Category Archives: projects

Water and Cities

Interesting exploration from Architect’s Newspaper from October covering a range of water specific projects and proposals in the urban realm.  A short description:

“For landscape architects today, urbanism and water go hand in hand. Whether dealing with issues of sea level rise, groundwater retention, or just plain old water supply infrastructure, landscape architects are working with scientists, engineers, and policy makers on increasingly bigger projects that encompass more external factors and larger networks of physical, biological, environmental, and political networks. We examine some of these water landscapes and how they relate to each other in the broader context of how resources and climate-related changes are being managed.”

The grid locates these twelve projects in the field, with poles ranging on one axis from Decadence to Survival and on the other pole from Not Enough to Too Much.  It’s a simple diagram that shows the complexity of water and the need for regional and adaptive solutions that address multiple problems but are also specific to place.  This spans climate change, drinking water, development, and ecology — balancing all of the variety of needs for livability, economy and social equity of which water is intertwined.  Check out the post for more detail, but a few highlights worthy of discussion.

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The issue of climate refugees is going to continually be more and more common in the news.  One such example is Shishmaref, Alaska who have “…asking whether it’s better to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or take arms against a sea of troubles to combat a looming climate change–driven disaster.”  While consultants have said they should stay, a recent vote went in favor or relocating the town, which is on an island in the Bering Straight, to the safer mainland, and they are looking for the $200 million necessary to do so.

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Miami is an example of a much more populated city dealing with climate issue, such as flooding and access to clean drinking water, even when the city continue to grow rapidly. “Miami’s real estate value continues to rise despite the chronic flooding risks on its waterfront. Even as local governments pour millions into tackling high tides and storm surges, deeper economic and infrastructural issues loom as threats to growth and prosperity.”

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Another interesting take on flooding, Chicago is looking at underground sand deposits that were built over, and still exist, to provide a unique resilience strategy.  “The challenge is immense—for Chicago, one inch of rainfall equals four billion gallons. Until recently Chicago’s answer to the problem has been an infrastructure project no less than epic—read costly—in scale. But one landscape architect is leading an effort to change how the city can unlock its hidden potential for storm water management”

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On the flip side, proposals for water scarcity are happening in Texas, through innovative methods of protecting supply, as well as creating controversy as cities in Wisconsin start asking to draw water from Lake Michigan.

And what review of water would be complete without some discussion of the contentious LA River, (banner image above) which is being tackled by multiple teams and has created some rifts in the design community, particularly that of putting Frank Gehry in charge of the latest public sceme.  One postive from the Gehry team (in addition to including a good mix of other disciplinares) that I’m curious about is the “L.A. River VR Experience, an initiative by media producers Camilla Andersson and Anders Hjemdahl at Pacific Virtual Reality and FoLAR… The project is currently in the final stages of production and features a VR tour along the entire LA River. “

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The work of Studio Gang to develop interdisciplinary solutions to ecological projects is interesting, and the work of UrbanLab also provides some context for water projects in China.

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Lots more, so check out all of these brief articles and the matrix of abundance and scarcity and decadence and survival is a unique frame to look at water solutions.  Finally, for more in-depth look at one of these projects, check out my post over at Hidden Hydrology to find out more on the Town Branch Commons project by SCAPE and the ‘daylighting’ of an urban waterway in Lexington, Kentucky.

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Images via ArchPaper

 

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Worlds Largest

Via, Dezeen, a post about Rafael Viñoly design for The Hills at Vallco, along with landscape architecture firm Olin, to redevelop the “…Vallco Shopping Mall in Cupertino into a vast mixed-use development featuring a 30-acre (12 hectare) green roof.”  Billed as the ‘largest green roof in the world’, a title of which is somewhat arbitrary and ambiguous, it is still worth a little exploration. The integration of open space and development here seems grand and not restrained as you so often see, which is intriguing.

