Page 1

SCAPE land and design in the Upper Midwest




Public art and LRT Is Mn/DOT really that green?

New Urbanists, Landscape Artists, Holistic Environmentalists,

Land Use Law and the Black Plague...

a publication of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects

On the Cover:

Minneapolis’ new light rail line has a wide variety of public art, some effectively integrated into the very designs of the stations.

How did the process unfold?

Who made the artworks? Read about it in topic:art Back-lit transparency at the Lindbergh Terminal Station by Christopher Faust, photo by Regina M. Flanagan

__SCAPE is published quarterly by the Minnesota Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (MASLA). __SCAPE is FREE. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to, and type subscribeSCAPE in the subject line. Send general MASLA inquiries to: MASLA

WANT TO SEE YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS? (or at least in print?)

International Market Square 275 Market Street, Suite 54 Minneapolis, MN 55405 612-339-0797 FAX 612-338-7981 Send general __SCAPE inquiries, le�ers to the editor, and advertising requests to: Adam Regn Arvidson MASLA Director of Communications 300 First Avenue North, Suite 210 Minneapolis, MN 55401 612-312-2126


is looking for writers Have a story idea? Read a good book lately? Know of a good website? Have a favorite magazine? Send your article ideas to Adam Regn Arvidson 612-312-2126

SUMMER 05 topics



by Howard M. Merriam

by Regina M. Flanagan




The High Road

The Lowly Rat and the Supreme Court by Phil Carlson


What can we learn from someone who has tried it all?

Art along the new LRT line

Land use law basics

:business Jack of All Trades

Over Under Around Through


issue #2

A recent Fellow talks about Mn/DOT’s environment and community successes

by Scott Bradley, FASLA

whips The Forest for the Trees


Valued Places


Fellow’s Top 5


Lake Place Minneapolis Grand Rounds

what has changed and what has stayed the same Roger Martin, FASLA

In Other Words


:Book Groundswell :Newsletter The New Urban News :Website NextStep :Magazine Orion

MASLA Executive Committee John D. Slack, president Thomas Whitlock, past president Bruce Chamberlain, president-elect Sonia Walters, secretary Renee McGarvey, treasurer Jim Hagstrom, trustee Travis Tegethoff, director of public relations Mike Jischke, director of programs Richard Wiebe, director of academic affairs Craig Nelson, co-director of awards and banquet Anne Okerman, co-director of awards and banquet Adam Regn Arvidson, director of communications issue #1


The Forest for the Trees editor’s note

Transportation is a big deal. How we get ourselves and

use roads (something that tends to drive transportation

our necessities from one place to another is a primary

politics), but I have – many times – been sandwiched

reason why our hometowns look the way they do, grow

onto a Minneapolis train car (New York City-style) as a

the way they do, and, in fact, are located where they are.

Twins-game horde tried to wedge its way on for a ride to

As modes of transportation have changed, so too have the

their car parked at Fort Snelling or the Mall of America. I

arrangement and look of our hometowns. From Arabian

tend to think the train makes us a li�le more multi-modal,

Silk Road oases to Midwestern grain elevator hamlets,

and, considering the current state of affairs in the world

from Colonial eastern seaboard port cities to trading posts

with regard to energy and its effects (insert your own

huddled on the banks of mighty rivers, from western

concern here: oil shortage, dependence on foreign oil,

Pennsylvania coal patch towns to Iron Range burgs built

global warming, gas prices, etc.), maybe that’s not such

literally on the edges of mines – the movement of goods

a bad thing.

and people has always and will forever affect geography. For this summer issue (our sequel, if you will), we again You, dear reader, are also a product of transportation.

deal with four big topics in the dialog between land and

You probably factored in commute times when you chose

design. Two of these look at transportation – one roads,

where to live. You may have thought about what kind

the other rail. Now that’s transportation choice! Heck,

of transportation you would use. You definitely live in

you could even read both in the privacy of your own

a city that grew up around some kind of transportation

home and be labeled neither flaming liberal nor heartless

network, be it streetcar suburb or township cum booming

conservative. Go ahead… try the other mode. Then write

New Millennium outer ring city. I happen to be a transit

me with your reactions.

rider (now lucky enough to take the train to work every day). I do, of course, also use roads: to go up north, to visit

Adam Regn Arvidson

family, to get to a soccer game, to go shopping. We can

all read from the statistics that most people in this country


Valued Places In 2001, the Minnesota Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects published Valued Places: landscape architecture in Minnesota. This glove-box sized guidebook profiles 52 sites in the Land of Lakes, each of which has benefitted from design, care, or stewardship by landscape professionals. Here are a few samples...

Lake Place Lake Place, a three-acre, $10 million park project which spans I-35 in Duluth, is the answer to a 20-year ba�le over the freeway’s construction. Residents voiced concern about the freeway’s proximity to Lake Superior, as well as its alignment between the downtown and the longneglected lakefront. Fortunately, Duluth citizenry and State and Federal Department of Transportation officials identified potential negative externalities early on in the process, allowing landscape architects to create a


unique design solution that would protect environmental resources, link major Downtown land uses, and maintain pedestrian access to the lakefront. In addition, Lake Place has spawned community reinvestment and renewal in once-marginal lakefront property.

issue #2

The design team consisted of Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) administration and staff, the City of Duluth, and several consultant civil, structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers. The landscape architect served as urban design lead and provided conceptual through final design services for the site and architectural components of Lake Place. Several individual multi-use improvements were designed as a system along the urban corridor, with Lake Place serving as the focus. Infused with subtle environmental awareness messages, each of these improvements maintain a continuity by sharing the same design vocabulary of materials, textures, native vegetation, and site lighting. Lake Place and the other highway corridor multi-use improvements are proof that a larger context of community opportunities identified through established inventory, analysis and design should be considered before undertaking a project of this scale. The enthusiastic public response to this unique design solution is best illustrated by observing the intense use of Lake Place by residents and visitors alike as they enjoy their rediscovery of Lake Superior.



Valued Places 1870s and 1880s. In 1883, Loring and a group of activists

The Minneapolis Grand Rounds

concerned with the preservation of the landscape features

In the post-Civil War period, a regional landscape identity

of a Board of Park Commissioners. Cleveland, then still

coalesced in the Upper Midwest. Railroads collapsed

working in Chicago, designed the connected system of

distances. Nature seemed reduced. Preservation and

parks and parkways that we know today.

recreational enhancement of native landscapes became

draped around the city’s lakes and along the west bank of

an important political theme.

the Mississippi River, the park system now lines the River

bill in the State Legislature that authorized the creation


on both banks in Minneapolis and also in St. Paul.

ecological scientific studies of natural systems, especially grasslands and forests, to produce “modern” progressive

For Cleveland the preservation of the banks of the

landscape design approaches.

In the Midwest, cities

Mississippi for use by the public demonstrated the cities’

needed to be made instantly and models were appropri-

commitment to a civic realm associated with higher values

ated from the best examples. Paris provided the pre-

of culture, the values of New England’s literature, politics

eminent model of urban design. Parks, boulevards, and

and science. By 1891 with the creation of Minnehaha State

parkways formed the armature of nature on which this

Park and the Minnehaha Parkway in Minneapolis, the

new urbanizing civilization would be built. The first wave

park system protected the principal waters of the city with

of Parisian influence in the Midwest manifested itself a�er

a public cordon. Dubbed “the Grand Rounds” by William

1865 when early park systems combined highly urbanized

Wa�s Folwell, then chairman of the Parks Commission,

spaces with wild landscapes. While Chicago a�empted to

it became the first complete American emerald necklace.

apply these ideas, its form had been cast rigidly and rapidly on the grid that stretched over a boundless prairie west of Lake Michigan.


Paul rejected these ideas as too elitist in the 1870s when H.W.S. Cleveland proposed the connection of a park on Como Lake via a boulevard to the downtown. Minneapolis told a different story. Here Charles M. Loring, a native of Maine and a local miller and publicist, aroused the city to action in the late


SCAPE summer 05


Naturalistic landscape

aesthetics (and practicality) conjoined with proto-

and land values of the growing city secured passage of a

whips This civic watershed fused Cleveland’s organic approach to landscape architecture with a model for city making,

The twentieth century saw the expansion of active

and this idea was a core concept of the emergence of

recreational facilities in neighborhood parks across the

landscape architecture as a profession in the Midwest.

city and the establishment of the Lyndale Park Gardens.


The Board was also host to various cultural and musical One of the most important practical lessons of this early

events and many venues of the Aquatennial. The Board

period was the value of early planning and design followed

was also responsible in 1917 for the construction of the

by rapid and decisive implementation. Cleveland had

now demolished Gateway designed by Hewi� and

anticipated the need for speed of land acquisition and fast-

Brown architects at the intersection of Nicollet and

tracked construction of the parks and parkways. In 1886

Hennepin Avenues in downtown Minneapolis, and the

when he himself moved from Chicago to Minneapolis, he

creation of the Wold Chamberlain airport in 1930. While

brought William Morse Berry along. Berry, who had had

these notable accomplishments demonstrated the breadth

considerable experience with construction from schematic

of the Board’s and Superintendent Wirth’s vision, the

drawings, became the system’s first superintendent. In

original concept of the linked parks and parkways with

1899-1900, Warren H. Manning, landscape architect of

their public waters is recognized today as the sustaining

Boston, Massachuse�s, prepared a report for the Board

keystone of the Minneapolis system. In the 1970s Roger

which recommended stabilization and enlargement of the

Martin redesigned the parkways to add new separated

system. Because of financial constraints, these plans were

paths for bicyclists and in-line skaters. In the mid-1980s

held in abeyance until the arrival in 1906 of Theodore

the Board entered into an agreement with the Walker


Art Center to create the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Over the next twenty-five years, Superintendent Wirth

on the grounds of the old Parade Stadium. Designed by

would put in place the other principal elements of the

Quennel and Roberts and Michael Van Valkenburgh and

system that we know today. In the 1910s many of the

Associates, the site is linked to Loring Park by the Irene

exiting parkways were raised, paved, and drained, but

Whitney footbridge designed by sculptor Siah Armajani.

the most ambitious and lasting new works of the Wirth

In recent years most of the parks have been renovated

period were more diverse in their character.


with new play equipment and shelters. Water sports are

championed the development of active recreation venues

still important and the Board has recently acted to create

in the parks, and was specifically concerned with water

wetlands designed to improve water quality in the lake

and ice-based sports. The crowning achievements of his

parks. Today the Grand Rounds has been designated as

superintendency were the design and development of

a National Scenic Byway in recognition of the work of the

Glenwood Park, later Theodore Wirth Park (1906-1938)

landscape architects who conceived it and the citizens

and of Victory Memorial Drive (1917-1928).

who made it. by Lance Neckar

issue #2



Fellow’s Top 5 Roger Martin was Minnesota’s first fellow. Who better to ask these two related questions? Since you began practicing, what 5 things are you glad have stayed the same?

