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Landscape Architecture Magazine Aug-15

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United States
American Society of Landscape Architects
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12 Issues


access_time3 min.
polar power

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working with the city of Murmansk, Russia, through grants and other means, to clean up its fleet of diesel buses. Murmansk is the largest city above the Arctic Circle, with about 300,000 people. Until 2013, most of the 200 or so buses run by the city’s largest bus company, Murmanskavtotrans, or MAT, were old and shedding large amounts of black carbon exhaust into the atmosphere. Black carbon is also known as soot, and diesel exhaust is a rich source of it. By the end of last year, 52 new MAZ-103 buses were on the roads of Murmansk; they meet the European Union’s second-highest standards for vehicle emissions, known as Euro 5, which took effect in 2011 and are the first such standards to regulate…

access_time4 min.
dividing highway

Toronto’s waterfront as it exists today, with a view of the elevated Gardiner Expressway.San Francisco; Seoul, South Korea; Madrid; Boston; Portland, Oregon; New York; Seattle. Each of these cities at one point faced the equivalent of Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway debate: rebuild a hulking, elevated expressway, or tear it down? Each city opted for the latter, in part because doing so allowed for new waterfront development and because traffic studies have shown that decreases in capacity correlate heavily with decreased congestion. As a result, over the years, highway removal has become a popular planning strategy in countries around the world.But in June, Toronto’s city council went against popular opinion and the recommendations of its own planning staff and voted to rebuild the crumbling eastern segment of the Gardiner Expressway in almost…

access_time3 min.
duluth dredge city

The Duluth harbor near the Minnesota– Wisconsin border is a nexus of dredging activity. (U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS)“The people who end up doing this stuff are doing it way more experimentally than you might realize,” says Tim Maly. For Maly, a lecturer in industrial design at the Rhode Island School of Design and a founding member of the Dredge Research Collaborative, “this stuff”—dredging—is “landscape architecture at a continental scale.”This year, DredgeFest Great Lakes, the third iteration of DredgeFest, a hybrid conference/studio/mud-soaked tour of dredging sites, will take place between Minneapolis and Duluth, Minnesota, August 14–21. The Great Lakes event, cohosted by the University of Minnesota’s Department of Landscape Architecture, is the first to be held inland, along North America’s “freshwater coast.”As an example of the type of experimental projects…

access_time2 min.
risky business

New flood maps for New York City will go into effect in 2016, but some argue they already are outdated. (NEW YORK CITY MAYOR’S OFFICE/FEMA)Hurricane Sandy shone a spotlight on New York City’s unpreparedness for the types of storms that may become more common as sea levels continue to rise, and outdated flood maps, which were based on a coastal flood hazard analysis conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as far back as 1983, didn’t accurately reflect the city’s vulnerabilities.In January, FEMA released its latest— but not yet final—flood insurance rate maps, or FIRMs. Based on a more recent analysis, the maps expand the flood zone and roughly double the number of properties in the 100-year floodplain, many of them in Chelsea, the East Village, Red Hook, and…

access_time3 min.
gene genie

A single species of rice days after two weeks of total submergence. The plant on the right was modified with a floodresistant gene. (YUFAN ZHOU)Rice is submerged in a simulation of flood conditions at a laboratory at UC Davis. (NIR OKSENBERG)Somewhere between 30 percent and 50 percent of Americans view genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, as unsafe to eat, according to recent polls by ABC and the New York Times. But there is little evidence that genetic modification of nonagricultural plants would face the same skepticism.So far, many plant geneticists have focused on cereal crops like rice, engineering them to be less susceptible to floods and other potential disasters. In doing so, they have isolated rice’s genes for flood, drought, and disease resistance—traits that could be engineered into other plants.“A…

access_time2 min.
the case for living coastlines

Sea grasses were planted as part of a natural infrastructure project at Pivers Island, North Carolina. (CAROLYN CURRIN/NOAA)A before photo of Pivers Island, when the area was highly susceptible to erosion.A new “study of studies” by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) makes a strong case for the increased use of natural infrastructure such as reefs and salt marshes. The study, published in the August 2015 issue of Environmental Science & Policy, reviewed literature comparing types of coastal protection infrastructure.Natural infrastructure, the study concludes, can be highly effective in protecting coastal communities against storm surges. It also highlights the many added benefits that living ecosystems provide over levees and seawalls, such as improved water quality, wildlife habitat, opportunities for recreation, and carbon sequestration.Apples-to-apples comparisons between built and natural infrastructure,…