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Birnbaum Blogs

Nov 22, 2010
Landscape architecture has become very fashionable ... to architects. Moreover, its co-option and absorption into architectural practices has resulted in a revealing turf war with Andrés Duany as a vocal protagonist. 
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Oct 6, 2010
The face of US Post War urban planning was irrevocably changed with the pedestrian mall – among the earliest, Fresno, California’s Fulton Mall in 1964. This pioneering attempt at revitalizing a city’s center was one of more than 200 urban pedestrian malls constructed in North America from 1959 to the mid-1980s.
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Aug 27, 2010
The renaissance of the American city and its unique cultural landscape is explored in Louisville, Kentucky. A recent visit reveals that it has taken time, resources and most importantly, the dogged persistence of optimists, some with whom I spent time.
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Jul 23, 2010
On the heels of my recent trip to the Hamptons, the issue of overdevelopment, in which landscape is sacrificed for structure, re-surfaced on my arrival home. Washington Post culture critic Philip Kennicott weighed in on four proposed sites on or near the National Mall for a new museum (“In Siting a National Latino museum, the best view is the long view,” July 18, 2010).
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Jul 20, 2010
Overdevelopment is doing to cultural landscapes what excessive plastic surgery has done to … well, I won’t name names. But I will say after spending two weeks in the Hamptons, I can point to egregious examples of both.
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Jun 25, 2010
The nation's designed landscape heritage is rich, varied and fascinating—and often undervalued—especially in our cities where the Harvard educator and landscape architect Hideo Sasaki saw a great design opportunity for the "betterment of [the] human environment."
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Jun 14, 2010
Flush economic times in the past decade resulted in ambitious museum expansions and expansion plans, while the recent economic downturn has led to the downscaling of some plans and a pause for others.
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Apr 30, 2010
With the expected announcement of a new Supreme Court nominee, the phrase Litmus Test will get a healthy airing. Rulings and opinions about abortion, gun control and other issues are each a “litmus test” for a nominee’s qualification to sit on the bench.
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Apr 11, 2010
Our cultural re-examination, appreciation and embrace of all things Modern is finally beginning to extend to landscapes. Two recent uses of modernist landscapes in pop culture caught my eye because they were being used as ciphers for youth, vitality, and that great credo, the American dream.
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Apr 2, 2010
One of my favorite Western flicks is William Wellman’s The Oxbow Incident. In this 1943 film, two drifters pass through a western town and what transpires over the ensuing 75 minutes is serious trouble-making . . . in this case a mixture of heavy drinking, lynching and gun fighting. The film starring Henry Fonda was not considered a success during its initial release, but according to Internet Movie Database, it is today “safely ranked as one of classic cinema’s greatest treasures.”
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