1.quality students

I am always excited about the fact that we continue to a�ract quality students to our profession who want to absorb all they can about landscape architecture. Those students I studied with at Harvard in the late 50’s exhibited the same enthusiasm as I see at CALA today. As a teacher it is so rewarding to experience this level of commitment and see the growth of our future practitioners.

2.quality practitioners

In the same vein it is impressive to find the level of commi�ed, quality practitioners in our profession still at a high level a�er 40 years of practice. Even though the number has increased dramatically since I started practicing in the 60’s (from ten to over 500 in the Metro

4.public focus

I am especially glad to see those practitioners who have devoted themselves to the public landscape. Those who continue to search for ways to enhance the open space frameworks that give meaning and quality to our living environments. Just as I was inspired by Fredrick Law Olmsted to care for the common ground, I see those around me continuing to strive to continue this effort.

area), they continue to be missionaries for landscape


The challenges facing our profession have not changed since I took my first job in Minnesota with Cerny Associates, Architects back in 1962. Adapting man’s desires to the needs of the land still create exciting design opportunities for professionals as they did back then. Whether siting buildings, designing parks, or institutional grounds our profession continues to serve as the guardian of the land

5.long hours

The one thing that seems to remain consistent for the profession is long hours and late nights of work as we commit ourselves to in the process of searching for quality design. Design is a never ending process and we seem to keep searching for that right balance of care for the land and inspiration for man that is appropriate for each site. I still hear of the rigors of late night design and reflect back to my all nighters as a student and a professional.

in our practice.


SCAPE summer 05


architecture in our society as in the past.


Since you began practicing, what 5 things are you glad have changed?

1.increased awareness

We are indeed blessed by an increased awareness by the

public of the value of our design services. Our work over the years has helped develop an informed public that now demand greater amounts and quality of design. They

Roger Martin, FASLA, was born in Minnesota and received his Bachelor of Science in Horticulture at the University of Minnesota in 1958 before completing his Master of Landscape Architecture degree at Harvard University under Hideo Sasaki. In 1961, he was awarded a Fellowship to the American Academy in Rome and spent two years in that city studying land developments and urban spaces in Europe. Following several years as an Assistant Professor at the College of Environmental Design at Berkeley Campus of the University of California with Garre� Eckbo, Roger was asked to develop degree studies in Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota and moved to Minneapolis in 1966. Under Roger’s direction the program grew to 150 students and six full-time faculty embers. During over 35 years of teaching, he taught all the subject areas within the program but most recently focused on applications of cognitive psychology of developing creativity skills and perception manipulation in the design of exterior place. In 1969, Roger was one of the founders of InterDesign, Inc., an interdisciplinary design firm focused on creative problem solving within a group format. The work of the office from 1969 to 1984 includes campus master plans, urban plazas, recreational facilities, regional land use plans, and visual assessments. Some of the more significant projects completed with his participation on design teams include the ASLA award winning plan for the Minnesota Zoological Garden, the renovation of over 50 miles of Minneapolis Parkway System and the development of the central riverfront in Minneapolis. From 1984 – 1998, he was a partner in Martin and Pitz Associates, Landscape Architects working on a diverse group of urban design studies and site plans.


have begun to see the importance of taking good care of

When Hideo Sasaki and Garre� Eckbo were educating us

our land legacy and the value of inspirational environ-

about design and design process, research was unknown

ments to human growth.

in our field. Today we have many scholars devoting themselves to systematic discovery of truth through research to help practitioners be be�er prepared to serve man and the land.

2.regional scope

It has been exciting to see the expansion of work for

The definition of research in our

profession was synonymous with design in those days and now the definition encompasses a much broader range of techniques and methods.

Landscape Architects since I began practice. One significant dimension in this regard is the role we now play in taking care of our regional landscapes. When I began practice these concerns were just being raised by Phil Lewis and Ian McHarg, and now the role in large scale land planning has expanded greatly.

5.the computer

The most obvious change in our profession is impact of the computer on practice. When we used the computer to analyze 4 potential Minnesota Zoo sites in the early 1970’s we had to spend hours with punch cards organizing

3.ecological focus

the data. Today we can find data and analyze it almost immediately and then organize it into a beautiful presen-

When I began practice “Silent Spring” and “The Sand

tation all with computers one tenth the size. Even though

County Almanac” were recent publications that began

the computer can help us visualize our environments it

to raise our concerns about the integrated nature of our

somehow can’t take the place of thinking on paper and


imagining form and place with piles of trace -- a loss, I

Ecological criteria are now a key part of

quality design. Working within the ongoing processes of

believe, to those idea makers of the future.

nature is giving strong direction to design on the land -concepts that we had li�le awareness of in the boom times of the the 1960’s.

issue #2


topic: art

Over 100 different audio or video pieces curated by Janet Zweig may be experienced along the length of the LRT line.

Over Under Around Through

The light rail design process led to a wide variety of public art. What worked best? by Regina M. Flanagan K-tschump, tschump, tschump... The bass thump of

hearing what is on the minds of the gaggle of animated

muffled rap music escapes from the headphones of

teenagers standing in the center of the train.

counterpoint disrupts my ride on the Hiawatha Light Rail

How does the public art on the light rail line manage to

Transit (LRT) line on a recent weekday a�ernoon. Riding

edge its way into the consciousness of these commuters?

in these clean, quiet, air-conditioned cars is an aesthetic

The artwork draws no a�ention to itself with any identi-

experience. The environment disposes everyone around

fication or plaques; it is just part of the environment. But

me to a meandering state of mind. Perhaps the frowning

in the busyness of everyday life, where is the space for

man in a suit clutching a wrapped bundle of flowers is

aesthetic experience? What are its entry points? These

pondering the day’s events as he heads home from work

questions concern me as an artist and a designer. I believe

to the person who will receive those blooms. I can’t avoid

that aesthetic experiences not only open doors within our selves, and but also connect us to others across many



SCAPE summer 05


the teenager seated next to me on the train. Only this

Philosopher Nicolas Bourriaud contends that all works of

most entertaining and engaging artwork. Watching televi-

art produce a model of sociability. He says that in post-

sion in a public place is a familiar activity for most people

industrial societies, the most pressing thing is no longer

who o�en feel free to comment on the programming.

the emancipation of individuals, but rather the freeing

However, the content of these o�eat and frequently

up of inter-human communication -- of experience.

humorous pieces fosters slightly different conversations.

Bourriaud maintains that art only acquires a real existence when it introduces human interactions. Traveling the

Entertainment may be one public art strategy but

length of the Hiawatha Line, I observe and participate in

other works are illustrative and didactic, occasionally

these interactions.

with a critical edge. The photographic panels by Keith


Christensen at the Government Plaza station designed by

innesota’s varied landscapes, particularly its

Barbour LaDouceur Architects feature imagery of gloves,

native plant communities, are celebrated in

palm side up, ranging from worn leather work gloves


integrated and applied along the

line, which

was completed in 2004 and







downtown south

I saw a video of two fellows pushing around a gigantic snowball in jerky sped-up motions accompanied by bouncy polka music


to ornamented Ojibwe gauntlets. Text excerpts such as the “ability to



opinions” and “messy process” are at the top of each image. Christensen

the Mall of America. Our weather, the changing seasons

received these comments in response to a public survey

and the character of typical Minnesotans are the subjects

posing questions about what defines a democracy. Other

of Small Kindnesses, Weather Permi�ing, a series of audio

panels contain aerial views of the city coupled with

and video pieces collected by Janet Zweig from 100 local

phrases like “ability to get to and from work” and “to

artists and presented in metal kiosks along the line. Short

cherish the open space.”

stories, poems and video clips entertain riders who are


intrepid enough to follow the instructions to “Flip the switch,” ”Ring the bell and see,” or otherwise activate one of the 39 kiosks. What you get to hear or see is always a surprise and if you experience a number of the pieces while

he most focused aesthetic experiences are offered by stations whose design, public art, and se�ing are integrated into a complementary whole, and

respond in a subtle but discernable way to their surround-

riding up and down the

ings. Two examples are

line, a layered narrative


develops. As I sat baking

Metrodome station by

in the late a�ernoon sun

Andrew Leicester and

at the Franklin Avenue


Station on the first 80-

Abrahamson, and the 50th

degree day of summer, I

Street Station designed

listened to a lovely poem



that ended with the line



“...this is why we stay


here... to bloom right

Karen Wirth. The overall

along with the tulips.” At

form of Leicester’s arcade

the Fort Snelling Station,

for the downtown station

I saw a video of two

mimics the nearby Stone

fellows pushing around

Arch Bridge and is faced

a gigantic snowball in


jerky sped-up motions

drawn from the woven

accompanied by bouncy

textiles of the city’s many

polka music.







Rockcastle Scherer with




Zweig’s audio and video cavalcade is the LRT’s issue #2

Art motifs and plant selections enhance each other at the 50th Street Station.


