Video: “Why Not? Conversations With the Stewards and Designers of the Golden Gate National Parks”

In the last post, we asked what it took to create a national park on the scale of the Golden Gate National Recreation area. In a joint effort by The Cultural Landscape Foundation and a multitude of volunteers and contributors, a 30-minute documentary explores these questions. Take a look:

Conversations with the Stewards and Designers of the Golden Gate National Parks

Decades of Park Advocacy: Behind San Francisco’s Presidio and Golden Gate National Parks

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What does it take to create nationally-recognized landscapes like the Presidio and the Golden Gate National Parks in San Francisco, CA? The answer is more than just one designer, planner, steward, or advocate–and a lot longer than a decade. On April 4th, the Cultural Landscape Foundation honored the “exceptional number of Bay Area stewards and designers” that have played pivotal roles in creating and shaping this landscape over many decades, including three key leadership organizations: The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, The Presidio Trust, and The National Park Service.

Here are some of the photographs of the Presidio and Golden Gate National Recreation Areas, documented by SWA Group’s Principal Photographer, Tom Fox:

SF Presidio-Lands End-Tom Fox-6125 Continue reading

Compostmodern 13: Resilience, March 22-23 in San Francisco

Resilience - Compostmodern 2013What does it mean for design to improve society and the environment? This weekend’s Compostmodern: Resilience conference in San Francisco brings together designers, entrepreneurs, scientists, and architects to talk about design’s role in creating a more resilient world.

The list of speakers includes David McConville, Cheryl Dahle, Adam Werbach, Alex Gilliam, Terry Irwin, John Bielenberg and many more–and the conversation topics and short-form presentations will include discussions of resilience, design, innovation, composting, social change, and living in a connected world. What does it mean to design with systems thinking and social responsibility at the top of mind? How do recycling, composting, and social change fit together? What can we learn from modeling living systems as inspirations for complex design? Why do most products create so much waste? How can we learn from the patterns of the universe to design strategies that effectively address complex problems?

Join Landscape Urbanism at the event this Friday and Saturday, and watch for our blogging coverage of the event.

More information: Compostmodern 13: Resilience.

>> Also check out the Conversations on Resilience Design happening before the conference on Wednesday, March 20th at Hot Studio in San Francisco:  “Conversations with Ezio Manzini and John Thackara.” 

 

StreetMix: Code For America Labs Takes On Street Design

Want to design your own street, or quickly show someone what variations in Right-Of-Way (ROW) do to your street? Code For America graduates, in a January 2013 hackathon, created an online drag-and-drop street builder that lets you place various street elements in different spaces, and adjusting the ROW to desired traffic (and pedestrian, and biking) levels. The project states that one of the goals is to “be a part of the national conversation around Complete Streets, or the Project for Public Spaces’ Rightsizing Streets Guide.”

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A quick version created with more generous tree sizes.

Designed in part by the desire to increase real-time engagement at community planning meetings, the fellows describe the project as “in the spirit of free software,” and encourage everyone to try it out and comment or suggest new features to help improve its usability.

“By creating an web-based version of this activity, planners can reach a wider audience than they could at meetings alone, and allow community members to share and edit each other’s creations.”

This app is a work in progress, and in a very early stage. Try it out for yourself at StreetMix.Net.

 

“Fuzzy Math” Call For Essays: How Do We Actually Measure Cities?

Parking Lot In Las VegasWhat is the language of measuring cities, landscapes, or human behaviors? Urban Omnibus put forth a call for essays on “Fuzzy Math,” inviting writers “to infuse the quantitative language that pervades environmental understanding with narrative, theory, history, or humor.”

Beyond the metrics we already use to measure our cities, what are we missing? What ways can we quantify and measure actions, behaviors, politics, engagement, economics, and life in a city? What unseen dimensions and spatial parameters are critical for well-being (or quirkiness) within a city?

“Meanwhile, the cost of some of what we consume in cities – like real estate – is reflected in its price structure, yet a lot of it – like parking, parks, or pollution – is not. Even if the environmental benefits of urban density are starting to be understood, an accepted calculus of a city’s externalities remains far from precise, subsumed in a metaphorical language of carbon footprints or numerical valuations like LEED.”

“So let’s put it in personal terms. How do you measure your behavior: In rent? In square feet? The number of laps run around the park? MetroCard swipes? Brand of lightbulb? The distance food travels to end up on your plate? What are urban public goods – drinking water, open space, public access television, fireworks displays – worth to you?”

