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Archive for the ‘BROWNFIELDS’ Category

BY JONATHAN LERNER

Parks along New York City’s vulnerable waterfront, like the one recently completed at Hunter’s
Point South, are both amenity and armor.

FROM THE MARCH 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Even as the tides lapping at its edges rise, New York City is turning eagerly toward the water to relieve both a congested transit system and a shortfall in housing stock. For example, you can now travel among all five boroughs by ferry. Ferries have several advantages over streets and subways. For the passenger, those include wind in your hair and magnificent, alternately thrilling and calming views of the harbor; for the city, minimal fixed infrastructure and the ability to easily alter routes if circumstances—such as the shorelines themselves—should change. And from the new ferries that ply the East River, you can see the city’s most visible effort to address the housing crunch: clusters of enormous apartment towers recently built and under construction along once-industrial waterfronts.

The city mandates that, with redevelopment, the water’s edge be public space. Some of that is the “waterfront public access area” each newly developed riverside property is required to provide. Those areas must at least have landscape and seating; as built, they vary from quite thoughtful to afterthought. There are also a number of city and state parks along the river. So there is beginning to be a continuous public edge. It will probably always have gaps, but they are filling in as the new housing developments rise. Viewed from out on the water, the chain of public spaces resolves into a thin green line, as much of it consists of esplanades and piers or is otherwise flat. Still, discontinuous and varying in design quality as its component pieces are, they are hugely popular—just because they exist, and also because some of them are truly inspired. That would describe one of the newest of the city-developed pieces. In its case, you do begin to glimpse its features from the river, because it has hills and an architectural overlook jutting up and out toward you. This is, in fact, just where the ferry stops in Long Island City, Queens: Hunter’s Point South Park, designed by Thomas Balsley, FASLA, (whose eponymous firm joined SWA in 2016) in collaboration with Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

A mirrored hut, in the shape of Thoreau’s New England cabin, reminds us to slow down our metabolism for appraising and interpreting landscapes. Photo by Justin Knight.

Günther Vogt on the limits of design, and the boundless reach of landscape architecture.

 

Ask Günther Vogt what the problems facing landscape architecture are, and he’ll tell you that there’s a bit too much design happening today.

This provocation suggests that it’s time for landscape designers to spend less time fussing with the proportions of a public square and more time working through urban and region-scaled problems. That was the thrust of Vogt’s Frederick Law Olmsted Lecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design earlier this month, which accompanied an exhibition of his work on display now at the GSD’s Druker Design Gallery at Gund Hall. First the Forests exhibits six of Vogt’s projects and is filled with artifacts, models, specimens, and dioramas presented in tactile wood boxes—references to the European tradition of the “Wunderkammer” or “cabinet of curiosities,” eclectic containers filled with wonder and mystery.

There are cylindrical core samples of Boston’s mineral geology, impossibly delicate 19th century Italian gypsum models of mushrooms, excerpts from German plant morphology diagrams, and deconstructed and collaged 19th century landscape paintings, with foreground and background elements cut out and separated between panes of glass, giving the painting a semblance of texture and depth. LAM spoke to Vogt before the lecture about the exhibition. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The banks of the Stonycreek, Little Conemaugh, and Conemaugh Rivers were encased in concrete after a 1936 flood. Photo courtesy students of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation.

A Columbia University seminar led by Kate Orff, FASLA, brings fresh eyes and new ideas to western Pennsylvania.

 

On a visit to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, with a group of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) students in late October, Kate Orff, FASLA, a professor and principal of SCAPE Landscape Architecture, happened upon a landscape metaphor for this section of steel mill country that’s been battered by decades of environmental degradation, an epic history of flooding, and a declining industrial economic base. After a 1936 flood ravaged Johnstown, the three rivers that define the city were excavated and covered in concrete. The moves tamed the river, though Johnstown itself seemed to be as entombed as its riverbanks.

“This seemed to be a metaphor for Johnstown being stuck,” Orff says. “That massive relic [is] not necessarily supporting the needs of the people that are living there now.” (more…)

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FOREGROUND

Bona Fide BIM (Tech)
Legal considerations regarding liability and ownership of intellectual property are emerging
for firms that use building information modeling.

Steel and Sand (Parks)
On Lake Michigan, the newly designated Indiana Dunes National Park thrives on a plan by JJR (now SmithGroup) that balances a rich shoreline ecology and the toxic footprint of industry.

FEATURES

The Water You Can’t See
On the Duke University campus, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects turned a
water conservation project into a mesmerizing mirror of a pond, surrounded by plantings
that show the clear stamp of Warren T. Byrd Jr., FASLA.

On the Edge
The city of Porto Alegre, Brazil, has made a new pact with its surrounding waters,
one that its people overwhelmingly love.

All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. The full table of contents for December 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 December articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “The Water You Can’t See,” Mark Hough, FASLA; “On the Edge,” Leonardo Finotti; “Steel and Sand,” SmithGroup.

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BY NATE BERG

A view of the park’s two lakes, with the city in the distance. Photo courtesy Bundesgartenschau Heilbronn.

An urban-scale garden exhibition in Germany became an opportunity to re-envision a riverside industrial site.

 

For more than half a century, the historic center of the southwestern German city of Heilbronn looked out across the waters of the Neckar River onto 80 gray acres of railyards and warehouses. As its industrial activity shifted and concentrated, the need for such large swaths of land diminished and much of this logistics landscape lay fallow.

“For urban planners, this was like a gold mine,” says Oliver Toellner. He’s a landscape architect and urban planner, and for the past 10 years he’s been transforming this large industrial plot into a new park and urban district for 3,500 residents and 1,000 jobs. (more…)

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BY GWENETH LEIGH, ASLA

The Barangaroo Reserve transforms Sydney Harbour’s old industrial landscape.

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2016 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When I was a child growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, my understanding of landscape was one of changing purpose. Cornfields were converted into housing subdivisions and office parks. Old winding roads were straightened, thickened with extra lanes, and punctuated by traffic lights. It was the small discoveries—an arrowhead in the garden, a bullet lodged in a tree—that revealed the older stories of these fractured landscapes. The layers of roads, power lines, and strip malls made any trace of a site’s earlier history difficult to imagine.

But what if we were to allow a landscape to break free from the confines of concrete curbs, smooth out its industrial wrinkles, and pluck off architectural blemishes in an effort to recapture a semblance of its younger, more picturesque self? Where injections of earth and rock serve as the Botox for an aging landscape, erasing the creases of human development in favor of a more natural topography. So begins the story of Barangaroo Reserve in Sydney, Australia. (more…)

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Among this year’s superb ASLA Student Award winners, it seems almost as if several of the designers had an advance copy of the latest report on land use by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC. The panel supports the work of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, originator of the 2015 Paris Agreement, by providing scientific reports on climate change impacts, and ways to mitigate or adapt to them. Its latest major report, Climate Change and Land, came out in early August, and in many ways runs directly alongside the contemporary concerns of landscape architecture. The report details the interactions between land and climate, the ways human activity on land (which “provides the basis for human livelihoods and well-being”) contributes to global warming and, in turn, how climate change affects the integrity of the land people depend on for food and fiber (and often to our detriment, for fuel).

The realities of agriculture are a near-constant presence in the new report and, I think, the next frontier for landscape architecture to consider, particularly for agriculture’s role in rampant land degradation and the loss of biodiversity. In this year’s Student Awards, (more…)

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