The processes used by design professionals and artists

topic: art

differ in that no respectable artist would consider working The 50th Street Station shows the most complete integra-

over another artist’s piece, altering its formal proper-

tion. The structure and the artwork take their theme from

ties and meaning (except maybe Marcel Duchamp, Max

the station’s location at the literal intersection between

Ernst, Robert Rauschenberg, or Sherrie Levine who did

nature (Minnehaha Park) and the city (the adjacent busy

this to make a point). Design professionals, on the other

highway and surrounding neighborhood). Steel columns

hand, are o�en required to work over and refine concepts

rise from each platform and branch into tree-like supports

prepared by others. While in some cases artists may seem

topped by etched glass tree canopies designed by Wirth.

to function like other consultants or subcontractors on a

The waiting enclosures under the canopies have alter-

project, the commission of a work of art is not typically a

nating clear, green, and yellow glass panels, some of

“work for hire” arrangement. Artwork is legally different

which contain tree trunk shapes defined by a texture of

from the other physical portions of a building or site because it is a unique intellectual

The form of the Downtown East / Metrodome Station, by Andrew Leicester with HGA, mimics the nearby Stone Arch Bridge.

property created by an artist, subject to copyright, and protected under the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) of 1990. VARA protects artists against the intentional or grossly negligent destruction of their work, based on the rationale that an artist develops his or her reputation and career through the works of art themselves and that any compromise to the work (or public perception of it) directly impacts the artist’s future livelihood. While the

handwri�en words by Joann Verburg. Laser cut metal

law primarily addresses work in traditional fine art media

panels by Deborah Mersky on both sides of the track form

such as painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, and

a textured screen depicting vegetation. Visible through the

photography, there is also some protection for art incor-

screen and the colored glass panels are actual plantings of

porated into a building or site. In fact, the law does grant

Li�le Leaf Linden and Bur Oak with a ground layer of

artists ninety days to remove their work (or to pay for its

a variety of shrubs. The ensemble is completed by metal

removal) when faced with its impending destruction or

pavement insets by Greg LeFevre that depict local fauna


like painted turtles, great blue herons and large mouthed bass. The station also features four of Janet Zweig’s multimedia kiosks.


he public art along the LRT line, for all its successes, came about through

The waiting enclosures under the canopies have alternating clear, green, and yellow glass panels, some of which contain tree trunk shapes defined by a texture of handwritten words

a somewhat unusual process that In addition, the design/build

So how does an artist’s reasonable expectation that the

process, with its compressed schedule, caused the overall

integrity of their ideas and artwork will be retained square

budget to become a moving target that was increasingly

with an LRT process that required multiple teams to work

difficult for the designers and artists to hit. Among the

over each others’ designs? I explored this question with

stumbling blocks was a multi-tier design effort where

Karen Wirth, who created work for the 50th Street Station.

different teams worked on the conceptual designs and the

The story begins with URS Corporation, a Minneapolis

construction documents for each station. What was lost

civil engineering and landscape architecture firm. URS

raises a few questions.

or gained when one team of artists and designers worked

had been awarded the contract for planning and concep-

over another teams’ efforts?

tual design for the entire line. Wirth, along with Thomas Rose, was a member of the URS design team. Other local artists Seitu Jones, Brad Kaspari, and Geoffrey Warner


joined them.

SCAPE summer 05

“At first the plan was that all five artists [would] work

The additional artists chosen during this round joined

with all the architects on all the stations,” noted Wirth

the project in time to work with the selected design/

in a recent e-mail, “as a big think tank.” Very quickly,

build team, a joint venture called Minnesota Transit

however, the team dispersed to smaller group assign-

Constructors (composed of Granite Construction; CS

ments. For the match-ups, Wirth asked each of the artists

McCrossan; Parsons Design Group; Adolphson and

and the architects (Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle; Julie

Peterson; and Toltz, King, Duvall, Anderson (TKDA)).

Snow; Cunningham Group; Barbour LaDouceur; and

Architect Peter Brozek of TKDA led the production of

Ellness Swenson Graham) to do a brief presentation,

construction documents based on the designs of the five

and then prioritize the artists they wanted to work with. Wirth then made pairings based on the results. “The task,” continues Wirth, “was to include art integrated with architecture, designing to the 30% stage. Each team also designated specific art opportunities at each station that could be separate commissions for the next phase.” In these initial pairings, Wirth worked with Ellness Swenson Graham during conceptual design for the Warehouse District/Hennepin Avenue station and with Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle for the 38th Street, 46th Street, and the 50th Street stations.


ublic art administrator David Allen was hired by Metro Transit to direct the design/build phase, and

The 38th, 46th, and 50th Street Stations were considered as an ensemble by the team of architects Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle and artists Karen Wirth and Deborah Mersky.

he convened a blue-ribbon artist selection panel. Wirth was asked to make a presentation about the

original teams, and he worked with Allen, URS LRT

conceptual design team’s ideas for specific art opportuni-

designer David Showalter, and the newly selected artists

ties at each station, but none of the artists or architects

to incorporate their artwork.

from the first phase actually served on the panel. In addition, conflict of interest concerns from the Minnesota

Wirth says that she and Garth Rockcastle of Meyer, Scherer

Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) also precluded

& Rockcastle had one meeting with Allen and asked to

the concept team artists from automatically continuing

be kept in the loop, a request that was not actually met.

with design/build -- the competition had to be reopened.

The design/build phase artists had very li�le contact with

Wirth and Rose, however, were able to continue their

the original architects or artists; everything went through

work through contract extensions that were in progress

Allen. To provide some continuity between phases, Wirth

before the panel was convened.

sent all the artists chosen to work on her four stations a package of architectural drawings and materials samples as well as her community meeting notes, and met with

Art + Urban Design + Community

them when they had questions.

The design of each station and its public art was carefully deliberated so that the unique character of each neighborhood would be reflected. During neighborhood station design workshops led by FORECAST Public Artworks, residents were asked, “if a stranger was passing through your neighborhood on the train, what would you want that person to know about your neighborhood?” Designers and artists were charged with translating all the residents’ aspirations, wants and needs into functional physical structures and art.

When I asked Showalter, who managed the project for

issue #2

Metro Transit, whether the ideas for public art changed between the two phases, he replied that he and Allen oversaw the design/build phase artists’ work with TDKA, and that the artists were directly involved in proposing how their work would be integrated. He suggested, however, that it became increasingly difficult because of fixed construction costs. Some original artists’ proposals were never carried out because the station designs changed


in the transition from conceptual design to design/build.

projects (by the design/build phase artists) would make

Showalter remarks that Rose’s work was carried out well;

up for that spareness, but maintains that integrated art is a

especially the Cedar-Riverside station canopy. In his

different (be�er) thing entirely. Regarding the challenges

estimation, the best of the public art is that which is well

the design process posed to the integrity of the original

integrated with the architecture, such as with the work of

team’s designs, Wirth remarks that, “the concept for the

Wirth and Rose who worked on the LRT from the start.

canopy (50th Street Station) came out of our team discussions, but the design was solely my own.” She did, out of

Wirth says that from her perspective, when a different

respect for the original process, run it by Garth Rockcastle

team of architects carried the design through construction

of Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle. She also spoke with Joann

drawings, “there were many details that were altered or

Verburg and Deborah Mersky (who were hired during

dropped out of the final designs. In some cases that meant

design/build to create the glass enclosures and fence

a more bare bones approach to the station design – that is,

panels, respectively), and the three artists’ ideas were in

the architecture is there, but the integrated art of the struc-

sync. “I think that is one of the reasons,” Wirth says, “that

ture is less visible.” She also suggests that the design/build

the details of the 50th Street station came together be�er

team may have assumed that the additional separate art

than some other stations.”

Art, Station by Station Warehouse District / Hennepin Avenue Elness Swenson Graham, architects Bill McCullam and Penny Rakoff, artists: brick walls and photographic insets Government Plaza Barbour LaDouceur Architects Seitu Jones, architectural design team artist Keith Christensen, artist: Titled Local Connections (pillars and shelter panels).

Nicollet Mall Elness Swenson Graham, architects Thomas Rose, architectural design team artist Downtown East / Metrodome Hammel Green and Abrahamson, architects Andrew Leicester, artist: archway and platform patterns

Cedar-Riverside Julie Snow Architects Thomas Rose, architectural design team artist, artist: canopy constellations Dick Elliott, artist: platform paving (Somali pattern) Aldo Moroni, artist: colorful metal skylines Lake Street / Midtown Julie Snow Architects Thomas Rose, architectural design team artist JoAnn Verburg, artist: colored glass 46th Street Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle, architects Karen Wirth, architectural design team artist Dick Elliott, artist: platform paving (Scandinavian quilt) Cliff Garten, artist: metal canopy facing JoAnn Verburg, artist: tree images V. A. Medical Center Cuningham Group, architects Brad Kaspari, architectural design team artist Dick Elliott, artist: platform paving (pioneer quilts) Janet Lofquist, artist: Landscape of Memories, stone seating

Franklin Avenue Barbour LaDouceur Architects Seitu Jones, architectural design team artist Dick Elliott, artist: platform paving (Cambria Pottery) Michael Flechtner, artist: neon marquee 38th Street Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle, architects Karen Wirth, architectural design team artist Dick Elliott, artist: platform paving (Prairie School) Cliff Garten, artist: miniature bungalows Deborah Mersky, artist: cut metal windscreens 50th Street / Minnehaha Park Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle, architects Karen Wirth, architectural design team artist Greg LeFevre, artist: cast bronze animal pavement insets Deborah Mersky, artist: metal fences and railings JoAnn Verburg, artist: word trees Fort Snelling Cuningham Group, architects Brad Kaspari, architectural design team artist


Philip Larson, artist

SCAPE summer 05

As I probed the process and relationships behind the 50th

The LRT introduces a new form of “being together” to the

Street Station, I discovered its high degree of integra-

Twin Cities, and public art is part of that experience. But

tion was likely a�ributable to the tenacity of the original

how it ultimately frees up inter-human communications,

artists and designers. I also learned that the other project

to use philosopher Bourriaud’s terms, is a more subtle and

I admired, the Downtown East/Metrodome station,

complex affair. Each station is different and special with

was handled separately through a process led by the

the potential for new experiences and encounters: Zweig’s

Minneapolis Community Development Agency, so HGA

interactive kiosks with their entertaining and ever-

and artist Andrew Leicester were hired later, and the team

changing work; the thoughtful challenge of Christensen’s

remained intact throughout the design process.

work at Government Plaza; and the effects of light and


seasons upon the artwork and landscape at the 50th Street

he two-tier LRT design process, unusual in the

station. These surroundings place our own perceptions in

world of public art -- but unfortunately becoming

the foreground and focus our senses on our environment

more common because of how large projects are

and each other. This is possible only when art and design

funded -- yielded mixed results. Continuity was lost in

support each other.

some cases and the public art looks disconnected: applied rather





during design/build could only appear integrated if it took advantage of the established design vocabulary of the stations. For example, the audio and video kiosks blend in with the ticket dispensers and electrical boxes at the stations and the photographic panels at the Government Plaza use


ordinarily by

that be





also allows the artwork to supply a wi�y commentary on these functional elements). But the possibility of a creating a unified and



experience remained more elusive. So, therefore, the means and the ends are inextricably linked. Clearly, the chances for a meaningful integration of art and design would have been improved by continuity of the creative teams between phases. Design integrity could also have been ensured from conceptual design through final execution if the public art administrator (like the architectural project manager) had been in place from the beginning.

