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Landscape and Inscape
Tuesday, 6 April 2010
LEED for Landscape Architects: Shaping a Sustainable Landscape

Teaching a course at the University of California, Berkeley Extension.  Here is the description. 

"The Leadership in Environment and Energy Design program (LEED) is one of the most widely recognized systems for gauging sustainable development. You examine the application and meaning of sustainable practices in landscape architecture in this course, with emphasis on this and other emerging systems. You learn to identify opportunities for sustainable landscape design and apply a range of design and construction practices within the context of the LEED system. You focus on LEED documentation in this course."


Posted by geoffreykatz at 9:13 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 11 April 2010 10:05 PM PDT
Sunday, 18 October 2009
Wolves and Dogs

Crawled the Mission District of San Francisco in the annual Litquake Litcrawl last night.  http://www.litquake.org/.  Heard words from five poets, three authors, and one singer-songwriter.  Remarkable that even the adlib commentary between spoken works from some of these people was like a literary composition.


One of the remarkable people I had the good fortune to meet this evening was Dorothy Hearst, author of Promise of the Wolves http://www.dorothyhearst.com/.  In a brief conversation we advanced the idea that dogs are the dogs that, historically anyway, we love to love, and that wolves are the dogs that we love to hate.  Later checking Wikipedia I discover that recent genetic research seems to indicate that dogs and wolves are in fact the same species, and archaeologists seem to believe that dogs that dogs diverged from wolves between 15,000 and 35,000 years ago. 


Dorothy is not of course the first author to throw herself to the wolves.  Farley Mowat http://bit.ly/2xvXee , the most-read author of my adolescent years (other than Gerald Durrell), gave us a romp through the intimate lives of tundra wolves in the Kivalliq area of Nunavut, Canada in Never Cry Wolf.  Mowat describes the sociability of wolves.  Interesting that the cultural matrix of the local Ihalmiut developed a model of wolf-caribou ecological interdependence.  As Mowat put it, quoting one of his hosts, “The wolves depend on the caribou, but the wolves keep the caribou populations healthy” – because the wolves consistently target the diseased and infirm (any healthy caribou could outrun a wolf).  Compare this to the European mythical structure in which the forest, the habitat of the woodland European wolf, was perceived to be dangerous and bewildering, and the wolf itself as a denizen of the forest feared and dangerous.  The word “forest” comes from the latin “foris” meaning “outside”. 

Perhaps more familiar to many readers are the works of Jack London whose mirror image books White Fang recounts the acculturation of a wolf by a San Franciscan and Call of the Wild recounts the feralization of a domestic dog.

Posted by geoffreykatz at 10:09 PM PDT
Sunday, 27 September 2009
Tennessee Valley
Topic: Tennessee Valley Heritage Rose

This is Tennessee Valley, Marin County, California.  Located north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge.  Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area http://www.nps.gov/goga/index.htm.  So called after the name of a coastal steamship that ran aground and broke up on the beach in the mid-1800s.

Here is a wide-angle composite view looking from east on the left to west on the right.  Tennessee Beach is on the right.  This is a favorite walk for San Franciscans on a sunny weekend because the path has low elevation and the trailhead is easy to get to from the city. 

Location of the heritage rose is off to the left, near the bottom of the road (actually not visible in this view).

Posted by geoffreykatz at 3:55 PM PDT
Updated: Wednesday, 9 March 2011 11:37 PM PST
Monday, 14 September 2009
Sustainable Design
Sustainable design isn't about cool green gadgets. It is about doing what we already know to do, and doing it well and with awareness.

Posted by geoffreykatz at 7:34 PM PDT
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Standard of care

"Green building" or "sustainable design" is now part of the standard of care that a landscape architect must deliver to the landscape architect's client.  One reason for this: "Green building"/"sustainable design" is now encoded in the AIA typical contract between architect and the architect's client.  This contract also typically governs most landscape architecture practiced in the USA because most landscape architectural design services are provided to the ultimate client via the architect - architects are usually the lead on projects.  

Actually the phrase used in the contract is "environmentally responsible design" and it is repeated twice, including "environmentally responsible design approaches", "environmentally responsible design alternatives", and emphasizing "material choices and building orientation". 

A landscape architect's aesthetic sensibility and approach is not something that the profession seeks to control.  However as a regulated profession landscape architects are responsible to ensure safety, security, and human welfare.  Lack of reasonable care (failure to perform) may result for example in personal injury or economic loss for which the non-performing landscape architect may be liable.  This is worded differently in different sources, but this is the general idea.


Posted by geoffreykatz at 1:30 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 11 August 2009 1:50 AM PDT
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Worth Thinking About

While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die. 

Leonardo da Vinci

What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?

Vincent Van Gogh

Posted by geoffreykatz at 1:07 AM PDT
Sunday, 5 July 2009
Heritage Rose in Tennessee Valley

It turns out that there were two roses, not just the one that was grubbed out.  For some reason the second rose was not removed.  Maybe it was dormant or hidden in the grasses.  Although it has been cut back many times and is being weed whacked now, here it is with two-three weeks of new growth.  (See my blog entry of Tuesday, 3 February 2009)


While some native roses will spread (are invasive), this one does not.  The root ball is very large, for a rose, and the new growth is vigorous: these point to this being a heritage rose.  A heritage rose is one of a dozen or more types of rose that were developed in the early-mid 1800s, when roses first began to be grown horticulturally.  http://www.rkdn.org/roses/oldroses.asp, http://www.heritagerosefoundation.org/  


Not far from the rose are a Monterey Cypress and a Pine, both of which were planted.  There is also remnant wood fencing and an old wood structure close by – so this particular area had some use a hundred or more years ago and perhaps right up to the time it became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  Tennessee Valley was settled and used by Portuguese dairy farmers – perhaps this was the location of a ranch house.    


