It’s only a few weeks away: the ASLA Annual Meeting! Below, you’ll find a preview of the Urban Design PPN Meeting, plus highlights from the rest of the Annual Meeting, including selected sessions on urban design from among the 120+ education and field sessions that will be taking place November 21-24 in Denver.
What to Expect at This Year’s Urban Design PPN Meeting
Saturday, November 22
12:45-2:15pm in PPN Room 3 on the EXPO floor
Charting a Path for 2015
Landscape architecture’s role in urban design has become increasingly vital and more defined within the built environment. As a result, planners and developers are looking to landscape professionals to guide and cultivate strategies that not only support environmental sustainability, but also encourage interaction and reinforce authenticity. So what tools do Urban Design PPN members need as leaders and stewards in order to effectively frame the discussion and direct efforts in shaping our cities and towns? How can social media and other digital platforms be more effectively utilized? Are there initiatives that should be explored and presented? This and more will be outlined in the first part of the meeting.
Six Rapid Presentations on Urban Design Framed by Landscape
PechaKucha-style presentations (20 slides, 20 seconds each) will be given by 7 dynamic presenters demonstrating different aspects of urban design which are framed by landscape principles. Listed below are the scheduled presentations.
The Art and Science of Urban Landscapes—One Performance Study at a Time
As urban areas continue to densify—cities now house more than 50% of the population in the United States—open green space has become a much desired but scarce commodity. The meaning attached to urban landscapes is now much more than its mere aesthetic value. It is the combination of economic, environmental, social and aesthetic implications of landscape projects that creates synergy around landscape architecture as part of urban form and function.
The global ‘environmental awakening,’ especially in the early 2000s, and growing awareness of sustainable and green design practices across design and planning fields made us more cognizant of issues such as rapid urbanization, uneven natural and human resource allocation, extraneous consumption behaviors, climate change and rapid ecological and environmental degradation. Such developments reminded both academia and practitioners that there are two sides (“the art” and “the science”) to understanding, designing, constructing and managing landscapes, and landscape architecture professionals have the opportunity to be in the forefront of this discussion with well-established, knowledge-based practices, especially in complex urban settings.
Investigating landscape performance and learning from past lessons has become a necessary dimension of landscape architecture, not only to reduce the gap between academia and practitioners, but also to promote the impact of the field as part of urban design. It is critical to subscribe to the phrase “the art and science” more than ever to elevate our roles and to better understand and shape the built environment.
Great places we all seem to love and cherish are not typically a product of a single architectural style, ownership, project, or time. They are a mixture of design components and human conditions aged over time with culture, identity, and spirit. Although the professional act of placemaking belongs to all landscape architecture, architecture, and urban planning fields (as well as other allied fields), urban design as an academic field and area of professional activity covers the heart of the design activities that involve multiple buildings, open spaces, and ownerships (i.e. public and private). Transit Oriented Developments (TOD) are designed in relation to multi-modal and public transportation. Creating TODs—one of urban designers’ means of placemaking—has gained momentum in recent decades, especially in Sunbelt cities.
TODs are seen as opportunities for cities to create centers, nodes, or hubs of activity with a strong sense of place for the built environment. However, until now, TOD practice has emphasized limited, fragmented development patterns and partial stakeholder views, neglecting the greater urban form for the contemporary city. The purpose of this position piece is to revisit the term and the established scope of development practices around transit in order to better situate such placemaking activities within the broader framework of urban design practices. This article introduces the term Transit Oriented District (TODistrict), defined as the whole area within a half mile walking distance of a transit station, and reviews critical components of such district-level efforts. In light of research conducted on North Texas, the article discusses the relevance of the issue and offers lessons for developments and districts in Sunbelt cities and beyond to better inform the planning, design, and implementation processes and practices for future TODistricts.
“Providing temporary public open space . . . one parking spot at at time.”
PARK(ing) Day, an annual event where parking spots are repurposed as pop-up parks and public spaces, is set for Friday, September 20, 2013. After starting out in 2005 with a single site in San Francisco, PARK(ing) Day has grown into a worldwide celebration of the potential for urban green space to take root, however briefly, on any available patch of pavement.
If, like me, you are already biking to work, growing kale in your yard, and composting your carrot peels, then you may be asking, “What more can I do to address our country’s social, economic, and environmental challenges?” One answer may be cooperative housing (or cohousing) – a people oriented solution to many of the social, economic, and environmental impacts of typical automobile oriented, single-family suburban sprawl (a.k.a. the “American Dream). Although much of current US policy and practice continue to favor suburban development, “the times, they are a changing”.
