Archives for category: landscape architecture
Long Beach Skyline

I’m in Long Beach, California, but did I really leave Australia? Even though I see people driving on the right side of the road and hear American accents, it doesn’t feel much different! Palm trees line the streets, glistening new buildings dot the skyline, and beachwear is the order of the day.

Actually, Long Beach is my home town, but this Long Beach is different from the one I remember from the late 1970’s. Over the last 30 years, the city has transformed itself. The decaying downtown of my childhood has given way to fancy restaurants and trendy cafes. Entire sections of the city have been torn down and completely replaced by sleek modern architecture and landscaping (which I suspect is the reason it reminds me of Australia). Long Beach is no longer the sleepy and depressed place that I left.

Riding around town, I’m struck by its cultural vibrancy. Buildings once dedicated to manufacturing are now art galleries, music venues, and live performance stages. Like Paris and Berlin, Long Beach has even elevated the simple bicycle post into art. 

Coffee Cup in Front of a Cafe

Ice Cream Cone
for an Ice Cream Shop

Palm Tree Bicycle Posts
add Style to Hair Salon

Dine at a Diner
with Bicycle Post
A Guitar
for a Music Store
A Surf Board: SoCal
Beach Culture
A Bicyclist
Highlights the Many Bike Lanes
in Long Beach
Stretching
in Front of a Fitness Studio
A Dog Treat
Welcomes Dogs to a Wash Salon

Vegetables in
Front of a Vegan Restaurant
Dragonfly Compliments
an Asian Restaurant

Beautifully Simple
Perfect for the Southwest
Oblivious to its Environment
This Design is hopefully a thing of the Past













I recently returned from the American Southwest and was pleased to discover that the era of the lawn and lush landscape has faded. As little as twenty years ago, residential neighborhoods in the arid southwest were landscaped primarily with lawns and water guzzling plants. 

Formality within
the Context of a Desert Garden


In the mid-twentieth century, Americans were fixated on having the picture perfect green lawn, no matter what the local climate. Today, you find desert landscaping and see very little grass. Southwestern gardeners have replaced grass with cacti, succulents, and sand. This trend toward eco-friendly landscapes means gardens work with the environment and can grow without supplemental water.

Mimicking Nature
in the Garden














As a landscape architecture student, I would sometimes include native plants as part of an overall landscape design, only to see these specimens replaced with “client friendly” plants (eg. hibiscus, ferns, willows, and other thirsty plants). That was thirty years ago. These days, people are more receptive to native plants and designs that work with nature. In an age of climate change skeptics and “drill, baby, drill” demagogues, it’s gratifying to see Americans moving toward a sustainable world right in their own gardens.

Lush Plantings
that are Drought Tolerant

Beautifully Simple
Perfect for the Southwest
Oblivious to its Environment
This Design is hopefully a thing of the Past













I recently returned from the American Southwest and was pleased to discover that the era of the lawn and lush landscape has faded. As little as twenty years ago, residential neighborhoods in the arid southwest were landscaped primarily with lawns and water guzzling plants. 

Formality within
the Context of a Desert Garden


In the mid-twentieth century, Americans were fixated on having the picture perfect green lawn, no matter what the local climate. Today, you find desert landscaping and see very little grass. Southwestern gardeners have replaced grass with cacti, succulents, and sand. This trend toward eco-friendly landscapes means gardens work with the environment and can grow without supplemental water.

Mimicking Nature
in the Garden














As a landscape architecture student, I would sometimes include native plants as part of an overall landscape design, only to see these specimens replaced with “client friendly” plants (eg. hibiscus, ferns, willows, and other thirsty plants). That was thirty years ago. These days, people are more receptive to native plants and designs that work with nature. In an age of climate change skeptics and “drill, baby, drill” demagogues, it’s gratifying to see Americans moving toward a sustainable world right in their own gardens.

Lush Plantings
that are Drought Tolerant

My House: Vivid Colors, 
Overabundant Mums and Impatiens,
a Fall Wreath, and a Big Pumpkin.

What does this say about Me?

Autumn in Portland is wonderful, and besides fall foliage, nothing announces the change of the seasons more than the way people decorate their front door, entryway, or porch.

People in the Maine are anxious to celebrate the transition from summer to autumn by decorating the outside of their houses with the familiar images of the season: fall wreaths; pumpkins; gourds; mums; and Halloween props. For me, the fall is an opportunity to add a little punch to the entryway, and it also helps chase away the autumn blues that accompany the shorter days. 

How we chose to decorate our entryways reflects our personalities and how we want the world to see us.  Show me your entryway and I can tell you what you are.  

Here are some houses I found in the West End. What do these homes tell you about the occupants?

Sparse Symmetry
and a bit Cold
A Row of Orderly
and Size Appropriate Pumpkins
all Neatly Arranged


An Understated Design with Mums and Pumpkins:
Neatly arranged and color coordinated

Dramatic Halloween Window Display, Pumpkins,
Mums, Gourds, and Fall Plants.

Unconventional, Quirky, and Warm


A Study in Orange:
Stylish, Subdued
and Careful 
Carefully Thought Design:
Scarecrow, Barrel, Pumpkin,
and Horn-of-Plenty Wreath.

Symmetrical, Sentimental, 
 Subdued, and Conventional 



Stark, Cold, and Lonely
Classic American: A
Flag, Mums, and Pumpkins.

Sentimental, Conventional,
Conservative
Whimsical, Generous, Humorous, and Quirky 

Clever Design using Grasses,
Mums and a Pumpkin. A Modest

Entryway that belies a Creative Occupant?

Orderly Pumpkins
that have become
Disorderly



Boo!
Full of Fun
Don’t Forget Me

My House: Vivid Colors, 
Overabundant Mums and Impatiens,
a Fall Wreath, and a Big Pumpkin.

