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Landscape Performance for a Pop-Up Space

By Naomi Wong Hemme, Master of Architecture Candidate, Morgan State University

 

key-image--530pxSandlot in the spring, image by Naomi Wong Hemme

Sitting on a former industrial site in Baltimore, Maryland’s Inner Harbor is Sandlot, an interim pop-up installation and outdoor space that serves as a local eatery and a waterfront destination where friends and families gather to relax and play. It is also the project I am studying as part of LAF’s Case Study Investigation (CSI) program.

As an architecture student interested in how a legacy urban space can be activated to benefit surrounding communities, I jumped at the opportunity to study, from an interdisciplinary perspective, how small-scale and temporary urban landscape interventions such as Sandlot play a role in improving quality of life: how architecture and landscape architecture practitioners apply the principles of tactical urbanism to collaborate and create a socially inclusive, dynamic, and fun urban space.

Having recently relocated to Baltimore for my graduate studies, I am constantly learning about the city’s social fabric and the role the built environment plays. Prior to embarking on this project, I knew very little about the site, which allowed me to consider its landscape performance without any preconception. During my initial visits to the site, I was drawn by the simplicity of its design elements - how a built environment can be transformed using ordinary materials such as locally-sourced, recycled shipping containers and pallets, sand, as well as indigenous vegetation. Around me were small groups of friends enjoying happy-hour drinks and comfort food, couples relaxing on the urban beachfront with their dogs, and a few others getting competitive on the beach volleyball court.

While the focus of our research team has been analyzing and documenting the environmental, social, and economic impacts of Sandlot on the communities in Baltimore, we recognize that the temporal (a 7-year operation period) nature of the project lends itself to priorities and corresponding solutions that may be different from those of more permanent installations. This recognition has served as our guiding principle as we identified our project’s performance benefits and how they could be quantified and measured.

On a personal level, participating in the CSI program certainly has greatly enriched my academic experience. In addition to working with a researcher who is both seasoned in and passionate about transforming urban space, I have learned so much from the program’s well-established case study framework and research tools (I will definitely “borrow” some to assess my future designs). I am also grateful for the support and insight from our LAF partners as we navigate the case study process.

We are conducting our investigation using data from our collaborators as well as our own data, observational studies, and informal on-site survey results. Once the data is analyzed, we hope to compare the results with some of the alternate, conventional solutions to show the extent of the project’s landscape performance against its design goals. Because Sandlot is a seasonal installation (the site operates between May and October), we will be conducting the bulk of our fieldwork throughout June into early July - over a cold beverage and some crab corn fritters, no less!

The Morgan State Research Assistant Naomi Wong Hemme and Research Fellow Pavlina Ilieva are participating in LAF’s 2018 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program, which supports academic research teams to study the environmental, economic, and social performance of exemplary landscape projects. Upon completion, case studies are available through LAF’s Landscape Performance Series.

Using Drones as a Landscape Performance Assessment Tool

By Rachael Shields, MLA Candidate, University of Georgia

Our University of Georgia (UGA) team is participating in the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Case Study Investigation (CSI) program and includes professors Alfie Vick, Brian Orland, and Jon Calabria and me. We are studying Historic Fourth Ward Park in Atlanta and the University of Georgia’s Science Learning Center. The landscape architect for both projects was HDR’s Atlanta office.

Drones are currently a hot commodity in the world of package delivery or air strikes, but they are just beginning to take off in the design field (pun intended). Drones became part of our CSI research process when the need arose for high quality post-construction aerial images because online map imagery sources were not up-to-date. Collecting aerial imagery and video are increasingly common uses for drone technology in the design and planning professions. During the process of acquiring imagery, our team realized there were many fascinating advantages in using a drone — beyond the conventional uses.

uga-drone-530wThe drone our UGA research team used, prior to flight

The drone we used allowed us to collect data we never would have been able to otherwise. For this portion of the project we brought in Roger Lowe, a professor in the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, who is a specialist in spatial information technology and has a remote pilot certificate, also known as a “drone license.” In order to fly over UGA’s Science Learning Center, we first had to get flight clearance. Before flying, Roger made sure to check the weather and to become aware of any hazards that might affect the flight like powerlines, trees, and structures. He also knew to keep the craft at a maximum of two hundred feet above ground level. While imagery with a lot of people using the landscape would be great, drone flights over people are not permitted.