One of our very own PPN members, Paul Simon, is happy to announce the publication of a new book he co-authored: Urban Gardening for Dummies.
The authors provide a complete A-Z guide for the urban gardener. Topics include preparing urban soil conditions, how to plant, where you can plant, and the many types of plantings suitable for urban gardens. And, of course urban edibles are especially covered. You will also learn some techniques from reducing air and water pollution, how gardens may reduce crime, increase property values, and contribute to healthier, improved neighborhoods.
Landscape architects tend to be excellent generalists, but how well are we trained in the specialized art and science of “urban design”? A decade ago, a change in employment inspired me to strengthen my urban design knowledge, and in the process, discover a wonderful resource from the United Kingdom (UK).
On my twenty minute walk to work through the streets of downtown Seattle in the morning, I came across an adorable and very well-trained Spaniel with her owner. She kept exactly to her owner’s side; no pulling on the leash, no jumping on strangers, no barking at pedestrians. She sat at the intersection patiently waiting for the traffic signal to change and continue her journey through the concrete wilderness. Being impressed that this owner obviously took the time to train his dog well, I witnessed the inevitable doggie squat and deposit — and then the pair just kept on walking. No doggie bag, no pooper-scooper, no acknowledgement that they littered the sidewalk. Unfortunately, this is a common scene in less crowded streets that lack the social pressure of the many eyes of passers-by. “So what’s the big deal?” you might be thinking, and “How does this relate to urban landscapes and design?” Great questions. Let’s build the case starting with that first question.
In recent years, authors and educators have identified a growing gap between urban culture and the natural processes that sustain it. The internet and other technologies provide instantaneous access to once-elusive environmental processes, eliminating the need for natural exploration.
Planners, business associations, governments, visitors, and residents are becoming more aware of the importance of attractive and informative wayfinding signage to help them steer through the complexities and appreciate the changing environment of a city setting. Incorporating a signage and wayfinding system as part of the planning process is critical to the effectiveness of an overall revitalization strategy.
A “street” fight has begun between proponents of New Urbanism and Landscape Urbanism. New Urbanism is a movement known for promoting walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods and sustainable communities as an alternative to suburban sprawl. Landscape urbanism focuses on landscape as the organizing element for urban space. As someone who is both a new urbanist and a landscape architect, I feel the need to come to the aid of New Urbanism.
Sometimes your education, training, and experience cannot prepare you for a project, no matter how much expertise you believe you may have. Such was my circumstance when I first encountered the barrio of La Moran in Caracas, Venezuela. Instead of being the professional, I became the student who learned that a place with makeshift dwellings and an apparent chaotic fabric can actually be a functional and congruent neighborhood. Continue reading →
You can’t have a lifestyle trend such as urban farming or edible frontyards without some controversy. Did you know that there really are many cities and towns with old bylaws or zoning codes that prohibit a person from actually eating any food they grow in their own yard! While some cities such as San Francisco, New York, Baltimore, Seattle and Detroit have begun to change laws and policy in support of urban agriculture, and as this trend continues to thrive because of food safety and security issues, the growing foodie locavore movement and urban hipster cred, many citizens in other cities and towns have been threatend with jail time or fines for planting a garden or organic farm on their own property.
In less than 30 years, Taipei, Taiwan has undergone significant transformation in its cultural identity, its urban design, and its regional transportation systems. Taipei, the largest city of Taiwan, lies on the Danshui River 25 kilometers across the Taiwan Strait from China. Taipei City has approximately 2.6 million residents, and the metropolitan region has just shy of 7 million people. While Taipei is not the largest city in the world by any stretch of the imagination, the city is one of the most densely packed, due to the natural hilly topography and limited areas upon which to build city structures.
In the recent post, A Growing Concern,in The Earth Island Journal, Sena Christian raises legitimate questions about the national urban agriculture movement. She states that farms and community gardens in city centers seem to have struck a chord with the American public and have become media darlings attracting big grants from major philanthropies and the support of upscale chefs.
Architecture for Humanityis a nonprofit organization with the mission of building a more sustainable future through the power of professional design. Often using competitions as a platform for innovative ideas and projects AFH launched its first landscape based competition earlier this year ‘ Safe Trestle’.