Which is your favorite station? Why? __SCAPE welcomes letters to the editor. Send them to issue #2

The play of light, color, pattern, and landscape is particularly successful at the 50th Street Station, thanks to continuous collaboration Regina M. Flanagan, Associate ASLA, is an artist and associate landscape architect in Saint Paul. From 1988-98, she directed the Minnesota Percent for Art in Public Places program and in 2001, established Art • Landscape • Design. Recently, her project including Keith Christensen for the Discovery Garden at Alpine Park in Ramsey, Minnesota, was featured in “You are Here: Exploring Art in the Suburbs” published by the McKnight Foundation. She has wri�en for Landscape Architecture, Architecture Minnesota, Fabric Architecture and Public Art Review. Resources Flanagan, Regina. “Working with Artists, How landscape architects can best choose artists to collaborate with them on projects.” Landscape Architecture, vol. 95, no.6 (June 2005): 88 - 97. Kayim, Gulgun. “The Hiawatha Line.” Public Art Review, vol. 16, no. 2 (Spring – Summer 2005): 53 - 55. Le Fevre, Camille. “Design in Transit, Public Transportation Never Looked So Good.” Architecture Minnesota, vol. 31, no. 1 (January – February 2005): 40 – 55. Mc Intyre, John, “LRT’s artwork delivers boxfuls of Minnesotiana,” Minneapolis (Minnesota) Star Tribune, 2 December 2004. Interview with Janet Zweig.


topic: business

This landscape architect has worked in almost every aspect of the profession. What can we learn from his experience?

Jack of All Trades


by Howard M. Merriam

hen asked to write about my journey in

baby boomer, my parents desired to have one employer

and around the profession of landscape

for their entire career. My reality is vastly different and

architecture, I felt the only plausible way to

I can only imagine what the world of work will look

accomplish this task was to write an abridged version

like once I am done with it. Change is the only constant

of my story – an a�empt to remember the plot without

-- the pace of change quickens every day. Old forms of

too many embellishments, bald-faced lies, or flagrant

business, work, and technology are put to sleep, replaced,

gestures of self-righteousness. Within this plot there are, I

and reinvented continuously. It is only the ‘network’ that

hope, a few kernels of wisdom and reflections on personal

survives: the friendships, the experiences, and the places

experiences in the world of work, which has changed

we create together.

���� ������������� 14



dramatically over the past two generations. As a WWII


SCAPE summer 05

If there is a common theme to the chapters of my story, it

before the X-Games, mind you). The idea – ‘Skatenviron’

is one of whimsy, play, and a slightly different perspective

– never caught on (well at least not yet).

on all things. Perhaps this is because I am le�-handed, or that I grew up in Montana, or that I am currently in the

A�er graduation and several summers working construc-

political minority. Along my path there have been many

tion and building steel sculptures in lieu of working an

turning points, and I have generally tried to choose the

office internship (experience over convention), I headed

richness of experience rather than the safety of conven-

to the west coast to make my fortune. Like many of my

tion. My intent has always been to tread lightly because

contemporaries, I landed in San Francisco with big aspira-

I have found the same folks appearing again and again --

tions, optimistic that I would find firms fighting over me

on the other side of the meeting table, on the other side of

to join their elite corps. But once again, it was construction

the aisle, maybe wearing a different hat or a new colorful

and physical labor that paid the bills. I finally connected

ta�oo, but always with a memory of our last encounter.

with a wonderful sculptor named Aristides Demetrios

Choose wisely and leave a small wake: the people you

who let me grind steel and bronze and stay connected

are working with now you will see again. You may need

to the sculpture/arts/landscape culture.

There was so

them in the future -- and they will need you!

I have generally tried to choose the richness of experience rather than the safety of convention. Lessons Learned...


y road out of high school would take many twists and turns, but began at the University of Minnesota, Duluth -- in pre-med.


pre-med: sciences and calculus and organic chemistry

from growing up in Montana then moving to Minnesota: Where you’re from stays with you, no matter how long you’re away. I still long for the west.

and theories and postulates and enough already. A�er two years, I became convinced there must be a different approach -- something with more meaning to me.

from medical school: You have to recognize your comfort level with exactness. I discovered I needed something looser.

A�er two winters in Utah, learning to master the fine art of carving turns (in snow), along with a variety of other avocations, it was time to re-engage with higher education. I decided that the University of Minnesota’s

from being a ski bum: Everything in moderation. The first year was great, the 2nd was just too much bummin’.

landscape architecture program would be the mechanism

well). My senior studio project planned a skateboard park in Hyland Hills Ski Area in Bloomington, MN. It envisioned a series of skateboard ‘runs’ down the hills of

issue #2


��������� ��������������� ������

� ��� ������ ���������

����������� �������������

��� ��


Hyland – runs with half-pipes and rails and the like (well


landscape architecture I did (though not particularly

from landscape architecture school: You have to live the experience. The most creative way you can contribute to the process is to have a perspective, any perspective. You should see as much of the world as you can. We students never became great technicians, but we learned how to design -- we learned to take apart a problem.


print on every major ski area in North America. So study


by which I could re-design the West and put my finger-

������������������������� �������������� 15

much money in Silicon Valley in those days and everyone

topic: business

wanted sculpture -- or some other way to say they were successful. We built big artworks and lived larger-than-

What have you learned through your practice? What could we all learn from you? __SCAPE welcomes letters to the editor. Send them to

life. Our arts production team also cast bronze and we worked with many west coast sculptors on heroic scale pieces. It was all going so well and when that happens you start not paying a�ention. And then you can’t make deadlines.

Lessons Learned...

And contracts are broken. And the goons fly in from LA

from working with artists: Interdisciplinary dialog is possible and beneficial. Also, when you live outside the mainstream, you have to be ready for life to beat you up.... There are no guarantees. from working in a small office: Be careful of niche businesses. They may seem endless at first, but you have to understand what you’re getting in to. from from working in sales: Understand the management structure of a company, and where you are going to fit. If you don’t have the same goals, values, and aspirations as the business, you’re going to eventually have to go somewhere else. from starting a solo practice: Its all about timing. And learning to wear a lot of hats. ����


from working in a large corporation: Everyone is expendible. The business is, after all, about running a business. Your job is never really safe and you have to be prepared to reinvent yourself again if need be. ����

interior ‘plantscaping’ company called McCaren Designs. I was fortunate to get the offer to come back to Minnesota. At the time I was supporting a newborn by driving an airport taxi service van. Bye, bye Gold Coast.


y days with McCaren focused on business development functions and building upon my growing network of landscape architects,

architects, and designers. The firm was doing most of the major projects in the Twin Cities: Kno�s Camp Snoopy at the Mall of America, the now defunct ‘Conservatory’ on Nicollet Mall, and many others. I managed projects, did a li�le design, and a�ended trade shows in an a�empt to build new markets for the firm, primarily in the zoolog-

ical park and aquarium sector. In the course of my trade show and marketing work, I became determined to find a product/vendor position because this was where the action was (and the big bucks, too). Consequently, I hitched a ride with a small, St. Paulbased firm named Concrete Design Specialties. Concrete Design then became Custom Rock International, known worldwide for developing unique forms and finishes in I became well versed in

concrete terminology and technology; I designed projects in all corners of the planet; we opened offices in Maui and Las Vegas; we had dealers on every continent; we worked with many of the leading designers and landscape archi-



of St. Paul, Minnesota, and an appointment with a leading

���������������������������������� �������������������������������������� �������������




were the sleepy, comfortable (goon-free) neighborhoods

concrete, primarily artificial rock. �����������������

from public practice: It’s OK to stretch the limits of “traditional” practice. And I’m still learning...

������������������������� ������������������ ����������

and everybody runs for the hills. Said hills, in my case,


from construction work: There is money to be made. And sometimes you have to do what you can to make money, in order to do what you really want to do. Construction work bought me art time.

��������������� ��������� SCAPE summer 05

tects on sexy projects in sexy places. During this ten-year

trades, generated a li�le interest and bumped up against

stint, I saw the best and brightest of the design/sales/

the financial reality of the manufacturing process. At the

construction industry, along with the entire unseemly

same time, I continued to call on my network, seeking an

underbelly. I wouldn’t trade the time and experience for

opportunity and a different challenge. I kept answering

the world, but, by the end, I was quite happy to move on

the bell, round a�er round, until a public sector (oh my,

with my career.

never done that before) opportunity presented itself. This

I saw the best and brightest of the design/sales/construction industry, along with the entire unseemly underbelly

is my current challenge and a position I could never have predicted or imagined. I have quickly discovered that as the landscape architect/park and place planner for a city, you get to see and hear it all. This appointment allows me to be the master of the public realm by calling on all my previous skills and all my previous jobs: sculpture and decorative concrete and construction and streetscaping and art and park planning and design and event planning and politics and working with worked-up citizens. The

A�er ten years of pu�ing artificial rock in the landscape,

list is ever-growing (and might even one day include a

it was time to try something different: something with a

skateboard park -- full circle).

different meaning. As a result of growing and nurturing


my professional network over the years, I was able to develop a mutually fulfilling partnership with an old friend in a new place.

he moral of the story?

