ARID Journal & Aqueduct Futures

For this November’s centennial of the LA Aqueduct, two journals (ARID and BOOM) have special issues that are really cool read for infrastructure and landscape folks. Included in ARID are two articles using data collected as part of the Aqueduct Futures project!

Barry J. Lehrman, Douglas Delgado and Mary E. Alm, Ph.D.  Aqueduct as Muse: Educating Designers for Multifunctional Landscapes

Lee-Anne Milburn, Ph.D. and Barry Lehrman, with Tiernan Doyle, Eric Haley, James Powell and Devon Santy.  Contested Waters, Unholy Alliances, and Globalized Colonies: Exploring the Perception of Water by Residents of the Los Angeles Aqueduct Watershed

Grant Lake, (c) Eric Haley 2012

On a personal note, ARID Journal also includes my dedication to my late wife, Mary Alm who died after a 15 month fight with cancer in September. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to write ‘Aqueduct as Muse’ with her.

Mary Alm, PhD 1969-2013

Mary Alm (1969-2013) was my muse, dear wife of nine years and mother of our son. She died peacefully after a grueling 15-month fight with breast cancer, just days after we submitted the final manuscript to Arid. The week before she was stricken by an undetected metastasis, I was finally able to bring her up to the Owens Valley to see the place that is now the foundation of my academic career.

As the cool and calmly collected presence reigning in my boundless ideas, Mary Alm brought focus to my life and provided the inspiration that encouraged me to aim for the moon.

As a health psychologist, Mary gave me a perspective into human behavior that enriched my scholarship into urban landscape systems and sustainability. This article was our first published collaboration to connect the gulf between our disciplines. Writing together—often at her weekly infusions during the darkness brought by the cancer—gave us strength to persevere against the relentless toll chemotherapy inflicted and to continue to pursue our dreams of future endeavors together.

As a lasting tribute to our love, this article is dedicated to Mary’s genius, goodness, and grace.

–Barry Lehrman, September 5, 2013

Pleistocene Park

I’ve written about the Buffalo Commons (here & here), now the concept has jumped the pond to the Old World (or maybe it really originated there). The Dutch, at Oostvaardersplassen (featured in a New Yorker Magazine article that inspired this post) have attempted to create a simulacrum landscape of the 13,000 years-ago Pleistocene on a reclaimed polder (circa 1968). This is not Ye Olde La Brea Tar Pits, but a living landscape populated by proxy megafauna.

The Rewilding Europe Project has established five sites in 2010: Danube Delta, Eastern Carpathians, Southern Carpathians, Velebit and Western Iberia. Projects elsewhere include, Spain’s Campanarios de Azaba  to their border with Portugal, Lake Pape in Latvia, the Pleistocene Park in far-eastern Siberia aims to restore the Mammoth Steppe Ecosystem (they are attempting to clone woolly mammoths with Korean scientists), and further-a-field there is a tortoise reintroduction program on Mascarene Islands near Madagascar.

Oostvaardensplassen

Oostvaardensplassen [OVP] is now inhabited with proxy animals to those long extinct, Heck cattle (proxy for Aurochs) from Germany were introduced in 1983, Konik horses (for tarpans) from Poland in 1984, and Red Deer from Scottland in the 1990s). (Why not European Bison?) Birds and variety of smaller mammals (like foxes and muskrats) colonized the site on their own. But OVP is not wilderness, but a managed parkland, where dying animals are euthanized ’10–20% of the large herbivores in the park die from natural causes or are killed by humans’. There is no attempt at bringing back apex predators proxies for Dire Wolves, Saber-Tooth Tigers, Wooly Mammoths, or European Lions of yore that are really needed to re-establish a healthy ecosystem. Modern Grey Wolves are expected to reach the area in a few decades though.

Another interesting aspect to the location is that during the Pleistocene, it was dry land (see below) and became underwater only after the end of the last ice age. One other distinction of this project is that the site was not abandoned or depopulated, but was intended to be an industrial development before the spontaneous colonization by wildlife inspired the park.

Map of the North Sea with Holocene shorelines – Oostvaardersplassen is just to the left of the key for 8700 yr on the Southeastern shore of the Markemeer

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Tree Torture Labs

Two visually striking experiments are attempting to find out how trees will respond to climate change:  Sevilleta LTER, and Aspen FACE at Michigan Technological University. These science experiments invoke several recent landscape architecture projects, but are purely functional.

