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The following news articles are geared toward students and other professionals.
Landscape Architecture
From the Personal to the Planetary Print E-mail
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 10:18

Promising to cover infrastructure “from the personal to the planetary,” a panel on infrastructure mapping and information (part of a day-long conference on Landscape Infrastructure at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design) traversed very different scales. Presenters explored the relationship between landscape, infrastructure, and ecology, and the means we have at our disposal to understand these and communicate with each other about them.

Liz Barry, Director of Urban Environment at the Public Laboratory for Open Technology & Science (PLOTS), described their work to create “citizen cartographies,” technology for bottom-up activism in small communities that allow people to generate their own data. Barry presented a compelling example of their work: an open source toolkit for balloon mapping, which allows citizens to create their own satellite landscape images. During the cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, this toolkit allowed activists to find out for themselves whether oil booms were working and where oil was gathering, and work together with local fishermen who had extensive knowledge of these sensitive landscapes. The material gathered could subsequently be used for restoration and litigation.

Kate Ascher, Milstein Professor of Urban Development at Columbia University, also emphasized the impact of infrastructure at a local scale. Her book The Works: Anatomy of a City explains graphically the workings of the major infrastructural systems of New York City. The project, she explained, was born out of the infrastructural failures in the wake of the World Trade Center bombings. To understand why infrastructure would fail, people need to know how it works. The Works makes visible the city’s invisible systems to deal with water, power, garbage (see an example of traffic calming infrastructure below).

Dawn Wright and Erle Ellis looked at ways to understand and describe highly complex global systems where all kinds of actors, ecosystems, and industries come together. Wright, Chief Scientist at Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) is an expert on ocean landscapes. Critically tied to urban infrastructure, oceans are extremely developed and industrialized territories and yet remain largely unmapped and unknown. Without knowledge of the oceans, Wright asked, how do we mitigate impacts of climate change, clean up oil spills, sustain fisheries, and ensure safety and security of seas? Wright presented a new collaborative tool for the geodesign of oceans, SeaSketch, which integrates information across a number of sources and can provide a shared platform for scientists, social scientists, architects and planners to work together on complex problems like coastal management.

Erle Ellis, Head of the Laboratory for Anthropogenic Landscape Ecology at the University of Maryland in Baltimore put infrastructure in an even larger, planetary framework. Ellis presented a perspective on landscape in the Anthropocene Age (Age of Humans) that turns the very idea of infrastructure on its head. As Ellis put it, nature is a land-use that “lives on our infrastructure.”

In Ellis’s view of the global landscape, distinctions between human and natural land uses disappear—they are multifunctional mosaics, rather than separate spheres. To make sense of this degree of interconnectivity, Ellis said, “perhaps we need global landcape architects—working at a global scale.” At all scales, from the local to the global, more coordination is needed among the many design disciplines to deal with the complex landscapes we’ve made.

This guest post is by Mariana Mogilevich, Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Image credits: (1) Balloon and Kite Mapping / PLOTS, (2) The Works / Streetsblog, (3) Anthropogenic biomes, ecotope.org


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From the Personal to the Planetary Print E-mail
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 10:18

Promising to cover infrastructure “from the personal to the planetary,” a panel on the politics and techniques of infrastructure mapping and information (part of a day-long conference on Landscape Infrastructure at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design) traversed very different scales. Presenters explored the relationship between landscape, infrastructure, and ecology, and the means we have at our disposal to understand these and communicate with each other about them.

Liz Barry, Director of Urban Environment at the Public Laboratory for Open Technology & Science (PLOTS), described their work to create “citizen cartographies,” technology for bottom-up activism in small communities that allow people to generate their own data. Barry presented a compelling example of their work: an open source toolkit for balloon mapping, which allows citizens to create their own satellite landscape images. During the cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, this toolkit allowed activists to find out for themselves whether oil booms were working and where oil was gathering, and work together with local fishermen who had extensive knowledge of these sensitive landscapes. The material gathered could subsequently be used for restoration and litigation.

Kate Ascher, Milstein Professor of Urban Development at Columbia University, also emphasized the impact of infrastructure at a local scale. Her book The Works: Anatomy of a City explains graphically the workings of the major infrastructural systems of New York City. The project, she explained, was born out of the infrastructural failures in the wake of the World Trade Center bombings. To understand why infrastructure would fail, people need to know how it works. The Works makes visible the city’s invisible systems to deal with water, power, garbage (see an example of traffic calming infrastructure below).

