Land Art Generator Initiative Lecture 2-19


Elizabeth Monoian & Robert Ferry, Co-founders of LAGI. Photo by Joanna Totolici,  TOTOLICI.COM

Excited to share that artist Elizabeth Monoian & architect Robert Ferry, co-founders of Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) are giving a public lecture at 5pm in the atrium of Building 7 on Friday 2/19 at Cal Poly Pomona.

Prior to the lecture, they will be guests in my LA302L & LA402L studios that are designing entries for the 2016 LAGI competition (entry deadline is May 15th), set adjacent to the Santa Monica Pier.

D7K_1451 cropped

Site visit with LA302L & LA402L

LAGI 2016 is an ideas competition to design a site-specific public artwork that, in addition to its conceptual beauty, has the ability to harness energy cleanly from nature and convert it into electricity and/or drinking water for the City [of Santa Monica].


The lecture is being co-sponsored by the Cal Poly Pomona Student Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.


Los Angeles Aqueduct Centenial Project

Aqueduct Futures

Excited to share news of receiving the word that I’ll be getting a $100,000 grant (thanks to the assistance of Dean Woo) to organize activities to commemorate the November 2013 Centennial of the opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct at Cal Poly Pomona.

Once the gift is finalized, I reveal the sponsor and details of the project. In the meantime, I’m busy organizing the courses and exhibition that are the core of Aqueduct Futures. Stay tuned!!!!

[Photo bys Jet Lowe for the Historic American Engineering Record]

Other folks working on Aqueduct Centennial Events:

I’ve also heard that CLUI, Occidental College, and Arid Lands Institute are all possibly planning efforts to commemorate the Centennial.  Please let me know if there are other efforts in the works!

Ed Mazria at CPP

[Live blog notes from Ed Mazria's appearance at Cal Poly Pomona's
University Theatre on April 6th, 2012]

The next built environment today

Ed Mazria is a hero of mine, and I always try to catch his talks when he swings through. I’ve been wondering when there will be a ‘Landscape 2030’ or ‘Urbanism 2030’ to augment his work with Architecture 2030. So I’ll find out what his latest thinking is today.

10:16 – intro by Prof. Pablo Laroche. [the images will be re-arranged as the talk unfolds]

EM -you are about to be the most important group on the planet. What design is, thanks to a lecture by Louis Kahn at Pratt in 1959. In the lecture Kahn drew different things with both hands – wrote ‘silence’ to ‘light’ -“at the threshold of this crossing is Design (a calling on nature).” space time and the environment in the 1950s. We’ve tripled our consumption of fossil fuels since the 1950s, and taken silence out of the equation, to focus on space and form.

Marrakesh aerial photo – showing pre-industrial city – the urban fabric that had to work. dry climate that cools down – so buildings capture the cool air that settles into the fabric – pre-vehicle streets – the buildings shade each other. the masonry is a heat sink. all the buildings are square donuts – floor plates are narrow to allow daylighting. courtyards are intensely planted [image of courtyard]

[Vienna aerial photo] – streets are wide to allow sun light, but buildings are similar pattern to Marrakesh – no planting in courtyards to allow light and heat to get into buildings. narrow high windows – the longer the light throw/deeper the floor plates.  [circles church on the photo]

[Toronto flat iron bldg 1891] and now same image today – with conditioned space, architecture changes into big bulky masses that require lots of energy to inhabit.

Industrial revolution: +/- 1780

Crystal Palace (1851 Joseph Paxton) – first use modern materials but unconditioned. 1857 steam heating and the radiator are invented. 1882 Pearl Street P0wer Station by Thomas Edison. 1902 Willis Carrier invents air conditioning. 1908-1927 Ford Model T – so cities and towns start to sprawl. 1925 Bauhaus Dessau – structure moves inside, curtain walls offer flexibiluty.