The aerial rendering (above) is reminiscent of a sort of green Sim City, which connected vegetated corridors draped atop a series of building forms.  Evoking the concepts of underground cities or the parti of insertion of buildings under the existing landscape, the sheer amount of green space is impressive.  And from it sounds like, mostly public.  From the post:

“The Hills at Vallco features an unprecedented 30-acre community park and nature preserve, which will not only be the largest community park in Cupertino, but also the largest green roof in the world,” said a statement from Sand Hill Property Company, the developer behind the $3 billion (£2 billion) scheme.”

Some images of the skybridges at street level provide some drama, but I feel like they want to be more physically green themselves – with hints at the edges of a verdant escape, not a metallic skybridge.

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The interior spaces also seem like traditional courtyards, perhaps more for the interior residents to have views of nature within their spaces. There are some hints at connections to the adjacent green belts via ramps and through buildings, but the logistics of movement is something that would be interesting to explore.  Again, the bands flying over make for sculptural forms, but one hope to see the green connections more physically within the site, not just from the air.

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Another image plucked from The Hills at Vallco website shows some of these connections better, with vegetated slopes and pathways arcing up above buildings and providing a better feel for some of the ‘draping’ that connects ground plane to roof.  The architectural forms benefit from these green faces and provide an additional softness to what could be a traditional mixed use infill project.

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The immersion is more evident in the larger open space zones, the ‘nature preserve’ zones mimicking the adjacent rolling hillsides that open up with mixed grassland and groves, which provide some counterpoint to the urban plaza zones above.  The ability to create these multiple landscape experiences

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I really love the rooftop vineyard idea, both as a reference to the local regional landscape as well as a way to provide a destination and experience.  It would be interesting to see the viability of growing wine grapes on structure (dry soils with low fertility seem like a winner) and perhaps yield the first ‘green roof’ grown wine to complement some other green roof honey, rooftop greenhouses, and urban agricultural pursuits?  One wonders “What is the terroir of an engineered growing media”?

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Like many grand, green schemes, it will be interesting to see how this comes together in reality beyond renderings.  The creation of multi-functional schemes like these have great potential in reducing the impact of development on habitat and management of stormwater pollution and runoff, and reduction urban heat island.  It also provides a visible and concrete connection to nature to visitors and residents.

It comes with an obvious cost, but one that may well be worth it.  And, probably much better than the previous mall.  Perhaps.

Bioclimatic Design

bioclimatic-design-feature3Good article in the USGBC+ magazine related to Bioclimatic Design and some projects that focus on the integration of vernacular strategies (and forms) to increase responsiveness to the local environment in which they are built.  This is nothing new for many designers, and builds upon centuries of knowledge, but I’m mostly interested in how it incorporates landscape and buildings in inventive new (old) ways.

The ability to transcend climate came with “…the advent of modern technology in the 20th century, contemporary design trends shifted away from being responsive to natural conditions and emphasized instead isolating buildings from nature to try to overcome those conditions.”  As mentioned, this opened up new frontiers for where we could live, but also lead to homogenization and reliance on heating and air conditioning (or maybe even overbuilding in climates ill-suited for development).   That said, bioclimatic design can include both the vernacular as well as rely on significant technological knowledge to realize – through modelling and other modern design tools.

bioclimatic-design-feature5-300The grass covered roof is a simple and archetypal form of the landscape and building integration – used for cooling and made from locally available, regenerative materials.  Plus, goats for roof maintenance is pretty sustainable.   This pre-cursor to the modern green roof was borne of necessity, but also perhaps can also aid in resilience and climate adaptive building strategies that start to creep into the vocabulary of designers – through the guises of biomimicry and biophilia.  Both work hand in hand as there are inspirations from nature revealed in design, and the planet, as well as building/city users benefit in multiple ways.   It’s a full circle of building based on our innate traditions beginning to feed our innate need for access to this nature.

A really stunning example of the process ( Autorité de Régulation de la Poste et des Télécommunications by Mario Cucinella Architects) is outlined in the article so i won’t go into detail, but has a subtle integration of landscape with building form.

