Tag Archives: Public Spaces

The Necessity of Advocacy: Discussing the Politics of Landscape Architecture

The role of advocacy and political engagement  here espoused by ASLA in the USA is as needed in South Africa, where the demands and needs of the needy poor is sidelined by the greed of the avaricious in business and politics.
Posted by Jonathon Geels on Land8

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“When people think about what influences elected officials, nine times out of ten their first thought is money… Clearly, skepticism reigns supreme when it comes to our views of how to influence a policymaker.” – Stephanie Vance, “Citizens in Action”

Despite being “for the people, by the people,” our representative democracy can seem distant. It can appear inaccessible and elitist, particularly when sensationalized by the “yellow journalism” of contemporary news media. Lobbying, and by extension advocacy, further brings to mind a hidden element of governance. Because of that, they are both practically four letter words. While this presidential election cycle has brought to the forefront the concept of politicians being “bought” by powerful lobbies, simply viewing government as a trade deal undermines the value of advocacy and professional lobbying.

I attended my first ASLA Advocacy Summit with a similar perspective and with a far greater understanding of the concurrent Awareness Summit. At the same time, I approached the event both grateful for being there and committed to gleaming every ounce of value out of the experience for the chapter I represented*. Of the dual arms of chapter outreach, Awareness (Public Relations) is sexy and glam; who doesn’t want their picture on television? Advocacy, because of the distance of government, lacks the same initial luster. Even as I listened to a professional lobbyist describe the services that he offered the society, I still had misgivings. As he outlined case studies in landscape architecture licensure battles that had littered the ground of advocacy for the society in recent years, I was unconvinced. In a state that seemingly had a shield to any licensure attacks – Indiana has a combined board with the architects who were not likely to come under any sunset issues – it was hard to reconcile the cost of lobbying. Despite the need for vigilance, the issue of licensure did not have the same sense of urgency in my state as with other chapters. Without the urgency, advocacy remained a back-burner issue, especially compared to the draw of World Landscape Architecture Month or the need for continuing education credits and networking value of the state’s Annual Meeting.

As the presenter shifted to outline the tangent benefits of advocacy and lobbying, one line was burned into my mind: “Raising the profile of the profession.” That even without a specific “ask” or dramatic need, landscape architects would benefit from engaging policymakers if for no other reason than to make the profession more prominent in the eyes of those individuals who controlled much of the direction of the built environment through the allocation of funds or the implementation of guiding policies. This was a seminal moment for me and one that changed the way that I viewed professional practice. I began to see advocacy as a partner to awareness and public relations. At the same time, I began to view Government Affairs as the natural progression in the pursuit to work as a landscape architect. It’s a complicated feeling to watch the built environment evolve, knowing that your own involvement could improve the quality of place or positively contribute to changing public health, safety, and welfare. This was a moment of clarity, like Neo seeing the Matrix for the first time. Everything was different. I was already aware of the problems that plague the profession – lack of understanding, vague licensure laws, engineering bias; finding problems to solve is easy. Inherently, landscape architects also know that layering in solutions to the problems would produce systemic benefit. But it was through advocacy to local, state, and federal policymakers that landscape architects would have the opportunity to be a constant part of the conversation. Through better advocacy, landscape architecture can become a baseline expectation, not just an add-on or luxury component or easy to value-engineer out.

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Updated Guide: Climate Change and Landscape Architecture (via The Dirt)

Again it is necessary to take cognizance of all interventions and strategies that might assist in dealing with Climate Change, but how these ideas apply in African situations is yet to be seen

Updated Guide: Climate Change and Landscape Architecture A recent report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” According to the IPCC, average global temperatures are increasing at an alarming rate. In just the past 50 years, northern hemisphere temperatures were higher than during any other 50-year period in the last 500 years, perhaps even the past 1,300 years. The IPCC projects that the Earth’s surface temp … Read More

via The Dirt

Using Nature to Reinvent Cities (via The Dirt)

Another take on the benefits of urban nature

Using Nature to Reinvent Cities Dan Kaplan, who runs the urban design practice for FXFOWLE, argued for integrating innovative green designs into buildings and streets at a session at the National Building Museum. To reinvent cities, planners, landscape architects, and architects can create "regenerative places" that provide multiple benefits. The two major U.S. development models – Orange County, California, and New York City – present two extremes. In terms of carbon dioxide e … Read More

via The Dirt

Corner, Hargreaves, and Van Valkenburgh at the Forum for Urban Design

This older post from asladirt i particularly relevant in the light of how urban landscape is equated with parks – so as this is the case we need to revue what a park actually is and what makes them worthwhile to cities:

