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Archive for the ‘ACCESSIBILITY’ Category

BY ZACH MORTICE

Hunter’s Point South in Queens, New York. Copyright Jonnu Singleton, courtesy SWA/Balsley and Weiss/Manfredi.

A Waterfront Alliance report wades into how waterfront access is a crucible for public health and a measure of inequality.

 

Despite alighting across the two rivers and an ocean, only 37 percent of New York and New Jersey’s waterfronts are open to the public, and only 9 percent of waterfronts in the poorest areas are accessible. The Waterfront Alliance’s new report “Waterfront Access for All: Breaking Down Social and Physical Barriers to the Waterfront” shines a light on this pervasive inequality. The report (available here) covers both policy and design interventions that can address this chasm. Those are now more urgent as the nation grapples with the twin crises of COVID-19, which has made outdoor landscapes vital places for safe refuge, and racial inequality, which is easily read through access to public waterfronts. The report focuses on New York and New Jersey and includes input from more than 60 organizations. The Alliance partnered with the New York –New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program to convene the task force that assembled the report. Intended to influence the public and city agencies, the report aims to inform the New York City Department of City Planning’s Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s rule making process.

“We’re trying to help the public, designers, and government agencies to reimagine what connections to the water can look like,” says Sarah Dougherty, the program manager at the Waterfront Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group that a works toward creating healthy, resilient, and equitably accessible waterfronts. (more…)

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BY BRICE MARYMAN, FASLA

The Supreme Court leaves in place a decision that prevents criminalizing the habits of the homeless.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

With nowhere else to go, people experiencing homelessness increasingly occupy spaces designed by landscape architects: parks, medians, overpasses, stream corridors, and urban forests. Fearful of this new phenomenon, many communities have made it illegal to ask for change, sleep on benches, or pitch tents in public. A recent action by the United States Supreme Court may stem this tide of reactive stigmatization, criminalization, and incarceration. While homeless advocates and constitutional scholars hope that it may force cities to pivot toward a more comprehensive, proactive set of strategies to help people exit homelessness, they are also wary of recent signals from the federal government that suggest a doubling down on counterproductive punitive approaches.

Between 2007 and 2009, Boise, Idaho’s criminal justice system cited, fined, and sentenced Janet Bell and Robert Martin for violating the city’s new ordinances that made it illegal for anyone to be “occupying, lodging, or sleeping in any…place…without…permission,” including the use of “streets, sidewalks, parks, or public places as a camping place at any time.” Though they were members of the public, sleeping in the city’s public spaces had been deemed a crime. (more…)

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FOREGROUND

Public Space, No Exceptions (Law)
The Supreme Court in December affirmed that people have a right to sleep in public space when no other options are provided, but homeless advocates see worrisome holes in the net.

Mulligans (Planning)
As golf declines in popularity, the office of Ratio helps Indianapolis fix its oversupply of public courses.

FEATURES

Amazon Fire: Who Owns the Amazon?
Issues of sovereignty and colonialism in the Amazon Basin have long hindered efforts to protect its rain forests. The recent destructive push for development has made those conflicts more urgent.

Lethal Glass Landscapes
North American wild bird populations have dropped by almost 30 percent since 1970. Landscape
architects are working with policy makers to avoid the collisions that kill birds in cities.

Editorial Discretion
For a lakeside residential compound in Vermont, Wagner Hodgson weaves together
old and new elements with a few striking moves.

All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. The full table of contents for February can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 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 posting February articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Amazon Fire: Who Owns the Amazon?” AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano; “Lethal Glass Landscapes,” Marek Lipka-Kadaj/Shutterstock.com; “Editorial Discretion,” Jim Westphalen; “Mulligans,” Ratio; “Public Space, No Exceptions,” Brice Maryman, FASLA. 