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The shape of the building is scooped to capture cooling winds, but the indigenous shape has additional benefit:

 “Another influence on the shape of the building was a desert structure used in antiquity in many arid parts of the world, called a tu’rat, Bruno says. These crescent-shaped structures, made of stones piled without mortar, captured moist winds and fog, which created condensation that percolated down to irrigate protected gardens.  “In the early morning, you can collect a little bit of water, and this allows you to grow plants,” he says. The tu’rat-inspired structure includes the enclosure of a small oasis of palm trees and other vegetation on the south side of the building.”

The relationship of water in the desert is key, and additional elements like  rainwater collection and phytopurification, using a constructed wetland), will dramatically reduce water use while providing comfort and verdant respite.

A more urban example is RB12, a building in Rio de Janeiro design by Triptyque.  Drawing from the bioclimatic concepts popularized by Ken Yeang, the building uses “Suspended gardens integrated into the façade, along with a green rooftop, also help control lighting.”

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While ostensibly a form of climate control, in this case it is less successful, as there is supplemental systems for cooling, as mentioned, which makes it less of a bioclimatic model than one that is merely inspired as such.  My thought looking at renderings is that they didn’t take it far enough, or integrated the vegetation thoroughly enough, to make it more than a few plants on terraces.

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bioclimatic-design-gallery-01 2The ability to integrate buildings and vegetation – as i’ve called it vegitecture, is a key element for bioclimatic architecture, and offers many potential opportunities for designers to collaborate.  The potential spans beyond the building-centric to also include potential for habitat development in the urban ecosystem, refuge for birds, and pathways for pollinators.  All while cooling buildings and making cities more livable.  Not bad.

Hidden Hydrology Redux

Last week, I had the honor recently of presenting at a conference with one of my idols of landscape architecture, Anne Whiston Spirn.  Aside from stimulating conversation, she presented the old and new of her work from The Granite Garden through her ongoing work on the Mill Creek Project in Philadelphia, i was reminded of the tenets of persistence and the need to not work behind the scenes, but to continue to strive outwardly to make ecologically driven, research based, green and livable cities.  As many know that is inspired in me through work with water and watersheds, but also storytelling and ways to make evident that which is lost or merely hidden.  That inspiration comes many sources, but very much from the work of Ms. Spirn.

To capture my work and continue it in some form – i transferred some posts from the early days of my firm back in 2010 that formed the foundation of an ongoing work that is gaining more momentum in recent weeks, and worthy of a dusting off.  Partially as the blog is an archive of work and things i want to capture and remember – partially it is an opportunity to rework and re-frame these issues in a new time with some new energy.  Some folks will have seen this before in various forms – to others this might be new.  Over the next few days, i will repost some of the inspirations, starting today with the introduction – followed by some origins gleaned from others through the readings and explorations.  In all, it the various threads of this perpetually wandering generalist may be coming together to form a web, and with luck and work, a tapestry.

Hidden Hydrology – Portland Series Introduction

Originally published on Terra Fluxus – 12/21/2010

In the next year, TERRA.fluxus will be initiating a multi-phase project to explore the Hidden Hydrology of the city of Portland as the main research activity for the near future.   I have been fascinated with this since my first glimpse of the Disappeared Streams map published by Metro (will get my hands on one soon and give a glimpse) and it’s eventual configuration into a 2006 ASLA Presentation on ‘Neighborsheds for Stormwater Management‘ as an preliminary exploration of the concept.  The particular Metro map highlighted ‘historic’ streams that had been buried and piped through development of the City of Portland over the course of the last 150 plus years, showing existing as blue and those ‘disappeared’ in red.  While many westside creeks still ran free, the entire eastside was vivid red, long covered by roads, industrial buildings, houses, parks, and more.   While the methodology on that particular map was suspect (relying more on topographic analysis than hydrological markers), there are plenty of sources for historic waterways in maps, photos, and on-site investigation.

Thus the focus of the project, utilizing multiple sources to gain a more complete understanding of the underlying hydrological history of the area, with an aim towards using this information both in traditional planning and design manners, but also as the touchstone for a series of speculative works.

