August 6, 2008, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Green, Landscape, Urban Design

A new book from MIT Press, Blubberland by Elizabeth Farelly, considers our excesses—space, McMansions, too large cars, supersized plates, plugged-in everything—and asks why it is so hard to abandon habits, relatively recently formed, that we know are destructive to our health, our environment, our social well-being.

In a short text in Architectural Record, she defines blubber’s spatial features—those vast empty calorie shopping malls and cul-de-sac neighborhoods dotted with McMansions and perfectly manicured lawns.

From Blubberland:

I, like you, drive too much. I buy too much–of which I keep too much and also throw too much away. I overindulge my children, and myself. Directly as well as indirectly I use too much water, energy, air and space. My existence, in short, costs the planet more than it can afford. This is not some handed-down moral stricture, nor any sort of guilty self-flagellation, but a simple recognition of fact. The consequences are obvious, and near enough now to see the warts on their noses. For my own future, as well as my children’s, I must change. And yet–this is what’s weird–I, like you, can’t. Cannot abandon comfort, convenience and pleasure for the sake of abstract knowledge. Can’t stop doing it. This is interesting.

It’s interesting because we think we are so rational, so intelligent, and yet we behave, both individually and as a herd, in such unintelligent ways. That’s what drove this book into being.

Landscape Architecture rules in Venice Biennale
July 17, 2008, 5:29 pm
Filed under: Landscape

This year’s Venice Biennale, the 11th International Architecture Exhibition titled “Out There: Architecture Beyond Building” and scheduled to open September 11, 2008, will feature a prominent, stand-alone landscape architecture project that promises to shine a significant and dramatic light on the profession on a global scale. . . . “As impossible as it may seem in Venice, we have a two-and-one-half-acre site that has been abandoned and forgotten for more than 30 years,” writes Kathryn Gustafson, FASLA. “For this mysterious and romantic site, we have designed a garden named ‘Toward Paradise’ that is a pathway through the spaces that guides people to reflect on how to make a paradise on earth.”

LAND online – Landscape Architecture News Digest.

Vertical Farms
July 15, 2008, 1:16 am
Filed under: Green, Landscape, Urban Design

Looks like some people are serious about them.

“Biggest mistake” of Foster’s career?
July 14, 2008, 10:42 am
Filed under: Green, Landscape, Urban Design

Bulgaria460x276Foster Partners is designing an eco-development Karadere beach, in northeast Bulgaria, along the Black Sea. Construction on the development is due to start next year. Foster’s website desribes the plan as “a series of car-free hill towns in an unspoilt setting of oak forests, meadows and river gorges.”

The development has raised the ire of locals and environmentalists.

Architecture: Bulgarian eco town ‘the biggest mistake of Norman Foster’s career’, say protesters, The Guardian

Agricultural production in the U.S.
July 14, 2008, 10:39 am
Filed under: Landscape, North America

From Radical Cartography / Bill Rankin.

With the food crisis, it’s worthwhile to look at where food is produced in the U.S.


Increased influence of landscape architects
July 11, 2008, 10:53 am
Filed under: Landscape, Urban Design

Every architect wants to be a landscape architect these days. And now the Vancouver Courier has caught on:

“We’re more of a passive, quiet crowd,” said [Margot] Long [principal of PWL Partnership, a local landscape architecture firm, won an award for her plan for Southeast False Creek, for Town and Gown Square at SFU and for her master plan for Mountain View Cemetery], the daughter of an architect. “It’s very interesting. You talk to architects and you talk to landscape architects and I think it’s like talking to night and day. There are some more aggressive landscape architects, more sort of self-promoting architects, but, for the most part, we’re kind of behind the scenes, fly under the radar screen, just get things done and have an impact that way.”

Save water, get fined
July 11, 2008, 9:54 am
Filed under: Green, Landscape, North America, Politics

A California couple stopped watering their lawn and let it die. Now they face a fine.

Strips Malls empty out
July 9, 2008, 4:59 pm
Filed under: Economy, Landscape, North America, Urban Design

From Reuters:

Strip malls, which are usually anchored by grocery or drug stores, saw average vacancies spike 0.5 percentage points to 8.2 percent, a level unseen since 1995, according to the report released on Monday.

Vacancies at regional malls rose 0.4 percentage points to 6.3 percent, the highest level since the first quarter of 2002, according to the preliminary results. . . .

For the first time since 1980, more space became available to rent at strip malls than was rented out — about 3.2 million square feet more. Part of the available space came in the form of 5.7 million square feet of new development that came on the market during the quarter.

Work ac and Annabelle Seldorf to work on Clark Art Institute / Ando addition opens
July 9, 2008, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Landscape, North America

Stone Hill Center, Clark Art Insitute, photo by Richard Pare, Source:

The Wall Street Journal reports that Stone Hill Center, the new home of the Williamstown Art Conservation Center and part of the Clark Art Institute, has opened in Williamstown, Massachusetts. It is the third building completed by Tadao Ando in the U.S.

Now the Clark has hired Annabelle Selldorf to renovate existing galleries and Workac to design exhibitions for a new space the Clark is renting from MassMoCA in nearby North Adams.

Vertical Garden
July 8, 2008, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Design, Green, Landscape, Urban Design

Yes, they are kinda overplayed but I still love Patrick Blanc’s vertical gardens. Here’s a new book about the gardens. From the cover, the design and typography looks a tad cheesy and dated, but thats Norton publishers.