Sevilleta LTER

But we have to kill the trees to understand how they die. Not a lot of them, just a few.”  “We need to understand the mechanistic side if we’re going to model the effects of climate on a large scale, we need to understand why and where trees die. When we can do that accurately, we’ll have a shot at knowing the broader effects.- Nate McDowell

The experiments at Sevilleta focus on Pinon-Juniper woodlands of New Mexico and are subject to several experiments by researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory (U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science’s Program for Ecosystem Research).

To observe the impact of higher temperatures, 18 trees are wrapped in 15′ tall plastic cylinders with heaters that keeps the temperature about 7 degrees warmer than ambient conditions to simulate the predicted climate of 2100.

more images at NPR.org

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Aqueduct Futures Workshop – October 15th

The Owens Valley community is invited to a free public design workshop, 6-9pm on October 15th at the Methodist Center, 205 North Fowler Street, Bishop, California 93514.

This workshop will explore designing resilience and adaptation into the landscape of Owens Valley with California State Polytechic University Pomona Landscape Architecture students. The Landscape Architecture students will be visiting Owens Valley on a field trip as they learn about designing large-scale sustainable infrastructure systems as part of the Cal Poly Pomona’s Aqueduct Futures Project.

Please RSVP to help us plan the event: http://owensvalleyfutures.eventbrite.com/

Eventbrite - Owens Valley Design Workshop

If you wish to participate in the resource fair, please email: aqueduct@csupomona.edu


Press Release

Sustainable Energy Landscapes

 

I’m really excited to announce the publication on October 19th of Sustainable Energy Landscapes: Designing, Planning, and Development, (edited by Sven Stremke and Andy van den Dobbelsteen) that includes my Chapter 21, written with the help of my Zero+ Campus Project’s colleagues at the University of Minnesota.

In the near future the appearance and spatial organization of urban and rural landscapes will be strongly influenced by the generation of renewable energy. One of the critical tasks will be the re-integration of these sustainable energy landscapes into the existing environment—which people value and want to preserve—in a socially fair, environmentally sound, and economically feasible manner. Accordingly, Sustainable Energy Landscapes: Designing, Planning, and Development focuses on the municipal and regional scale, where energy-conscious interventions are effective, and stakeholders can participate actively in the transition process.

This book presents state-of-the-art knowledge in the exciting new field of sustainable energy landscapes. It bridges the gap between theory and fundamental research on the one hand, and practice and education on the other. The chapters—written by experts in their fields—present a selection of interdisciplinary, cutting-edge projects from across the world, illustrating the inspiring challenge of developing sustainable energy landscapes. They include unique case studies from Germany, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Austria, Italy, and the United States.

The editors and team of contributing authors aim to inspire readers, providing a comprehensive overview of sustainable energy landscapes, including principles, concepts, theories, and examples. The book describes various methods, such as energy potential mapping and heat mapping, multicriteria decision analysis, energy landscape visualization, and employing exergy and carbon models. It addresses how to quantify the impact of energy transition both on landscape quality and energy economy, issues of growing importance. The text infuses readers with enthusiasm to promote further research and action toward the important goal of building energy landscapes for a sustainable future.

The full marketing announcement: K14201_NTI FL [pdf]

 

Unvailing Levitated Mass

The official dedication ceremony for Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass is set for 11am on Sunday, June 24th at LACMA. Christopher Knight of the LATimes has an early review of the work with photos by Mel Melcon (all the images used in this post). Knight’s piece is a solid review that pulls in a myriad of non-obvious precedents, potential influences and narratives that haven’t been part of the discourse to-date.

“Levitated Mass” is a piece of isolated desert mystery cut into a dense urban setting that’s home to nearly 10 million people. A water-hungry lawn north of LACMA’s Resnick Pavilion was torn up and replaced by a dry, sun-blasted expanse of decomposed granite. A notched gray channel of polished concrete slices 456 feet across the empty field, set at a slight angle between the pavilion and 6th Street. Like a walk-in version of an alien landscape painting by Surrealist Yves Tanguy, quiet dynamism inflects a decidedly sepulchral scene.

What really, really surprises me about the installation are the hefty steel brackets that the monolith is mounted to. All preliminary descriptions evoked a rock sitting directly on the concrete walls of the trench, not mounted on massive steel corbels. The maximalist brackets are a significant shift towards structuralism and away from from Heizer’s minimalist material palette of soil, stone, and concrete (artificial stone). If hidden mountings and connections had been utilized for the rock (I’m thinking about Brian Murphy’s Hopper House) or other highly refined mininalist architecture, then we could have experienced the illusion that the boulder was hovering. As detailed, those gusset plates express the shear mass being supported and bring the levitating mass crashing back to earth.