Portland, of course, has always been, and still is, a river city.   We live around waterways and bridge lifts, and relying on water for our recreation and port traffic, as well as giving us the overall image of our city.  Tucked along the banks of the Willamette and its confluence with the Columbia,  the history of water mirrors the history of urbanization, from the initial settlement patterns and grids of the 1850s up to modern conditions.  The early, or ‘pre-development’ snapshot is best captured in this compilation map of the 1852 Cadastral Survey, which was created right after the incorporation of Portland as a city in 1851.  This map, and others (a great collection of which can be found at the Bureau of Environmental Services site), will play parts in analysis throughout the project.

You can spend hours looking at this map, and placing the vision of this early city compared to it’s eventual form.  While Portland’s rivers and streams are beautiful – they are also highly troubled, with dual issues of industrial pollution and combined sewer overflows working in tandem to create issues for native fish (and people), landing many of our major waterways on lists of the most polluted rivers.  The idea of hidden hydrology is evident not in the still visible (although they are intimately connected), but those ‘urban’ waterways that over the years have changed from open streams and creeks to become piped as ‘infrastructure systems’ to deal with expanding growth of the metropolis.   Thus we look at the slow erasure of natural topography and hydrology at work in a political sphere, and begin to see what remains of this palimpsest.

The most urban example is found in Tanner Creek, the historic downtown river that wound through downtown for over fifty years, remaining intact (in form if not in quality) through urbanization, as seen in this 1881 illustration looking at downtown towards the northeast.

The proximity of this creek to development (and the Tannery) led to pollution and sanitation issues downstream, so as with many urban creeks, a period of modernization happened, in this case the 1917 implementation of the Tanner Creek Sewer project.  This forever buried the main stem of this historic creek through the heart of downtown in brick vault sewer (many of which are still functioning, or have recently been replaced).


:: images via Bureau of Environmental Services

While the historic are interesting in their own right (and there are ample sources of material to digest so more to come on this), the interaction of the new and old is both dynamic and informative.  Moving to the Southeast Quadrant, we can isolate the more detailed Cadastral maps (the survey developed the township, section geometry used today, thus giving us the ability to overlay old and new with a measure of precision).  The coverage through the 1850s and 60s is quite extensive, and will be useful when reconciled with the existing GIS coordinate systems.  An inverted version of the original survey maps gives an indication of their density of information.  The study area will be in the upper right hand quadrant of this township scale map.

A series of maps utilize GIS layering along with historical mapping underlayment to create a modern ‘routing’ for a stream in the lower Taggart basin.  First a section of the historical map (1852) was analyzed for hydrologic features (river, stream, wetland, etc.) based on the map features present at the time of the survey.  These are accented to show their location for referencing to other maps.

The topography and street grid are overlaid to show the relationship of water features to current configurations.  The addition of hillshade allows for fine-tuning of hydrological features to match remnant topographic that has not been leveled or erased through development.

Following this, the combined ‘hybrid’ map is reconciled into a workable base that is accurate to the historical location of ‘urban streams’ as well as current urban form.  Additional layers are added, and the iterations of analyses are only limited by time and usefulness.  Groundwater, soils, historical aerial photos, vacant lands, floodplains, and vegetative cover are just a few that spring to mind from glancing at Metro’s stock of layers.   I am also already other gathering data for a planned comparison with BES Subwatersheds, which mirror directly the configuration of subsurface pipe infrastructure that replaced these open channels sometime in the last 100+ years.  While our technology allows us to perform feats unbelievable to the 19th century Portander in lifting, pumping, and moving materials, there is still an inherent consistency and efficiency of using gravity to move water and waste that still makes these historic systems relevant as blueprints for existing conditions.

The other idea is to use this information for potential projects and interventions – looking opportunistically at the relationship of these systems over time and space.   To kick of this aspect, the next phase of analysis for this area will also be to ‘ground-truth’ the map hybrids – through a series of documented urban explorations (in the spirit of the Center for Land Use Interpretation perhaps?), along with further refinement, historical research, and analysis throughout 2011.