Build your experience

history (note that I did not say professional history) and know there are many, many paths to choose.


You will have to choose, so choose something that rings

RS Corporation (formerly Dames and Moore;

true to you. As you move on in your career, always try

formerly BRW) is a 27,000-person, corporate,

to move on to a new a position on your own terms -- but

mega-firm with headquarters in San Francisco

always leave on good terms. Don’t burn those bridges

and branch offices in seemingly every county in America

(maybe pour a li�le gas on the superstructure, just don’t

and most overseas zip codes.

I joined the Minneapolis

light the match). In the end it is the network and the

office of URS, and was given the charge to build business

friendships you maintain that will sustain you and feed

in the entertainment, resort, and recreation sector, drawing

you and provide meaning to the journey.

on my industry-wide connections (the ever-growing



� ��� ������ ���������

marketing people are expendable.

��� ��

things keep changing, economic conditions are fickle, and

A�er my time at URS and during an extended period of


Festival Park in Duluth, MN. But great projects do end,

Howard Merriam, ASLA, currently works as the Director of Resource and Park Planning for the City of Northfield, Minnesota. Northfield is a scenic community of approximately 20,000 located on the banks of the Cannon River, a 45-minute drive south of the Twin City Metropolitan area. Home to both Carleton and St. Olaf Colleges, as well as an historic downtown, Northfield is positioning for pressures from urban expansion creeping in from the north.


division working on exciting projects, including Bayfront


network). I got lucky and for a time we had a good li�le

issue #2

��������������� ���������





����������� ���������


maybe pour a little gas on ������������������������� called ‘Azzuria’......forms and finishes in concrete. Azzuria ��������������� �������������� ������������� the superstructure... was my a�empt (and still is) to create landscape������ furniture and garden elements in decorative concrete. I produced just don’t light the match several prototype pieces, worked with the local design formal unemployment, operation �����������I noodled with a start-up���������



topic: law

In the middle 1300s the Bubonic Plague, or Black Death, hit Europe with its awful toll of illness and death. One third of Europe’s population – about thirty million people


– died from it in the space of only four years, from 1347hy can’t you build the deck you want? Why

1351. This was before the advent of modern science and

can’t you add onto your garage to within two

medicine and people were not certain what was causing

feet of your lot line? Why can’t you run your

the disease, but they started looking closely at all aspects

body shop business out of your garage, or open a restau-

of their lives.

allow more houses to be built in the wooded open space

European cities had squalid living conditions for the

next to your neighborhood? And why won’t they listen

masses, with people living in close proximity to each other

when all of the neighbors tell them they don‘t want it?

and to garbage, animals, animal waste, their own sewage

You never voted on the City’s “Plan” so why does the

– and rats with fleas, which easily infected humans. The

Mayor always refer to it when decisions are being made?

whole notion of health through sanitation and cleanliness

What gives the City the right to tell you how you can use

was not understood, but people slowly began to realize

your own property anyway? Believe it or not, at the heart

that the way they built and maintained their buildings

of these and similar questions on planning and zoning is

and cities affected their health. It was literally a ma�er of

the lowly rat.

life and death.

The Lowly Rat and the Supreme Court A primer on land use law from the Bubonic Plague to the recent New London takings case

One of the earliest examples of public health laws was in England, where separation of dwelling units was required to introduce light and air. Previously, dark, dank, deadend living spaces were common. It was the beginning of laws that would regulate how we develop property because of concerns for “health, safety, and welfare”, a phrase now found in virtually every zoning ordinance in the United States.

by Phil Carlson

A few centuries a�er the Plague, the Industrial Revolution took off in Europe and the United States. Smokestackcentered industries were built, burning coal and bringing jobs to large population centers. Workers lived on or near the factories, and health problems from the smoke and soot soon arose. Many workers were chronically ill and many died. Again there was a health, safety, and welfare


issue, and cities instituted nuisance laws requiring living SCAPE summer 05


rant on your front porch? Why does the City Council

quarters to be located apart from the factories – in a

of power, if it was not, then the government could not

different “district” or “zone.” This was the origin of our

exercise that authority.

current system of zoning districts – a simple desire to keep people away from a serious health threat.

Among government powers is something commonly called the “police power”, which is not just about cops and robbers, but rather refers to anything government does to restrict individual rights for the good of the community as a whole. We agree as a community that someone breaking into our homes is not a good thing, so we will restrict the individual rights of someone caught doing that, by sending them to jail. Or we restrict someone’s right to go 100 miles per hour on the highway because it is dangerous to the rest of us. Government can also

t tric res n ke a -- li s c t e n l e determines nm who ver he o t g f o ing ER: ood r steal OW g P o the ICE for ding e s POL e t r sp righ e fo my m t s ar re

restrict your right to use your property however you choose if it


hen, our forefathers (and some foremothers) fought and died to overthrow the British monarchy of King George III and his rule over the American

colonies. The colonists wanted a democratic government under the rule of fair laws, which the newly independent states started immediately to design. The men who wrote the Constitution were largely landed gentry, not landless peasants, and so property rights were very important. The founding documents contain clues to the impor-

tance of the land. Thomas Jefferson’s words from the Declaration of Independence contain the now familiar assertion: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

that some of those uses could be harmful to the community’s best interests. Zoning ordinances are police powers,

Over a decade later as the Founders were framing the

and the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld zoning as a valid

Constitution, a similar phrase was wri�en into the Fi�h

use of government police power.

Amendment: “No person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” The

For the purpose of regulating land use, the states have

importance of the land, of property – and the processes of

delegated their federally gi�ed police power to local

law that would affect it – had made its way into the basic

units of government through enabling legislation. The

structure of our government.

states “enable” cities, counties, and townships to use their


police power authority for local land use regulations. In aving driven out an abusive monarchy, the

this scheme local officials (mayors, city council members,

Founding Fathers established the federal

town board members, county board members, etc.) have

government as one of limited and expressly

regulative authority only under the U.S. Constitution. So

enumerated powers. Under British rule they were subject

whenever local officials are acting to restrict someone’s

to any number of insulting and intrusive laws. So they

use of their land they must follow the U.S. Constitution,

spelled out exactly what the government could and could

and their authority is limited to what is in a duly adopted

not do.

ordinance, not their own whims.

issue #2

If it was in the Constitution it was a valid use


however, they say they want to maintain the character,

topic: law

appearance, and durability of a historic district where


epriving someone of any of their Fi�h Amendment rights requires due process. We know that we cannot deprive someone of their

life (executing them for murder) unless we go through a

all buildings are brick, then a regulation requiring brick buildings would be reasonable. Furthermore, the courts have said they are looking for this “rational basis” in a “comprehensive plan.” A

nd comprehensive plan can be as simple as a sketch s, a , fair trial and other details of due process. We s u ts sc righ - on a napkin, as long as it has some rational basis, , di cannot deprive someone of their r y a m he son has been deliberated in the open by the decision to ting d rea . liberty (pu�ing them in c e i r c n t makers, and has been duly adopted as their him han t res pen, a jail for a crime) aw n a c o e n t , common vision for the community. ge r nm fair ghts o : I i ove to be S r g S y CE the have tm PRO ainst tric s s g E e n r ag without a DU edi can’t end proce f t e n d fair trial. Likewise, me the er n v o and we cannot deprive someone of G e. abl his or her property (or the use of his or her property) unless we follow Constitutional due process. Over the years due process has evolved in court cases as having two ideas, or prongs, within it. The first prong is procedural due process, meaning that the procedure or process must be fair. You cannot be deprived of your rights – including your property rights – without a fair hearing, the opportunity to be heard and defend against the proposed action, and the chance to speak to the decision makers about their action. The second prong of due process is substantive due process, which means that the substance or content of the process must be fair and reasonable. When a city council or county board conducts a hearing, the information they consider and the conclusions they reach must be fair and reasonable. The governing body cannot be “arbitrary” or “capricious.” Courts have said there must be a “rational nexus” between a stated goal and the regulations implementing it – you have to be able to see how to get from Point A to Point B logically. If a community says they want to provide light and air to all dwelling units, then requiring setbacks between structures is a logical approach, and would be a reasonable regulation. If they say they want light and air, and therefore all houses have to be made of brick,


he 14th Amendment includes another appeal to fairness: “Nor shall any State . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protec-

tion of the laws.” Equal protection means that we may not favor one group over another nor impose a hostile discrimination on any particular group. We are familiar with this as it applies to people: race, creed, religion, sex, and other qualities, but it also applies to the treatment of property with land use regulations. The courts have said that there can be distinctions made depending on the “reasonableness of the classification” in treating one group differently from another. It is perfectly reasonable to set aside quiet, clean residential areas that are not subject to noisy, dirty industrial uses. As the concept of zoning has developed, it is also okay to have districts for different kinds of commercial uses, for different densi-

RATI that doesn’t logically follow and would ONAL ties or styles of housing, a special downtown district, and NEXU betw be struck down. If, S: the een so on. But once those distinctions have made, all properre ha what how s to b a gov they e a e ties must be treated equally within the districts. r logic do it nmen they . If a al co t wa can’t n n n gove ectio ts to stop r nme n regul me fr nt wa a om b t e nts li and Have an interesting land use law story to share? uildin ght a g my nd ai hous r, __SCAPE welcomes letters to the editor. Send e of b rick. them to


SCAPE summer 05


he Fi�h Amendment is full of limitations on

Here, the city has tried to use regulations to accomplish

governmental powers, including:

a public purpose when it should have simply purchased

“nor shall

private property be taken for public use, without

just compensation.”

the property.