Dawn Wright and Erle Ellis looked at ways to understand and describe highly complex global systems where all kinds of actors, ecosystems, and industries come together. Wright, Chief Scientist at Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) is an expert on ocean landscapes. Critically tied to urban infrastructure, oceans are extremely developed and industrialized territories and yet remain largely unmapped and unknown. Without knowledge of the oceans, Wright asked, how do we mitigate impacts of climate change, clean up oil spills, sustain fisheries, and ensure safety and security of seas? Wright presented a new collaborative tool for the geodesign of oceans, SeaSketch, which integrates information across a number of sources and can provide a shared platform for scientists, social scientists, architects and planners to work together on complex problems like coastal management.

Erle Ellis, Head of the Laboratory for Anthropogenic Landscape Ecology at the University of Maryland in Baltimore put infrastructure in an even larger, planetary framework. Ellis presented a perspective on landscape in the Anthropocene Age (Age of Humans) that turns the very idea of infrastructure on its head. As Ellis put it, nature is a land-use that “lives on our infrastructure.”

In Ellis’s view of the global landscape, distinctions between human and natural land uses disappear—they are multifunctional mosaics, rather than separate spheres. To make sense of this degree of interconnectivity, Ellis said, “perhaps we need global landcape architects—working at a global scale.” At all scales, from the local to the global, more coordination is needed among the many design disciplines to deal with the complex landscapes we’ve made.

This guest post is by Mariana Mogilevich, Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Image credits: (1) Balloon and Kite Mapping / PLOTS, (2) The Works / Streetsblog, (3) Anthropogenic biomes, ecotope.org


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Infrastructure as Lived Experience Print E-mail
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 08:25


It is emblematic of the scope and ambition of the recent Landscape Infrastructure conference at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design that organizer Pierre Belanger, ASLA, stated at the outset that an encyclopedic array of scholars and practitioners would “explore the future of infrastructure itself, the glue of urbanization” for the following 36 hours. In fact, the extremely dense proceedings transpired over the course of only 24 hours, but provided material that can be mulled over for years, as well as acted on immediately.

Belanger, Associate Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, is passionate about bringing landscape architecture to bear on problems of infrastructure.  Civil engineers have traditionally had a monopoly on the field, and the bond between infrastructure, engineering, and technology has thus far appeared unbreakable. But combining insights from urbanism, geography, and ecology, Belanger argues, landscape architects can bring a new approach to infrastructure to address the realities of the 21st century. The idea of “landscape infrastructure” seeks to supplement an existing emphasis on technology and economy with greater attention to the more fluid ecological and human dimensions of infrastructure.

To reinforce the cultural and human aspects of infrastructure and its intimate relationship with landscape, the conference opened with a keynote speech not by a designer or an engineer but by a cultural historian. Rosalind Williams, Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), spoke on the question of “infrastructure as lived experience,” emphasizing that contrary to our conventional association of infrastructure with bridges and dams, “infrastructure isn’t always that visible.” Williams illustrated this with a historical tour of infrastructure’s invisible geographies through the lens of the life and works of 19th century writer Robert Louis Stevenson.

We know Stevenson as the author of Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But Stevenson, educated as an engineer, became a writer and chronicler of the experience of infrastructure as it began to expand across the globe. Traveling roads, canals, and railroads from Scotland to San Francisco to Samoa, Stevenson gleaned early insights into the human and political dimensions of infrastructural technologies. 

Stevenson saw how Scottish Highlanders resisted the construction of lighthouses, which imperiled the livelihood they made from scavenging shipwrecks. He travelled with migrants who braved the journey from the United Kingdom to the American West and suffered the indignities of steamship passages and transcontinental railroads that made important physical connections for the transport of goods, but didn’t take human needs into account. Stevenson’s observations expose the nature of infrastructure’s effects on people.

Stevenson’s experiences, described at much greater length in Williams’ forthcoming book The Human Empire, point to several aspects of infrastructure, often critically overlooked, which designers would do well to take into account today. Williams emphasized first and foremost the question of lived experience, the civic and social dimensions of infrastructure, which designers can discover only by going out into the world, experiencing the landscape and the daily lives of those who inhabit it, much like the intrepid and empathetic Stevenson.