Stay tuned for more info after the new year.

EcoTracks

Short blurb from Sustainable Business Oregon on a new ‘EcoTrack‘ for the light rail expansion in Portland.

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“The vegetated trackway, which aims to reduce stormwater runoff, is among the first such efforts in the U.S. It will adorn a station at Southwest Lincoln Street and Third Avenue near the Portland State University campus.

The installation “will provide a colorful carpet of low-growing plants along 200 feet of light rail line,” according to the transit agency. The technique is common in Europe and consists of one-inch thick mats that contain various species of sedum, which are a hardy low-maintenance vegetation.”

 

Going viral: Blurred Borders

I’m pleased to announce that Landscape+Urbanism will be featured along with some great company as part of the Voices Going Viral Exhibition and event developed by AIANY.   More information below.

The AIANY Global Dialogues committee has dedicated 2012 to “uncovered connections” with the intention to investigate issues that are similarly impacting multiple regions, cultures and individuals. Going Viral: Blurred Borders explores the impact that social media, technology and device culture are having on our design process, and ultimately the way we practice. How do we shape a global conversation? How are we changing the relationships between academia and the profession? What is the impact of hyper information sharing and critique? Throughout the evening, the topics of communication, research, collaboration, and data distribution will be addressed and debated.

Bjarke Ingels of BIG, Toru Hasegawa of Morpholio and Columbia University Cloud Lab, Carlo Aiello of eVolo, and David Basulto with David Assael of ArchDaily will come together for a lecture and panel discussion moderated by Ned Cramer, editor-in-chief of Architect. In addition, selected game changing blogs and websites will be exhibited as Voices Going Viral on the evening of the event. Please join us at the NY Center for Architecture on May 21st at 6:00 pm and online for further information and to RSVP.

The exhibit will feature a ton of great design blogs, so good company to share – and thanks to the curators for the inclusion, and of course thanks to all of you for reading.  Check out the full list in alphabetical order:

Apartment Therapy created by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan and Janel Laban
ArchDaily created by David Basulto and David Assael 
Archidose created by John Hill
Archinect created by Paul Petrunia 
Architect’s Newspaper created by William Menking 
ArchitectureMNP created by Ryan McClain, co-founded by Kiye Apreala
Architizer created by Matthias Hollwich, Marc Kushner, and Benjamin Prosky
Archive of Affinities created by Andrew Kovacs
BLDGBLOG created by Geoff Manaugh
Blurr created by Ahmed Elhusseiny 
But Does It Float created by Folkert Gorter, Atley Kasky, & Will Schofield
Cooking Architecture created by Claire Shafer and Juan Jofre
The Cool Hunter created by Bill Tikos
Core 77 created by Eric Ludlum, Stuart Constantine, & Allan Chochinov
Culture Now created by Abby Suckle, Ann Marie Baranowski, Susan Chin, Diana Pardue, and Nina Rappaport
Curbed created by Lockhart Steele
Death by Architecture created by Mario Cipresso 
DesignBoom created by Birgit Lohmann & Massimo Mini
Design Sponge created by Grace Bonney
DesignReform created by CASE designreform.net Dezeen created by Marcus Fairs
e-Oculus created by the AIA New York Chapter 
eVolo created by Carlo Aiello
Inhabitat blog created by Jill Fehrenbacher
Landscape + Urbanism created by Jason King 
Mammoth created by Stephen Becker and Rob Holmes
Morpholio created by Mark Collins, Toru Hasegawa, & Anna Kenoff
Places Journal online created by Nancy Levinson, Harrison Fraker, William Drenttel, Jessica Helfand and Michael Bierut
Post Post created by David Jaubert
Project created by Alfie Koetter, Daniel Markiewicz, Jonah Rowen, & Emmett Zeifman

Credits: Global Dialogue Chairs: Bruce E. Fisher AIA and Jeffrey A. Kenoff AIA Event Co-Chairs: Elie Gamburg, Diane Chehab Design and Curatorial Team: James Kehl, Rebecca Pasternack, Ciara Seymour, Sarah E. Smith, Andy Vann 

GOOD Times in Portland

The recent event for GOOD Ideas for Cities happened last week in Portland, and generated some great dialogue.  I was also on one of the teams that presented.  A short recap.

