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The Future of Landscape Architecture
Editor Steve Kelly


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The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) is holding a "Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future," June 10-11, 2016 at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (p. 84). The inspiration for the meeting is the June 1-2, 1966 LAF assembly at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, in which a small group of landscape architects who feared the environmental degradation of our rivers and lakes and natural landscapes, met and drafted a "Declaration of Concern" to urge a "new, collaborative effort to improve the American environment, and to train a new generation of Americans equipped by education, inspiring example and improved organizations to help create that environment."

Environmental issues are of course of deep concern to landscape architects, and their perspectives are not just on the U.S., but the worldwide environment. Of note on that topic is an article published in the March 18 issue of Science by Joe Roman, a conservation biologist at the University of Vermont, and James Kraska, a professor of international law at the U.S. Naval War College. Prompted by President Obama's plan to "normalize" relations between the U.S. and Cuba and his stated plan to close U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, the authors foresee an "expansion of coastal development and return of industrial agriculture." The authors note that Cuba has some 3,100 miles of coastline that boasts coral reefs, mangrove wetlands, tropical forests and long stretches of undeveloped coast. The authors propose that Naval Station Guantanamo Bay be repurposed as a "state-of-the-art marine research institution and peace park, a conservation zone to help resolve conflicts between the two countries." A "peace park" for Guantanamo is an intriguing idea. Designing such a park would certainly be a coveted project for any landscape architecture firm.

Such a reality, however, may be geopolitically naive, but we can aspire. The U.S.-Cuban detente is fraught with difficulties. As of this writing, President Obama has just landed in Havana, met with Cuban President Raul Castro and spoken to 1,500 Cubans at the Great Theatre of Havana (built circa 1838). Obama has asked Congress to lift the U.S. embargo on Cuba. That embargo prohibits direct U.S. investment in Cuba. Europe, Latin America, Asia and Canada have been trading with and investing in Cuba for decades, but as the Wall Street Journal asserts, the Cuban dictatorship "controls the economy to a greater extent than any government outside of North Korea." Foreign investors can only be minority partners. The state, the Castro brothers, are the owners and not looking for new management.

As WSJ editor on Latin America affairs Mary Anastasia O'Grady points out, "If there is a capital infusion from the U.S., it can flow only to state-owned monopolies." If Congress approves lifting the embargo, U.S. developers wanting to build in Cuba would not be allowed, for instance, to contract Cuban workers, as the state is their employer. It would be illegal, for instance, for a U.S. developer to pay the workers something extra for a job well done. Grady notes that Cuba only accepts U.S. dollars from U.S. travelers, then pays workers "in all but worthless pesos."

While new U.S. development in Cuba may be years away, one by-product of the new closer ties is the recent greatly increased influx of Cubans into the U.S. The Pew Research Center reports 43,150 Cubans arrived at 20 U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices in fiscal year 2015 (Oct. 1 to Sept. 30), that's a 78% increase over the previous year.

Lighting the Way
The theme of this issue is lighting, and LASN presents a variety of lighting in a wide range of settings: a backyard residential design with a unique bar decor; an office park design tailored to employees of startup companies; a "community clock" for a Southern California shopping, dining and entertainment center that combines lighted pavers and lit umbrellas; a park on the Brooklyn waterfront that includes dramatically lit refurbished freight cranes and custom designed seating; a stop in Scottsdale to see the dramatic 'Diamond Bloom' sculpture; onto the Cleveland Clinic for the Vail Garden and its mirrored wall that's internally lit with LED strips; then to a residence in Pennsylvania to see how a tree canopy should be lit; and finally, venturing up to downtown Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, to view the "Funnelator" and learn about the changes going on in that city's Hospitality and Entertainment District. We also highlight some new pedestrian lighting (p. 56). New luminaires are of interest to specifiers, but how about a new lighting source? Check out the short item of how a French start-up company is getting around the overnight lighting restrictions imposed on retailers there. The inspiration is an underwater denizen of Hawaii and Midway (p. 88).


As seen in LASN magazine, April 2016.






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