Designing for Food Production

An overview of Lafayette Greens in downtown Detroit image: Beth Hagenbuch

An overview of Lafayette Greens in downtown Detroit
image: Beth Hagenbuch

Farmers and landscape architects approach the landscape in fundamentally different ways, though they often share similar goals for the health of the environment and the communities where they work. Since discovering my green thumb as a college student, I’ve worked in both arenas, first as an intern on organic farms in California, later as a landscape designer and contractor specializing in edible gardens and, most recently, as an environmental planner focused on zoning regulations and other big picture concerns for urban agriculture. In the middle I had a seven-acre farm of my own, raising goats, chickens and pigs in a suburban neighborhood in Athens, Georgia.

Through these experiences I’ve found that while organic farmers and environmentally-minded designers both operate from a triple bottom line perspective, they operate under very different assumptions, yielding radically different outcomes in the landscape. The tremendous interest of today’s urban populations in food production has brought the perspectives of farmers and designers to common ground—literally—and if the urban agriculture movement is to be seen as successful twenty years from now, it is important that a greater degree of mutual understanding be reached.

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Top 5 Designed Spaces

Fallingwater in spring image: Via Tsuji via Flickr

Fallingwater in spring
image: Via Tsuji via Flickr

When PPN members were asked about their favorite designed spaces, the top 5 answers spanned very different time periods, styles, and settings, from a linear urban park set atop an elevated railway to an iconic house placed in nature like few other structures. Check out the top 5 below, and read what our members had to say about what makes these favorite locations so spectacular.

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Logistics of International Work–Part 2

Street scene, Ipoh, Malaysia image: Erik Mustonen

Street scene, Ipoh, Malaysia
image: Erik Mustonen

My two previous posts, Getting Started in International Work and Logistics of International Work—Part 1, dealt with preparing to work internationally. This post deals with the logistics of when you are in a foreign country and after you return. The previously stated caveat—that conditions vary greatly between countries, within countries, and over time– still applies, but this should at least give you a few things to think about.

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Building Bridges to Healthier Trees

Bob Skiera, Past ISA President and longtime Milwaukee City Forester, pioneer in building bridges, through urban forestry, people, professions, and policymakers.  image: ISA

Bob Skiera, Past ISA President and longtime Milwaukee City Forester, pioneer in building bridges, through urban forestry, people, professions, and policymakers.
image: ISA

How do we work to build bridges with other professions that make daily decisions about trees, but from different perspectives? As an association for tree care professionals, the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) has a mission to promote the professional practice of arboriculture and cultivate a greater awareness of the benefits of trees worldwide. Research, technology, and education are the tools the arboriculture industry uses to advance the study and practice of tree care.

As a greater understanding of how essential trees are to our planet’s ecosystem develops internationally, arborists continue to expand their knowledge base for long-term maintenance of tree health from initial site and species selection to sustained care through maturity. The late Bob Skiera, former Milwaukee city forester and past ISA Board President stated, “The humble community tree that in the past was looked upon as an aesthetic nicety has now gained status as an ecological necessity.”

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Call for Abstracts: Child-friendly Cities

Teardrop Park, New York. 2009 General Design Honor Award Winner. The 14-foot long custom-made stainless steel slide, rested on the side of a bowled land form, and the Wooden Step Seats (foreground) create a social microcosm shared by sliders, climbers, onlookers, diggers, and New York Times readers.  image: Nilda Cosco, Natural Learning Initiative, College of Design, NC State University, Raleigh, NC

Teardrop Park, New York. 2009 General Design Honor Award Winner. The 14-foot long custom-made stainless steel slide, rested on the side of a bowled land form, and the Wooden Step Seats (foreground) create a social microcosm shared by sliders, climbers, onlookers, diggers, and New York Times readers.
image: Nilda Cosco, Natural Learning Initiative, College of Design, NC State University, Raleigh, NC

The 4th International Conference on the Geographies of Children, Youth and Families will take place January 12-15, 2015 in San Diego, CA.The conference’s theme is Young People, Borders & Wellbeing, and the call for sessions, papers, and posters will be open until October 15, 2014. Highlighted below is one proposed session of interest on Child-friendly Cities: Critical Approaches. See below for instructions on how to submit an abstract if you would like to be considered for inclusion in this session and in a special issue of the journal Children, Youth and Environments.

Many of the papers within children’s geographies end with some kind of recommendation for the building of child-friendly cities. But what do we mean by child-friendly cities? This workshop will explore different ways of conceptualizing children, cities, child-friendliness and their interrelationships.

Policies aimed at child-friendly cities presuppose that cities are not child-friendly: cities have to change in order to become child-friendly. This supposition reveals an anti-urban way of thinking. It juxtaposes the urban jungle vs. the rural idyll. These contrasting connotations are very much based on the relatively poor provision of outdoor play facilities in urban environments and their assumed abundance in rural environments. But today, enrichment activities have become more prominent in many children’s everyday life. Will this emphasis on enrichment activities change the rural into the urban idyll?

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SCUP Landscape & Planning Award Winners

The University of British Columbia's pedestrian campus, SCUP Honor Award winner for Landscape Architecture--General Design image: Dean Gregory

The University of British Columbia’s pedestrian campus, SCUP Honor Award winner for Landscape Architecture–General Design
image: Dean Gregory

Congratulations to those landscape architects, teams and campuses that are winners in the 2014 Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) Campus Awards Program in the Landscape Design and Planning categories. The goal of the program, started in 2001, is to recognize excellence in higher education and its resultant physical environment. In 2013, there was a slight uptick in the number of submissions under the planning (20) and landscape (19) categories. This year, there were 22 submissions under the planning category and only 14 submissions in the landscape category.

The 2015 Call for SCUP Excellence Award Entries will open October 1, 2014. I encourage all of you to start thinking about which landscape and planning projects you’re going to submit for the 2015 program.

In the meantime, following is a list of the 2014 SCUP award winners in the four categories of Landscape and Planning.

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Top 5 Iconic Spaces

Broad view with detail of canyon, horizon, and mountains above, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, from the series: Ansel Adams Photographs of National Parks and Monuments, compiled 1941-1942, documenting the period ca. 1933-1942 image: The U.S. National Archives via Flickr Commons

Broad view with detail of canyon, horizon, and mountains above, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, from the series: Ansel Adams Photographs of National Parks and Monuments, compiled 1941-1942, documenting the period ca. 1933-1942
image: The U.S. National Archives via Flickr Commons

At the start of 2013, a questionnaire was sent out to members of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs). The theme: favorite spaces. As you can imagine, responses were varied, and included many insightful comments and suggestions. Synopses of the survey results were originally shared in LAND over the course of 2013, and we are now re-posting this information here on The Field. For the latest updates on the results of the 2014 PPN Survey—focusing on members’ career paths in landscape architecture—see LAND‘s PPN News section.

One may not immediately associate landscapes, which are necessarily ever-changing places, with the kind of permanence iconicity implies, but there are nonetheless a few that have achieved the status of icons. These places are instantly recognizable, with deep historic and cultural connections, and they have left an indelible mark on both the history of landscape architecture and on countless individuals, who are impressed, awe-stricken, moved, surprised, and captivated by these places when visited in-person.

Of all the iconic spaces selected by our members, here are the top 5:

  1. Central Park, New York City
  2. Grand Canyon National Park
  3. The National Mall, Washington, D.C.
  4. Paley Park, New York City
  5. Yosemite National Park

But why are these spaces so great? Here are a few of the reasons why, according to our members.

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