Lots of architects have used similarly proportioned gussets with Cor-Ten structural elements – this is no Gehry, Eric Owen Moss, or Thom Mayne building though – perhaps Michael Rotondi is part of their lineage. (Here are some images of similar details: 1, 2). The artists that pop to mind from these brackets include Mark di Survero with his structural steel sculptures and Serra for his pioneering use of weathering steel.

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Gigapan Earth

An educator named James Drake obtained over 350 full-resolution photos from the NTs OMZ (Russian Research Center for Earth Operative Monitoring), and used them to make several videos showcasing a day in the life of Earth. The satellite takes a full image of Earth from its stationary point over 35,000 kilometers above the Indian Ocean every 30 minutes, providing the material for the video below. The images have a resolution of one kilometer per pixel, and the one you see above was taken on May 14, 2011

gigapan.com  via SFGate

Untitled Infrastructures by Andy Wilcox

There are many cool things about co-teaching with Andy Wilcox this quarter at Cal Poly, a highlights has been our discussions about wildness and infrastructure. Even if he wasn’t a valued colleague, his paintings falls into the genre of infrastructural art that is frequently explored here (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7). So I’m very happy to help publicize his current show at Curbside Gallery in Santa Ana.

Untitled Infrastructures

Andy Wilcox

In the adaptation to and of the nascent and seemingly unorganized wild of the in-between lays a fertile future. There is a hidden layer of the city that crouches between roadways and bridges, factories and rails, curbs and gutters—a collateral infrastructure of mythic potential.  Accepting this condition as the foundational structure for a higher functioning future, Untitled Infrastructures envisions a future of feral values and a wilder future.  Welcome to the wilderness.

Opening reception May 5th, 7pm-11pm
Curbside Gallery
Santa Ana
http://curbsidegallery.com/
https://www.facebook.com/curbsidegallery

Andy applied for the Rome Prize [pdf of his application] this year, but wasn’t selected.

Buffalo Commons II

The NYTimes discusses the impacts of 71 purebred Bison returning to the great plains of Montana after a 140 year absence. American Prairie Reserve and the Nation Wildlife Federation are the groups behind this effort.

But with several groups now navigating a complex and contentious path to return bison to these plains, agribusiness is fighting back. Many farmers and ranchers fear that bison, particularly those from Yellowstone, might be mismanaged and damage private property, and worry that they would compete for grass with their own herds…

“Within this sea of agriculture there is room for small islands of conservation,” said Sean Gerrity, president of the American Prairie Reserve, the charity that brought the group of genetically pure bison back to a pasture just north of the refuge…

The bison debate has dredged up old tensions between tribes and their neighbors. Before Ms. Greybull, a Sioux, spoke in favor of the animals last fall at a fractious meeting in Glasgow, dozens of farmers and ranchers walked out in protest…

“I took a lot of arrows for this, but it was the right thing to do,” Mr. Schweitzer said. “If you want to get into a fistfight in Montana, go into a bar and share your opinion about bison or wolves.”

See also: Buffalo Commons I

Loosing the silence

The NYtimes reports on how human noise is overwhelming natural sounds in the remotest places and the effort to document the baseline quiet of natural sounds before they are lost in the mechanical cacophony. The quest to map the quiet zones of the planet have been going on for the past decades and there was a recent special edition of Landscape Ecology dedicated to soundscape ecology.

From the NYTime’s article:

[Davyd] Betchkal’s stations capture exactly what we would hear if we could stand invisibly in the wilderness for a month. The recordings can reveal the sonic relationships that play out in our absence — and help us to modify our acoustic footprint. But our understanding of sound will always be limited by our perception of it. We will never experience the ultrasonic cries of insects, lizards or bats without distorting them.