CIAM 1928 – 1959 reacting to squalid housing conditions around Europe, coal was still major fuel in cities. Athens Charter (modernism is the enemy of sustainability!)

  • function based zones (separated zoning
  • free, efficient circulation
  • high-rise housing blocks

Plus Corb’s ‘Towards a New Architecture, columns, free plan, curtain wall, horizontal windows, roof gardens {the best part] – 1929 Villa Savoy expressed all five points. 1780 – 1932 Phillip Johnson’s international style exhibit arrives in the US.

1935 first highrise – Glaspaleis in Heerien Netherlands (first double wall facade)

1949 Johnson’s Glass house in New Canaan

1952 Lever house

1956 Brasilia – first modern planning Continue reading

3hree Ways Across – Urban Design Studio

This spring, I’m part of the Cal Poly Pomona landscape+architecture 4th year urban design studio, looking at downtown Los Angeles around Union Station – an area primed for redevelopment as transit options increasingly serve the area – perhaps making these neighborhoods the best connected part of the city.

Our review schedule (all are 2-6pm at Cal Poly Pomona):

  • Aprill 11th – site analysis of the district around Union Station
  • April 25th – master plan review
  • May 7th – mid-review
  • May 30th – final review

Let me know if you want to participate. More details to follow.

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


• 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.

Sublime Infrastructures Mid-Review

My 4th year BSLA studio LA402L, will be screening our student generated videos about the sublime infrastructure of Northeast San Fernando Valley on Wednesday, February 1st at 3pm in the atrium of Building 7 at Cal Poly Pomona. Hope you can join us for my first attempt at using video as a design tool in a studio setting.

Está Muerto

by Jonathan Alarcon, Yorvin Moreno, and Rene Orta

Está Muerto explores the relationship between pollution and foreclosures.

effected movement, integrated infrastructure

by Rico Molden, Carly McNeil, and Garret Reger

Traces the flows of people, water, and electricity.

The other videos look at the urban-wildland interface, and how high-speed rail may impact Sylmar.

Richard Saul Wurman at Cal Poly Pomona

Richard Saul Wurman (RSW) the founder of the TED conferences (and former dean of the College of Environmental Design at Cal Poly) is about to give gave a rare public appearance at Cal Poly Pomona this evening (tweeted as #RSW_ENV).  I’m going to live blog his talk.   This post is a (mildly) edited live transcription of his talk.

Richard Saul Wurman – information architect

RSW: Lovely to be back in a place that rescued me from bankruptcy, had the job for a year then was fired. Loved all the students, the president was terribly gracious. Taught one class that was open to all students  – ‘Passion in Pomona’ what his friends were passionate about. Francis Crick, Frank O. Gehry, a kite maker – the collection of odd people was a continuation of my curiosities – I’m not very bright, but shallow, and broad looking into lots of connections. Didn’t want hyperbolic introduction.

Dean Micheal Woo:  Tonight we’re having a dialog between me and Mr. Wurman, then open it to audience questions. [Continued on verbatim repeat of the email sent out about the event]:

I first learned about Mr. Wurman in the early 1970s, when he published a series of books which attempt to explain the physical environment and explore the ways in which people understand how cities and designed environments work [Our Man-Made Environment — Book Seven (1970); Making the City Observable (1971); The Nature of Recreation: A handbook in honor of Frederick Law Olmsted, using examples From his work (1972); Yellow Pages of Learning Resources (1972)]. He was educated as an architect at the University of Pennsylvania, where he worked with Louis Kahn and later co-edited The Notebooks and Drawings of Louis Kahn (1973).

This is like interviewing Charlie Parker or Robert Johnson for a music lover.  [ Gave away a book to a student that rsvp’d via facebook]

RSW: I write about things that I don’t know about. As a 76 y.o. I needed to know about the medical system so I wrote about it. Wrote about children cause I have several… Singular passion to learn about what he doesn’t know and wants to learn about. Sold TED it in 2002. Reinventing several conferences about innovation. Defining innovation differently – need to do more than that. Incremental change – nobody invented a car – it was a bunch of additions and combinations. TED was subtractions: got rid of suits, panels, long speeches, silos around disciplines… like Passion at Pomona.

