Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Oklahoma Dramatic Sky

Wet Grass

Oklahoma Orange Sky Pattern

Evening Wildflower

Wild Poppy


Oklahoma Clouds

Deserted Farm

Oklahoma Backroad

Old Homestead

Wichita Mountains Reserve Buffalo

Not Unusual Oklahoma Evening Sky

Pecan Grove

Spring Growth

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Craigieburn Bypass

OKC's freeway design and aesthetic qualities are bland and unimaginative. Even Dallas has added the Texas star to its monumental size crossovers. OKC has just finished two substantial projects and is working on at least another two. I hope that the new 1-40 freeway and the new downtown boulevard reflect some of the spirit of Oklahoma. The newest constructed cut-through and underpasses are painted a semi-gloss off-white. I am unsure why this color was chosen. Raw concrete is more attractive and is less susceptible to to the blackening effects of soot and dirt. There are so many options. The nature of the material would be to leave it rough or in someway reflect the nature of the earth. Why not use the color red to reflect Oklahoma's notorious red earth? What about brick to celebrate its long tradition of brick and clay use? How about a gritty sandy textured concrete to play off the native sandstone? What about horizontal lines to emphasize our expansive sky.

What about rich rusted steel? It is red, it has that gritty unfinished texture. Look at what was done with the Craigieburn Bypass.

I look at the Craigieburn Bypass and can only imagine what OKC could look like with some regional flair added to the over-sized freeway system. Land + Living has some links to the Bypass.

I'm not sure who vic roads is, but what a novel concept: connecting regional identity with managing the environment:

Managing the environment

VicRoads is committed to protecting the environment in which the Craigieburn Bypass was constructed. A Project Environmental Protection Strategy was developed and incorporated requirements to manage environmental issues and ensure the environment was given high priority during both the construction of the bypass and now that it is in operation.

Protecting local streams
To protect Merri Creek and other local streams, the Craigieburn Bypass has included a number of water treatments.

Treatments such as wetlands, sedimentation basins and grass swales will capture pollutants such as oils, litter and other chemicals carried in road stormwater runoff before the water runs into the existing streams. The water treatments were designed to treat water during construction and also now that the bypass is open to traffic.

Protecting endangered species
A number of endangered species have been identified in the vicinity of the Craigieburn Bypass. These are the southern bell frog, the striped legless lizard, and the grassland earless dragon.

VicRoads is committed to protecting all of these species. Special treatment has been given to preserving the southern bell frog’s habitat. A number of tunnels have been built under the bypass to allow the frogs and other small species to safely cross from one side of the bypass to the other. Mesh covers the entrance to these tunnels to stop predators such as foxes from using the crossings.

The wetland areas constructed also provide the southern bell frog with additional habitat areas along the bypass.

Protecting grasslands
A number of protected flora were identified in the vicinity of the Craigieburn Bypass. The curly sedge and matted flax-lily are two such plants, which have been actively protected in the construction of the bypass. These plants were salvaged during the early stages of the project and were divided, propagated and replanted along the bypass.

It is evident that bypasses and freeways have been king in OKC. I was visiting with a Norman Parks official about habitat and wildlife. We were discussing a site that sits next to the 1-35 corridors. His comment was that there was no physical link outside of the site. And yet there are 3 culverts that extend under the 1-35 corridors. Each culvert is big enough to drive a car through. There are links. There are solutions.

OKC needs to seriously consider adding regional and local spirit along with some environmental sensibility to its freeway system. OKC is the crossroads of the U.S. and its freeway system may be its most visible elements. We need to take more pride in it, and not paint it an off-white in attempt to make it disappear.