Speaking of invasive it is worth noting that the National Park Service has a regular program of habitat restoration and invasives management in the Marin Headlands.  Many visitors to the Marin Headlands think that the area is wild and "natural", without realizing the amount of care, thought, and real work that the NPS puts into maintaining it. 

This is a cultural landscape, and the roses are part of it. 

Posted by geoffreykatz at 11:36 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 6 July 2009 12:13 AM PDT
Thursday, 4 June 2009
LEED for landscape, site, and garden No. 2


Sustainable Sites Credit 3 Brownfield Redevelopment has the Intent:  “Rehabilitate damaged sites where development is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination, reducing pressure on undeveloped land.”


The Requirements for this credit are pretty simply stated, that is, to develop on a site identified as contaminated or classified as brownfield and effectively remediate site contamination.


What are the implications for landscape, site, and garden?   


Every municipality and state or province has disturbed lands that are obsolete or abandoned landfills, industrial mills or factories, quarries or mines, power-generation plants, military bases, airports, ports, or even residential and retail storage of petroleum and chemical products.  Technical remediation would be necessary, of course, to cleanse them for further human use. 


In addition, however, the very character of any new development that to be built in these old disturbed sites will almost certainly be affected by the toxic history of the place – whether the development is residential, commercial, industrial, recreation, park, or passive open space.  Many landfills today are sealed and turned into parks with only the occasional vent to remind conscious visitors of the seething or at least unsettled materials 18” below them.  However, nineteenth century parks were typically intended to create psychological therapeutic effects through opening up natural areas – not old dumps – and scenery and creating opportunity for social interaction.  What kind of restorative experience can you have on a pleasant Sunday afternoon with your wife /husband, two kids, and your dog picnicking and throwing a Frisbee around on an old landfill?


To effectively address the nature of such places the design must treat the history of disturbance as one of the sources of inspiration for the landscape, site, and garden design, along with user requirements.  A strange beauty can result that would otherwise never appear, a beauty that nevertheless connects us with our cultural history and grounds us in the moment and place.


...“designers of disturbed sites (must) recognize that simply cleaning a site is not enough.  Creating beauty – out of the strange, particular character found on contaminated industrial sites – is the first step in the process of environmental recentering.  The challenge for designers of disturbed sites is… that the beauty that recenters, destabilizes, and moves us to care about “the other” – the beauty that has agency – is not generic or familiar.  It is always particular.” 


Elizabeth Meyer, “Uncertain Parks” in Czerniak and Hargreaves eds. Large Parks 2007.

Posted by geoffreykatz at 2:10 PM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 4 June 2009 2:18 PM PDT
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
LEED for landscape, site, and garden


The USGBC’s LEED is a program of land and building development practices whose goal is to achieve sustainable green building www.usgbc.org. The LEED Reference Guide LEED for New Construction v2.2 organizes the practices into five categories, including Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality.  Required practices (“Prerequisites”) and optional practices (“Credits”) are listed in each category.  Green building projects are certified by the USGBC according to how many Credits are achieved (on top of the Prerequisites).


Many of the practices have implications for landscape, site, and garden construction and maintenance.  Some implications are obvious for example requiring use of efficient irrigation systems and native plants.  Some implications are less obvious, going far beyond the immediate requirements of a Prerequisite or Credit.


For example the Intent of Sustainable Sites Credit 2  Development Density and Community Connectivity is:  “Channel development to urban areas with existing infrastructure, protect greenfields, and preserve habitat and natural resources.”  The Requirements to achieve this Intent include:  Construct or renovate building on a previously developed site, either in a community with a specified minimum density (Credit 2.1), or within a residential neighborhood with a minimum density and local community services (Credit 2.2).

Implications for landscape, site, and garden:  This credit encourages concentration of new development within areas of existing development.  The intent is to reduce the need to construct new infrastructure, and to protect greenfields, and preserve habitat and natural resources.  Care should be taken however – by municipalities and higher levels of government and by developers – to protect urban and suburban stream and upland ecological corridors and significant natural areas.  As development expands it tends to engulf open space areas, but these remnant natural areas, now surrounded by development, may continue to function as plant and wildlife habitat.  Infill development should not sever ecological corridors, nor eat away at the edges of natural areas to the extent that the habitat or special natural features of the area are compromised.

Posted by geoffreykatz at 3:04 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 2 June 2009 3:05 PM PDT
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
"I only regret my economies"

Last night on Charlie Rose author Reynolds Price told the following story.

On one of his last days at Oxford he visited one of his professors to ask for words of wisdom to take with him as he left.  This professor recounted his mother's last few moments of life.  The professor had gone to visit her.  On her hospital bed she had been unresponsive, so he kissed her on the forehead, turned, and walked across the room to the door.  The door squeaked slightly as he opened it and apparently this was enought to rouse her.

She called out to her son: "Neville".  He stopped and turned.  She had roused herself and propped herself up on her arm.  She said to him: "Remember this - I only regret my economies".

Posted by geoffreykatz at 12:50 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 26 May 2009 12:53 AM PDT

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