Structural Soil — Part 1

image: Nina Bassuk
image: Nina Bassuk

A New Medium to Allow Urban Trees to Grow in Pavement 

The fact that trees have difficulties surviving amid the conditions of urban and suburban environments is not a surprise. Urban areas for the most part are not designed with trees in mind. Trees are often treated as if they were afterthoughts to an environment built for cars, pedestrians, buildings, roadways, sidewalks and utilities. Studies point out that trees surrounded by pavement in the most urban downtown centers live for an average of 7 years (Moll, 1989; Craul, 1992), while those in tree lawns, those narrow strips of green running between the curb and sidewalk, live for up to 32 years. These same species might be expected to live anywhere from 60 to 200 years in a more hospitable setting.

Why is this so?

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Community Gathering Spaces

Insert Caption image: Ilisa Goldman
The Manzanita Gathering Place in City Heights, San Diego
image: Dennis Wood

Looking Beyond the Playground to Transform the Quality of Childhood in Neighborhoods

As a Landscape Architect specializing in creating healthy outdoor play and learning environments, much of my work is focused on parks, playgrounds, and schools. This past year, as a fellow of the San Diego Gathering Space Program, I was introduced to the importance of and potential in creating community gathering spaces to increase the quality of life for both children and families, and neighborhoods as a whole. Neither parks nor playgrounds, these spaces typically involve transforming an undesirable piece of land into a place designed and built by the community itself.

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Why Prairie Matters

The Missouri Prairie Foundation’s Schwartz Prairie in St. Clair County, an original prairie protecting more than 360 native plant species, including Geocarpon minimum, known from only 50 places on Earth. image: Kevin Sink
The Missouri Prairie Foundation’s Schwartz Prairie in St. Clair County, an original prairie protecting more than 360 native plant species.
image: Kevin Sink

The Missouri Prairie Foundation recently released an educational video highlighting the significant role of prairies and the need to conserve and restore these vital landscapes:

Through increased prairie conservation, restoration, and outreach we can protect and create more wildlife and pollinator habitat, clean more water, sequester more carbon, and bring more beauty home in the landscaping of our communities.

Tallgrass prairie and other temperate grasslands of the world are the most threatened, least conserved major terrestrial habitat types on earth. Learn about the many benefits of native prairie and native plants in this beautiful video from the Missouri Prairie Foundation, with funding provided by Roeslein Alternative Energy, LLC.

Carrie Coyne, ASLA, SWT Design Senior Associate and Grow Native! Chair, is featured in the video, along with other experts in the field. “Why Prairie Matters” can be viewed on YouTube and on the Missouri Prairie Foundation’s website.

Still from the Why Prairie Matters video
Carrie Coyne, ASLA, in “Why Prairie Matters”

by Hunter Beckham, ASLA, Immediate Past PPN Council Chair and Sustainable Design and Development PPN Officer

Healing Gardens: Therapeutic by Design

Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton has a 3,000-square-foot rooftop garden that serves its oncology department.  image: Hafs Epstein Landscape Architecture
Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton has a 3,000 square-foot rooftop garden that serves its oncology department.
image: Hafs Epstein Landscape Architecture

Do you think all gardens are therapeutic? Can a “healing garden” be harmful?

Gardens with particular characteristics have been shown to have positive effects in health outcomes, primarily through the facilitation of stress reduction, but the answer is that many gardens are not therapeutic, and some gardens may actually increase stress levels in humans.

Stress can lead to several adverse health outcomes and should be ameliorated by design, so why do some (even award-winning) healing gardens fail? The article “Not all healing gardens deliver as advertised,” published on DJC.com, provides three general principles that are essential for gardens to provide positive results, and list several factors that limit the benefits gardens can provide.

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The 2014 HALS Challenge

Galena Forest CCC Camp, Mount Baker National Forest, Washington, 1936 image: National Archives
Galena Forest CCC Camp, Mount Baker National Forest, Washington, 1936
image: National Archives

Documenting the Landscapes of the New Deal

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) was created in 2000 to document our country’s dynamic landscapes. Much progress has been made in identifying cultural landscapes but more is needed to document these designed and vernacular places.

For the 2014 HALS Challenge, we invite you to document landscapes of the New Deal. People from every state are hereby challenged to complete at least one HALS short format history to document the landscapes created during the Great Depression. These great public works were typically funded by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and built by programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Workers planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed more than 800 new parks nationwide, upgraded most state parks, restored countless historic sites, and built a network of service buildings and public roadways across the nation. Many of these landscapes remain in all 50 states, but their history may go unnoticed.

The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), a companion program to HALS and  the sole surviving New Deal program, was created  80 years ago in 1933, the same year as the CCC!

Short format histories should be submitted to HALS at the National Park Service no later than July 31, 2014. HALS Short Format History guidelines, brochure and digital template may be downloaded from the HALS website.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top 3 entries, which will be announced at the 2014 ASLA Annual Meeting and Expo in Denver during the HALS Meeting. Employees of the National Park Service, American Society of Landscape Architects, and Library of Congress may submit HALS Short Format Historical Reports, but are ineligible for prizes.

All HALS documentation is permanently archived and publicly accessible at the Library of Congress.

For more information, please contact Chris Stevens at 202-354-2146 or Chris_Stevens@nps.gov.

by Chris Stevens, ASLA, Landscape Architect and Past Chair of the Historic Preservation PPN

UBC Campus Landscape Architect

The Main Mall at the University of British Columbia image: Dean Gregory
The Main Mall at the University of British Columbia
image: Dean Gregory

This article is republished from the February 2013 Sitelines newsletter, published by the British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects. The original version of this article can be found in the Sitelines archive.

Perhaps it is just the passing of 20 years but I don’t have much recollection of the campus where I got my degree in landscape architecture. I have happy memories of plant identification tours around the University of Guelph campus with Professor Lumis – but not any strong memories of what it looked like or felt like. This contrasts with my fond memories of the University of Toronto campus where I received my undergraduate degree – its ivy-covered buildings, the broad lawn of King’s College Circle and the quad at University College to name just a few. My recollection of the important role that the campus landscape played in creating positive and memorable experiences now helps inform my role as Campus Landscape Architect for the University of British Columbia.

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