Under the British monarchy all

property was considered to be the King’s. The Constitution

Court rulings, however, have reviewed dramatic decreases

repudiated this notion, so that private property rights

in the use and value of property due to regulations and not

were considered the basic starting point and any signifi-

ruled them a taking. Depending on their reasoning and

cant taking of those rights must be paid for .

the integrity of a rezoning process, down zoning (changing allowable land uses, resulting in a decrease in property

Whenever a public use physically invades the property,

value) may be perfectly legitimate. It is only when “all

such as building a road, a park, or a water tower, this is

economically beneficial use” of the property is taken that

a taking and the property owner must be compensated

the government must either buy the property or

fairly. But what about regulations that limit the use of

relax its regulations.


kin r for a ta e n w o y t proper ing. property but do not actually invade it? It is in this gray ent to a m y someth a e p : m N e O I w T o area that the courts have been active PENSA d, they ST COM my lan U s J e k a t for the last eighty years, divining the r nment If gove line between reasonable regulation and government taking. A residential lot, compared to a typical commercial lot of the same size, is worth much less. The only difference between the two is the zoning regulations that limit the use of the property. Can’t a residential homeowner ask the government to compensate him for the loss of value on his land versus the neighboring commercial lot? Generally, no, as long as the other Constitutional processes have been

Not London, this time, but New London...

A well publicized recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling is the next big leap in zoning law (but doesn’t involve actual rats). In a case centered in New London, Connecticut, the court ruled by a 5-4 majority that the city’s economic development plan was a valid “public purpose” for taking private homes that were not blighted. The city wanted to promote more vigorous economic development and had a plan to assemble large parcels of land to accomplish it. Critics charge this is simply the government taking property from one private owner and giving it to another, often a wealthy developer. Because the court remained somewhat vague, there will likely be much more debate on this issue in the years to come.


espite the centuries that have passed since the earliest inklings of land use regulations, the first zoning ordinance in the United States was not

adopted until New York City did so in 1916, and the first Supreme Court challenge was not until 1926 when the court upheld zoning as a valid use of local police power. In all zoning, the key question remains, “how does

TAKING : when a publi on my p c use roper ty intr ude or rest s ricts its use followed. But

this affect the (entire) community’s health, safety and

what if a property owner is denied

at the beginning of all land use law, there was the lowly

all reasonable use of the property? This is when the


courts have said that the regulations constitute a taking. An example might be property in a natural open space area where the city zones it as “Park” or “Conservancy”, allowing only park and non-commercial recreation uses. issue #2

welfare?” Today we regulate land use, environmental issues, aesthetics, and even outdoor storage. We have come a long way from London in the 1300s, but way back

Phil Carlson, AICP, is a Senior Planner with the Minneapolis consulting firm Dahlgren, Shardlow, and Uban, Inc.; a graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Architecture; and a faculty member for Government Training Services, where for over twenty years he has taught seminars to city, county, and townships officials on planning and zoning issues, including the role of The Lowly Rat.


topic: nature

Does Mn/DOT really care about communities? About the environment? Scott Bradley, FASLA’s work in Taylor’s Falls, here, considers both.

The High Road


It’s not easy being green -especially when no one thinks you are. A recent Fellow makes Mn/DOT’s case. by Scott Bradley, FASLA

ast year I was inducted as a Fellow of the

year time period, the U.S. population grew by 30 percent,

American Society of Landscape Architects for

the number of licensed vehicles increased by 87 percent,

public sector work in transportation. There has

and vehicle miles traveled increased by more than 125

been some justifiable curiosity and surprise at my selec-


fact that transportation project development continues

For a more local perspective, since the implementation

to be seen as unfriendly to the environment.


of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in

is, however, another side of the story -- less told and

1969, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/

understood -- that points to the transportation sector’s

DOT) has been recognized with more Federal Highway

positive contributions to the environment. Key findings

Administration (FHWA) awards for highway design and

of an October 1999 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

environmental excellence (59 to date) than any other state

(EPA) report entitled “Indicators of the Environmental

DOT. When Dr. Harlow Landphair, representing the Texas

Impacts of Transportation”, identified the transporta-

Transportation Institute and the national Transportation

tion sector as responsible for much of the improvement

Research Board (TRB) Commi�ee on Landscape and

achieved in the U.S. environment over the previous

Environmental Design, first documented and mentioned

three decades. Transportation sector research and imple-

this finding in late 1995, he indicated that he was not only

mentation of new technologies, cleaner-burning fuels,

surprised by the finding (he never would have guessed

large-scale materials recycling, and innovative design,

Minnesota) but also by the quality of Mn/DOT’s work in

construction, and maintenance techniques and programs

the projects that he examined. Harlow and his colleagues

were the major influences cited. These findings are all the

wanted to know more about the story behind Mn/DOT’s

more surprising when you consider that over this same 30

successes, and asked me as a newly appointed member


SCAPE summer 05


tion (“a road guy, a Fellow?”). This likely stems from the

Context Sensitive Design (CSD)

I was able to identify 10 characteristics common to every

Context Sensitive Design uses a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that includes early involvement of key stakeholders to ensure that transportation projects are not only “Moving Minnesota” safely and efficiently, but are also in harmony with the natural, social, economic, and cultural environment.

fying for me to report that in the personal interviews

successful project (see sidebar). It was particularly satisconducted as part of the research, landscape architecture and landscape architects were identified as important influences in all ten characteristics. In recognition of an exemplary project development

Mn/DOT’s approach to Context Sensitive Design promotes six key principles: 1. Balance safety, mobility, community, and environmental goals in all projects 2. Involve the public and affected agencies early and continuously 3. Address all modes of travel 4. Use an interdisciplinary team tailored to project needs 5. Apply flexibility inherent in design standards 6. Incorporate aesthetics as an integral part of good design

process and decades of notable and award-winning projects and programs, FHWA selected Mn/DOT in 1999 as one of five Context Sensitive Design (CSD) “pilot states” who were targeted to help institutionalize CSD principles, initiatives, and training regionally and nationally. Commitment to institutionalizing CSD principles (see sidebar) should help ensure that Mn/DOT can advance transportation mobility safely and cost-effectively in balance with community and environmental values. Long before the national CSD impetus began in 1998, the philosophy and many of the principles of CSD

of their TRB Commi�ee to conduct the research and

were evident in the development and design of Mn/DOT’s

develop a formal paper for submission to the TRB. My

most successful projects and programs. It seems a logical

paper, entitled “25 Years of Advocacy for Excellence in

outgrowth of Mn/DOT’s past success that we build upon

Transportation and Environmental Design: A Mn/DOT

what we have learned and strive to plan, design, develop,

Case Study”, was accepted for presentation and publica-

and maintain cost-effective transportation facilities

tion by TRB in 1997.

that exhibit design excellence, stakeholder satisfaction, environmental stewardship, community sensitivity, and

My initial research discovered that Mn/DOT’s success

an enduring positive public works legacy for the future.

did not result from luck or politics or having significantly


more resources and money to utilize on projects. Rather

he process and outcomes of an early 1990s project I managed , along and under TH 8 in Taylors Falls,

The 10 Characteristics of Successful Transportation Projects 1. Comprehensive planning and effective public involvement. 2. Commitment and perseverance of individuals pursuing excellence. 3. Visionary leadership and proactive environmental advocacy. 4. Maximizing project funding and collaboration opportunities. 5. Commitment to systematic integration of interdisciplinary planning experts and resources. 6. Innovative and flexible design sensitive to social, economic, environmental and site parameters. 7. Analysis of others’ mistakes and successes prior to acting on new ideas and programs. 8. Attaining visual and environmental quality without excessive cost. 9. Excellent photojournalism to present and promote excellent project work. 10. An attitude and tradition of excellence inherent to an organization’s culture. issue #2

MN, embodied a particularly significant event

and milestone for me, Mn/DOT, the community, and other agency stakeholders. It is a prime example project for what was to become Mn/DOT’s articulated Context Sensitive Design (CSD) philosophy and principles a decade later as a nationally designated CSD “pilot state.” Michael Schroeder, a local landscape architect who had built a tremendous long-term relationship of trust and service with Taylors Falls, was the first to publicly articu-

late the significance of the TH 8 Taylors Falls Pedestrian Underpass and Scenic Overlook project as a catalyst for future strategic development planning in Taylors Falls, as well as an embodiment of CSD philosophy and principles (many years before they emerged nationally). The alliances and relationships built during the project continue to date as Mn/DOT has remained invested in working with Taylor’s Falls and multiple local government and agency stakeholders to work toward a vision. An ongoing guiding principle comes from the Taylors Falls Strategic Guide, published in 2001: “Taylors Falls is a place where the pa�erns of nature and se�lement are


context sensitivity of

topic: nature




intertwined so as to be indistinguishable. The place is

created the project, as

an integration of town and park, of history, small town

the most important

character and unique natural features. The boundary

lesson learned. Vision

between economics and environment is a seamless


one, where each project fits “naturally” into its se�ing


– whether in downtown, newly developing areas or in the


more wild reaches of the community.”

project champions and

collaborative building with


stakeholders) made it The stated purpose of the TH 8 Taylors Falls Pedestrian


The project

Underpass and Scenic Overlook project was to enhance


pedestrian and bicyclist safety, recreation access, visual

the brainstorming of

quality, community development, and a unique natural

a Governor’s Design

and cultural asset and gateway into the state of Minnesota.


Site design and amenities included safe, well-lit, accessible


walkways; multi-level walled terraces; site furniture; and

Team) visit to Taylor’s

landscaping adjacent to and under the TH 8 river bridge.

Falls in March of 1990.

