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BY JANE MARGOLIES

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Fifteen years in the making, a new public space reunites Chicago with the river that runs through it.

FROM THE MARCH 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

“Isn’t it hot?” Gina Ford, ASLA, asked excitedly, waving a well-jacketed arm around her on a cold morning this past fall as she, the architect Carol Ross Barney, and Terry Ryan, FASLA, met up at the Chicago Riverwalk to show me around.

Not exactly the word I would have chosen, given the temperature, but, yes, the new promenade they designed along the Chicago River, in the downtown of Illinois’s largest city, most definitely is.

Extending eight blocks along the river’s southern bank at a level below the streetscape, the Riverwalk is part of a 1.25-mile path from Lake Michigan inland that some are calling the city’s “second shoreline” (the lake, which borders Chicago to the east, being the “first,” of course). Each block-long space is bookended by the historic bridge houses that operate the movable spans that cross the waterway. And each has its own distinct riverside character, ranging from the Marina, a hub of food and drink purveyors, to the Jetty, an ecology-themed section that includes floating gardens and fishing piers. A continuous pathway stitches the segments together, weaving around the bridge houses before continuing on. And all of it adds up to a (more…)

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BY JANE MARGOLIES

An iconic Robert Moses-designed park on Long Island gets a resilient rethinking.

From the November 2016 Issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine 

 

I’m standing on the boardwalk at Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh, New York, with Faye Harwell, FASLA, a codirector of Rhodeside & Harwell. Our backs to the Atlantic, we look out over a flat expanse that used to be covered by shuffleboard, ping-pong, and tennis courts. Now it’s a mountain of broken-up concrete. By next summer, this will be a rolling naturalistic setting, dotted with a rock-climbing wall, zip line, splash pool, and, yes, a couple of shuffleboard courts, too. It will be the most visible of the many changes taking place at Jones Beach in a $65 million project undertaken by the state’s Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and guided by a report from Harwell’s firm.

Changes are needed. Built by the urban planning czar Robert Moses in 1929 as part of an unprecedented network of parkways and public parks, Jones Beach once was a six-and-a-half-mile-long marvel along the south shore of Long Island. Moses had used dredged sand to connect several small barrier islands, on which he and the landscape architect Clarence Coombs laid out the park (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

An abandoned island is the Venice Lagoon. Local Code by Nicholas de Monchaux, published by Princeton Architectural Press 2016.

An abandoned island in the Venice lagoon. Local Code by Nicholas de Monchaux, published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2016.

In his new book, Local Code: 3,659 Proposals About Data, Design, and the Nature of Cities, the University of California, Berkeley architecture and urban design professor Nicholas de Monchaux develops new tools for the mass customization of underused and vacant urban lots, highlighting the limits of inflexible systems thinking. His book charts a way forward with an eye on past failures, and new possibilities founded in corrective measures that have proved to work.

American cities’ first encounters with data, he writes, happened after World War II. That’s when protocomputing power, developed by the military and Cold War consultancies such as the RAND Corporation, merged with tabula rasa modernist urban planning. These binary solutions to complex built environments (remembered most vividly as Robert Moses-style urban renewal that tore down anything old and dirty) became what de Monchaux calls (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

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The Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail. Photo courtesy of John Becker.

When the urban planner Ryan Gravel resigned from the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership board on September 26, the organization lost one of its most vocal and influential proponents, and in a way, its own creator. The BeltLine, a 22-mile network of parks and trails that weaves through 45 Atlanta neighborhoods, grew out of Gravel’s 1999 Georgia Tech master’s thesis. His consistent message regarding his departure has been that he had to distance himself from the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (ABP) board because the organization wasn’t doing enough to provide affordable housing and maintain an atmosphere of diversity and inclusion for residents living near the trail.

