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The following news articles are geared toward students and other professionals.
Landscape Architecture
Institute for Occupational Licensing Reform (IOLR) On its Way Print E-mail
Wednesday, 30 March 2016 00:00
McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, LLP has announced the creation of the Institute for Occupational Licensing Reform (IOLR), a public advocacy organization dedicated to addressing licensing regulations across a broad range of occupations. Once the new organization's website and blog are established ASLA will share the links with all Chapters. The IOCR intends to serve as a clearinghouse for information designed to raise public awareness, publish a bi-weekly blog entitled "Over-Licensed," host educational seminars, speak at industry events, and serve as a public advocate before state licensing boards whose regulations they believe unnecessarily restrain access to occupational licenses. Add a comment
Poverty Is Now a Regional Problem Print E-mail
Tuesday, 29 March 2016 19:38
Abandoned homes in West Baltimore / Reddit

Abandoned homes in West Baltimore / Reddit

Inequality is only growing across the U.S. as incomes continue to diverge. This disparity is now becoming geographic, as cities and suburbs see a “spatial pulling apart” into rich and poor zones. Poverty is now a regional problem. To close the gap, Elizabeth Kneebone, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore, and Mark Updegrove, director of the LBJ Presidential Library, discussed possible solutions at SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas.

According to Kneebone, one impact of the Great Recession was the erosion of incomes at the bottom. “Poor people have become poorer.” This trend is seen even more strongly for people of color. “The income gap for people of color is much greater.” As the poor are further segregated, impacts are seen across many areas. Their communities have lower quality services, including poorer-quality schools and housing, higher crime rates, and worse health outcomes. “The income of a neighborhood is directly connected with their mental and physical health.”

Mayor Rawlings-Blake said income inequality has worsened because our society’s goal is no longer “full, optimal employment” but increasing corporations’ shareholder value, which “doesn’t take into account human capital.” This means the “least of us are cast away.” In West Baltimore, which saw major riots after the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore Police custody, there are systemic reasons for poverty. With the end of manufacturing in the Baltimore region, many good jobs disappeared. When young African American men run into trouble with the police and get an arrest record, they find it that much hard to find employment. When they can’t find a job and fall behind on child support payments, they have a double-strike against them with employers. “They feel a sense of anguish and like there is no way out. As a result, there is a lot of anger.”

Kneebone said suburbs now have a poverty problem, too. “We often think of the inner city or rural areas when we think about poverty, but it’s in the suburbs as well.” From 2000-2014, suburbs have seen a 66 percent increase in poverty. “There are now more poor people outside cities than within them.” She pointed to hundreds of suburbs of Chicago with concentrated poverty, as well as places like Ferguson, Missouri, where the poor population has doubled in recent years. These places, she said, are “playing catch-up and have a constrained response to the problem. This is because they have more challenges, but their tax base hasn’t increased.”

Essentially, then, poverty is now a regional problem — “it’s no longer urban or suburban.” To address this systemic problem, Kneebone called for a “scaled approach that addresses the intersected issues that cross jurisdictions: affordable housing, but also access to jobs and child care.” But she added that “just adding affordable housing or public transit alone may not yield equitable outcomes. These tools have to be specifically designed to help the most marginalized, and too often they aren’t. The poor need rides so they can get to work.” Also, greater opportunities for social mobility are needed. People from poorer communities can use “vouchers or subsidies” to move to higher-income communities. Studies have shown these kind of efforts can yield significant results, particularly for children of poor residents who move into wealthier neighborhoods.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake said in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death, the Baltimore city government accelerated efforts to spur local hospitals and universities to hire locally. “We must use our collective strength to help everyone in the city. We have to find pathways to employment for more people.” Under her term, she claims, the city has added 20,000 jobs and cut unemployment 33 percent, while winning $1.1 billion in investment for new schools, and pushing through a blight elimination plan that will take down thousands of abandoned, derelict homes.

The city is also moving forward with an aggressive program to reduce food deserts, which she links to diabetes-induced obesity, the leading cause of death in many poor neighborhoods. “The health disparities are terrible — it’s a gap of 20 years in lifespan from one zip code to the next.” So the Mayor has piloted a new program that will bring “mobile food delivery services to senior centers, which will act as hubs, where people can order fresh produce online and pay with EBT or food stamps. It’s a virtual supermarket.” There are additional subsidies that enable people with food stamps to double the value of those stamps when they go to farmer’s markets. Along with this effort, there is a new urban agriculture tax credit to turn some of those empty lots into farms, much like Detroit has done.

Both called for poor, minority Americans to make their voices heard more loudly in the political process, particularly at the local level, where problems are more likely to be addressed. But Mayor Rawlings-Blake admitted that it’s very challenging to persuade people to get involved. “U.S. politics is dominated by the wealthy. How do you get disenfranchised people involved in the process?” In places where there has been recent demographic shifts, like Ferguson, “there is lower political engagement by the people who are new to that community” — the poorer African Americans who have recently moved there. As a result, their voice and needs aren’t heard and they erupt in anger.

And too often, the attitude is “the government is the enemy.” But Mayor Rawlings-Blake said “that’s a barrier we need to get through. Many feel abandoned and are angry about it. But we can’t hate our way to better or demonize people who are different from us. How can we work together? How are people at the national level going to solve this? No one is talking about this.”

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Adelaide Will Plant 100,000 Square Meters of Greenery by 2020 Print E-mail
Tuesday, 29 March 2016 14:08
Adelaide Design Manual

Adelaide Design Manual

Only a few years ago, if you mentioned the words sustainability, green, or global warming you were probably met with an eye roll and maybe some sort of off-handed remark about being a hippy. Now, the opposite has happened: it’s totally uncool to be disinterested in the environment, as celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio bring climate change to the foreground for the public.