After flying, the imagery data were transferred to Agisoft PhotoScan, software that processes the images and produces data that can be opened in ArcGIS. For our research purposes, we captured a terrain file to show the topography of the site. PhotoScan also produced an orthomosaic, a seamless aerial formed from a group of orthoimages. Third, through the use of laser light reflected from terrain, structures, and vegetation, the drone is able to capture lidar data in the form of x,y,z measurements. This produces a point cloud that allows 3D analysis.

uga-sciencelearningcenter-dem-530wDrone-captured digital elevation model of the Science Learning Center

 

uga-sciencelearningcenter-aerial-530wDrone-captured aerial image of the Science Learning Center

The exciting potential we began to notice with this kind of technology is longitudinal monitoring. Future classes at UGA could track changes in the Science Learning Center’s landscape over time. For example, imagery can track the change in the area of shade cover, the effectiveness of the stormwater management methods on site, or even map changes due to erosion. Additional analyses with ArcMap, Grass GIS, and HydroCAD would provide cutting-edge landscape performance evaluation tools not seen in traditional methods.

In conclusion, drones have the capacity to provide a whole new landscape performance toolset. Drone technology is new to us, and we hope to include some of the unique aspects of drone data analysis as we continue to document our projects as Landscape Performance Series Case Study Briefs. So far, we have learned that drones have great possibilities, the extent of which, we are still trying to understand.

Research Assistant Rachael Shields and Research Fellows Jon Calabria, Brian Orland, and Alfred Vick are participating in LAF’s 2018 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program, which supports academic research teams to study the environmental, social, and economic performance of exemplary landscape projects. 

Transforming the Discussion at the 2018 CELA Conference

cela-2018-logo

The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) is looking forward to the upcoming Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) Conference March 21-24 at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. The conference is always a great opportunity to catch up with faculty and students from universities across the United States and Canada, as well as representatives from further abroad, including Australia, New Zealand, China, and Korea. The presentations and discussions are an insightful window into new research and trends in pedagogy.

LAF staff will present during two Concurrent Sessions, give updates at the CELA Administrators Meetings, and host informal meet-ups for current and past Case Study Investigation (CSI) participants and Landscape Performance Education Grant recipients. The conference features over 250 presentation and panel sessions, including a number from LAF program participants and grant recipients, speaking about their experience, findings, and further research.

Research from LAF’s various landscape performance initiatives will be part of five sessions:

 

Economic Benefits: Metrics and Methods for Landscape Performance Assessment

Concurrent Session 1, Thurs, 3/22, 9:30-10:50am (First presentation)

Bo Yang, University of Arizona
Zhen Wang, Huazhong University of Science & Technology
Shujuan Li, University of Arizona
Chris Binder, Utah State University

 

Teaching Landscape Performance: Strategies and Lessons Learned

Concurrent Session 3, Thurs, 3/22, 2:20-3:40pm

Megan Barnes, Landscape Architecture Foundation
Ellen Burke, California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo
Kenneth Brooks, Arizona State University
Phillip Zawarus, University of Nevada Las Vegas
Kelly Curl, Colorado State University

 

Assessing Learning Landscape Performance   

Concurrent Session 4, Thurs, 3/22, 3:50-5:20pm (Second presentation)

Rebekah VanWieren, Montana State University
Joseph J. Ragsdale, California Polytechnic State University
Kirk Dimond, University of Arizona

 

Presentations Based on Research Conducted During LAF’s 2016 and 2017 CSI Program

Concurrent Session 5, Fri, 3/23, 9-10:20am

Post-Occupancy Evaluation of the Landscape Environments in a Primary Care Clinic: The Environmental and Social Performances
Shan Jiang and Sofija Kaljevic, West Virginia University
Kirsten Staloch, HGA Architects and Engineers

Evaluating the Landscape Performance of Railroad Park, Birmingham, AL
Charlene LeBleu, Ryan Bowen, and Britton Garrett, Auburn University

Landscape Performance Research: Findings from Harvest Community, Wayne Ferguson Plaza, and The Shops at Park Lane in North Texas
Taner R. Ozdil, Riza Pradhan, Ravija Munshi, and Ali Khoshkar, University of Texas at Arlington

Improving Environmental Performance Evaluation of Landscapes: Lessons Learned from the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Landscape Performance Series
Hong Wu and Clarissa Ferreira Albrecht da Silveira, Penn State University

 

Ubiquitous Landscape Monitoring: Fitting the Landscape with Sensor Technology for Continuous Monitoring and Data Collection

Concurrent Session 7, Sat, 3/24, 10:30-11:50am

Christopher Ellis, University of Maryland
Heather Whitlow, Landscape Architecture Foundation
Ming-Han Li, Texas A&M University
Lee Skabelund, Kansas State University

 

In addition, LAF’s 2013 National Olmsted Scholar Leann Andrews and 2016 National Olmsted Scholar Finalist Jorge (Coco) Alarcón will present their ongoing research, which was supported in part by the Olmsted Scholar financial awards:

A New Model Integrating Landscape Architecture within Global Health: A Case Study with an Informal Community in the Peruvian Amazon

