Category Archives: Planning

A Park in Progress

Marsha P. Johnson was a hero in the Black trans community. Will the park designed in her honor earn the same admiration?

By Stephen Zacks

A tree-lined, cobblestone-paved path.
The park’s cobblestone-paved entrance references the site’s early days as a freight terminal. Photo by Zen Beattie.

A subtle shift has taken place in the park at the end of North 7th Street in Brooklyn, New York’s Williamsburg neighborhood. Recently renamed for the late Black trans LGBTQ+ civil rights activist Marsha P. Johnson, the redesigned park has retained the relatively ad hoc feeling of its previous iteration as East River State Park. It still has swaths of concrete embankments scattered around the site, remnants of the place’s industrial history as a rail and marine terminal. The main entrance has been repaved with cobblestones, mirroring the crumbling remains of the original entry. New seating is fabricated from rough-cut logs. Continue reading A Park in Progress

Back to the Garden

The beat goes on at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Upstate New York, the site of the legendary 1969 Woodstock music festival.

By Jane Margolies

A massive crowd surrounds a soundstage.
In August 1969, attendees of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair blanket Max Yasgur’s alfalfa field in Bethel, New York. Photo © Barry Z. Levine.

The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which occupies more than 1,600 rolling acres in the Upstate New York town of Bethel, was abuzz on a recent afternoon. The comedian Bill Burr was scheduled to perform in two days’ time, and white party tents for the sale of cocktails were set up around the open-air amphitheater where he would be entertaining the crowd. Mowers roved over lawns bordered by blue spruce trees. Tickets were on sale for up to $359 for the best seats. Continue reading Back to the Garden

Collage Material

For new master plan, MNLA embraced Smith College’s ethos of participation.

By Jonathan Lerner

Photo of river with small waterfall.
Paradise Pond, a beloved Smith landmark, was formed by a dam on the Mill River. A proposal to renaturalize the river strikes some alumnae as too radical. Photo courtesy MNLA.

In 1871, Sophia Smith devoted an inherited fortune to realizing her dream, a women’s college to equal those for men. Today the institution bearing her name enrolls some 2,100 female undergraduates (and a few hundred grad students, including some men). Smith College is in Northampton, Massachusetts, a town of about 30,000 where idealistic visions flow luxuriant. Continue reading Collage Material

How to Grow a Greenway

For New Orleans’s popular Lafitte Greenway, the plan was just the beginning.

By Jane Margolies

Man planting trees near "Greenway GROW!" sign
Volunteers help plant cypress trees on the Lafitte Greenway in April during an event that sprang from the park’s new Greenway GROW! management strategy. Photo courtesy Spackman Mossop Michaels.

On a recent morning in New Orleans, church parishioners, employees on loan from local businesses, and sailors in town for Navy Week were among the 130 volunteers who showed up to plant 100 cypress trees in a bioswale on the Lafitte Greenway. The city’s Department of Parks and Parkways had already cleared the site bordering the Tremé neighborhood, and staff from the New Orleans office of the landscape architecture firm Spackman Mossop Michaels (SMM) and a tree-planting nonprofit group had marked off where the 15-gallon, one-inch-caliper pond and bald cypress were to go. So the volunteers dug holes, dropped in the trees, backfilled them with soil, staked, and mulched. With everyone pitching in, the job was done in three hours. Continue reading How to Grow a Greenway

Banking on Borrowed Land

Balancing rural and urban needs, climate change, and chronic underfunding, the land trust industry is in a moment of reckoning.

By Erin Kelly, ASLA

An abandoned pocket park, prior to WRLC’s improvements. Image courtesy Tim Dehm/WRLC.

Land banks and land trusts have overlapping missions—stewarding land—but different frameworks and financing. Continue reading Banking on Borrowed Land

Park Diplomacy Across the U.S.–Mexico Border

This article is also available in Spanish

At Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, “two countries, two cities, one culture, one river, one park.”

By Jane Margolies

Zacate Creek, which feeds into the Rio Grande, creates an arroyo with a natural waterfall. Photo by Overland Partners.

Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo in Tamaulipas, Mexico—known colloquially as Los Dos Laredos—were a single city divided by the Rio Grande River until 1848, when a treaty established the international border in the river, leaving one half in the United States and the other in Mexico. Continue reading Park Diplomacy Across the U.S.–Mexico Border

(Re)making the Grade

At the University of Pittsburgh, a Complete Street caps a series of student-centered outdoor spaces.

By Timothy A. Schuler

North of the student union, a new, permeable plaza provides space for events as well as informal gatherings. Photo by Denmarsh Studios/LBA.

In the mid-1950s, the fast-growing University of Pittsburgh acquired two historic properties: the Hotel Schenley, built in 1898, and the Schenley Apartments, built between 1922 and 1924. The buildings were renovated for use as dormitories—and later, in the case of the hotel, a student union—but the spaces around them were left largely untouched, updated over the years to meet local codes but otherwise given little thought. Continue reading (Re)making the Grade