:: custom notebooks by Scout Books

 “Each team was issued a challenge proposed by a local urban leader. At the event, the creative teams will present their solutions to their assigned challenge, and the urban leaders will join them onstage for a brief Q&A with GOOD Ideas for Cities editor Alissa Walker.”  Teams included international talent from Wieden + Kennedy and Ziba Design, as well as local groups Sincerely Interested, THINK.urban, ADX, and the Official Manufacturing Company, all tackling some pressing (and not so pressing) urban ideas.

The event was held at Ziba’s beautiful new HQ building in the Pearl District, and the sold-out event had some great people and conversations.  As you can see the packed house (including Mayor Sam Adams) is checking out Alissa from GOOD’s intro, and had some great energy for the various groups.
 
:: image via Portland Mercury
My evolving side project THINK.urban, under development as a non-profit with fellow PSU Grad Students Allison Duncan and Katrina Johnston, was one of the teams, as mentioned above.  We’ve been slamming away on ideas for six weeks, and presented our ideas for world-class bike infrastructure, working from a challenge from Bikeportland.org‘s Jonathan Maus).
:: image via Portland Mercury 

As mentioned in a recap by Sarah Mirk from the Portland Mercury (check out the post for all of the ideas) – here’s what we’ve been working on.

“CHALLENGE (from BikePortland.org editor Jonathan Maus): How can we create a major new bikeway that helps make bicycling as visible, safe, convenient, and pleasant for as many people as possible? 

IDEAS (from PSU grad student nonprofit THINK.Urban):  Take a cue from Europe and build two-way cycletracks on Portland’s biggest streets. The two-way lanes would be separated from cars on streets like Sandy, Broadway, and Hawthorne, by a grassy median. “Prioritize bikes on the same level as cars. People are tired of looking at Europe. We want to see these things here now.”

We were really happy with the ideas that were developed, honored to be in such great company, and looking forward to seeing this new bike infrastructure take root.  More on the ideas will be posted at THINK.urban, and I’ll link them back here when they do. 

GOOD times.

Soundtrack for Spaces – Next Generation

I have discussed the concept  previous posts on the ‘Soundtrack for Spaces’, where I was making connections between physical locations in the landscape and the potential to imbue place with appropriate musical accompaniment.  These varied, but included looking at the Fleet Foxes as driving music in the Columbia River Gorge, the video customization for Arcade Fire’s ‘The Wilderness Downtown‘, and another video stitched together from Google Street View clips.

The ideas at the time were somewhat nascent, and sort of hinted at the concept of adaptable, location-specific music responsive to place.  This was reinforced by reading one of William Gibson’s latest novels called ‘Spook Country‘, which discusses the concept of ‘locative media‘ within the storyline, which means media that is delivered “directly to the user of a mobile device dependent upon their location.”  Another thread was a tale of games of location-specific ‘Urban Pacman‘ taking place in Portland – using the game-friendly layout of Ladd’s Addition as a container. 

:: image via Robot Mutant

An article from a few weeks back in the NY Times – “Central Park, the Soundtrack” takes this idea to an entirely new level.  Bluebrain, a musical duo have created.  The first of the series looked at the National Mall, and the second, of these ‘locational’ music pieces, ‘Listen to the Light’ provides an experiential soundtrack for Central Park.  From the Times article:

“As you walk, new musical themes hit you every 20 or 30 steps, as if they were emanating from statues, playgrounds, open spaces and landmarks… The themes layer over one another, growing in volume as you approach certain points on the map and fading out as you move away. It’s a musical Venn diagram placed over the landscape, and at any time you might have two dozen tracks playing in your ears, all meshing and colliding in surprising ways. The path you take determines what you hear, and the biggest problem with what the composers call a “location-aware album” is that you may get blisters on your feet trying to hear it all.”