Locally, the Adelaide City Council in South Australia is leading by example. Our new Adelaide Design Manual provides strategic and technical guidance for designing streets, squares, parks, with a strong focus on greening and water-sensitive urban design. The design manual will help the city achieve ambitious goals identified in the 2016-2020 draft strategic plan: to become one of the world’s first carbon-neutral cities; plant an extra 100,000 square meters of greenery by 2020; and provide a path to a real reduction in city temperatures by 2040.

The Adelaide Design Manual outlines a greener approach when designing for Adelaide and ensures consistency across projects at all scales. This means whether you are working on a garden, green wall, or multi-million dollar project, the principles for greening are exactly the same.

These principles include:

  • Considering and integrating greening across the city and at all stages of public space design;
  • Creating a connected network of greening;
  • Reinforcing the urban character through thoughtful approaches to greening;
  • Harnessing the multiple functions greening can provide through shade, shelter, stormwater management, and traffic calming;
  • Creating conditions for the success and longevity of greening by providing the right conditions for greenery to survive;
  • Using greenery to provide beautiful, comfortable, and inviting spaces that enhance the city’s social and economic value; and
  • Maximizing the seasonal benefits of greening for high-activity streets and enhanced building performance.

So much of our daily life is shaped around the public spaces we inhabit. The Adelaide Design Manual’s approaches will help the city improve these spaces, enabling greater accessibility, community health, and safety, and promoting a stronger sense of cultural identity and neighborhood character, supporting a sense of civic pride. In a warming world, the successful implementation of green infrastructure will bring more people outdoors and boost their well-being.

Some approaches will cost more up front, but realize savings in the long term. For example, Adelaide City Council’s Go Green with Public Lighting project has swapped 1,500 lights from halogen to LED lighting, which have a lower life cycle cost and will save the city $150,000 annually over their lifetime.

Adelaide Go Green with Public Lighting / ADLT.com.au

Adelaide Go Green with Public Lighting / ADLT.com.au

The Adelaide Design Manual will transform Adelaide into a design-led city, focusing on quality, not quantity, through gradual and long-term change.

The manual will provide the foundation and clear direction for the future of Adelaide as one of the world’s great small cities.

This guest post is by Suzanna Parisi, Adelaide City Council.

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Campus Extension Krefeld by Knüvener Architekturlandschaft Print E-mail
Tuesday, 29 March 2016 08:36
@ Frank SchoepgensKnüvener Architekturlandschaft: The Campus Süd of the Hochschule Niederrhein in Krefeld is extended by a new building for the Institute for Energy Efficiency and the Department of Industrial Engineering. The size of the area, which holds space for further buildings, offers the chance to reorganize the sites urban layout and landscape architecture. The rectangular logic […] Add a comment
A Vision for Smarter Public Spaces Print E-mail
Thursday, 24 March 2016 22:10
Smarter public spaces / Arup

LQD WiFi / frog

Some designers and engineers want to bring high-speed Wi-Fi to as many public parks and plazas as possible. But instead of expanding the style of the unobtrusive yet freely-available Wi-Fi found in New York City’s Bryant Park, they want to make a statement with advertisement-laden towers that appear to be about 15-feet tall and could be used to charge your phone or access useful neighborhood information via a high-tech interface, a sort of modern-day bulletin board. Their thinking is these towers will act as beacons to attract visitors, who can interact with them 24-7. In a session at SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas, Randy Ramusack, founder of LQD Wifi, Daniel Holtzman with frog, and Francesca Birks with Arup discussed this possible vision of “smarter public spaces” created through LQD’s Palo.

Computing has rapidly evolved over the past few decades. Mainframes found in big data centers have morphed into hand-held mobile devices supported by cloud-based data services. “But the cloud is not helping communities,” asserted Ramusack. “More neighborhood information is needed to boost community interaction.”

He explained that when he picks up one of those free neighborhood newspapers to find out what’s going on in the part of New York City he lives in, he goes to more local events. So what if a glowing tower in the park showed you ads about those events, or even pushed you notifications as you walked by?

And LQD Palo could also address more basic equity issues. Vast number of people in cities still don’t have Internet access at home. In New York City, about a third of the population does without. What if these people could go to this interactive kiosk to do basic job searches? This is what Ramusack envisions for the future.

The interaction with these smart towers will also need to be two-way, said Holtzman, with frog, which designed the Palo. He thinks the high-speed connectivity these towers offer can only “further enhance the social activities that already happen in public spaces.” But others may say that it will only drive people to spend more time on their devices, sitting alone yet together, which is now a sad but common sight in so many public spaces.

Holtzman said these interactive kiosks need to be urban and contemporary but also customizable so they fit the feel of a city and perhaps the public park or plaza they inhabit. He even sees them doing well on streets or in malls and college campuses. Advertisements would be needed to finance the systems, which can’t be cheap. According to Ramusack, “targeted advertisements are viewed as less annoying, so Palo needs to display ads relevant to the places they are in.”

There are also security and privacy issues that will have to be addressed. Today, Wi-Fi hotspots are dangerous zones for transferring personal data. But Ramusack was optimistic these issues can be fixed and thinks implementing these high-profile devices would be a huge win for any city’s mayor. “Tech can make you look good. Wi-Fi gets you re-elected.” Old pay phones are already becoming Wi-Fi hubs, at least in New York City. Link NYC will replace 7,500 pay phone booth with free Wi-Fi stations, local phone calls, and phone charging.

Palo may be better suited for the streets than the middle of Central Park. Who wants to see large flashing ads in the middle of their peaceful respite from the city? Likely no one. But they could be a draw if well-incorporated into plazas and put near existing park facilities, like perhaps the bathrooms.

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Copyright © 2016. Robert Hewitt | Clemson University professor of Landscape Architecture.
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