Historic Restoration: “JUSF team using 3D laser scanning to restore Tampa’s famed Jackson House.”

Historic Restoration: “JUSF team using 3D laser scanning to restore Tampa’s famed Jackson House.”

Photo: Luis Santana, Tampa Bay Times
“It’s said that legendary singer Ella Fitzgerald wrote her 1938 hit ‘A-Tisket, A-Tasket’ in a ramshackle rooming house in downtown Tampa. She and other stars of the day were turned away from hotels.

‘Because of Jim Crow and discrimination they were unable to stay,’ explained Carolyn Collins, chairperson of the Jackson House Foundation. She’s told the story of the house for years, even as it crumbled into disrepair.

‘And I think that’s why I knew this house would never fall,’ she said. ‘There were too many legends holding it up.’ But now the legends are getting help from construction workers. They were hired with a million-dollar donation from Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik.

‘Mr. Vinik made others see a vision that perhaps they couldn’t see clearly and so he has made this vision a reality,’ she shared.

But to see the future of a house more than a hundred years old, special technology is being used. A team from USF is using 3D laser scanning.

‘With our short-range scanning we’re able to get half of a human hair of accuracy,’ explained Lori Collins of the USF Digital Heritage and Humanities Collection. ‘So we can create really exact modeling of the railings and mantelpieces where parts are missing.’

The house is a relic that bent but didn’t break.

‘This house has always been a solid rock for many people and we’re on a path to making that again,’ said Carolyn Collins.

It’s going to be a museum with rooms full of stories of stars like Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole, and thousands of other travelers of color. They were shut out by segregation but found open doors in this house that won’t fall down…”

— Charlie Frago, Tampa Bay Times
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Miami’s Floating Billboards: “Amid ‘caution fatigue’ a new social media-inspired mask campaign is heading to South Florida”

Miami’s Floating Billboards: “Amid ‘caution fatigue’ a new social media-inspired mask campaign is heading to South Florida”

Photo: Twitter in South Florida Sun Sentinel
“…Across the Miami area, some of the most original tweets are popping up on billboards, sidewalks and other high-profile spots as part of the social media giant’s campaign to encourage mask wearing in a time when ‘caution fatigue’ around coronavirus is starting to set in.

A tweet encouraging mask wearing is projected on a barge.

Soon, tweets displayed on barges off the beach will encourage sunbathers and swimmers to cover their faces. A projection is also planned for Soundscape Park near the Miami Convention Center starting Monday…”

Photo: Twitter in South Florida Sun Sentinel
— Amber Randall, South Florida Sun Sentinel
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“Taking care of trees in Northeast Florida”

“Taking care of trees in Northeast Florida”

Photo: A lion tailed tree, Larry Figart
“Sometimes we take trees for granted. We see them as the pillars in our landscape and sometimes forget that they are living things that need the same conditions to live and thrive as our favorite flower, shrub or groundcover…

Often, we think because they are larger and live longer, they do not need as much care, or they are more tolerant of neglect. In some cases, this is true. A leaf disease that would doom our prized rose is barely a minor nuisance to a maple tree.

However, the origin of most landscape tree decline, and eventual death can be traced back to something that was done in the past (sometimes years) by someone not knowing that it would harm the tree. In the horticultural world, these practices that cause tree decline are called cultural causes and most of the time can be avoided.

Let’s explore some of the most common cultural decline causes and how to avoid them.

Giving trees enough space: I recently drove through a new subdivision. The developers had planted live oaks about 2 feet from the edge of the curb, in between the street and the sidewalk. I am sure the intention was that some day the trees would be part of a beautiful street tree canopy. It would have been better to plant the live oaks in the middle of the yard where they had plenty of space or plant a smaller tree in the space between the sidewalk and the street…

Planting too deep: The number one cause of tree decline for a young tree is the practice of planting too deep…

Not watering correctly after planting: Most newly planted trees do not get watered appropriately and take longer to become established in the landscape…

Over thinning: I often hear from homeowners that their arborist or tree trimmer wanted to thin out the center of the tree removing interior limbs and sprouts so that wind can go through the tree instead of against it. This is a common practice that sounds like a good idea but is actually very bad for trees. When a tree is pruned so that interior branches are removed it is called lion’s tailing…

