Faculty to Present at 2017 Great Plains Symposium

Faculty to Present at 2017 Great Plains Symposium

By Kerry McCulloug...

October 21, 2016

The 2017 Great Plains Symposium accepts numerous College of Architecture faculty paper proposals including those submitted by Catherine De Almeida, David Karle, and Sarah Thomas Karle. These presentations will be given at the Great Plains Symposium, March 30-31, 2017. Below are details regarding each proposal.

• Assistant Professor Catherine De Almeida will present, "Cut | Fill: Mapping the Invisible Territorial Impacts of Nebraska's Bricks.”

Mapping is a cultural act that draws geographical relationships between biophysical and anthropogenic systems. Maps collapse time and space, uncovering what is invisible and intangible on the ground. In landscape architecture, mapping is an essential component to design-research: the creative process of selecting and overlapping layers of information reveals opportunities for speculative design approaches at territorial, system-based scales.

Today’s brownfields derive from 19th-20th century materials extraction, processing, and disposal – certain landscapes are sacrificed for the construction of others. As part of a larger mapping project to anticipate future brownfield sites resulting from current material processing, this paper explores the historical and future lifecycles of brick manufacturing in Nebraska. Known for its high-quality clays, Nebraska was once home to over 300 clay quarries and brick manufacturing plants, but only two remain active today. The state has actively participated in the construction of landscapes and buildings throughout the country. Its brick manufacturing sites are culturally significant artifacts of community and material production. Mapping these landscapes and their territorial impacts reveal both the accumulation of Nebraska’s subsurface as constructed brick surfaces in cultural destinations nationwide, as well as the potential for revitalizing landscapes of brick production as reactivated contributors to their surrounding communities.

• Assistant Professors David Karle and Sarah Thomas Karle will present, "Visualizing 200 Million Trees: a digital mapping narrative.”

In 1935, Franklin Roosevelt initiated the Prairie States Forestry Project (PSFP), to create a giant “shelterbelt” from the Texas Panhandle to the Canadian border to mitigate the effects of the Dust Bowl in the Great Plains. Over the years the historic PSFP shelterbelts (1935-1942) have been significantly disrupted by changing agricultural policies, farming practices, and Great Plains environmental disruptions. The story of the PSFP is a narrative of constructing a second nature across the Plains by mixing public and private interests to support social values and individual profits. In order to document the current condition of the PSFP shelterbelts, we established a digital mapping methodology in partnership with the USDA’s National Agroforestry Center to locate and identify the current condition of the historic PSFP shelterbelts in Nebraska.

The USDA historic shelterbelt planting information are, for the first time in the state of Nebraska, being geo-located in Geographic Information System (GIS). The research found within Antelope County that the PSFP shelterbelts consisted of approximately 10% fully intact, 39% partially intact, and 51% removed, 90% of the PSFP shelterbelts have been altered or removed, an astonishing statistic considering the local importance to the farmstead and the regional environmental significance across all six states. This paper / presentation will provide additional insight on the methods and outcomes from the digital mapping methodology.

• Anna O’Neill and David Karle will present, "Sandpit Urbanism."
Among the oldest of technologies, the extractive industries involve the removal and processing of raw materials from the earth and their global-scale operations have transformed entire regions and markets. Today, rural America is littered with evidence showing the country’s former industrial prowess over the last two centuries, and many of these places (now abandoned) hold latent value for their transformation and reuse.

This paper and presentation will discuss and map the sandpit mining operations in Grand Island over the last 100 years. With over seventy industrial-scale sandpit extraction sites within and surrounding the city, sand is considered a building block both for the ecosystem and for construction. Thirty-four formerly active sites have been converted into high-end housing subdivisions, with each home built on the lakefront property of a former pit, generating a new form of urbanism. The reconsideration of these sandpits can also be seen as a constructed ecology for recreational activities and endangered birds (Interior Least Tern and Piping Plover).

Grand Island provides an unexamined precedent towards a new alternative practice of repurposing, transforming, recalibrating, and reviving abandoned sandpits in rural sites. Visualizing the history of mining operations will provide insight into future ecological and urban redevelopment strategies for the city and the state.

Additional symposium information can be found here.