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  1. #1

    Landscape urbanism

    Today (Sunday's) Boston Globe has an article on landscape urbanism and its dispute with new ubansism.

    Here is the link:

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/id...reen_building/

    I am curious. What do people think? What does this discussion say about the future? sustainability? health?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    Today (Sunday's) Boston Globe has an article on landscape urbanism and its dispute with new ubansism.

    Here is the link:

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/id...reen_building/

    I am curious. What do people think? What does this discussion say about the future? sustainability? health?
    First, the 'GI' in my screen name is 'Green Infrastructure' and often I call myself an 'urban ecologist'. Just full disclosure for the following.

    But to me the discussion is about high-ego tribes quarreling over process and turf. It is an inevitable backlash against the usurping of nature in our cities and the inattention to GI by the early CNU movement.

    As to how it relates to sustainability, srsly? We are so far from sustainable that it isn't even worth discussing until we have a negative birthrate for about a half-century minimum, and consumption, resource extraction, and waste disposal drop dramatically if not cease altogether. Homo sapiens as is hasn't been sustainable since about mid 18th century. Tweaking how we build the built environment by NU or free market or whatever way is simply moving a deck chair or two. Far better to focus on efficiency and waste reduction first - something that is attainable. Sustainability is not attainable with 6.8 B humans and growing. [/fatalist]

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Reducing V.M.T. through compact and walkable mixed-use development is essential to addressing the principal challenges.

    The test of whether or not an environment is successful at achieving a reduction in carbon emissions is whether or not people choose to move themselves through said environment on foot. Landscape Urbanism, with "transect violations" like wide setbacks in urban environments, simply doesn't inspire the necessary amount of walking. In that regard, Landscape Urbanism is homogeneous suburban sprawl under a cloak of erudition. Oil producers may like the movement, but it certainly isn't going to reduce V.M.T.

    New Urbanists, while they advocate re-establishing rural-to-urban transects, usually focus more attention on T4-T6. Landscape Urbanism, though, potentially has great value, if the practitioners restrict themselves to the T1-T3 zones where liberal open space fits.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian prana's avatar
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    It's all about balance and proportion. I believe it's ridiculous to assume that one system will work everywhere, all the time, forever! It just can't happen that way. Well, at least since the existence of THE EARTH it hasn't happened that way.

    I'm a huge proponent of New Urbanism and the philosophy behind it. I see a lot of the design concepts as positive environmental steps too. Compact development (with lower VMTs, healthier lifestyles through more walking/cycling, and lower CO2 emissions) preserves larger portions of undisturbed (or ag) land, in it's simplest explanation. That's not sustainability by any means and is barely survival, but is still better than the last 50 years of sprawl.

    Landscape Urbanism is something that I have read about for almost the last year with a passing nod of my head. Eh! Whatever. It doesn't mean that it doesn't have it's place though. Maybe, like the early New Urban movement, it needs to be better thought out and have some more questions answered. As I've heard it described in the past, "Huge swaths of green, open space cutting through cities" is a definition as loose as a ... nevermind where that analogy was going... as an overstretched rubber band. It means relatively little and is not context sensitive in the least. Maybe I'm not hearing the purpose of the landscape urbanism movement well enough defined or something. Is it to expose more of society to green, open space? Ok...I can understand and back that. Is it to provide animal corridors through metro areas? Not likely going to happen in my opinion.

    But back to my original thought on balance. “Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” A quote from a Trappist monk whose name I have misplaced kind of sums up my feelings. And I think intensity is a great word for these two theories. To the casual observer, New Urbanists seem hell bent on intense densification. And likewise, Landscape Urbanists seem equally (but opposite) positioned to push a huge green utopia of "natural" space. Balance. Every city will find it's own balance between these two but neither is perfect or able to be simply plopped onto an existing landscape that has been developed over the last 50, 150, or 1500 years. Give me my dense development where I can walk to work and my entertainment and easily hop on a trail that takes me to open spaces within a 30 minute bike ride. Ahhhh...
    "You can measure the health of a city by the vitality and energy of its streets and public open spaces.”-- William H. Whyte..

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
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    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Goodness! People are getting out of hand with this stuff.

    Everyone wants to brand planning in thier own image and it is dilluting and confusing the field.

    It almost wants me to have the APA ban terms like Sustainable, Green, and Urbanism, but then I too would look like I am trying to brand planning!

    Keep everything simple.

    Is it affordable?
    What are the pros and cons of the project?
    Are there ways we can improve the project?
    Will it break the law?
    Is it ethical?
    Last edited by DetroitPlanner; 31 Jan 2011 at 11:01 AM.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  7. #7
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    Goodness! People are getting out of hand with this stuff.

    Everyone wants to brand planning in thier own image and it is dilluting and comfusing the field.

    It almost wants me to have the APA ban terms like Sustainable, Green, and Urbanism, but then I too would look like I am trying to brand planning!

    Keep everything simple.

