Headed for New Heights: Employing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Resiliency Evaluation

by Emily Schlickman, ASLA

Aerial photos of Buffalo Bayou Park in Houston
Buffalo Bayou Park in Houston during and after Hurricane Harvey in 2017 / images: Jonnu Singleton

Over the past four decades, the United States has experienced 241 distinct climate and weather-related disasters, each incurring over $1 billion dollars in damage. From catastrophic wildfires and landslides in the West, to hail storms and tornados in the Midwest, to unexpected freezes and destructive hurricanes in the Southeast, these events are becoming more common and more expensive. While the overall average since 1980 has been 6.2 billion-dollar events per year, the average for the last five years has doubled, to 12.6.

In response to this trend, landscape architects, urban designers, and urban planners are not only embedding resiliency-focused strategies into their work, they are also assessing the performance of their built work in the face of these events. To do this, they are expanding the traditional designer toolbox to include emerging devices that might help with this assessment. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) represent one type of tool currently being tested for resiliency analysis.

Commonly known as drones, UAVs have a complicated history rooted in the military. For over 150 years, they have been used both on the defensive, for reconnaissance, and on the offensive, with predatory exercises. In the last 10 years, though, with the rise of the consumer drone, applications for UAVs have significantly increased. For the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry, many professionals have been experimenting with UAVs to document built work, focusing primarily on marketing and promotional functions.

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Paul Dolinsky – Four Decades of Preservation Through Documentation

by Christopher Stevens, ASLA

Dumbarton Oaks Park recording project
The Historic American Buildings Survey conducted the Dumbarton Oaks Park recording project (HABS DC-571) as part of an ongoing effort to create standards for documenting historic landscapes in 1989 (NPS HDP, 1989). Paul Dolinsky, HABS principal architect, served as project leader. Thomas Ford on bridge; Paul Dolinsky, Jakub Zemler, and Andrew Wenchel (behind). / image: NPS HDP

On Friday, April 12, 2019, Paul D. Dolinsky, ASLA, retired from an almost 40-year career with the National Park Service (NPS) Heritage Documentation Programs (HDP), where he served as Chief of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) from 1994 to 2005; Chief of the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) from 2005 to 2019; and Acting Chief of HDP from 2018 to 2019.

HDP administers HABS, the Federal Government’s oldest preservation program, and its companion programs: the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) and the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS). Documentation produced through HABS/HAER/HALS constitutes the nation’s largest archive of historic architectural, engineering, and landscape documentation. Records on more than 40,000 historic sites (consisting of large-format black and white photographs, measured drawings, and written historical reports) are maintained in a special collection at the Library of Congress, available to the public copyright free in both hard copy (at the Library of Congress) and via the Library’s website. It is the most heavily used collection at the Library of Congress’ Division of Prints and Photographs.

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Leading Landscape Design Practices for Cost-Effective Roadside Water Management – A Review

by Christine Colley, ASLA, RLA, and Lucy Joyce, ASLA

cover images from the Leading Landscape Design Practices For Cost-Effective Roadside Water Management / images: Nevada Department of Transportation, New York City Department of Environmental Protection report
Leading Landscape Design Practices For Cost-Effective Roadside Water Management / images: Nevada Department of Transportation, New York City Department of Environmental Protection

Does your state Department of Transportation (DOT) have standards for green infrastructure (GI)? A recent study from the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) investigated how transportation agencies are applying the principles and practices of GI. The study—Leading Landscape Design Practices for Cost-Effective Roadside Water Managementwas requested by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and prepared by a team of experts that included Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and DOT staff from across the country (California, Minnesota, Washington, Maine, Louisiana, and Nevada). The team scanned existing state DOT GI regulations, targeted regional, city, and DOTs with robust GI programs, and conducted a deep dive into GI standards and specifications. The intent was to suss out successful and unsuccessful practices with an eye toward developing guidelines for state and other public agencies to use when creating GI programs.

The study defined green infrastructure as roadside stormwater management, low impact development (LID), and hydromodification or watershed actions that conserve water, buffer climate change impacts, improve water quality, water supply, and public health, and restores and protects rivers, creeks, and streams as a component of transportation development projects and operations. Despite substantial documentation on GI design, buy-in from all levels of government (federal, state, and local), ample research, and a plethora of knowledgeable consultants, the team found that state DOTs do not consistently employ GI techniques and often only use them when required by regulatory agencies. The study was developed to help inform public agencies on the components of successful GI programs.

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Celebrate Pollinator Week this June 17-23

Dolores Street Pollinator Boulevard in San Francisco
ASLA 2018 Student Honor Award in Student Community Service. Dolores Street Pollinator Boulevard in San Francisco, CA. Julia Prince, Student ASLA, Benjamin Heim, Associate ASLA, University of California Berkeley. / image: Julia Prince

The third week in June is National Pollinator Week, established in 2006 by the U.S. Senate and the Pollinator Partnership to spotlight the manifold benefits pollinators provide and the urgent need to preserve and create more pollinator-friendly landscapes. Landscape architects play an integral role in designing spaces that foster healthy pollinator habitats, using their ingenuity to create vibrant, well-designed landscapes that support the pollinator population.

To celebrate Pollinator Week, ASLA’s Government Affairs team is co-hosting a congressional reception with the Pollinator Partnership at the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture later this month. There will also be an ASLA Online Learning presentation on June 18, hosted by the Ecology and Restoration Professional Practice Network (PPN) and presented by Anthony Fettes, ASLA, PLA, SITES AP, Senior Associate at Sasaki Associates, Inc.:

Promoting Pollinators Through Landscape Architecture: Strategies to Improve Habitat Value & Landscape Performance

Tuesday, June 18, 2:00-3:00 p.m. (Eastern)
1.0 PDH (LA CES/HSW)

Pollinators are an imperative part of biodiversity and also vital to our well-being, contributing to one-third of global food production, and yet their populations and habitats are sharply declining. This presentation explores how pollinators can be supported at multiple scales by the collective effort between conservation ecologists and landscape architects. Join us to learn about the importance of understanding your ecoregion, ways to identify research opportunities, and how to develop a design strategy that includes foraging resources, safe locations, and materials for shelter and nesting sites (or host plants for butterflies and moths).

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