Some argue the funding for the Hudson River Park could be put to better use elsewhere in the city.
Barry Diller is a billionaire who has committed to underwriting the lion’s share of a $130 million plan for the construction of Pier 55, a 2.7-acre island of undulating parkland and performance venues that would rest atop mushroom-shaped pilings in New York City’s Hudson River Park.
The city’s power brokers have enthusiastically endorsed the proposal, which also includes a 20-year lease under which Pier55, Inc., a nonprofit Diller founded with his wife, the designer Diane von Furstenberg, would pay for the pier’s upkeep and oversee its programming. And quite possibly, the Pier 55 project would help bail out the chronically cash-strapped Hudson River Park Trust, the quasi-public entity charged with running Hudson River Park and raising funds for its maintenance.
However, at a community meeting last week in Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood, which abuts Hudson River Park, many residents had a host of concerns about the Pier 55 project. They questioned its futuristic aesthetic, its environmental impacts, and its contribution to the larger public realm. They also questioned whether their input would be considered during the design process and what trade-offs the Hudson River Park Trust was making in exchange for accepting what reportedly is the single largest private donation to a public park in the city’s history.
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Susan Harris at Garden Rant minces no words when she pays a visit to the new memorial dedicated to the American Veterans Disabled for Life located on an underused corner of land just south of the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. Though the site is quite tricky to get to, the design by Michael Vergason provides an experience that overcomes its harsh settings. Read on:
SUSAN HARRIS, GARDEN RANT, NOVEMBER 13, 2014
A new memorial opened last month in D.C., this one honoring Veterans Disabled for Life. I’ve watched its progress from the U.S. Botanic Gardens across the street, and seen it presented to a reviewing agency, so was excited to finally see it open.
Here’s a fun two-minute video of its construction and, finally, dedication, from an overhead camera.
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Posted in AWARDS, CITIES, COMPETITIONS, LAM BLOG, NOW, PARKS, tagged Auckland, Auckland Waterfront, Barcelona, International Biennial of Landscape, New Zealand, North Wharf Promenade and Silo Park, Rosa Barba International Landscape Prize, TCL, Wraight Associates on October 3, 2014 |
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First, here’s the news that Michael van Gessel, the Dutch landscape architect, took his time and a fair bit of teasing indirection to get out last Friday night in Barcelona: The winner of the 2014 Rosa Barba International Landscape Prize is the North Wharf Promenade and Silo Park on the waterfront of Auckland, New Zealand. It was designed by Taylor Cullity Lethlean of Melbourne with Wraight + Associates of Wellington and completed in 2011.
The big announcement came late in the day, near 9:00 p.m. Van Gessel, who served as the president of the six-person Rosa Barba prize jury, sat with his feet propped casually atop a chair on a stage of the astonishing Palau de la Música Catalana—though in the handsome contemporary auditorium belowground, not the 1908 modernista marvel upstairs, designed by Lluis Domènech i Montaner, which at that hour was filling for a dance performance of the Gran Gala Flamenco. In front of van Gessel were several hundred people gathered for the prize announcement as part of the 8th International Biennial of Landscape Architecture, which ran from September 25 to 27. The audience included the designers of the 11 finalist projects for the prize; they each had presented their entry the previous day. There was also a large turnout of landscape architects, academics, and students from Europe and elsewhere.
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Posted in CITIES, LAM BLOG, PARKS, PEOPLE, VIEWS, tagged Baltimore, Druid Hill Park, Graham Coreil-Allen, Jones Falls Expressway, SiteLines, tour on September 26, 2014 |
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The grim 1960s-era highway architecture east of Druid Hill Park is no more inviting, or more pedestrian-friendly, in the rain.
The wild and rebellious vegetation sometimes found under a highway overpass is an easy thing to forget—especially when you’re whizzing past at 55+ miles per hour. But to the pedestrians whose only option is to dare the uncomfortably narrow sidewalk parallel to these busy roads, it is an environment unlikely to be forgotten. These are exactly the kinds of spaces Graham Coreil-Allen wants you to see, and love. Every Saturday in September, Coreil-Allen has been guiding a pack of urban enthusiasts as part of his free SiteLines walking tours to explore “invisible public spaces” in the city of Baltimore. Along with 14 other people, I braved the elements to join Coreil-Allen on a tour, dubbed Reservoir Chill, where we scrambled up, around, and through varying levels of the Jones Falls Expressway in search of oddball nooks and passageways created by 1960s highway architecture gone to seed.
It doesn’t take a trip to Baltimore to find these forgotten realms: These hauntingly beautiful sites have a sense of untapped potential, similar to visions of the High Line before it was redone, and they ask—if a passion for ownership of these spaces could be instilled, as it was in New York City—could they become an asset not only to the neighborhood, but to the city as well?
Under a pedestrian bridge at the end of Park Avenue, Coreil-Allen points out a road that once led to the entrance of Druid Hill Park, but was cut off by the repurposed and expanded Druid Park Lake Drive when the Jones Falls Expressway was implemented. The bridge runs parallel to this busy street and towers over one of its exits, acting as a divider that visibly separates the Reservoir Hill neighborhood from a labyrinth of car-dominated interchanges and the park beyond.
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Posted in CITIES, LAM BLOG, NEW YORK CITY, PARKS, REUSE, tagged grand, High Line, Hudson River, opening, Rail Yards, section 3, view on September 24, 2014 |
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The final section of the High Line, the Rail Yards, opened this week. Photo by Alex Ulam.