Gravel’s calls to action are a broad redirection away from property acquisition and development that guided the trail’s early days. He now wants to ensure that the existing trail meets the socioeconomic needs of the Atlantans who advocated to make it a reality. And he’s willing to sacrifice some (more…)

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BY BETSY ANDERSON, ASSOCIATE ASLA

A stormwater retrofit makes space for a new park on Puget Sound.

A stormwater retrofit makes space for a new park on Puget Sound.

From the September 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

A ferry ride away from Seattle, Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula is a deeply lobed fjordscape whose 216 miles of shoreline have provided the perfect laboratory for development of so-called end-of-pipe stormwater solutions: space-saving treatment occurring at the bottom of the watershed, near aging municipal outfalls. These stormwater retrofits were most recently tested in Manchester, a close-knit village piled up at the peninsula’s eastern edge. Here, a former gas station site was recruited to treat 100 million gallons of polluted stormwater each year, before it enters Puget Sound.

Tucked between homes and businesses and adjacent to a busy swimming beach, the half-acre parcel now known as Manchester Stormwater Park inspired the project team—a cadre of Kitsap County staff plus engineers and landscape architects from Parametrix, N. L. Olson & Associates, and GeoEngineers—to take a multifunctional approach. “People really wanted a green space here,” says Jens Swenson, ASLA, a landscape architect for Parametrix who led the hardscape, lighting, and plant design for the park.

The green space was hard-won. Funded by a million-dollar grant from (more…)

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BY ADAM REGN ARVIDSON, FASLA

Milwaukee cleans up the Menomonee Valley but keeps it working.

Milwaukee cleans up the Menomonee Valley but keeps it working.

From the April 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Menomonee means wild rice, and that is the original story of this river. Flowing just 33 miles across southeastern Wisconsin, it joins with two other smallish rivers (the Milwaukee and the Kinnickinnic) just before Lake Michigan to create a freshwater estuary—a back bay to the great lake. The estuary and valley were hunting, fishing, and rice harvesting grounds. Then European settlers came and saw this could also be a good spot for shipping, fixing, and building things.

The Valley, as it is often called, is a four-mile by one-half-mile swath of Menomonee River lowland that industrialized rapidly in the late 1800s. It became home to the great Milwaukee Road’s machine and repair shops—140 acres of railyards and mechanic sheds. In the first half of the 20th century, a middle-class resident of the neighborhoods north and south of the Valley could walk to a job that paid a living wage. Crossing the pedestrian bridges to the railyard, he would likely barely notice the stagnant, channelized, trash-strewn watercourse below.

In the 1980s, following a storyline familiar among midsized cities in the Midwest, the industries began to leave—and leave their messes behind. The Valley became a 1,200-acre scar on the city. “It was buildings that were falling down. It was environmental contamination. It was 60,000 cars driving by on the freeway looking at this property,” says Dave Misky, who has been leading the Valley’s (more…)

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BY ANNE RAVER

Reed Hilderbrand overturns a century of casual destruction at Long Dock Park in Beacon, New York.

Reed Hilderbrand overturns a century of casual destruction at Long Dock Park in Beacon, New York.

From the March 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Ten years ago, Long Dock was a postindustrial ruins built on fill—the layered detritus of its past—that sprawled 1,000 feet across the tidal flats of the Hudson River at the foot of the boarded-up city of Beacon, New York.

Now, this same site, Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park, is a 23-acre expanse of meadow and wetlands shaded by cottonwoods and swamp maples, with a sculpted dock and quiet cove, where a kayak pavilion hovers like a dragonfly over the river’s edge.

Reed Hilderbrand has remediated and reshaped the flat landscape, transforming it to a series of earthen berms and reconfigured marshes that hold and filter stormwater and tidal surges in storms as brutal as Irene and Sandy.

“We were fully inundated four times during construction, so each time we lost ground,” Gary Hilderbrand, FASLA, said one midsummer afternoon, standing on the boardwalk that leads to the river’s edge. “But we also proved that the (more…)

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