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BY ZACH MORTICE

M. Paul Friedberg’s Billy Johnson Playground. Photo courtesy the Central Park Conservancy.

M. Paul Friedberg, FASLA, on why cities should be places to play instead of places for playgrounds.

 

The granite slide in New York City’s Billy Johnson Playground is an illustration of M. Paul Friedberg’s design philosophy. Its 45-foot serpentine curve is nestled into a rocky outcropping, one of Central Park’s startling moments of geologic heft. The slide came from Friedberg’s observations of how his own children tumbled down the slate gray behemoths.

Located at the East 67th Street entrance to Central Park, the playground is inspired by the park’s landscape and context, expressed through rustic wood pole knots and stone blocks. The granite slide, like other elements of the playground, is less a discrete object and more “an incident in the park” that flows naturally from its setting, says Friedberg, the recipient of the 2015 ASLA Medal. “You wanted to make it look like you just came across this.”

By layering the slide on top of geology, the slide “doesn’t have to be in a playground,” Friedberg says. And it  gets to the heart of his approach at Billy Johnson Playground. “Do you consider Central Park a place for playgrounds,” he says, “or is it a place to play?” (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

In Miami Beach, elevating streets is not without growing pains.

FROM THE AUGUST 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Faced with rising sea levels, the City of Miami Beach is lifting itself out of the water’s way—one street at a time. Beginning with the neighborhoods lowest in elevation, the city has raised dozens of streets in the past few years, some by as much as two feet. The $500 million project, which also includes new stormwater pumps, is a coordinated effort to prevent flooding in the long term. In the short term, however, the rapid elevation of the public right-of-way is presenting the city with novel challenges.

Some of those challenges, such as pumps that can fail during power outages, are mechanical. Others are legal. When one restaurant flooded, its insurance company initially refused to cover damages after classifying the restaurant’s dining area as a “basement” since it was now lower than the surrounding grade. (The city installed generators to solve the first problem and advocated on behalf of the restaurant owner, whose claim was eventually approved, to solve the second.) Other challenges involve the design of the public realm. (more…)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

By Wheeler Cowperthwaite [CC BY-SA 2.0, GFDL, or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

FROM THE UPCOMING APRIL 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When Congress passed and President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the landmark legislation had survived broad, hostile opposition from business lobbyists who claimed its cost and liability would run companies into the ground. But with monumental effort and few exceptions, the law has succeeded in opening a once-closed world of transportation, employment, government, communications, and public accommodations to people with disabilities—and everyone else lived. Nearly all commercial businesses that serve the public have had to create full access and remove obstacles to their establishments. Design professionals, not least landscape architects, have been active at the core of this revolution, turning the law’s many dimensional requirements into reality as ramps, doors, railings, driveways, slopes, stairs, and all the rest. For most people, the law is a fact of life, and a welcome one.

“It is a civil rights issue, not a code compliance issue,” said Peg Staeheli, FASLA, a principal of MIG | SvR in Seattle. “Today we find most clients ahead in thinking about inclusive design.”

There are some retrograde types, though, who haven’t learned to live with the ADA. In February, the House of Representatives approved a bill that would significantly weaken the ADA’s public accommodations provisions. The bill, H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act, passed by a vote of (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

A recent study shows that Portland’s public docks nicely suit swimmers.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Early morning swims across the river. An annual river float and beach party. A full-moon, women-only swim known as “Naked Goddess.” These are just some of the events organized by the Human Access Project to encourage people in Portland, Oregon, to dip their toes (and more) in the Willamette River. After all, says Willie Levenson, the ringleader (his official title) of the nonprofit organization, the river is the city’s largest public space and ought to be seen and used as such. Most recently, Levenson enlisted the help of MIG’s Portland office to explore the feasibility of repurposing downtown boat docks as places for sanctioned swimming.

City planners, working with Mayer/Reed, already had evaluated downtown Portland for potential swimming areas but had focused mostly on beaches. Levenson saw the city’s docks as another, potentially cheaper point of access. Working practically pro bono (Levenson’s budget was $5,000), MIG chose five docks (more…)

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