Light is not often the first thing that one thinks of when considering the built environment, but in fact, as to the photographer, light is a primary ingredient to the success of any site design. In contrast to other professions that utilize light, the impact of light on the built environment is constantly in flux. In its complexity there are three types of light: continuous, absorptive and emissive. In the science of the light spectrum, the fact is that light behaves like a wave and is defined by its wavelength frequency. Simply put, light of different wavelengths is perceived as different colors. [Read more…] about How the Spectrum of Light can be used in Landscape Architecture
“Moving to the city,” “live-work-play,” and “sharing economy” – these are some of the soundbites of the new generation. As some metro areas compete to recruit and capitalize on the next workforce, are they overlooking or even sacrificing sound planning principals that focus on the long term retention of the next wave? [Read more…] about Should we plan for families in the ‘new’ city?
Jane Jacobs wasn’t bullish on urban parks. She preferred active sidewalks. In her classic urban planning (sociology?) book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, she noted that parks created “borders,” that often result in blighting or “slumming” along their edges. She attributed this circumstance to a lack of diversity of uses, a lack of density, and many other factors, and how they interrelated (her “organized complexity”). [Read more…] about Are cities building too many parks and plazas in their downtowns? The experts weigh in . . .
The justifications for the use of native plants in landscapes usually center on environmental reasons. The reasons run the gamut from water conservation to supporting local fauna. Rarely are aesthetic reasons given. Perhaps that circumstance is the result of the subjective nature of aesthetics. However, there are aesthetic reasons for choosing native plant landscapes that are fairly objective. The following are a few: [Read more…] about Four aesthetic reasons to landscape with native plants
The City of San Diego at 1.3 million and counting according to 2014 data, and notably the 8th largest city in the country, is unique at best and honestly still a small town. Planners, politicians and policy makers to name just a few, are in constant pursuit of definition for this city and our region. Ironically, this pursuit has been going on for the past 100 years with the first Panama-California Exposition in 1915. [Read more…] about What is San Diego’s identity?
The Salk Institute is an other-worldly place as I had seen it on posters and calendars for many years before I experienced it first hand. At certain times of the day, nearer sunset, the space can take your breath away. The concrete and granite buildings and plaza are much more transcendental than harsh. [Read more…] about Beyond Lou Kahn
For the last half century, cities have attempted to repair the damage to their urban cores from migration to suburbs and exurbs. Redevelopment has evolved into smart growth, transit oriented development, and complete streets. In the last 15 years or so, the urban renewal efforts have had a receptive audience as people, tired of the car oriented lifestyle of the suburbs, are returning to urban cores and older urban neighborhoods. However, while cities get the big picture, too often in my 25 years as a land use attorney, I have seen the same mistakes repeated. [Read more…] about 6 Common Mistakes Made By Cities and Towns in Urban Renewal.
The City of La Mesa has cut down all the shade trees along its commercial mainstreet. This occurred as construction began on the La Mesa Downtown Streetscape “enhancement” project. Some of these trees were tattered, unhealthy, or buckling the sidewalks. However, the city removed nearly all the trees, problematic or not. Rather than replacing these trees with environmentally and pedestrian friendly shade trees (e.g. native varieties like Western Sycamores, Live Oak, or Black Oak), the replacements tree choice is being guided primarily by maintenance concerns, leaving a limited selection of relatively small non-native and non-shade trees. Additionally, the Streetscape Masterplan shows an abundance of the grossly overused fan palm, sparing only La Mesa Boulevard between Acacia and 4th, and a few other blocks. [Read more…] about Who Hijacked La Mesa’s Trees?
Everyone loves trees in urban settings. At least they love the concept of urban trees.
[Read more…] about Are Trees to Blame for the Lack of Shade in Southern California?