Sunday, January 23, 2011


SHIFT:infrastructure release + SHIFT:process call for submissions

The inaugural issue of SHIFT: suggests that the integration of natural systems into the built environment provides for a more sustainable model of landscape architecture in infrastructure design. However, the skillful employment of ecological principles does not necessarily ensure a culturally sensitive design. In the 21st century, Landscape Architecture faces the challenge of not only creating ecologically regenerative designs, but going so in a way that engages the public through education, community mobilization, and inspiration. This is important for the long-term viability of the design as well as its economic success.

How can we as students re-imagine the design process that engages modern culture (such as changes in media, communication technology,  and social networking)? This new process should holistically integrate the designer, the users, and ecology in the process of design. What does this process look like? Where does it take place? How do these processes improve on current techniques?

SHIFT: process calls for submissions from current students from any discipline, or student work from graduates within the past 2 years.  We are looking for work that encourages debate and discussion of this important topic through informed and academically rigorous creative thinking. Each submission will be reviewed by an independent jury, which is composed of nationally recognized leaders in Landscape

Submissions may be: academic essays (up to 3,000 words), narratives, project graphics including mixed media, or anything one considers key in communicating their ideas. We strongly encourage graphics, photography, diagrams, flash animation, stop motion animation, models, social networking tools, games, community building art forms, puzzles, interactive media of any kind, get the idea. Each submission must include a concise written abstract with bibliography.

Visit the publication website and the student blog for more information.
Our student blog:

Submissions are due by February 15th, 2011.
Questions? Please contact

Friday, January 21, 2011

More Hidden Rivers - NYC

An interesting post from Urban Omnibus from earlier in January entitled 'Grey vs. Green: Daylighting the Saw Mill River' is less intriguing in design concept that in larger idea of envisioning the expression of the variety of waterways that are hidden/buried/forgotten within our urban areas.  As referenced by Eric Sanderson through  his work on the fabulous Mannahatta project "The movement of water is universal. What takes it out of the ordinary is the infrastructure we have built around and in spite of it. Mannahatta notes that there were once 34.9 miles of “rocky headwater stream communities” and 14.2 miles of “marsh headwater stream communities” on our island, in addition to numerous springs, ponds, and intermittent streams."

The idea of  a more artistic expression comes out in the great image from the article.  The idea, as mentioned in the caption: "Spanning the corridor between the 42nd Street/Bryant Park BDFV station and the 5 Av 7 station, Samm Kunce’s mosaic “Under Bryant Park” is an evocative imagining of the root and water paths behind the tiled walls. ."

:: image  via Urban Omnibus - Photo by Zach Youngerman

The design concepts seem pretty standard fare visually, although the are made up of highly artificial and engineered system.  The authentic expression of 'system' seems an interesting challenge for designers, similar to restoration processes for the LA River which has elicited terms like 'Freakology' to describe the hybridized ecological system.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Reading the Landscape


READING THE LANDSCAPE is an on‐line reading group dedicated to fostering engaging dialogue about the shaping of our built environment. The inaugural group will begin reading The Landscape Urbanism Reader edit by Charles Waldheim the week of February 21st. The group will include a total of 15 people. Depending on the material selected, the format for the reading group will involve reading a chapter, essay, or article each week with asynchronous on‐line discussion regarding it during the following week. The format is intended to make it easier for busy professionals to participate.
After each week, one person will summarize the discussion as a blog post for public discussion.

Due to the limited size of the group and the desire to ensure dynamic and multiple perspectives through the inclusion of professionals of diverse backgrounds, the organizers are requesting Letters of Interest from those who would want to participate.

Letters are due February 1st, 2011 and should be sent to Jason King via email at Notification to participants will be sent on February 9th. Content of the letter should include a brief biography and the reasons you want to participate.

READING THE LANDSCAPE is a collaboration between Damian Holmes founder of the
webzine World Landscape Architecture and news website Land Reader, Jason King,
editor of Vegitecture and Landscape + Urbanism, and Brian Phelps, co‐founder of All are also avid practicing professionals in landscape architecture and
urban design.


For more information contact: Brian Phelps at , Jason King at , or

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Competition: Network Reset

An interesting new competition announced recently entitled Network Reset: Rethinking the Chicago Emerald Necklace, An international competition organized by MAS Studio & Chicago Architectural Club
which asks respondents: " look at the urban scale and propose a framework for the entire boulevard system as well as provide answers and visualize the interventions at a smaller scale that can directly impact its potential users. Through images, diagrams and drawings we want to know what are those soft or hard, big or small, temporary or permanent interventions that can reactivate and reset the Boulevard System of Chicago."

I'm a little perplexed by the new trend of competitions that have a 30 day turnaround between announcement and due date - as it seems to.  Still - I'm intrigued, as it seems to be an interesting problem worth pursuing.  Registration is open, and entries due February 21 - so get moving now.

Coyote Urban

A few weeks back, on my way home I spotted in my neighborhood a lone coyote crossing busy 33rd Avenue just north of Fremont.  While urban coyotes are not necessarily that out of the ordinary (such as the adventurous multi-modal coyote that boarded MAX light rail a few years back) but the neighborhood I live is not in proximity to large patches of habitat - even though as you can see from the breakdown of the grid, it is adjacent to the Alameda Ridge - which is not necessarily known as a significant habitat corridor.

:: image via OPB

Our neighborhood newsletter jogged my memory, as I was only half convinced that it had actually been a coyote I spotted.  Turns out, it's not odd, and this particular guy seems wary, but mostly unafraid of humans.  Some info from the Portland Audubon Society offers some context to the sightings:
"Coyotes have lived in Northeast Portland’s Alameda Neighborhood for years. Audubon periodically receives reports from neighbors who have observed a coyote hunting mice at dawn in Wilshire Park or stealthily slinking down a neighborhood street as night approaches. It is no surprise that coyotes are there — coyotes, an animal that Navajo sheepherders once referred to as “God’s Dog,” have established themselves in neighborhoods across Portland just as they have established themselves in cities across North America. Although they are often observed alone, coyotes are pack animals and a pack will establish a territory over an area that can cover several kilometers. Normally they are shy and secretive, and neighbors often do not even realize that they are around."
The map below shows a shot of the neighborhood - the spotting occurred around the center of the map - to the southwest of Wilshire Park - the rectangular green space in the upper right quadrant which is about two blocks from our house.

I typically imagine a large(r) predator needing more significant habitat patches, but as mentioned in some factoids from Audubon, coyotes are particularly adaptable and "have demonstrated an ability to survive in the most urbanized environments in cities across North America. Most urban coyotes go about their lives without ever raising awareness of their presence among their human neighbors."

:: image via KATU

The coyotes in Alameda are somewhat interesting and have elicited some very Portland-like responses, such as this elementary school project.  It's curious - as I wonder how these aren't spotted, and where they live, as they obviously don't travel to less inhabited places.  Due mostly to fear from residents, removal is sometimes recommended - but for the most part it's an issue of humans and wildlife living together, as the coyotes seem to be here to stay:

"There will likely always be coyotes in the Alameda Neighborhood. New coyotes quickly replace coyotes that have been removed. The only real question is whether human residents will make changes that minimize conflicts with these wild dogs. Kudos to the Alameda residents for responding to their wild neighbors with a balance of caution, appreciation, and most importantly, proactive efforts to address potential conflicts."
In addition to some more coverage on OPB, there's also a short news blurb from local station KGW.