Deadline: Friday, March 22nd, 5:00PM EST.
See the call for submissions at Urban Omnibus.

Edge Operations or Logistics in the Woods

How isolated was Henry David Thoreau’s romantic withdrawal at Walden? In a visual series created by designer and cartographer Meg Studer on The Distopians, she explores (“re-surveys”) these territories. Building off of Walden or Life in the Woods, this series works outward—from woodlots to fireplaces, from adjacent rails to major markets—to re-construct the domestic consumption patterns, international trade, and nascent infrastructural entanglements of Thoreau’s environment.

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These initial diagrams combine Thoreau’s recounting of 1846/47 ice harvests at Walden with commercial records and policy documents, mapping the regional industry and its rail-based network of extraction, storage and glocal consumption. Continue reading

Las Vegas and the Downtown Project: A Photo Tour

Last week, Tech Cocktail and the Downtown Project invited a small group of tech entrepreneurs, innovators, and city enthusiasts (like Landscape Urbanism) to take a look at the projects and grounds of the new Downtown Project area in Las Vegas. I also gave a quick 10-minute talk on questions about the future of cities (forthcoming), but in the meantime, here’s a visual assortment of photographs from both the city-at-large as well as the downtown areas, generally.

Greater Las Vegas: Residential Patterns (and Aerial Photographs)

Flying in from San Francisco, here’s a couple of photos of the cityscape from the airplane window:

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Looking towards the airport and the strip, offset in the background. One of the main visual characteristics of Las Vegas is the desert landscape and the mountains surrounding the flat, tan lands. Note the patchwork of development in the foreground and the scattered suburban developments. 

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Residential suburban housing is an easy pattern to pick up from an aerial view: organized, repetitive, single-colored rooftops.  Continue reading

Over-Under-Infrastructure: Seattle Olympic Sculpture Park

Just to the north of downtown Seattle, a complicated 9-acre site of railroad and auto infrastructure obscured public access to the waterfront for much of the latter 20th century;  the brownfield site, formerly occupied by the oil and gas corporation Unocal, was not the picture of an ideal land parcel for building a sculpture museum or public park.

And yet, then it was. In 2007, the realization of an urban competition to recreate the former industrial site into an urban outdoor sculpture park was complete. The architects (and competition winners) Weiss-Manfredi created a vision and a park to connect the urban fabric, weave over-and-under existing infrastructure, and create a site to house a collection of gorgeous sculpture installations both indoors and out-of-doors. To see the project in more detail, check out the designer’s website, details on the Seattle Art Museum site, or the Wikipedia entry.

Here are photos from a recent trip to the now-known Olympic Sculpture Park, on a beautiful sunny day in Seattle (I have been told these days are rare, but it was gorgeous while I explored the park). The site is just a couple of blocks north of the main downtown area and Pike’s Place Market, and worth a walk over.

Continue reading

Exploring Philadelphia’s New “Penn Park”

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to stop by Philadelphia and the University of Pennsvylania’s new Penn Park, a 23-acre waterfront park woven in between more than five different infrastructural systems and multiple-level land locks. Previously the site of the   post offices’ land, the site stood as unused acreage between Penn’s campus and the Schuylkill waterfront. Surrounded on all sides by Amtrak, light rail, local rail, the highway, and the upper and lower decks of local Walnut Street, the site was not an easy place to access.

While a student at Penn, the site looked like this image (from the Penn Connects website, 2008):

In just a couple of years, the University has transformed the waterfront area into a set of public and private fields, complete with several ramps and bridges that connect the multiple levels together. An overview of the project (via Michael Van Valkenburgh‘s website):

The rest of the photographs are from a walking tour through the project–I walked through it from the Walnut Street entrance (adjacent to the freeway on ramp). The following photographs are all from my camera, December 2012.

Walking onto the site from above, a view from the Walnut Street Bridge: Continue reading

If The Lights Went Out: The Dark City

What would happen to our great cityscapes if the lights went out? If electricity, candles, and other generated light sources were rendered null? Photography Thierry Cohen created a series of cityscape images that render the city at night under just the light of the stars.The art process for creating these images is quite complicated– as DVice describes: “Cohen visited deserted places that are situated at the same latitudes of the featured cities. With shots of starry skies from the wilderness in such places such as the Mojave and the Western Sahara, he superimposed them across the matching cities.”

Shanghai.

Tokyo. Continue reading