Continue reading

Design Foundations

This fall, I’ve been regularly discussing what qualifications are needed to effectively teach first year design studios at both the grad and undergrad levels with my colleagues at Cal Poly.  Our discussions have ranged from the various pedagogies appropriate for the 21st century (is it time to move beyond the Bauhaus or Heyduk?), to do you need to be a landscape architect to introduce the principles of design to landscape architecture students (could an artist or architect be effective?). A parallel – though wider – discussion is over on Archinect too.

The catalyst of these discussions is my participation in the search committee for a new tenure-track faculty member to teach ‘design foundations’.  The search is officially open!  Applications are due January 3rd (see below).  So do you have what it takes to lay the educational foundation for a student’s successful career as a landscape architect? We hope folks with backgrounds beyond landscape architecture (MArchs, MFAs, MUPs, or other related fields), who engage with the landscape will apply too.

Continue reading

refining infrascape

Please accept my apology for not posting as often as I (and you, my readers) would have liked over the past few months, as it’s been a (very) busy spring, and turning into an even busier summer. The focus of much of my extracurricular effort has been landing a tenure-track spot, so I’m very pleased to announce that I will be joining the Landscape Architecture Faculty at Cal Poly Pomona in the fall!

Pomona has always been one of my top choices for their long standing leadership in environmental/sustainable design, but there were a few days where it looked like I might be heading to NYC instead of Los Angeles (but that’s a story that I rather not share to avoid hurting the other school). So this summer is all about packing up, jettisoning unused stuff,  tying up loose ends in Minnesota (including a bunch of overdue posts), and heading back to California. As I settle into the world of publish or perish academia, I’ll be sharing more about teaching and my writings when time permits. Hope to still keep the random observations about infrastructure, landscape, art, cities, and sustainability  that generate most of the new visitors to Infrascape Design.

Other activities (soon to have posts of their own)  from the first half of 2011 that have reduced my posting to Infrascape to the bare minimum includes developing three new courses, writing a grant proposal to establish a research coordination network for urban heat island mitigation (stay tuned for news if we get funded), submitting  two abstracts to the AASHE conference (both were accepted!) and writing another book review for Landscape Journal (also to be shared soon).


The academic job search ended up being a cathartic and very revelatory process as it forced refining my interests and methodologies that are the foundation of my concept of infrascape into succinct statements. Through numerable iterations as I sent out a dozen-and-a-half applications, I had the opportunity to craft a Research Statement, a Teaching Statement, and a ‘teaching talk’ [see below]. Variations of this teaching talk got presented in 4 skype interviews,  in 2 in-person interviews, and as a ‘teaching portfolio’ sent to most of the search committees. All of these iterations that have deepened my understanding of who I am, and sharpened what I hope to accomplish through research, teaching, and service at Cal Poly.

For Fall Quarter at Pomona, it looks like I’ll be leading a section of the 301 studio, and co-teaching the 510 studio. Stay tuned for details of new courses in development and the adventures in selecting studio sites in the urban wilderness of Los Angeles and Southern California.

teaching talk about infrascape

A teaching talk (for those of you outside of academia) is a lecture where you present your current research and creative works, examples of coursework produced by your students, and articulate your future aspirations to demonstrates your potential to be a strong scholar. The tough part is finding a common narrative  to tie together the complex tangents and threads of interests that one accumulates in life. I’m sure there are many variations possible, but I’ve only recently seen two other folks present (as part of their interviews as the UMN last spring), and few seem to be shared on the internet.

Here is  my teaching talk at Cal Poly (the talk was 30 minutes with 20+ minutes of questions). I’m grateful to all my UMN student’s who’ve shared their work.