Sounds recordings from Denali

…since 2006, when scientists at Denali began a decade-long effort to collect a month’s worth of acoustic data from more than 60 sites across the park — including a 14,000-foot-high spot on Mount McKinley — Betchkal and his colleagues have recorded only 36 complete days in which the sounds of an internal combustion engine of some sort were absent. Planes are the most common source. Once, in the course of 24 hours, a single recording station captured the buzzing of 78 low-altitude props — the kind used for sightseeing tours; other areas have logged daily averages as high as one sky- or street-traffic sound every 17 minutes. The loudest stretch of the year is summer, when hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to Denali, embarking on helicopter or fixed-wing rides. Snowmobiles are popular with locals, and noise from the highway, the park road and daily passenger trains can travel for miles. That sort of human din, studies are beginning to suggest, is imperiling habitat — in Denali as well as wilderness areas around the world — as surely as a bulldozer or oil spill.

At the Grand Canyon (which is briefly mentioned in the NYT article), flight restrictions are now in place to preserve a modicum of tranquility without the buzzing of helicopters and planes over the entire canyon.

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Tactical Infrastructure – LA402L 2012 Final Projects

I’m pleased to share the final projects from LA402L Winter 2012, the tactical infrastructure studio at Cal Poly Pomona that explored the opportunities in the Northeastern San Fernando Valley.

Rico Molden, Carly McNeil, and Garret Reger’s The River That Could

The Urban Quilt of San Fernando Valley from Yorvin Moreno, Jonathan Alarcon, and Rene Orta

A New Vision for Hansen Dam from Karla Benitez, Kelly Espinoza, and Rey Rebolledo

Reconciled Ecology – San Fernando Road by E. Cortes, M. Okada, J.H. Wang

(to view this video you need to enter password: Infrascape Design)

Tactical Infrastructures Screening

TACTICAL URBANISM (v):

• A deliberate, phased approach to instigating change;
• Implementation of local solutions to local planning challenges;
• Short-term commitment and realistic expectations;
• Low-risk actions which hold the potential for high reward; and
• The development of social capital between citizens and the growth of collective organizational capacity among public, private, and non-profit institutions and their constituents

Project 2: Tactical Infrastructure     
As a process for city-making, tactical urbanism effectively addresses the convergence of three well-documented trends: shrinking municipal budgets, a generational shift to urban living, and the rapid exchange of ideas enabled by advances in information and communications technology.

The public is welcome at our final review and the screening of the student-generated videos for the project on Friday, March 9th, 3-6pm at Cal Poly Pomona, Building 7, Room 203.

LA402L’s Video 1: Eco-Technical Mapping of the Northeastern San Fernando Valley can be viewed here.

Infrastructural Art – Jason Mitcham

Jason Mitcham is best known for animating the Avett Brothers’ video “head full of doubt/road full of promise“.

Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise from Jason Mitcham on Vimeo.

His paintings provide an interesting view of urban landscapes and infrastructure that remind me of William Kentridge’s work without the moral angst of apartheid, perhaps Mitcham’s work expresses the existential angst of modern life with our lack of connection to place.

This Land is Your Land from Jason Mitcham on Vimeo. Continue reading

Eco-Technical Mapping of the Northeastern San Fernando Valley

LA402L Winter 2012 Sublime Infrastructures Mid-Review Videos

SUBLIME (adj): Of such excellence, grandeur, or beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe.

INFRASTRUCTURE (n): 1. An underlying base or foundation especially for an organization or system.

ECO-TECHNICAL SYSTEMS (n): ‘…an unprecedented amalgam of biology and technology… Urban eco-technical systems differ profoundly from nature’s ecosystems in that they are essentially linear systems.  They transcend local ecological boundaries by importing ecological services from elsewhere, using nature as a source of materials as well as a sink for their wastes.” – Herbert Girardet

MAPPING (v):     The act defining the spatial/temporal relationships between different places and systems.

INDEXING (v): The graphic spatial depiction of a system’s (or phenomena’s) influence on a place.

Project 1: Eco-technical Systems Analysis

Each team is to create at least 3 distinct maps or indexes drawn to scale that exploring the political, cultural, spatial, ecological, temporal, or technical fabric of the Valley and their connections to larger systems.  At least one of the maps must explore the temporal development of a system or place, and another must look at ecological systems.

  • Research     5 points
  • Process         5 points
  • Graphics     5 points
  • Innovation     5 points

Video 1: Eco-technical Systems

Documents the site and systems around the site, edited together with animation of the maps produced in Project 1 and historic documents.  Video 1 will provide a narrative about place that hints at the sublime.  The readings are expected to inform the content of the video.

  • Storyboards/pre-production        2 points
  • Script/Narrative                    3 points
  • Cinematography/Animation        3 points
  • Editing/post-production            2 points

(Student generated videos next) Continue reading