White House launches Urban Affairs website

The White House launched the Office of Urban Affairs website including a blog and Innovations and Ideas page where US citizens can submit ideas and best practices. This is a follow up to the Urban Tour which included 9 city centers and the Inter-Agency working group on urban policy.

The OUA blog states that the launch of the website is to

This effort is an important addition to our ongoing conversation on the Future of America’s Cities and Metropolitan Areas. We have already met with many urban stakeholders, elected officials, and academics; and we’ve been around the country visiting places that are on the cutting edge of urban innovation. But today we are establishing a more direct relationship with you – the American people. You are the ones that are innovating every single day – you are the innovators. You tackle government bureaucracy with creativity and leadership; you overcome a slow economy with public-private partnerships; and you turn distressed neighborhoods around with determination, hope and, above all, hard work.

The President knows that government doesn’t have all the answers. He knows that the best solutions come from you in places like Auburn Gresham in Chicago, South Lake Union in Seattle, and the small city of Flagstaff, Arizona – just to name a few. We know there are many more out there and we want you to share them with us.

Submit your idea or best practice (US Citizens)

[SOURCE: Office of Urban Affairs Blog – Announcing the White House Urban Affairs Website]

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Will there be a shortage of landscape architects after the Crisis is over?

Over the past two years with the Global Financial Crisis hit nearly every nation across the globe and as a result landscape architects where laid off in large numbers. This was hardest felt in the USA due to lack of work and collapse of the home building market.

Governments from USA, UK, Canada, Australia, China and many other countries kick-started their economies with Financial Stimulus packages which has given some firms more work but has created just enough work to sustain the staff they had kept on.

At World Landscape Architect, however I have noticed in recent weeks that results for tenders and competitions seems to appear on the web more and more frequently.

Will there be a shortage of landscape architect with economies picking up and more work coming into companies? Well if we go back to late 1990’s to mid 2000’s there were many reports of shortages of experience staff at landscape architecture firms in UK, Australia, New Zealand, UAE, North East Africa and some parts of Asia which was driving up salaries and as a recent article by Mark Smulian at Planning Resource raised the issue that CABE has fears that a shortage will occur again….

Like planning, landscape architecture has never really recovered from the 1990s recession. People left the profession or chose not to enter it, leaving a gap in experience. CABE fears a repeat in this recession and say a minimum of 550 new entrants a year are needed on landscape courses.
[SOURCE: Planning Resource]

Will there be a shortage remains to be seen but the outlook looks good for landscape architects currently unemployed with more work and projects appearing daily and the growth in sustainable design and trend of developments and cities incorporating ratings systems such as LEED ND and Sustainable Sites. Also there is a large amount of work that will be generated with the explosion on new cities in Asia and North Africa and the renewal of many towns and cities throughout the UK and USA. Therefore, if your unemployed there is hope yet and if your employed help push your local Universities and Professional Institutions to keep promoting the profession even more so during the current times of stagnant or slight growth to encourage more students to go into the profession and encourage those thinking of leaving to rethink their long term careers.

By Damian Holmes

SIDENOTE: The article by Mark Smulian at Planning Resource titled ‘Greening our cities is a great article that looks at the role of landscape architects, our strengths and weaknesses.

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Landscaping With a Lighter Touch – NYTimes.com

A recent article by William L. Hamilton at the New York Times about landscaping enhancing property values interviewed some landscape architects and clients and many drew the conclusion that people are heading towards more low maintenance gardens with few features. Out with the outdoor kitchen and in with the kitchen garden. More native plants and natural aesthetic.

The landscape architects in the article were:

Mike Mushak (CT, NY) said his clients were more interested in growing vegetables and getting their hands dirty than owning and operating the elaborate outdoor appliances…..

Anne Howerton(SF) said “how much work you want to put into maintaining a property, at any price point.”…….

Andrea Cochrane(SF) said about clients with green intentions – “They’re definitely aware, but when people look at the amortization — the payback — they tend to cut it out. I’ve become a little jaded about that.”…..

Perry Guillot(NY) stated that “High, high maintenance, that’s moved on,”……..“It’s like having five bad kids in the house, constantly needing things.”

Read the full article at the the [SOURCE: New York Times – Landscaping With a Lighter Touch]

Bulldozing Cities – GOOD.IS

Dan Kildee is the treasurer of Genessee County, Michigan, the county which contains the city of Flint. His recently written a guest post at GOOD.is. He starts his post

The quality of a city is determined by what life is like for the people who live there—not by how many people live there.

So why is my suggestion that my hometown of Flint should shrink—reducing the “built” environment—creating such a stir? Is our American obsession with growth and expansion so pervasive that a community would rather fail at being large than succeed and become a smaller place?

Read the full post at the SOURCE: GOOD 100: Bulldozing Cities

America’s urban parks renewal

Neal Peirce of the Seattle Times has written an op-ed piece about the reawakening of America’s urban parks stating that

if there were ever a bonanza decade for America’s parks, this is surely it. Add stunning new parks in Boston, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Denver and Santa Fe, plus the success of conservancies in revamping great old parks in such cities as Pittsburgh, Brooklyn and San Francisco.

Peirce reviews various new urban parks in America including the Citygarden in St.Louis, Highline in New York and he also cites Harnik(parks expert for the Trust for Public Land) as saying

the 2004 opening of the Millennium Park in Chicago had the biggest impact on the American parkland scene since New York’s great Central Park opened in 1873.

A great piece that gives some insight into America’s urban park renewal – read the opinion piece at the
SOURCE: Seattle Times – The human-scale reawakening of America’s urban parks


Highline in New York


Citygarden in St.Louis – Flickr Image: Stannate

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