An unsightly, unusable, and fenced off area of remnant

A concept sketch by the

construction debris under the bridge was transformed

team first illustrated

into an inviting walkway and terraces that draw you close

the opportunity for

to the river experience with fantastic river vistas while

a Wild and Scenic St.

connecting the downtown business area with Interstate

Croix River overlook





the Design

State Park and nearby




underpass. Then Downtown Development Commi�ee


boat operations. The

Chairman, Wade Vitalis, was excited by the idea. He

terraced overlook area

showed the sketch to Jack Caroon, a Mn/DOT project



engineer, who was then responsible for a small project

provide a flexible and

under development to add a turn lane and alleviate some




geometric safety problems with a bad curve and entrance

community activities

into Taylor’s Falls on the Minnesota side of the river

and venues whether

bridge. Caroon was intrigued and shopped the sketch

it is an art/cra� fair,

around Mn/DOT to assess what people thought about the




merits and feasibility of the idea and whether it should

or just a good place

be studied any further. He did not have much luck or

to wait for the next

encouragement until he showed it to me.

excursion boat while watching whitewater

I was immediately excited about the idea and the potential


to pursue it, and I did a field walk with Caroon and Vitalis



to explore the possibilities further. I saw the potential to


make a great idea work and offered my services to try and


While the Taylor’s Falls

make a project happen. We gathered more stakeholders

project has received a

together (Department of Natural Resources, National

number of state and

Park Service, county and community representatives)

national awards for

and I presented the merits and opportunities for a project.



Everyone supported the idea of trying to find a way.

consider the story and

From that point on, my commitment to (and beyond) the


The TH 8 river overlook at Taylors Falls (site plan, above left, aerial view, below right, site images, left and above right) is a prime example of context sensitive design

project was solidified as I agreed to become the project

Do you agree? Not quite convinced? __SCAPE welcomes letters to the editor. Send them to SCAPE summer 05

manager for a project that had no funding (nor even

tion of the project and preservation of the investments.

actual existence) at that juncture. As a landscape architect,

Initially, everyone (including me) thought this was impos-

you cannot get meaningful involvement and influence in

sible, but we got busy and built it.

a project any earlier than that!


In a 1991 le�er to Mn/DOT’s Metro District Engineer

n September of 1990, the ball was now in my court to

William Crawford, Vitalis indicated that the project could

build the necessary alliances, relationships, support,

never have become a reality without the flexible and

and consensus to define the purpose, need, and cost

for a joint venture, multiple-use project that was largely on Mn/DOT right of way -- while simultaneously doing design development work and searching for funding resources. The good news was that the agency and local government stakeholders were all willing to partner to make the project happen – the bad news was that none of them had any money that they could feasibly or legally put into the project at the time. Some good news followed when I laid out a compelling rationale and found $250,000 available from a small Mn/DOT project that was dropping out of the program for fiscal year 1990 funding. Some bad news followed with the caveat that a project would Mn/DOT’s Community Roadside Landscapeing Partnership Program has beautified rights-of-way throughout the state, like these examples, below.

have to be developed, let, and awarded for a construction


by June 30, 1991 or the available funding would be lost. This le� less than six months to do all of

innovative approach and support of Mn/DOT. “The real

the field survey work,

measure of success,” wrote Vitalis, “is this project’s socio-

public and stakeholder

economic impact for Taylors Falls by serving as a catalyst



for improvements and development in our community. It


will establish a standard for future development to model

and approvals, right of

while providing a strong visual framework for long-term

way work, detail design,

strategic planning.” The alliance and relationships among

construction documents,

the stakeholders still exist and have grown, with Mn/

and the required munic-

DOT as a strong ally and partner, engaged in continued

ipal and agency approvals

meetings and strategic visioning, planning, and TH 8

and cooperative agree-

studies to preserve and foster context sensitivity, quality

ments, etc. The $250,000

of life and public works in the best public interest.

was also not enough to

We quickly agreed that




construct the project in a way that was supported by all the stakeholders.

issue #2

Mn/DOT’s PlantSelector, above, is designed to combat improper plant selection and location. It is meant to be a resource for everyone.

ust prior to and on the heels of the initial stages of that success in Taylors Falls in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I started to see even more opportunities

for improvement at Mn/DOT. I had become the agency’s


Landscape Unit Chief in 1988, and I began directing

approach and agreements,

systematic and total revamping of Mn/DOT’s highway

with donation of in-kind

landscaping and vegetation management philosophy,

services (turf establish-

programs, guidelines, specifications and training. I tried

ment, landscaping, and

to overcome “resistance to change” by soliticing and



integrating systematic involvement and feedback on the

responsibilities, etc.), was

part of internal and external stakeholders in all aspects


of that change.





For instance, I wanted Mn/DOT to


the creation of the Community Roadside Landscaping


Partnership Program. In this program, Mn/DOT staff

environment with tremendous dilemmas and challenges.

consider how it could be�er address the public’s desire for well-maintained, cost-effective, sustainable roadside landscaping to enhance livable communities. This led to

hope I have addressed both of the motivating questions for this article: why make a road guy a fellow, and can Mn/DOT really be considered ‘environmental.’ We are

at a critical crossroads concerning transportation and the

provide the design and technical assistance to partner-

We also have tremendous opportunities to make a positive

ship communities; Mn/DOT funds the cost of eligible and

difference. This is what excited and motivated me the

approved landscape materials; communities enter into

most when I decided to move from private sector practice

agreements to install and maintain the landscape enhance-

to public sector transportation practice in 1988 and it is

ments; and Mn/DOT provides training and field assistance

still what professionally excites and motivates me the

to further assist communities and partners in achieving

most as a landscape architect. In regards to transporta-

initial and sustained success. To date under the program,

tion, I can think of no other arena of public works that

Mn/DOT has fostered over 275 community partnership

so shapes and facilitates the way most people are able to

projects valued at over $6 million while spending less than

perceive, experience, and interact with the environment

1/3 of that amount in state funds. The Partnership Program

that surrounds them on a daily basis. I have become a

received the first FHWA Environmental Excellence Award

strong proponent of a newly emerging field of study that

for Public Involvement in 1995 which cited the program

some scientists have labeled “Road Ecology” (Richard

as a national model.

Forman, Daniel Sperling, et al.). Ad hoc analyses and project-specific approaches have always le� many gaps in

Bradley, here, has been a catalyst for change at Mn/DOT and a national leader in the advancement of CSD philosophy and principles in transportation.

our understanding of issues and problems, and can make it difficult to create more effective and successful solutions to our pervasive problems. Integrating landscape ecology with transportation planning, engineering, and multimodal travel behaviors provides a new and unique opportunity to mesh transportation and environment in a mutually supportive manner. In my mind, this should be more than an opportunity -- it should be our obligation. Sco� Bradley, FASLA, is a principal landscape architect supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT). As Mn/DOT’s Landscape Architecture Chief, Sco� provides and manages landscape architectural and related interdisciplinary planning and design support for multi-modal corridor development projects statewide. He serves as Mn/DOT’s first point of contact and champion for CSD both locally and nationally. He maintains a very limited personal consulting practice (Sustainable by Design… Sco� Bradley).

What others are saying... Partly in concert with the Landscaping Partnership

(excerpts from Bradley’s Fellow nomination)

program, Mn/DOT found itself in need of a plant selection “expert system” to combat improper selection

“one of those rare landscape architects whose work, leadership and

and location of plant species. I worked with Mn/DOT

advocacy has risen ... to international influence”

landscape architects, foresters, and botanists, along with many volunteer collaborators from around the Midwest

“sought opportunities to get landscape architects out of functional

and Canada (with programming consultant Michael Max),

“pigeon holes” and to expand roles, influences and leadership in non-

to develop such an expert system in multiple phases from

traditional ways related to transportation and the environment”

1991 to the present. CD-ROM versions were released in 1996 and 1999. The most recent edition was developed as

“the face of landscape architecture to many – from District Engineers to

on online resource and tool – “Mn/DOT PlantSelector” at

Earth Day activists to town boards to national transportation officials”

h�p:// The expert system has received numerous state and national awards including a

“responsible for leveraging higher standards for materials and

MASLA Honor Award for research and communications

performance in the landscape industry and for elevating the success

and the FHWA Environmental Excellence Award for

and reputation of Mn/DOT landscaping programs, guidelines, best


practices, standards, specifications and training as among the very


best in the country”

SCAPE summer 05

Arteka is once again Arteka, locally owned and operated. 8810 13th Avenue East, Shakopee, Minnesota 55379 tel: 952.934.2000 �� fax: 952.934.2247

Manufacturer of

Premium Interlocking Concrete Paving Stones

320-363-4671• 800-622-4952 •

����� ��� ���� to advertise in

__SCAPE contact Adam Arvidson, editor at This irrigation plan isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on if the products I specify don’t measure up. Install confidence. Not frustration. Install Rain Bird. 612-312-2126 ������������������������������������������������������������ ��������������������������������

issue #2


on the South Dakota/Nebraska border (from which


Deloria’s comments are culled); midnight pea harvesting in the Skagit Valley; curing a�ention deficit hyperactivity

In Other Words

disorder (ADHD) with outdoor recreation; and a series of small humorous poems, the first of which apologizes to a mosquito for a fatal swat. “We are about an exploration of an alternative ecological worldview,” says Clifford: one that includes humans. To

Items of interest in the broader printSCAPE...

him, “exploration” is a key word. Orion doesn’t claim to


have all the answers, but is


working to find out how to live in the world without being merely a consumer

review by Adam Regn Arvidson, ASLA

– participatory sacredness The Lakota scholar Vine Deloria, Jr., defines

again. “I think,” he adds,

four types of sacred places: locations of

“that is what landscape

spiritual happenings (think Mount Sinai),

architecture is about.” While

landforms with inherent spiritual qualities

Orion will not provide you

(consider the Red Sea, or even, perhaps, our

with technical solutions,

National Parks), key secular historic sites

it might just expose you

(Ground Zero, most recently), and another

to a new viewpoint on the

that’s a li�le trickier to describe.


environment. But you do

Lakota might consider a site holy (in the

have to read. Don’t come

broadest sense of that term) if it provides

to Orion expecting to skate

some teaching or sustenance on a regular basis. In this category, then, fall the great fishing holes, the morel mushroom caches, the deer stands, and even the local ballfield. These sites require constant human participation to remain holy (or, under more secular language, useful).