What does this say about Me?

Autumn in Portland is wonderful, and besides fall foliage, nothing announces the change of the seasons more than the way people decorate their front door, entryway, or porch.

People in the Maine are anxious to celebrate the transition from summer to autumn by decorating the outside of their houses with the familiar images of the season: fall wreaths; pumpkins; gourds; mums; and Halloween props. For me, the fall is an opportunity to add a little punch to the entryway, and it also helps chase away the autumn blues that accompany the shorter days. 

How we chose to decorate our entryways reflects our personalities and how we want the world to see us.  Show me your entryway and I can tell you what you are.  

Here are some houses I found in the West End. What do these homes tell you about the occupants?

Sparse Symmetry
and a bit Cold
A Row of Orderly
and Size Appropriate Pumpkins
all Neatly Arranged


An Understated Design with Mums and Pumpkins:
Neatly arranged and color coordinated

Dramatic Halloween Window Display, Pumpkins,
Mums, Gourds, and Fall Plants.

Unconventional, Quirky, and Warm


A Study in Orange:
Stylish, Subdued
and Careful 
Carefully Thought Design:
Scarecrow, Barrel, Pumpkin,
and Horn-of-Plenty Wreath.

Symmetrical, Sentimental, 
 Subdued, and Conventional 



Stark, Cold, and Lonely
Classic American: A
Flag, Mums, and Pumpkins.

Sentimental, Conventional,
Conservative
Whimsical, Generous, Humorous, and Quirky 

Clever Design using Grasses,
Mums and a Pumpkin. A Modest

Entryway that belies a Creative Occupant?

Orderly Pumpkins
that have become
Disorderly



Boo!
Full of Fun
Don’t Forget Me

Mur Végétal
Height 18m [59″]; Width 15m [49″];
 area 270 sq.m [2903 sq. ft.];
water 16,200 liters [4227 gallons]

Berlin has it all, including a tropical rain forest right in the middle of the city. Dussmann, Berlin’s largest bookstore, not only has an excellent selection of books, CD’s, and DVD’s, but it also houses Le Mur Végétal (Vertical Garden), a collection of tropical plants, which grow, not on soil, but on an elaborate drip irrigation system enabling plants to grow on walls.

This living artwork is the creation of French botanist and horticultural artist Patrick Blanc. Blanc, using a hydroponic system invented by Stanley Hart White, a Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Illinois, has created a spectacular facade symbolizing the world’s need for ecological and social sustainability. Blanc has a number of other gardens around the world, including artworks in Singapore, San Francisco, and Paris. Le Mur Végétal is free to the public, and is an awesome example of 21th century Landscape Architecture.   

Sphinx of Queen of Hatshepsut
(Egypt 18th Dynasty (1475 BC)
Greets Visitors to Mur Végétal









Mur Végétal
Height 18m [59″]; Width 15m [49″];
 area 270 sq.m [2903 sq. ft.];
water 16,200 liters [4227 gallons]

Berlin has it all, including a tropical rain forest right in the middle of the city. Dussmann, Berlin’s largest bookstore, not only has an excellent selection of books, CD’s, and DVD’s, but it also houses Le Mur Végétal (Vertical Garden), a collection of tropical plants, which grow, not on soil, but on an elaborate drip irrigation system enabling plants to grow on walls.

This living artwork is the creation of French botanist and horticultural artist Patrick Blanc. Blanc, using a hydroponic system invented by Stanley Hart White, a Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Illinois, has created a spectacular facade symbolizing the world’s need for ecological and social sustainability. Blanc has a number of other gardens around the world, including artworks in Singapore, San Francisco, and Paris. Le Mur Végétal is free to the public, and is an awesome example of 21th century Landscape Architecture.   

Sphinx of Queen of Hatshepsut
(Egypt 18th Dynasty (1475 BC)
Greets Visitors to Mur Végétal









There’s always something to see on the streets of Berlin. 

This temporary art installation just appeared overnight. It’s located near the Schlesisches Tor U-Bahn station
in Kreuzberg. 
A bronze face located near the Foreign Ministry
in Mitte
Beautifying a parkway on
Libauerstr. in Friedrichshain
Located on Karl-Marx Alle and
surrounded by Stalinist style apartments
this kiosk is in the shape of a baby bottle.
It states, “Finally Grown Up”
On the corner of Warschauerstr.
and Friedrichsstr. this street light
is the victim of too many posters

There’s always something to see on the streets of Berlin. 

This temporary art installation just appeared overnight. It’s located near the Schlesisches Tor U-Bahn station
in Kreuzberg. 
A bronze face located near the Foreign Ministry
in Mitte
Beautifying a parkway on
Libauerstr. in Friedrichshain
Located on Karl-Marx Alle and
surrounded by Stalinist style apartments
this kiosk is in the shape of a baby bottle.
It states, “Finally Grown Up”
On the corner of Warschauerstr.
and Friedrichsstr. this street light
is the victim of too many posters

Overhead Subway Gives Riders
a Glimpse of the Park


One of my favorite parks in Berlin is now complete. The west end section of the Park am Gleisdreieck officially opened to an enthusiastic public this past weekend despite rain and thunder. 

Dog Park

A former rail yard, the Park am Gleisdreieck shows how a little imagination and a lot of hard work can transform a toxic brown field into an eco-friendly space with meadows, playgrounds, sport fields, bicycle trails, and areas dedicated to native plant and wildlife preservation. This park also has a cafe, open air theater, vegetable garden, and dog run. The Park am Gleisdreieck incorporates elements from its past (rail ties, tool sheds, and towers) into a modern multi-functional design.