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Living with Nature: A Memory of My Life in the Dan Kiley Office


An Interview with Joe Karr






Brief biography:

Joe Karr was born in Rochelle, Illinois on March 5, 1938. In 1956 Karr entered the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign to study city planning but soon changed his focus to landscape architecture. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Landscape Architecture in 1960.  He then entered the University of Pennsylvania and, studying under Ian McHarg and Karl Linn, attained a Master of Landscape Architecture in 1962. While he was a student and for a short time after graduation, Karr worked at the Eastern Office of Design and Construction of the National Park Service in Philadelphia . In spring 1963 he took a position at the Office of Dan Kiley in Charlotte, Vermont, and was there for a period of six years. In early 1969 Karr left the Kiley office and moved to Chicago to open his own office, Joe Karr and Associates, which provided landscape design for more than 700 projects throughout the country for 35 years until 2004. The office’s broad spectrum of projects ranged from large corporate campuses to single family homes. Joe Karr and Associates was closed in 2004. Karr continued practice as a consultant until 2011. He is now retired and resides in Chicago.


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This March, I presented a new way to objectively measure psychological status (stress level) by using a psychophysiological technology.

Thanks for all teammates’ contribution to our project.

1. A small reduction in driving causes a large drop in traffic. In 2008, the number of vehicle miles traveled dropped by 3%, translating to a nearly 30% reduction in peak hour congestion.

2. Transportation sources account for 70% of USA’s oil consumption and for 30% of total USA GHG emissions.

3. Simply increasing bicycling and walking from 10% of trips to 13% could lead to fuel savings of around 3.8 billion gallons a year. This equivalent to having 19 million more hybrid cars on the road.

4. For the price of one mile of four lane urban highway, around $50 million, hundreds of miles of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure can be built, an investment that could complete an entire network of active transportation facilities for a mid-sized city.

5. 40% of all trips in USA are two miles or less, 74% of which are traveled by car.

6. Bicycling and walking make up 10% of all trips made in USA, but receive less than two percent of federal transportation funding.


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Thomas Church is the father of California Garden Style. His design has influenced generations of landscape architects.

I visited the Donnell Garden in California and got several good pictures to share.

Try to feel following things with me:




Indoor-outdoor unity


Photo by Bin Jiang

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 Photo: Bin Jiang

Density, diversity, and design are three factors of walkability.

Density was quantified as residential population density and job density;

Diversity was quantified as the percentage of residents within walking distance of defined diverse uses (DUs) that provide a measure of mixed-used development.

Design was quantified as trail availability per 1,000 residents, bicycle path availability per 100 residents, and the number of intersection per square kilometer.

We can use  following criteria as appropriate walking distances between diverse uses (DUs) places and residential places.


Diverse Use (DU)                                                     Walking Distance Criteria
Transit stops                                                                         ≤ 400 m
Grocery stores                                                                      ≤ 800 m
Fresh food places                                                                  ≤ 800 m
Convenience stores                                                               ≤ 400 m
Elementary schools                                                              ≤ 1,500 m

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Exclusive photos by Marcel Baumler


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“If a garden were planted on the roof of every one of the 4,500 buses in the city’s bus fleet,” calculates Cosio, his busses could add 35 acres of new rolling green space in the city.

According to the bustop gardener, benefits include:
• Aesthetic Value
• Mitigation of Urban Heat Island Effect
• Acoustical and Thermal Insulation
• Storm Water Reduction and Management
• CO2 absorbtion
• Habitat Restoration
• Public Education and Recreation
• Reclaiming Forgotten Real Estate


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How to make a bridge without bringing any burden on nature?

There is an inspring case here. People at Cherrapunji, India, created a “sustainable” way to plant but not build bridges.