rholmes – mammoth // building nothing out of something

Author Archives: rholmes

environments of extraction

I’ll be at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York this Friday evening, speaking on a panel about “Environments of Extraction”: Resource extraction and urbanism have always had an intimate love/hate relationship. In the past fifty years, we have witnessed this relationship yield a series of global infrastructures and cities that are increasingly […]

glitches, flash crashes, and very bad futurists

Last fall, Vincent deBritto and Ozayr Saloojee invited me to come visit their Resilient Infrastructures project at the University of Minnesota; my main contribution was to deliver the lecture above, “Glitches, Flash Crashes, and Very Bad Futurists”. The lecture examines a particular class of landscape problem, which I’ve provisionally described as “glitches and flash crashes”, […]

north coast design competition

[Map of annual dredging volumes in American cities in the Great Lakes Basin, via Matthew Moffitt's project "Dredge City", which won the 2013 ASLA Student Award of Excellence in General Design.] The city of Toledo is the epicenter of dredging on the Great Lakes: of the roughly three million cubic yards of material dredged in […]

sediment and wind

[The even grid of the world's largest offshore wind farm, the London Array, surrounded by swirling sediment in the Thames Estuary. Seen at NASA Earth Observatory: To date, the London Array includes 175 wind turbines aligned to the prevailing southwest wind and spread out across 100 square kilometers (40 square miles). Each turbine stands 650 […]

land-making machines

[The Audubon Society's micro-dredger, the John James, making new land in the Paul J. Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary in South Louisiana. Karen Westphal, Audubon’s Atchafalaya Basin program manager, will be speaking about this participatory micro-dredging project at DredgeFest Louisiana's symposium, which is this Saturday and Sunday at Loyola University in New Orleans.] Tim Maly and I […]

the collision of geologic time and infrastructural control

“Before artificial levee construction, the river avulsed and a new delta was constructed every 1,000-1,500 yr: the active Plaquemines-Balize Delta began to form about 1,000 yr ago, and was for some time contemporaneous with the older Lafourche Delta, whereas diversion to the Atchafalaya River course began about 500 yr ago, but is now managed by the US Army Corps […]

hyper-reality: a new vision of the future

Long-time readers of mammoth may recall our excitement at Keiichi Matsuda’s short films Domestic Robocop and Augmented City, both of which present believable near-future visions of a world in which “synthetic spaces created by the digital information that we collect, consume and organise” supersede “the physical space of buildings and landscape”, while at the same […]

dredgefest louisiana

Things have been terribly quiet here at mammoth this fall. (Assuming that by “here” we mean “here, on the blog”; they’ve been quite busy if by “here” we mean “here in Ohio and Virginia”, which is where I’ve physically been. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to recap those adventures soon — there’s been quite a […]

signs and obscure marks

[Lake Guntersville, Alabama's largest lake, which was created with the construction of the Guntersville Dam by the TVA in the late 1930's.] At Places, Shannon Mattern reviews various practices which she collectively terms “infrastructural literacy” projects, including “touring, collecting, and documenting infrastructure” (the Los Angeles Urban Rangers, for instance), “sensing infrastructure” (Nick Sowers’ Soundscrapers), and […]

elephant butte reservoir

[Elephant Butte Reservoir, New Mexico's largest reservoir, which supplies water to "about 90,000 acres of farmland and nearly half the population of El Paso"; the GIF above (by mammoth) combines NASA Earth Observatory satellite imagery from 1994 and 2013 to show the depletion caused by repeated droughts since 2000. Now off to start tumblrs of […]

sediment trap and release

[The annual sediment release procedure at Xiaolangdi Dam on the Yellow River in Henan province, China. According to the Daily Mail, "this annual operation sees more than 30 million tonnes of silt sent downstream a year, with more than 390 million tonnes shifted this way over the last 13 years". It is noteworthy, from the perspective […]

excess seaweed

[Top: Seaweed farming rafts off the coast of the Chinese province of Jiangsu, south of the city of Qingdao, via Bing Maps. Middle: enormous mats of algae floating off the coast of Qingdao, as photographed on June 29th by NASA's Terra satellite. The Los Angeles Times states that this is sixth year that the algae has proliferated […]

very bad futurists

[Detail from a drawing by Lydia Gikas, for my Spring 2013 Houston Ship Channel studio] The Studio-X blog links a recent article in Nautilus on the incorporation of scenario planning techniques (drawn from the work of futurists) into urban ecological research, by Marina Alberti‘s urban ecology research group at the University of Washington: Alberti introduced me […]

unknown fields division: madgascar

[The Betsiboka River's delta, flush with eroded sediments; source: NASA EO.] This summer’s Unknown Fields Division is headed to Madagascar: …Unknown Fields heads to Madagascar to catalogue the push and pull of economy and ecology and to trace the shadows of the world’s desires across the landscapes of this treasured island.  Along our way we seek […]

feedback: designing the dredge cycle

[Beach replenishment on Rockaway Beach, New York (well before Hurricane Sandy); image via USACE] Fellow Dredge Research Collaborator Brett Milligan and I have a co-authored article in the latest issue of Scenario Journal (formerly Landscape Urbanism Journal), 04: Rethinking Infrastructure. The article reflects on the after effects of Hurricane Sandy, the history and future of […]

the geopolitics of subtraction

[Map of the IIRSA's Amazonian axis, connecting the Pacific to the Atlantic across the Andes; from IIRSA document "8 Ejes de Integración de la Infraestructura de América del Sur"] Keller Easterling, speculating about “a new counterintuitive economic model” of “infrastructural subtraction” in Domus last November: “What are the points of leverage, trip distances or economies […]

changing industrial landscapes and the city that never was

Quickly, a pair of events (well, an event and an event series) that I am a bit late to mentioning. [photograph by Ricardo Espinosa] The first is “The City That Never Was”, a symposium “organized by Christopher Marcinkoski and Javier Arpa, in cooperation with the Architectural League of New York; speakers include Iñaki Abalos, Dominique Alba, Enric Batlle, William Braham, Rania Ghosn, Llàtzer Moix, Robin […]

bracket goes soft

1 This is not entirely true. There was a third launch, at the University of Waterloo, earlier this morning. I’m a bit late to getting notice of these events up, but at least I’m doing it before they happen1: there are two book launches scheduled for the latest installment of Bracket, [goes Soft]. Bracket [goes […]

louisiana state university

So, I should say something about what I’m doing this spring, though this is kind of the brief version. I’m very excited to be joining the faculty and students at LSU’s Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture as the visiting Marie M. Bickham Chair. In addition to taking in the extremely interesting work that they’re […]

making the geologic now

[Jinanqiao Dam under construction on the Jinsha River. New "mega-dams" such as Jinanqiao in high seismic risk zones -- territories prone to earthquakes, in other words -- are at the center of a highly consequential scientific debate about whether the dams are making disasters like catastrophic 2008 Wenchuan earthquake more likely and frequent. Fascinatingly, the argument is […]