Product News by JobLink, Forms + Surfaces, Victor Stanley, and Professional Practice Networks

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Land Matters: Time for a Checkup

We at Landscape Architecture Magazine appreciate the time that about 1,000 of you spent answering our 2015 reader survey, which opened online for a month in late October. It’s a detailed survey and collects a vivid picture of our readership.

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Land Matters: One World That Looks Like Two

Sometimes you stumble across a scenario you can’t quite see all the edges of, yet you can tell yourself: There’s a problem here. A friend recently sent me an article from Devex, an online source of international development news, about a supposedly new way of thinking about global aid and sustainable development. But landscape architects aren't part of the discussion.

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Land Matters: Art Gensler Says So

For someone who once dreamed of running a six-person architecture firm, Arthur Gensler has proved rather flexible in that ambition over 50 years as he has grown his firm, Gensler, to 4,800 people in 46 offices on six continents. In the world of design firms, there’s big and bigger, and there’s also bad. But what Gensler has done with his company, which he calls his family, has made it a consistently rational powerhouse of design around the globe. The firm is not leading the edge of the avant-garde, nor does it have the whitest glove in the business, but there’s not a designer of any worth who doesn’t reserve a certain awe for what Art Gensler has accomplished in the quality of his vast operation. Gensler the company can give you a graphics program and it can do the tallest building in Shanghai, and everything in between. I said as much, I should note, to my colleagues when we chose Gensler last year to lead the transformation of ASLA’s headquarters building into the Center for Landscape Architecture, which is expected to open by 2017 (the project starts construction this winter; Oehme, van Sweden is the project’s landscape architect).

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Land Matters: Polar Power

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 emissions of particulate matter, which includes black carbon, by mandating an 80 percent reduction. They are sparing the atmosphere an estimated 2,100 kilograms of black carbon a year from Murmansk’s buses, and saving MAT more than $600,000 a year on fuel. Another major bus company in the city, Elektrotransport, has begun following the lead of MAT by upgrading its fleet.

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Land Matters: A Watershed for a Watershed

We’ve had a qualified breakthrough for green stormwater infrastructure here in Washington, D.C., recently in the long push to clean up our rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. Washington is one of hundreds of cities since the 1990s that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said needs to fix its combined sewer overflow so that sewage no longer mixes with stormwater and surges into waterways, in our case the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers and also Rock Creek, when we have heavy rain. About a third of the city has combined sewers, the last of them built about a century ago. There are 47 places where D.C.’s sewage overflows into open waters. The Anacostia, in recent years, has been likened to a septic tank.

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Land Matters: The New Gold 

Even before the governor of California, Jerry Brown, on April 1 ordered the state’s cities to cut water use by 25 percent this year, San Francisco had already begun making reductions of its own. In October, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission ordered a 10 percent cut in outdoor use of potable water (not including water for food gardens). The city’s parks department has been particularly aggressive. It has cut water use by 22 percent since 2013 across its 220 parks, which cover more than 3,400 acres. “We’re managing [water] as a resource, not as a utility,” said Ana M. Alvarez, the head of the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department. “Water is the new gold.” Alvarez spoke as part of a panel, along with the landscape and urban designer Mia Lehrer, FASLA, and Rafael Payan, the general manager of the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District, on managing parks in drought that I moderated at the City Parks Alliance’s meeting in April.

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