Thursday, June 30, 2011

Greatest Grid

An interesting competition I am ruminating on proposing for, The Greatest Grid - from the Architectural League of New York along with the Museum of the City of New York - seeks ideas related to the grid and to reflect on the role of the grid, now 200 years old, impacts and shapes New York, and how it has and will continue to shape the city.  Some background (and more on the site):  

"On the occasion of the two hundredth anniversary of the 1811 Commissioners’ Plan for New York, the foundational document that established the Manhattan street plan from Houston Street to 155th Street, the Architectural League invites architects, landscape architects, urban designers, and other design professionals to use the Manhattan street grid as a catalyst for thinking about the present and future of New York. For two centuries, the Manhattan street grid has demonstrated an astonishing flexibility to accommodate the architectural gestures and urban planning theories of successive generations of architects, urban designers, private developers, and city officials. Given its capacity for reinvention, how might the Manhattan grid continue to adapt and respond to the challenges and opportunities–both large and small–that New York faces now and into the future?"

Sort of open-ended, but the grid is such a powerful and contentious concept in both urban form (such as these studies on Planetizen here and here) and indeed the pattern of settlement for the western US.  While New York was not the first city to be 'gridded' it seems a fitting context for exploration of an idea - one that offers some interesting avenues for exploration beyond the Big Apple.  Coupled with some recent reading on Sanderson's work on Mannahatta Project - there could be some exciting potential overlaps/influences of the grid and nascent ecology of the island.

 :: image via Skyscraper Page

One of links on the competition site leads to the Wall Street Journal story on the birthday of the grid, with some collected maps worth checking out - my favorite is the sliced island by designer Nicholas Felton using the program Geocontext.

:: image via WSJ

Monday, June 27, 2011

URBAN REALITY: Landscape Urbanism 3 Day Design Challenge

[note: the previous post for LU 72 HR Urban Action has evolved into the following, thus the update at the behest of the organizers]

URBAN REALITY: Landscape Urbanism 3 Day Design Challenge invites teams to design and construct a site in response to a brief in just three days. The challenge aims to bring together creative minds both nationally and internationally to compete in an action packed, hands on, game plan competition that responds to this years state of design festival theme design that moves. Melbourne's docklands will become the workshop, the camp, the dining room and the party venue for the teams for three entire days with winning teams being awarded with prize money and the pleasure of having a realised project in Melbourne's public realm.

There are a number of public events available throughout the duration of the 5 days.  A symposium will be held at BMW Edge on Tuesday 26 July. The opening ceremony will take place on Wednesday 27 July at the Docklands. The announcement of the winners will take place at the Docklands on Saturday 30 July.

Various commentary and guides will be occurring throughout the event.  More info @ and via email @

New Blogs

As I mentioned, there is a virtual explosion of blogs covering topics of landscape and urbanism... meaning my reading list at one point topped 150 sites.  As I steadily pared this down (right now I consistently read only 3 feeds along with some targeted google alerts), I found much more time to actual read books, articles, and other media - and better yet, found some room to reflect and respond to these texts in a meaningful way.  The digital realm can become an overwhelming torrent of information, which is a full-time job to stay on top of sifting through and staying current - and there are some great sites out there doing just that.

I plan on cleaning up my sidebar links in coming weeks (and give my picks for the top ten blogs you should subscribe to), but wanted to mention a couple of new (to me at least!) ones that I heard about in the last week that you should check out.  Any others out there please let me know...

::  Resilient Urbanisms
::  Praxis in Landscape Architecture 
::  Birbaum Blogs (the always great Charles Birnbaum blogs on the TCLF website)

Coming this summer as well is the launch of landscape urbanism (dot) com - which aims to be "a space for interactive dialogue about landscape urbanism and what it means to design landscapes and urban spaces today. The creation of this site stems from a diverse team of designers, academics, professionals and thinkers around the globe."  In the spirit of dialogue and understanding, this critical forum will be very welcome in providing a multi-faceted perspective on what has become a hot topic of late.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Introducing Landscape+Urbanism V2.0

Some significant life and professional changes in the past year has moved me away from the day to day updates to blog.  The outlet for me has always been personal, the breadth of content has been somewhat vast, owing to my generalist tendencies.  This suited me well and I spent a good amount of time reading other blogs and reflecting on what was out there.  At the time, the landscape architecture blogs were few and far between - and was a surprising joy to find others who enjoyed my schizophrenic ramblings (often in the late hours of the night!).  So i went back to the beginning and found this quote:

"My interest in landscape urbanism as a specific topic has been relatively recent, but upon discussion and further investigation, i realized that many ideas that i have been interested in over the years have threads in common with landscape urbanist theory, and really struck me as a vital theoretical outlet. My interests in general are diverse, so my guess is that the content will wander, but a concept like landscape urbanism seems to have enough breadth to accomodate a perpetual generalist."  (L+U, 11/26/07)
Sounds about right, but it definitely reminded me of the origins of the blog - which has always been to link practice to theory.  In subsequent years, I started my own firm, TERRA.fluxus, which has been a great experience.  I've also begun my Ph.D. program at Portland State University in Urban Studies, so it has all come full circle as my two major paths are the professional and the theoretical.  The amount of work in both these endeavors is immense, but also incredibly rewarding and continues to be every day.

So with the original idea in mind, I thought it time to rethink the focus of this blog... certain parts of me thought it had run its course but another side of me didn't want to see it die.  So I chose for it to evolve, much in the vein of my path, with more of a focus on the connections of landscape and urbanism, but with more of a original take on the subject that furthers my exploration in work and school.  The content will be less ephemeral but hopefully more thought provoking - and infinitely more interesting to me to share.  So, we shall see how it goes.

A new coat of paint, and a renewed (albeit somewhat different) approach to the blog - and I look forward to hearing comments.  And more changes to come.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Waldheim - LU Video

Say what you will about this crazy debate, I finally took an hour to watch this, and its a pretty interesting introduction to landscape urbanism.  Looking forward to seeing the CNU presentation and discussion - anyone know if that's going to be posted?