    Is it affordable?
    What are the pros and cons of the project?
    Are there ways we can improve the project?
    Will it break the law?
    Is it ethical?
    This should be the credited response. Kudos, DP.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian prana's avatar
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    TO DP and TO:
    I think these movements are the theories behind the project though and worthy to be discussed. You can't design a project based on it's ethics and legalities and hope to come up with anything good. So your "improvements" to the project are based on some theory, right? We should do this because of that.
    These theories are larger than project-based design and are both trying to encompass more "sustainability" (social, environmental, economic) ethics in their own unique way. (Sustainability is used loosely and more as the feel-good modern term that it is.)
    "You can measure the health of a city by the vitality and energy of its streets and public open spaces.”-- William H. Whyte..

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by prana View post
    Landscape Urbanism is something that I have read about for almost the last year with a passing nod of my head. Eh! Whatever. It doesn't mean that it doesn't have it's place though. Maybe, like the early New Urban movement, it needs to be better thought out and have some more questions answered. As I've heard it described in the past, "Huge swaths of green, open space cutting through cities" is a definition as loose as a ... nevermind where that analogy was going... as an overstretched rubber band. It means relatively little and is not context sensitive in the least. Maybe I'm not hearing the purpose of the landscape urbanism movement well enough defined or something. Is it to expose more of society to green, open space? Ok...I can understand and back that. Is it to provide animal corridors through metro areas? Not likely going to happen in my opinion.
    Not to disargee with anything you've said except this: As you may know the City of Toronto is built on tableland cut through by numerous ravines. No development has been allowed in the ravines since the 1950's and they have evolved into linear natural corridors that link up the outskirts of the City to the lake and downtown core. At the foot of the Don River valley there is a man-made piece of land that juts out into the lake called the Leslie Street spit. Deer, Coyotes and Foxes have been seen living on this spit. The only way for them to get there is via on of the ravine corridors. There was a fox tagged on the spit who turned up 60 miles away near Hamilton a month later. If you built it they will come.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian prana's avatar
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    I agree and knew someone would call me on this. Denver and Fort Collins, CO have the same concept, but I don't think using natural ravines, drainages, etc. with slight improvements like trails are what Landscape Urbanists are trying to do.

    It seems that is what should be done and has been done, but if I read the LU stuff correctly, they are talking about much broader expanses of land with no regard for economics or a number of other factors. And I still think I am missing the understanding of their desired end result. New Urbanism end result is pretty cut and dry to me, but not Landscape Urbanism's.

    Good call though!
    "You can measure the health of a city by the vitality and energy of its streets and public open spaces.”-- William H. Whyte..

  11. #11
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I don't think that not developing in ravines or lowlands is all that unusually we have those areas set-aside as well. Every so often we get big bucks wandering around in roadways or expressways, those cause quite a stir as no one expects to see them in urban areas.

    One of the best developed one is the Middle River Rouge Parkway, also known as Edward Hines Park. A huge project has reversed most of the impact of the Combined Sewer Overflow which would frequently flood this park. Lakes along the parkway are now safe for fishing and construction has been moved to the lower Rouge.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  12. #12
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by prana View post
    Denver and Fort Collins, CO have the same concept, but I don't think using natural ravines, drainages, etc. with slight improvements like trails are what Landscape Urbanists are trying to do.

    It seems that is what should be done and has been done, but if I read the LU stuff correctly, they are talking about much broader expanses of land with no regard for economics or a number of other factors.
    I would say that the LUs are trying to do what FTC, DEN and Aurora, among others, do with their watercourses. And I wouldn't say they have 'no regard' for economics - I'd say they place it on the proper rung of the hierarchy (which, admittedly, our society is not prepared to accept). This is not to defend LU, just to contextualize it.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    As a practitioner, I have no patience for the New Urbanism/Landscape Urbanism war. Its like many academic wars- the intensity is in inverse proportion to the stakes.

    Planners should try to do good planning, and it will all work out. Good planning includes elements of New Urbanism and Landscape Urbanism and Advocacy Planning and all the other buzzwords you hear.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    Some of the best aspects of the New Urbanism are in its ability to create sustainable economies, at least in theory. The destruction of the transects by cars and by Euclidean zoning has resulted in the poverty concentrations, retail leakages, and jobs-housing imbalances that are driving most of the principal challenges that cities, and, by extension, the country as a whole are facing.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    Having read through the Bostton.com article I think the biggest problem The Landscape Urbanists will face is the same problem the New Urbanists face and that is economics.

    The development industry, including cost-sensitive municipal governments, are happy to consider new ideas as long it doesn't cost them more money to do it. In order for a new idea to be accepted it has to be shown that is more cost effective in the short or long run, and at least that it is not going to cost more than the current paradigm. New Urbanism hasn't caught on in a big way because to do it right requires people to invest more money than they normally would while at the same time taking a bigger risk that there investment won't pay off (e.g. people may not like it so it won't sell). Most existing New Urbanist projects are bastardized so that the investment and/or increased risk is virtually eliminated. they give people the elements they want without all the inconvieneces that would make the community truely New Urbanist.

    If Landscape Urbanism is going to catch on it needs to be both environmentally AND economically sustainable.

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