American Landscape Awards 2009
Extensive regrading of the steep banks reduced the impact of erosion while also improving views into the park. Invasive plants were removed and nearly 300,000 plants were added, including a variety of flood-resistant native riparian trees and other vegetation.
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At each roadway crossing, stairs and ramps were installed to provide pedestrian access. To allow water and floating debris to flow unhampered back to the bayou, the park is stepped in section, with some gabion edge treatments.
The team gave special attention to lighting design. In addition to a series of trailside light poles, chosen to withstand periodic submersion, the designers opted to strategically light dark corners under bridges and behind walls rather than wash the entire site with light. A third component, designed with artist Stephen Korns, consists of a series of floodlights and LEDs that gradually change from white to blue with the cycles of the moon.
"This project sends a great message on scale, proportion, materials, and perseverance," remarked the awards jury. "By capturing open space under a labyrinth of highways the landscape architect has made the intimidating unintimidating."
In the residential design category, no projects received ASLA's highest honor, the award of excellence.
One of the projects to receive an honor award was the Vienna Way Residence in Venice, California, designed by Marmol Radziner and Associates. Firm principal Ron Radziner, FAIA, Affiliate ASLA, served as lead designer on the project — his own home garden — working with landscape architect Meg Rushing Coffee, ASLA.
The house is divided into two main linear volumes connected by a kitchen, with the landscape focused between the two structures. A swimming pool runs alongside the main public living space, leading to the partially sunken kitchen, topped by a green roof, with a rear garden behind, designed for children's play.
"The ideas follow the modular forms of the house," commented the jury.
Plantings of Cape rush align with the pool. Flanking this "riparian" corridor are drought-tolerant plantings reminiscent of a chaparral landscape, including coast live oak, valley oak, native deer grass, and African sumac. The backyard includes a lawn of buffalo grass, along with a raised vegetable planter and native California plants white sage, Cleveland sage, and flannel bush.
Due to the large quantity of native plants and the size desired at installation, many plants were contract-grown by two local nurseries. All of the trees were field-grown and craned into the site.
Rehabilitation Strategy in New Orleans
Scout Island is a 62-acre (25-hectare) site located within City Park in New Orleans, Louisiana. Popular for bird-watching, this pocket of wildness had recovered from hurricanes in the past, partly through neglect: the soil was left undisturbed, and trees downed by storms had shaded low-growing plants, helping to prevent the establishment of invasive species under holes in the canopy.
But the ecological outcome was different after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The site was flooded with six feet (two meters) of water, and about half the trees were killed. Most of the downed trees were removed right after the storm, opening up the canopy, and the heavy machinery also disturbed the soil, exposing seeds of exotic plant species.
The storm also damaged structures and washed away paths. And years of institutional knowledge about operations and maintenance of the park were lost when over half the staff of City Park left; volunteer organizations suffered likewise.
Mossop + Michaels started the rehabilitation design process with a comprehensive comparative analysis of site conditions before and after the storm. They then developed the strategy of establishing a network of resilient infrastructure in the park, with four key facets: ecological, physical, organizational, and informational.
In the Scout Island Strategic Plan, they recommend a dynamic management approach for the site. Specific plans include eradication of invasive plant species, especially ragweed and Chinese tallow; the planting of native species; establishment of coastal prairie on a third of the site; creation of a new trail system with signage incorporated into the paths; and the use of time-lapse cameras to track and share information about the project's progress. The design team also suggests cultivating long-lasting relationships with area universities.
"The solutions are so beautiful and simple," praised the awards jury. "The lack of prescription leaves it open for evolution. The landscape architect was light handed and provided a good process for the people who live there to have input into what happens."
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