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James Corner, ASLA, George Hargreaves, FASLA, and Michael Van Valkenburgh, FASLA, all leading landscape architects, spoke at a panel organized by the Forum for Urban Design and co-sponsored by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Held at theMuseum of Modern Art’s education center in New York City, the session focused on the 21st century park. Despite concerns that park space will increasingly be viewed as an “extra frill” and be supplanted by ”a virtual cyberworld” as part of a “retreat from public life,” parks are viewed as making a comeback. Some questions that framed the discussion include: Why do new parks have a different tactile feeling? Are new parks as adaptable as parks created in the 20th century? How is the relationship between city and park changing? How do parks relate to democracy? What role will citizens have in the 21st century park? Also, what about park networks in city regions, the next scale up? Continue reading Corner, Hargreaves, and Van Valkenburgh at the Forum for Urban Design

Santa Monica Unveils Field Operations Designs for Civic Center Parks via The Dirt

A description of the progress on James Corner and  Field Operations designs for the parks in Santa Monica and the challenges facing them. Seems like it very similar to here – a lot of hype is put into the process, but similar to New York’s Governors Island compettion, ( See Interview with Adraain Geuse of West 8) this is a long and slow process: The link to the presentation on the Design Development is really worthwhile looking at:

AN AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS THE NEW AREAS TO BE DEVELOPED BY FIELD OPERATIONS IN DOWNTOWN SANTA MONICA AS WELL AS NEARBY LANDMARKS


Last year, James Corner Field Operations won the commission to design the newSanta Monica Civic Center parks, which includes a new town square and Palisades garden walk. Designs for the seven-acre, $25 million project were recently unveiled, showing an “ambitious, layered” proposal that will be broken up into a number of “systems,” writes The Architect’s Newspaper. These systems are a set of “colorful and diverse zones” that enable different experiences for park visitors.

According to The Architect’s Newspaper, the new landscape includes a set of zones: “view-centric hills, sheltered bays, and meandering pathways surrounded by plants, fountains, and small creeks.” There’s a Grand Bluff, which will provide views of the ocean and neighborhood. Garden Hill will offer the “widest variety of plant life on the site.” A new Gathering Hill is designed for ”congregation and relaxation.” The Discovery Bay is a new kids play area and will include ”an area shaded by large trees that will contain extra large steel slides, forts, and other activities.” The Town Square, which local respondents to a survey said had too much pavement, will get a new reflecting pool, reflecting the city hall.

Continue reading Santa Monica Unveils Field Operations Designs for Civic Center Parks via The Dirt

Really Cool Beach – The longest bench via The Cool Hunter

Here is the “Worlds Longest Bench” according to the The Cool Hunter :

“As much as we love temporary stunts, happenings, art installations and large-scale sculpture in the urban space, we want more.”

We are on a quest for truly transformed urban spaces. We are looking for instances where a council, city, town, municipality has taken the initiative, come up with the funds and actually transformed a mediocre, unused, ugly space into an inviting and fun public environment.

Continue reading Really Cool Beach – The longest bench via The Cool Hunter

“CITYSUMERS” -The future consumption arena is urban

According to trendwatching.com , (“one of the world’s leading consumer trends firms”)  the city is the main arena for the unfolding of the new century – was it ever any different, at least in recent times the city is the focus of action with more than 50% of the worlds population being urbanized.

"Urbanomics" & "Citysumers"

“CITYSUMERS | The hundreds of millions (and growing!) of experienced and sophisticated urbanites*, from San  to Shanghai to São Paulo, who are ever more demanding and more open-minded, but also more proud, more connected, more spontaneous and more try-out-prone, eagerly snapping up a whole host of new urban goods, services, experiences, campaigns and conversations.”

Although this might be very consumerist for many people – there are a number of very interesting urban and digital urban ideas and examples in this trend review that tie in closely with where a lot of urban research and thinking is heading – trust retailers to get there first – but we can learn and turn these ideas into a more available model.

Read more here: CITYSUMERS

BIG architects: TEK building -A cube too far?

danish practice bjarke ingels group has designed a public urban block in taipei, taiwan. ‘TEK’, which measures 57 x 57 x 57 m, is a cubic structure that hosts a spiraling street of activities related to contemporary technology and media.

View more pics on big-architects-tek-building.html