Mulch volcanos: A 2-3-inch layer of mulch placed around the tree is one of the best things you can do to create a good rooting environment. However, it has become a common practice to pile the mulch up against the trunk in a layer several inches thick. The term for this is called a “mulch volcano” and it is harmful to the tree. It reduces the amount of oxygen that is available to the roots and promotes decay in the trunk by allowing the trunk to remain wetter longer…

If we treat them well, trees perform many valuable environmental services to our community. Eliminating the human caused problems that stress and weaken our urban trees will allow them to provide us with those services for a long time…”

— Larry Figart, Times-Union
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“Students’ idea: Carving images onto the moon”

“Students’ idea: Carving images onto the moon”

Photo: UT Austin
“Want to leave a message on the moon’s surface?

A group of University of Texas students have a vision that could — at least in theory — make that a possibility someday.

The 10 UT engineering students devised a business plan to turn the idea into a moneymaker — and won awards for it at a NASA competition.

They pitched and provided the plan for building a rover that would carve messages or images onto the moon and capture pictures of those etchings, which in turn could be used for merchandising. While not visible from Earth, the etchings are intended to be permanent, the students said.

The idea for the project came when Brianna Caughron, the student team leader, was walking back to her apartment from class and noticed carvings on a sidewalk, she said.

‘I was like, oh my gosh, that could easily be done on the lunar surface. There’s the famous Apollo footprint from the Apollo 11 mission,’ she said…The business would charge about $10 per second for the time spent carving each image, an amount they settled on after polling other students informally and to make up for the upfront cost of launching the rover into space.

Overall, the entire process, including development of the rover, would cost $275 million to $300 million, according to Ali Babool, who was on the business and analytics side of the team.

The students expect to make up those costs and turn a profit by the end of the first year of lunar operations, said Caughron said.

If development started next year, the team has forecast that it could bring in about $610 million in annual revenue by 2026, with $450 million in profit. It used the tattoo market here on Earth as a model to come up with the financial projection…

Project LEGACI won in its category of commercial space development at NASA’s Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage design competition, and it also received the Excellence in Commercial Innovation award…”

— Titus Wu, Austin American-Statesman
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Placemaking with “Square Footage – Signs that Define a Building, and Sometimes a City”

Placemaking with “Square Footage – Signs that Define a Building, and Sometimes a City”

Photo: Robert Whitehead
“Building signs have grown into a $37.5 billion industry. Some have become so iconic they are peranent parts of the landscape, often standing in for their hometown.

Some signs have become so iconic, they are permanent parts of the landscape — and sometimes stand in for the cities in which they are found…

The boldness of Miami

Nothing captures the vibe of this Florida city like the pastel-colored Art Deco hotels and glowing neon signs along Ocean Drive on Miami Beach — all part of a historic district. Erected in 1935, the three-story Colony Hotel was one of the first of the properties to make its mark. Henry Hohauser designed the structure, in the streamlined style of the day, as well as its inverted-T sign. His boxy marquee allowed the name to be seen from both sides and the beach… Materials used in construction during the Depression weren’t of the highest quality, however, and by 1989 the marquee had to be rebuilt. Recently, the neon letters were painstakingly removed again before a new marquee made of galvanized steel was installed and the letters put back on.

The quirkiness of Los Angeles

The sign above Randy’s Donuts in Los Angeles can be seen by those flying in and out of Los Angeles International Airport.

The sprawling Southern California city is home to a number of “programmatic” signs — ones shaped like the products their businesses sell, designed to flag down passing motorists. The dimpled pastry atop Randy’s Donuts in the Inglewood neighborhood is by far the best known of the bunch.

Thirty-two feet in diameter, the doughnut can be spotted from the air by those flying in and out of Los Angeles International Airport. And if people haven’t laid eyes on it in person, they have likely seen it in movies, music videos and promotions.

The sophistication of Chicago

The Gothic-style letters of the Drake Hotel’s famous sign stand nearly 12 feet tall and have been perched on the roof of the landmark building in downtown Chicago since 1940.”

— Jane Margolies, New York Times
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