Category Archives: Travel

Designing an International Garden for the 2014 Horticulture Expo

We love new, unique opportunities. Recently, we were invited to design a display garden representing the city of Long Beach (a sister city to Qingdao) for the 2014 Qingdao International Horticultural Exposition (QIHE). The Expo, which is expected to attract 12 million visitors, will be located on 595 acres (241 hectares) in Baiguo Mountain Forest Park located on the coast of the Yellow Sea, at the Southern end of Shandong Peninsula, China. With numerous garden theme and experience areas, the Long Beach garden will occupy 43 acres within the International Garden.

Our design concept, “Outdoor Living in a Green Environment,” was recently approved by the QIHE Executive Committee. It will exhibit the unique relationship between landscape and al fresco outdoor living in Southern California. The mild Southern California climate allows us the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors nearly year-round, which influences how we live and design our houses. Thus, our display space will be divided into five zones each one representing a significant period of time in Long Beach that showcases the ‘outdoor room’. The zones will emulate the relationship between the environment and the use of garden space through planting design (native and non-native), shelter and open spaces for gathering.

Construction begins this autumn and is expected to be finished by October 2013 to allow QIHE to initiate trial operations of all gardens for the Expo’s opening in April 2014.

Check out media coverage of the 2014 event on The Washington Post, China Daily and China News Center.

Shanghai (Finally) Embraces Adaptive Reuse

With our work extending globally, some of us recently traveled to China. What we found was fascinating: a fully-functioning identity crisis where thousands of years of tradition coexist with modern thought in a unique urban community that is evolving in fast-forward.

We spent the majority of our time in Shanghai, which, due to China’s recent economic boom, is developing at a dizzying rate. In the 1950’s, the urban area of Shanghai was 82.4 square kilometers; now, it is approximately 3924.24 square kilometers and growing. In 60 years, it has multiplied almost 50 times! This rapid development has often caused the city to cut corners, which has resulted in the demolition of many high-quality old buildings to make way for crudely constructed new ones. The city has been virtually scraped clean of any of its architectural history, but there are some notable exceptions.
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A Surprising Approach to Light-Rail

In many respects, San Jose, CA is just a normal American city. It features a lively downtown, stately office buildings, a convention center, suburbs, and even a hockey team, but it is neither beautiful nor in disrepair.

The normalcy of San Jose is contradicted, however, when you consider its light-rail system. Along First Street is something particularly unique: a light-rail train that glides quietly down a tree-lined corridor, moving seamlessly between pedestrians, cyclists, and sidewalk diners. This train is something to behold – it actually shares the sidewalk with pedestrians! Though slightly disconcerting to an outsider, the locals don’t even seem to notice it. It appears to have been harmoniously integrated into the character of the street.
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Points of Interest

We enjoy exploring. Whether it’s a walk down the street or a 16 hour flight, we love seeing sights and learning what makes a city successful. If a place happens to be particularly remarkable, we pick up a lot of fun and useful information that we like to pass on. We do this in the form of our Points of Interest. These maps are useful sightseeing guides for those of you that share our same interests; from cool local hangouts to buildings and neighborhoods of historical significance, Points of Interest are a tour of what we think is worth checking out. Our list of cities will be ever-growing, so check back often and travel with us!

We’ve done the research for you at

Chinese Mobility from a Bus Window

We have been fascinated with transportation and mobility options in China for quite some time. A country with roughly the same land area as the United States, but with five times the population, has the potential to serve as a leader relative to our own mobility future. Continue reading

A City of Contradictions

Downtown New Orleans

One of us recently had the opportunity to visit New Orleans and the city was, as it seemingly always is, magnificent.  Founded in 1718 by the French Mississippi Company, New Orleans offers a magnificent trip through almost 300 years of architecture and planning.  At its core, the city is a strange mix of the brilliant and the absurd and, as you round each street corner, you have no idea which you will encounter.

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