SCAPE land and design in the Upper Midwest
ART ON THE LINE
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 email@example.com, and type subscribeSCAPE in the subject line. Send general MASLA inquiries to: MASLA
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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 email@example.com 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
A recent Fellow talks about Mn/DOT’s environment and community successes
by Scott Bradley, FASLA
whips The Forest for the Trees
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.
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
SWEET, MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY, LEFT; COURTESY MASLA, RIGHT
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.
COURTESY MINNEAPOLIS PARK AND RECREATION BOARD, BOTH
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
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?
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.
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
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
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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
REGINA M. FLANAGAN, ALL
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
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
was completed in 2004 and
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
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
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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
��������� ��������������� ������
� ��� ������ ���������
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
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 email@example.com.
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.
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
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���������
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
COURTESY PHIL CARLSON, ALL
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
ordinance, not their own whims.
If it was in the Constitution it was a valid use
however, they say they want to maintain the character,
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
private property be taken for public use, without
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.
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
COURTESY MN/DOT AND SCOTT BRADLEY, ALL
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
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
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
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
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 email@example.com. 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
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.
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://plantselector.dot.state.mn.us. 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
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__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.
firstname.lastname@example.org 612-312-2126 ������������������������������������������������������������ ��������������������������������
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).
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
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
COURTESY ORION, ALL
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 www.orionsociety.org.
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
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
COURTESY NEW URBAN NEWS
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 www.newurbannews.com 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
www.nextstep.state.mn.us 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 www.nextstep.state.mn.us 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: