 July 2012

Olmsted quote

Earth gets the price for what Earth gives us, and the truth is that, regarding the price I have paid, I need all the esteem I have earned from you to sustain my self-esteem.  I have been selling being for doing.

- Frederick Law Olmsted
as quoted by Melvin Kalfus in Frederick Law Olmsted (1990)

150 years of land granty goodness

The Library of Congress describes today's anniversary this way:
Sponsored by Vermont Congressman Justin Morrill (pictured above), the Morrill Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on July 2, 1862. Officially titled "An Act Donating Public Lands to the Several States and Territories which may provide Colleges for the Benefit of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts," the Morrill Act provided each state with 30,000 acres of Federal land for each member in their Congressional delegation. The land was then sold by the states and the proceeds used to fund public colleges that focused on agriculture and the mechanical arts. Sixty-nine colleges were funded by these land grants, including Cornell University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

It also includes Rutgers.