The Venn diagram looks something like this, and the tracks reference GPS coordinates.  A diagram or map of the overlay of different musical phrases, from the Bluebrain site:

You can get a taste for the ‘classical’ inspired work as well.

Central Park (Listen to the Light) – A New Location Aware Album by BLUEBRAIN from BLUEBRAIN on Vimeo.

Definitely check out the slightly longer ‘making of’ video for “Listen to the Light” for more detail on the technical aspects.  It is somewhat difficult to assess whether the piece is a success or not, divorced from context, but that might be the point.  For those of us who have a constant soundtrack going through our head – which hits shuffle based on a word on a street sign or a sight of a sunset, it does lead one to think that there many possibilities that we are just scratching the surface.

Another interesting example mentioned in the article was GPS Beatmap: Planet as Control Surface, which uses location-specific positioning to mash-up musical phrases based on where you are. Check out a video of this in action here:


GPS Beatmap from Jesse Stiles on Vimeo.

It’s pretty exciting, even in these simple formats – and it isn’t difficult to envision new radio stations that are location-driven, where users can select a genre, plug in headphones, and participate in an immersive, place-based experience customized to their own particular 

For more, check out ASLA’s The Dirt post on Bluebrain here.

Siftings: 01.11.12

““All great art is born of the metropolis.” – Ezra Pound

 :: image via NY Times

A great little snapshot on urban serendipity from the NY Times that looks at the accidental ‘curation’ of spaces that the urban environment yields, such as the framed view from the subway to the Brooklyn Bridge.  Perhaps the uniformity of the grid is part of the magic, as the NYT also talks about the 200th Anniversary of the Manhattan Grid, along with the exhibition at the Museum of the City.  And speaking of paving here in Portland, local group Depave got some nice coverage on OPB for their continued work on rolling back pavement in the city.  As for making money on the urban agriculture and gardens – a study in Vancouver, BC finds that it is still a challenge to make a living wage farming, even in the city.  Perhaps we can lobby for urban farm subsidies?

:: image via Museum of the City

Nate Berg at the Atlantic Cities sums up Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne’s year-long project to explore his city through its literature, and some of his conclusions on where we stand.  As quoted in the Atlantic article:

““What the books have suggested to me,” Hawthorne argues, “is that we really don’t have – and need – a new framework for understanding the city at this moment in its history as it undergoes this transition.”

A review of his most recent reading of ‘Los Angeles Plaza: Sacred and Contested Space‘ can be found here – which is an interested exploration of the role of space, and the role of social status, on the way we interpret urban histories.  Related, and probably not big news, but people are less enamored with the suburbs, and are re-urbanizing, in this case, Philadelphia along with living in more dense types of housing. 

:: image via Philly.com

More on Occupy, with the recent flurry of Global and US occupations bringing into question the ‘limits’ of how public spaces are.  As mentioned in the story:

“The Occupy Wall Street movement showed there are often limits to how long one can stay in the town square of a “free” state to express one’s opinion. Various kinds of force were used to get people out of New York’s Zuccotti Park.”

An interesting article from The Dirt on the $50 million!!!!! dollars of planning documents and designs for the Orange County Great Park, which has failed to yield much in terms of output.  It brings into question the time-scale on these massive endeavors, and how much needs to happen to create a ‘park’ in a traditional sense to satisfy some – while allowing space (and budgets) to evolve over decades.

:: image via The Dirt

Finally, a new competition from the Land Art Generator Initiative asks how renewable energy can be beautiful with a planned site at the Freshkills Park – which has a similar time-scale to the Great Park above.  And Freshkills may be an apt model for Mexico City, who is planning to close their massive landfill… And for the squeamish, a new report from the National Research Council changes the tune of reclaimed wastewater (aka toilet to tap) from a ‘option of last resort’ to a viable strategy that poses no more health risks than other sources.  Drink up!