The nature is wilder and the views more spectacular along the new and final section of the High Line, which opened to the public this past Sunday, fittingly on the same day of the People’s Climate March. Surrounding me was one of the largest expanses of open skyline in Manhattan. Underfoot was a landscape consisting of rusted rails, wildflowers, and scrappy wild grasses fluttering in the wind—an example of the original self-seeded raw landscape that took hold after the trains stopped running in 1980. Photographs of this scrappy bit of urban nature played a critical role in the campaign to save the abandoned elevated rail trestle and convert it into a unique public park 30 feet above Manhattan’s busy streets. Until the opening of the new section, the journey along the High Line primarily ran through narrow canyons of buildings and offered mostly snapshot views of the streets below. Part of the charm was not knowing what was ahead, playing hide-and-seek with the city beneath your feet while discovering hidden gardens and outlooks that the High Line’s design team of James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Piet Oudolf had designed along the old rail trestle. (more…)
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Posted in BIRDS, BOOKS, CITIES, ECOLOGY, GARDENS, GOODS, HISTORY, INTERVIEW, LAM MAGAZINE, LAND MATTERS, NOW, NURSERY, PARKS, RESEARCH, RESIDENTIAL, RESILIENCE, SPECIES, THE BACK, tagged assisted migration, Award of Excellence, Bill Marken, design, drought, LaGuardia, memorial, Mexico City, Norman Jaffe, puffins, Rails to Trails, rattan, sudden oak death, Weeksville Heritage Center on September 2, 2014 |
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Drought is said to be too many nice days in a row. Well, in California, three years of nice days has curdled into sheer dread. In the Features section of our September issue, Bill Marken, a frequent LAM contributor and a former editor of Sunset, takes a road trip through California to witness the effects of the drought, which is crippling in certain places and seemingly not such a big deal in others, and to comment on the efforts, or lack thereof, to help soften the drought’s blows. In Mexico, a memorial to victims of the drug war struggles to honor the local impact of this complex, global tragedy. When the ever-encroaching tides threatened an iconic Norman Jaffe house in the Hamptons, LaGuardia Design Landscape Architects pulled it back from the brink and garnered an ASLA Award of Excellence in Residential Design. The landscape historian Thaisa Way takes Michael Van Valkenburgh’s words to heart when she looks at Chicago’s Lurie Garden, by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol with Piet Oudolf, 10 years after it opened beside Lake Michigan.
Also in this issue: The new landscape design for the Weeksville Heritage Center unearths the site’s past as a freedmen’s settlement; the ongoing efforts to contain sudden oak death’s spread (efforts which, it turns out, may be helped by the California drought); ecologists on the cutting edge of assisted migration who argue that it’s the only way to save the trees; and a brief history of pushback on Rails to Trails conversions. All this plus the regular goodies in Species, Goods, Books, and Now. The full table of contents for September can be read here.
As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 200 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.
Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating some September pieces as the month rolls out.
Credits: The Lurie Garden, The Lurie Garden; Assisted Migration, Torreya Guardians; Weeksville Heritage Center, Nic Lehoux Architectural Photography for Caples Jefferson Architects; Sudden Oak Death, Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension; Memorial to the Victims of Violence in Mexico, Sandra Pereznieto; LaGuardia Associates Perlbinder House, Erika Shank; San Luis Reservoir, Peter Bennett/Green Stock Photos.
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Posted in CITIES, LAM BLOG, NEW YORK CITY, PARKS, RESEARCH, SAN FRANCISCO, STREETS, TRANSPORTATION, tagged Austin, Boston, Chicago, Gina Ford, open spaces, Sasaki Associates, The State of the City Experience, urban environment, Washington DC on August 28, 2014 |
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Of the 1,000 urbanites surveyed, 47 percent said they preferred their city waterfront to other open spaces. Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates.
America’s move toward urban living can be seen as a step toward a more sustainable future, but it also unearths a host of questions for the people who must design these spaces. What are the things people living and working in these urban environments gravitate toward? How might that change based on what kind of city they live in? These questions stick with the designer on their endless drive to envision the ideal balance of humans, urban environment, and nature. Sasaki Associates recently published research on these questions in a report called The State of the City Experience, and it turns out some of the answers depend on who you’re asking.
Sasaki surveyed 1,000 urbanites, ranging in age and income, from six cities across the United States (Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.). They were asked about four aspects of the urban environment—architecture, activities, parks and open spaces, and transportation—what they currently thought of their urban environment and what they would like to see in the future. “What is written about on cities is from the perspective of the designer, and we were interested in what people experience in the city, what the public might say about how we design city spaces…and how their experience might inform how we think about the design of cities,” said Gina Ford, chair of Sasaki Associates’s Urban Studio.
There are many interesting finds in the report: For example, of the 1,000 respondents, 47 percent said the waterfront was their favorite open space in the city, including landlocked Austin. But a surprising find, according to Ford, was that a whopping 65 percent said their favorite city experiences happened in either an open space or on the street. “[It] is incredibly edifying as a landscape architect, because so much emphasis recently has been put on public realm, [and] investments, as a way of increasing attraction and retention of workforce and identity of cities,” said Ford. “It kind of positions architecture as a supporting player, maybe something that reinforces community but doesn’t necessarily create it. A lot of times people think it’s a building project that’s going to enhance the identity of a city; now we have data that it’s landscape.”
For more information on the report, The State of the City Experience, contact Sasaki Associates at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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