Imagine the

morel hunting site if no one hunted morels. Those fleeting spring delicacies would still exist, but the participatory sacredness of the site would be gone. These are the kinds of places you will read about in Orion. Founded in 1980 as a vehicle for publishing and discussing nature writing, Orion evolved several times before a�aining its present form in

by on pictures and captions – it is text heavy. Though it

2003. Though it has widened its scope to talk more about

includes carefully selected, exquisite photos and images

people and projects – and spawned a complementary

(and an artist’s portfolio in each issue), Orion is clearly

organization – it has maintained its natural legacy. But

married to the wri�en word. And that’s the point.

is portrayed as a special interest,” says Harlan C. Clifford,

A Minnesota landscape architect introduced me to Orion,

the magazine’s executive editor. “Well, if you breathe,

saying it might help increase the profession’s environ-

or eat, then the environment is the main interest.” For

mental literacy.

that reason, this bimonthly, full color, glossy is perfectly

landscape architects probably know what’s growing in

content dealing with subjects as wide ranging as – to

your backyard,” he offers, “but do you know where your

pick a few from the July/August edition – racial tension

water comes from, where your food comes from.” And


Clifford likes that statement.


SCAPE summer 05


don’t call Orion an environmental rag. “The environment

no, the answer is not your local grocery store. In short, Orion is about, in Clifford’s words, “illustrating the nexus


points between art, environment, food, spirituality,” and a ra� of other environmental considerations -- even if they don’t seem environmental at first. This is the essence of Deloria’s fourth sacred place. Anywhere can be special, if we care. To subscribe or learn more, go to



by Peter Reed with the Museum of Modern Art

published by the Museum of Modern Art, February, 2005 When the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City reopened last February, it mounted an exhibition on contemporary landscape design. The fact that such a venerable institution would focus on the land is not so out of character when you consider MOMA’s history with this art form. The museum’s first building, opened in 1939, included perhaps the first modernist outdoor sculpture garden, and through the years MOMA has been at the center of modernist landscape dialog, allowing Philip Johnson to redesign that same garden in 1950, publishing Modern Gardens in the Landscape in 1964 (and again in 1984), and showing Roberto Burle Marx to the world in 1991. So perhaps most notable about this recent exhibition – and accompanying book – is its name: Groundswell: constructing the contemporary landscape. Contemporary? Not Modern? The exhibition catalog (which is not a mere accompanying document, but a carefully executed stand-alone book) displays 23 projects on its 160+ pages – projects that are definitely not Modern in the strict sense of that classification. They are, however, still on the outer limits of the everyday. They span the globe from New York to Beirut to Barcelona to Shanghai.

The regular stars (EDAW,

Martha Schwartz, Kathryn Gustafson, Peter Walker, Hargreaves Associates) are well represented, but there are a few relative unknowns. Each project gets 4 to 8 pages of snazzy images and a short overview, and they are divided roughly into three categories by curator Peter Reed’s academic but enlightening introduction (which begins, incidentally, all the way back in 1803 with Humphrey Repton’s landscape overlays). issue #2

If there is an overall

ALD, Inc. Architectural Lighting Designs, Inc. 2920 Anthony Lane St. Anthony, MN 55418 Phone: 612-252-4100 Fax: 612-252-4141 E-mail – 29


In Other Words

theme, it is transformation – from degraded landscape to public space. Reed’s categories illustrate the ways the transformation is taking place: creation of the new urban plaza, as with West 8’s Schouwburgplein in Ro�erdam, known for its moveable crane-like lighting; simulations of

Care to alert us to a book, newsletter, website, magazine, or lecture series you find interesting? __SCAPE welcomes letters to the editor. Send them to NEWSLETTER

New Urban News review by Sam Newberg

nature, illustrated by Kathryn Gustafson’s Lurie Garden,

I write for New Urban News, so I’ll try to be fair...and

an undulating wildflower plain in the shadow of Frank


Gehry’s ribboned amphitheatre in Chicago’s Millennium Park; and reclamation of wastelands – “the bad and the

New Urban News is an independent periodical dedicated

beautiful,” says Reed – such as the widely discussed

to the New Urbanism. It is not an official publication of the

Duisburg-Nord Landscape Park in western Germany

Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), but is delivered

by Peter Latz, where ore bunkers have become climbing

to all CNU members, although separate subscriptions are


also available. New Urban News is produced eight times annually, and features updates on New Urbanism projects

In some circles the exhibition (and, presumably the book

around the United States and beyond. The magazine

that documents it) has been panned, in some, praised.

also provides updates of prominent practitioners of New

Just last month (July, 2005) in Landscape Architecture


Magazine, separate le�ers to the editor voiced the foiled comments, “Groundswell confirmed landscape architecture’s vital role in shaping a cultural response to a postindustrial world,” and “The Groundswell exhibit…represents a collection of the most dysfunctional, intellectually arrogant designs ever assembled in one place.” Ahhh, discussion. Certainly good for design, and probably what Reed wanted all along. Why else do contemporary museums exist than to show off the new, unique, and sometimes controversial, and then get people to talk about it? I, unfortunately, did not see the exhibition (which closed last May) and, though I have been lucky enough to stand on three of the sites documented in Groundswell, none were finished at the time (one still isn’t). The book, therefore is valuable to me as a documentation of a particular point in landscape history; as a visual reference for challenging, fascinating projects I may never visit; and as a discussion starter. These are projects that should be widely recognized by landscape professionals, and just as every ‘boomer can sing along with “Blue Moon,” perhaps every landscape architect should be able to discuss Martha And even if you open Groundswell from time to time to

Overall, the magazine is informative, albeit a li�le schol-

remind yourself what not to do, it’s still worth ge�ing

arly. Its utilitarian black and white content pages and non-

your hands on.

glossy paper reinforce both of those qualities. Articles are reliably well researched and wri�en, and can be quite enlightening. They o�en go beyond project pictures to include tables, plans, and diagrams.


SCAPE summer 05


Schwartz’s “Hanging Ditch” or Ken Smith’s plastic rocks.

whips I will say that New Urban News does preach to the choir. The New Urbanism has been criticized at times for being

guide,” who helps organize the information and prime

somewhat of a theology. New Urban News speaks with

the pump. The typical NextStep user might do a li�le

similar zeal, typically assuming most readers are not only

surfing, compile a few resource opportunities specifically

familiar with the nomenclature but in agreement with the

related to their area of interest (or immediate crisis), then

ideology. The Charter for the New Urbanism describes a

follow up with the original creator of that resource, or, if

movement to improve the built environment of all cities

completely stumped, call Muessig and Moss. Thus the

and suburbs (and indeed, even rural areas). New Urban

network. “We are generalists,” says Moss, “but because

News is an effective primer, summary, technical overview,

of that, we can connect people up across disciplines, with

and, at times, cheerleader for that movement.

others who are successfully applying sustainability.”

Subscriptions are included with membership to the

Take a look at the Land Use Topic. Click on “Be�er Site

Congress for the New Urbanism, or are available for $79

Design: a Handbook for Changing Development Rules in

per year. Go to for more infor-

Your Community.” This brings up a green sheet, which

mation or to subscribe.

shares the resource type (in this case, “guidelines”),

Sam Newberg is an associate at DSU and president of Joe Urban, Inc.

the topics covered (buildings, business, etc.), the likely


NextStep review by Adam Regn Arvidson, ASLA “Everyone is a potential change agent.” So says Philipp Muessig, by which he means anyone can contribute to a sustainable future – as long as they have the right knowledge and resources. He and his cohort Paul Moss comprise the State of Minnesota’s Sustainable Communities Team, a wholly state funded department which since 1997 has been providing (and inventing) resources for a growing ad hoc network of folks concerned with all things environmental, ecological, and community oriented. The NextStep website, launched in 2000, is the most recent addition to a stable that also houses the Minnesota Sustainable Communities Network (MnSCN), a loose association of more than 2600 sustainability minded persons and organizations, and the MnSCN Update, a biweekly newsle�er. “It is impossible for two staffers,” continues Muessig, “to know whether those change agents are working at a private firm, on a library board, as an elected official, as a homeowner, or on a block club. We

audience (everyone), the Minnesota region to which it best applies (statewide, but particularly outstate), a short summary of the resource (22 model guidelines for development and protection of watersheds), a detailed description of its content, a contact for more information, and the network member who suggested the resource (grand change agent Philipp Muessig). From here, check out the referenced website for more info. Of particular interest is the topic area called Individual Choices, which focuses on the everyday decisions that have a deceptively significant impact on sustainability. Currently appearing here are the Blue Sky Guide (a coupon book for sustainable products and services), Car Sharing, “The Consumers Guide to Effective Environmental Choices,” and resources on how overwork impacts health and families (listen up, design professionals!).


that’s just the tip of this pristine, pollution-free iceberg. NextStep currently flaunts over 1000 resources, and since anyone can post to the site, the list keeps growing. “One of the main messages,” says Moss, “is that there is a lot going on out there.” So it seems. Visit to browse resources, sign up for the newsle�er, or become a member of the network.

wanted to create a website that makes it easy for people to get some background. And then go more in depth.” To that end, NextStep aims to arm green thinkers with tangible resources, which are carefully annotated on sage colored cut sheets and arranged into a dozen topics for easier navigation. Each topic has a volunteer “topic issue #2


“Flip the switch,” says an LRT line installation piece by Janet Zweig. Read more on page 8. Photo by Regina M. Flanaghan.


���������������������������� ���������������������������������������� for a calendar of events, chapter newsle�er, board members, award winning projects, membership information, and more, visit the official website:


_SCAPE 2005 Summer  
_SCAPE 2005 Summer