Williams raised a second crucial question of power and the organization of infrastructure, which has served geopolitical ends from nineteenth century colonialism to globalization today. Whom does infrastructure serve, and who makes the crucial decisions in its design and implementation? And perhaps most importantly, who will pay? 

For landscape architects wanting to get in on infrastructure, Williams provides the reminder that with the lack of public support for infrastructure in the United States, funding projects is a far greater challenge than organizing them.

This guest post is by Mariana Mogilevich, Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Image credit: (1) Robert Louis Stevenson, Girolamo Nerli / Wikipedia, (2) The Amateur Emigrant, library.sc.edu


Add a comment
 
Infrastructure as Lived Experience Print E-mail
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 08:25


It is emblematic of the scope and ambition of the recent Landscape Infrastructure conference at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design that organizer Pierre Belanger, ASLA, stated at the outset that an encyclopedic array of scholars and practitioners would “explore the future of infrastructure itself, the glue of urbanization” for the following 36 hours. In fact, the extremely dense proceedings transpired over the course of only 24 hours, but provided material that can be mulled over for years, as well as acted on immediately.

Belanger, Associate Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, is passionate about bringing landscape architecture to bear on the questions and problems of infrastructure.  Civil engineers have traditionally had a monopoly on the field, and the bond between infrastructure, engineering, and technology has thus far appeared unbreakable. But combining insights from urbanism, geography, and ecology, Belanger argues, landscape architects can bring a new approach to infrastructure to address the realities of the 21st century. The idea of “landscape infrastructure” seeks to supplement an existing emphasis on technology and economy with greater attention to the more fluid ecological and human dimensions of infrastructure.

To reinforce the cultural and human aspects of infrastructure and its intimate relationship with landscape, the conference opened with a keynote speech not by a designer or an engineer but by a cultural historian. Rosalind Williams, Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), spoke on the question of “infrastructure as lived experience,” emphasizing that contrary to our conventional association of infrastructure with bridges and dams, “infrastructure isn’t always that visible.”  Williams illustrated this with a historical tour of infrastructure’s invisible geographies through the lens of the life and works of 19th century writer Robert Louis Stevenson.

We know Stevenson as the author of Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But Stevenson, educated as an engineer, became a writer and chronicler of the experience of infrastructure as it began to expand across the globe. Traveling roads, canals, and railroads from Scotland to San Francisco to Samoa, Stevenson gleaned early insights into the human dimensions and political effects of infrastructural technologies. 

Stevenson saw how Scottish Highlanders resisted the construction of lighthouses, which imperiled the livelihood they made from scavenging shipwrecks. He travelled with migrants who braved the journey from the United Kingdom to the American West and suffered the indignities of steamship passages and transcontinental railroads that made important physical connections for the transport of goods, but didn’t take human needs into account. Stevenson’s observations expose the nature of infrastructure’s effects on people.

Stevenson’s experiences, described at much greater length in Williams’ forthcoming book The Human Empire, point to several aspects of infrastructure, often critically overlooked, which designers would do well to take into account today. Williams emphasized first and foremost the question of lived experience, the civic and social dimensions of infrastructure, which designers can discover only by going out into the world, experiencing the landscape and the daily lives of those who inhabit it, much like the intrepid and empathetic Stevenson.

Williams raised a second crucial question of power and the organization of infrastructure, which has served geopolitical ends from nineteenth century colonialism to globalization today. Whom does infrastructure serve, and who makes the crucial decisions in its design and implementation? And perhaps most importantly, who will pay? For landscape architects wanting to get in on infrastructure, Williams provides the reminder that with the lack of public support for infrastructure in the United States, funding projects is a far greater challenge than organizing them.

This guest post is by Mariana Mogilevich, Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Image credit: (1) Robert Louis Stevenson, Girolamo Nerli / Wikipedia, (2) The Amateur Emigrant, library.sc.edu


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Calatrava designed Peace Bridge opens in Calgary Print E-mail
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 08:19
The striking red Peace Bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava opened to the public with a community celebration on Saturday 24 March. The bridge design was unveiled in 2009 to varied opinions and created controvesy for its color, design and cost. Now that has faded into the background as the bridge has become a reality and opened to the public [...] → READ MORE Add a comment
 
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