Concurrent Session 2 - Thurs, 3/22, 11:00am - 12:20pm (Final presentation)

Leann Andrews, University of Washington
Jorge Alarcón, Informal Urban Communities Initiative

2018 CSI Teams and Projects Announced

thesandlotMahan Rykiel Associates' The Sand Lot in Baltimore, Maryland

Seven faculty Research Fellows and eight high-performing landscape projects have been selected for LAF’s 2018 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program. CSI is a unique research collaboration that matches faculty-student research teams with design firms to document the benefits of exemplary high-performing landscape projects. Teams develop methods to quantify environmental, economic and social benefits and produce Case Study Briefs that are published in LAF’s award-winning Landscape Performance Series.

Research Fellows lead the CSI collaboration and receive funding to support a student Research Assistant. Participants from each firm serve as liaisons and work with the academic team. This year, each of the five teams will study one to two projects (instead of three, as in past years) in order to increase the breadth and depth of the research.

The selected projects include waterfront sites, brownfield reclamations, and — a CSI first — a pop-up park and restaurant. The diverse public spaces include a SITES-certified heritage site and a SEED-certified park designed to promote social equity.

The 2018 CSI program kicks off in February and runs through early August. We look forward to working with this impressive group and to learning more about these outstanding projects and their impacts!


CSI Research Fellow:
Catherine De Almeida, University of Nebraska
Student Research Assistants: Hannah LoPresto and Brandon Zambrano

  • Design Workshop - P Street Corridor, Lincoln, NE
  • Sasaki - Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park, Council Bluffs, IA


CSI Research Fellow:
Lisa DuRussel, RLA, LEED AP, Pennsylvania State University
Student Research Assistant: Aastha Singh

  • Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects - West Point Foundry Preserve, Cold Spring, NY
  • SWA - Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park, Queens, NY


CSI Research Fellows:
Jon Calabria, Alfred Vick, and Brian Orland, University of Georgia
Student Research Assistant: Rachael Shields

  • HDR, Inc - Historic Fourth Ward Park Phase 1, Atlanta, GA
  • HDR, Inc - University of Georgia Science Learning Center, Atlanta, GA


CSI Research Fellow:
George Bradley Guy, Assoc AIA, LEED AP BD+C, SEED, Catholic University of America
Student Research Assistant: Jazzmin Reid

  • Depot Park, Gainesville, FL


CSI Research Fellow:
Pavlina Ilieva, AIA, Morgan State University
Student Research Assistant: Naomi Wong Hemme

  • Mahan Rykiel Associates - The Sandlot, Baltimore, MD

International Conference on Landscape Architecture Education

cela-sign2LAF's Barbara Deutsch, Heather Whitlow, and student volunteer extraordinaire Shuyi Yan

Two LAF staff members spent an incredible four days at the CELA/CLAEC International Conference on Landscape Architecture Education May 26-29 in Beijing. With the theme of “Bridging,” this conference is the first time that annual meetings of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) and the Education Committee of the Chinese Society of Landscape Architecture (CLAEC) have been held jointly.

During the opening ceremony, LAF CEO Barbara Deutsch presented the New Landscape Declaration and participated in a  panel discussion with the conference co-hosts:

  • Katya Crawford, President, Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA), Professor, University of New Mexico
  • Jie Hu, Vice President, Tsinghua Urban Planning and Design Institute
  • Xiong Li, Professor and Vice-president, Beijing Forestry University, Secretary General of Chinese Steering Committee of Master of Landscape Architecture Education, Secretary General of Education Committee of Chinese Society of Landscape Architecture
  • Rui Yang, Professor and Chair, Department of Landscape Architecture, School of Architecture, Tsinghua University, Chair of Chinese Steering Committee of Landscape Architecture Education
  • Kongjian Yu, Professor, Chair of Academic Committee of College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Peking University

The panel was co-moderated by Xiaodi Zheng, Secretary General of 2017 CELA/CLAEC and Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture at Tsinghua University.

cela-panelPanelists discuss the New Landscape Declaration during the opening plenary.

LAF also hosted a pre-conference workshop on landscape performance and presented The New Landscape Declaration documentary during the conference Film Track. The Landscape Performance Track included 24 concurrent sessions, with several discussing research conducted through LAF’s Case Study Investigation (CSI) program or grant partnerships.

All-in-all, the conference was a great opportunity for knowledge-sharing, a marvelous cultural exchange, and a wonderful chance to reconnect with faculty and students from the U.S., China, and elsewhere. Many thanks to CELA, conference organizer Xiaodi Zheng, our Chinese university hosts, and the many student volunteers who took care of us, especially Shuyi Yan of Beijing Forestry University.