This has to be the epitome of the prairie pioneer home. At least it is what lives in our imagination as the typical Oklahoman's first prairie home. Was it the typical home of the Oklahoma pioneer? Or is it what we imagine as the typical home? What truths about our predecessors are seen in this image? What lies do we overlook? I took this picture this last year on a trip to the Wichita Mountains. No-doubt it is an actual abandoned home, and it speaks to a rugged, determined and resourceful people. Lessons were learned from the prairie dog and the badger. By tucking themselves under the earth’s skin they were protected from the persistent winds and fluctuating temperature. I am struck by the simplicity and solid front of this dugout. I am intrigued by the earth that envelopes the dwelling. It is not accidental that the bricks are as red as the earth creeping around the side. The clay for the bricks is of the earth. The red brick acts as the prairie dog mound protecting against water and marking as a scar the location of home.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Debrah W. Dalton--IPE

In the December issue of landscape architecture, Debra Dalton writes a review of Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime, by Kenneth I. Helphand. It is refreshing to see one of our own in the trade journals.

Debra is director of the IPE program at OU. A IPE (Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Environment) minor and a major is available through OU. I took the minor while getting my BSED degree, and I would recommend it as a way to get a broader and more indepth view of the environment.

Here are the courses I took for my IPE minor:
1013 Consumption and the Environment.
An introduction to the interdisciplinary aspects of human consumption and the environment. Aspect of the production and consumption of food, energy, transportation, and housing are considered for their contributions to global climate change, air and water pollution, and habitat alteration, as well as other relevant topics regarding the environment. Students wil learn how complex interactions between natural processes and human activities shape aspects of the global, regional and local environment. (F, Sp) [III-SS]

It is really hard to roll all the issues of environment into one class. However, this class was a great overview.

3113 Native American Philosophy. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor. A survey of systems of understanding and explaining the relationships between human beings and the natural world in Native American cultures including; concepts of power, spirituality, and ceremonialism; ethical systems; and culturally based ways of knowing. (F) [IV-NW]

NAP was a great class with a great instructor-Geary Hobson. It was a laid back class and easy to breeze through. My world view did change after finishing the class, and I left with a lot more appreciation for my native fellow man's world view. Go into this class wanting to take something out. Mr. Hobson is a great resource.

3563 Geography of Natural Resources. Definition and evaluation of mineral, agricultural, forest, and water resources, including their variation over time, between cultures, and as affected by technological innovation. Emphasis is placed on the distribution, technologies, institutions, and landscapes of natural resources in modern economies. (F, Sp)

Sally Gros is the professor. I highly recommend this class. She packs more into this one class than you think is possible. She lays the info on the table and lets you develop your own ethical and moral standing. She details the raw numbers of our consumption, and at the same time she is not afraid to tell you that she is not giving up her suburban. Great class--take it!

1014 Introduction to Weather and Climate. For non-science majors. A descriptive study of both short-term and long-term atmospheric phenomena, evenly divided between: (1) the structure and processes in the atmosphere that affect our every-day weather; and (2) climate and causes of climate change. This course does not count for major credit in the School of Meteorology. Laboratory (F, Sp) [II-LAB]

OU is "the" meteorology school. This is no normal 1000 level class. Expect a challenge, expect to work, and expect to learn. Both instructors of this class are great, and the graduate assistants are serious about their work. I recommend this class.

4003 Practicum on Environmental Issues. Prerequisite: Permission of IPE coordinator. Students work in small groups on an environmental problem facing central Oklahoma. A variety of skills and concepts will be applied to cooperatively propose a solution that incorporates the perspectives of the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. (Sp)

This is Debra Dalton's class. She is too easy. This is a class that requires self-motivation. Debra is candid and opinionated. She is also "the" link to local environmental concerns.

Debra Dalton is a designer of the Canyon Garden on the west side of Bizzell libray. She has more work attributed to her in the area, and I know that she has collaborated with other designers. She also made OU history as noted in the college history.

It was nice to see one of our own in the pages of landscape architecture.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Exploring landscape

I really want to explore the image of our landscape. What do we see? Why do we associate certain aesthetic connotations with what we see? Here is a quote from James Corner's essay, Eidetic Operations and New Landscapes. He is actually explaining another writer,

Thus, Mitchell identifies five families of image: the graphic (as in the picture), the optical (as in the mirror), the perceptual (as in cognitive sense), the mental (as in dreams, memories, and ideas), and the verbal (as in description and metaphor).

So what do we see? How do we see it?

That is where I would like to start with this and hopefully it will move on to other topics on Landscape Architecture.

Jord Llyonal Wilson