The 2013 HALS Challenge

Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC, designed by Beatrix Farrandimage: www.doaks.org
Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC, designed by Beatrix Farrand
image: http://www.doaks.org

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) was created in 2000 to document our country’s dynamic landscapes.  Each year the HALS office at the National Park Service issues a challenge, encouraging landscape architects and preservation professionals to document historic landscapes related to a new theme.

The theme of the 2013 challenge is “Documenting the Cultural Landscapes of Women.

Individuals and groups from every state are encouraged to complete at least one HALS short format history for a cultural landscape related to this theme, whether vernacular or designed, in order to increase awareness of the role of women in shaping the American landscape. The top three submissions will receive awards and be announced at the 2013 ASLA Annual Meeting and Expo in Boston during the HALS Meeting.

If you have not already begun a submission, there is still time to start. Short format histories should be submitted to HALS at the National Park Service no later than July 31, 2013 (c/o Paul Dolinsky, Chief of HALS, 202-354-2116).   All HALS documentation is permanently housed and publicly accessible at the Library of Congress.

Click here for more information: HALS Challenge

by  Jonathan Ceci, Chair of the Historic Preservation PPN

12th annual National Award for Smart Growth Achievement

National Award for Smart Growth Achievementimage: EPA
National Award for Smart Growth Achievement
image: EPA

EPA is pleased to announce that the application period for the 12th annual National Award for Smart Growth Achievement is now open. This competition is open to public- and private-sector entities that have successfully used smart growth principles to improve communities environmentally, socially, and economically. Winners will be recognized at a ceremony in Washington, DC, in December 2013.

There are four categories:

  • Built Projects
  • Corridor and Neighborhood Revitalization
  • Plazas, Parks, and Public Places
  • Policies, Programs, and Plans

In addition, the review panel will choose an Overall Excellence winner from those that apply in these four categories.

Application deadline: April 12, 2013. For more information and the official award guidelines and entry form, visit the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement website.

Bike Maps

image: City of Austin
image: City of Austin

Luckily I have had the pleasure of living in a few cities that find bicycle commuting important and recognize the best way to get people out of their cars and onto a bicycle is to make that step a bit less frightening.  Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC are just a few cities that have taken steps to add bike lanes to their streets and provide maps of these bicycle-friendly streets to residents and visitors.

Usually these map legends point out bike trails, on-street bike lanes, and streets that are recommended for bicycling without marked lanes.  Though helpful for the seasoned bicycle commuter, a first timer may not be ready to venture out just yet.

The city of Austin is taking this to the next step and has developed a mapping system that “prioritizes rider comfort in its symbology.”  The color-coded bike network is “keyed to the real-world experience a person can expect when cycling on any given street.”

Read more about the city of Austin’s bike map on The Atlantic Cities: “Bike Maps That Give Riders the Info They Actually Need” by Sarah Goodyear.

by Deborah Steinberg, ASLA Professional Practice Coordinator

A Case for Cool pavement Systems

Lake Merritt, Oakland, CAimage: Soil Stabilization Products Company, Inc.
Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA
image: Soil Stabilization Products Company, Inc.

Cool pavement systems as a hot mix asphalt alternative is encouraged by state legislation in California.

The Water Conservation PPN is highlighting two ways cool pavement technology save water.  First, reducing paving temperature reduces water evaporation from soil adjacent to paving. Also, plants in close proximity to pavement lose water quickly, when compared to plants adjacent to cool pavements. In addition to positive air quality impacts (carbon, VOC’s, temperature, etc.), water conservation is a good reason to look at new resin based paving technology. This will be explored here through a case study of a project in Northern California: Lake Merritt located in the middle of Oakland, CA.

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New York City’s High Line: Planting Design

Fall blooms on the High Line, NYCimage: Deborah Steinberg
Late summer blooms on the High Line, NYC
image: Deborah Steinberg

The High Line, in New York City, is a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. The first section of the High Line opened on June 9, 2009. One of the unique features of the High Line is the inspiration for the park’s planting design.

“The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew on the out-of-use elevated rail tracks during the 25 years after trains stopped running. The species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees were chosen for their hardiness, sustainability, and textural and color variation, with a focus on native species. Many of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are incorporated into the park’s landscape.”

Taken from the official web site of the High Line and Friends of the High Line. Visit their site for more information and a complete plant list, seasonal bloom list, and plant guide.

by Deirdre E. Toner, D.T.DESIGN, LLC., Co-chair of the Planting Design PPN

Be Part of the Story: Call for Public Service

2013 Year of Public Serviceimage: ASLA
2013 Year of Public Service
image: ASLA

It’s time to bring your good work to light. The 2013 Year of Public Service (YPS2013) has been established by the ASLA Public Awareness Campaign to highlight the wide-reaching public-service activities readily performed by landscape architects and to advocate for a higher commitment by all to community service projects.

ASLA invites current members to submit documentation of 2013 projects for review by the Public Awareness Campaign to highlight in the campaign’s resources and outreach. Descriptions, quotes and multimedia content may be used – with proper credit – on the YPS2013 website, blog and The Understory Facebook page.

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Design and Politics

Capitol Building, Washington, DCimage: Shavawn Coleman
Capitol Building, Washington, DC
image: Shavawn Coleman

It’s inevitable that politics and the design profession collide. After listening to Eric Roberts, the Vice President of SH Architecture in Las Vegas, NV, it is imperative that the design profession get involved in the political aspect of our profession. Politics and design don’t seem to coincide. If we go back and look, only one United States President listed ‘architecture’ as his profession, Thomas Jefferson. It is about time we end the 200 year hiatus.

The question is how do we get involved?

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