Missing Middle Housing

ASLA 2015 Professional Residential Design Honor Award. Sweetwater Spectrum Residential Community for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sonoma, CA. Roche+Roche Landscape Architecture / image: Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA
ASLA 2015 Professional Residential Design Honor Award. Sweetwater Spectrum Residential Community for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sonoma, CA. Roche+Roche Landscape Architecture / image: Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA

The wide gap between the diversity of American households and the housing stock available is widely acknowledged and well-documented. Given demographic trends—more households of single individuals, fewer households with children, a growing 65+ population—this disconnect will only become more dramatic if different housing types are not made more readily available.

To that end, there is a growing interest in strategies and policies that remove barriers to and incentivizes building what has come to be known as “missing middle” housing. These are house-like, multi-unit buildings planned within walking distance of retail and amenities. This kind of housing, scaled between single-family homes and apartment buildings, can provide attainable, walkable, and neighborhood-based housing options.

On September 6, 2018, the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., hosted a lecture on missing middle housing presented by Daniel Parolek, AIA, of Opticos Design, co-author of Form Based Codes: A Guide for Planners, Urban Designers, Municipalities, and Developers
and a founding board member of the Form-Based Codes Institute (FBCI). This program was part of a series complementing the museum’s exhibition Making Room: Housing for a Changing America, extended through January 6, 2019. A publication documenting the exhibition, created in partnership with AARP, is planned for release this fall.

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The LAF Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership

Alpa Nawre, ASLA, presents to community members in India / image: Tsz Wai Wong

In a time of ceaselessly shifting cycles (of news, weather, economic ups-and-downs, and never-ending debates on seemingly every topic imaginable), taking time out to focus on building transformative leadership and advancing ethically-motivated ideas is a refreshing break from the norm. The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership aims to nurture and inspire landscape architecture professionals to pursue “ideas that have the potential to bring about impactful change to the environment and humanity and increase the visibility and leadership role of landscape architecture.”

On May 17 in Washington, DC, LAF hosted an event for their inaugural class of fellows. The Symposium was the culmination of the year-long fellowship, which supports senior-level, mid-career, and emerging professionals as they develop and test new ideas that will drive innovation and transformation. Each fellow gave a short presentation on their work, the diversity of which demonstrates the breadth of the profession and the transformative potential of landscape architecture’s expansive scope.

Brice Maryman, ASLA, began with a critical look at the misalignment between myths about homelessness and what data shows. Contrary to frequently-repeated observations on the prevalence of substance abuse, mental illness, and other apparently common causes, the one underlying trauma found in nearly all situations is in fact a lack of affordable housing. Citing Richard Rothstein’s 2017 book The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, Maryman went on to the impact of zoning regulations on today’s widening wealth gap and the marked concentration of larger homeless populations in a handful of coastal urban areas.

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Reimagining Waste Spaces & Traces

image: Alexandra Hay

Visiting New York’s City Reliquary is like walking into one of artist Joseph Cornell’s boxes—every surface inside the three-room museum is meticulously adorned with artifacts and salvaged ephemera. Display cases are crammed with items (with drawers below holding even more), the walls are covered to the ceiling, and the dim lighting enhances the sense of being immersed in a contemporary take on a cabinet of curiosities.

The current exhibition focuses on one type of relic that can be found in particular abundance: those found in the trash. NYC Trash! Past, Present, & Future, on view through April 29, 2018, begins with the history of solid waste management in New York City, and then shifts gears to look at innovative ways waste materials and management are being reconsidered today.

The seven artists and nonprofits highlighted, including Hack:Trash:NYC, the Lower East Side Ecology Center, and Materials for the Arts, employ a variety of tactics and media to transform how waste is viewed and dealt with, from competitions to find ways to reduce what gets sent to landfills to photography and art initiatives that use waste materials as a medium or as inspiration.

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Scenes from the People’s Climate March

The People's Climate March in Washington, D.C., on April 29, 2017 / image: Alexandra Hay
The People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C., on April 29, 2017 / image: Alexandra Hay

This weekend, the People’s Climate March took place in Washington, D.C., with more than 350 satellite events across the country. Despite being the hottest April 29 on record, thousands attended (more than 200,000 people marched, according to organizers’ estimates), including a number of ASLA Chapter Presidents, Trustees, past Presidents, members, and ASLA staff.

Below, we share some photographs from the march—more can be found on ASLA‘s and Landscape Architecture Magazine‘s social media pages—and we look forward to keeping up the momentum on this urgent and vitally important issue.

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Exploring Landscapes at the National Building Museum

image: Alexandra Hay
image: Alexandra Hay

Earlier this month on March 12, visitors to the National Building Museum in Washington, DC were greeted by an usual sight in the museum’s monumental Great Hall: a life-size plan of a garden, being artfully arranged and re-arranged by visitors of all ages.

Even more impressive was the view from the second story, which provided a better sense of the overall plan from above, and how it relates to the experience of walking the space down below. By bringing a plan drawing to life and making it interactive, the event gave participants a chance to experience and understand more fully how the plan drawings landscape architects create translate into actual spaces—a chance to bridge the gap between 2D and 3D.

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Arbori(culture): Art & Ecology

An interior view of John Grade's Middle Fork installation at the Renwick Gallery image: Alexandra Hay
An interior view of John Grade’s Middle Fork installation at the Renwick Gallery
image: Alexandra Hay

The speaker at a recent event at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC, was not an artist, curator, or art historian, but an arborist. Gregory Huse, Arborist and Tree Collection Manager for the Smithsonian Gardens, focused on John Grade’s Middle Fork installation in his talk, entitled “The Crossroads of Art, Nature and Ecology.” The piece consists of a tree, suspended sideways from the ceiling. Taking up the entire room, the sculpture is simultaneously massive and airy, moving slightly as visitors walk around it and shot through with light, evoking the dappled look of sunlight filtered through a forest’s leaves.

The Renwick Gallery, part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, reopened in November after an extensive two-year renovation with the exhibition WONDER. Middle Fork, in addition to installations by Maya Lin, Patrick Dougherty, and Janet Echelman, is one of the nine pieces included in this exhibition, which has drawn record crowds.

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Heading to the Beach this Weekend?

The boardwalk at Jones Beach State Park image: Alexandra Hay
The boardwalk at Jones Beach State Park
image: Alexandra Hay

With Memorial Day weekend comes the unofficial start of summer, and though the water may still be chilly at this time of year, many people will be heading to the closest beach for some start-of-summer celebrations.

For those in New York, and especially on Long Island, Jones Beach State Park is a destination that epitomizes summer. Though only 20 miles from New York City, Jones Beach could not feel further removed from the suburbs nearby, only a few causeways away. And, like Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Jones Beach is a site that has been dramatically transformed to create the iconic space we enjoy today.

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