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Archive for the ‘STREETS’ Category

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

On a cramped site, Superjacent conjures a forest and one of L.A.’s first shared streets.

FROM THE JANUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

If all goes according to plan, over the next year a forest will spring up in South Central Los Angeles on what today looks more like a desolate traffic island than a buildable city lot. The woodland is a vital part of Isla Intersections, a 54-unit supportive housing development designed by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects with the landscape architecture firm Superjacent. The dense plantings are intended as a “living lung,” strategically designed to reduce air and noise pollution by 25 and 40 percent, respectively.

“Because we’re dealing with a site that’s super urban and a freeway that is elevated, the design strategy is really to create kind of an umbrella over that site, a dome of green that will catch particulate matter before it goes into homes and people’s lungs,” explains Claire Latané, ASLA, an assistant professor of landscape architecture at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, who consulted on the project while at Studio-MLA. (more…)

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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. 

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

FROM THE DECEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

If you lived in Paris in the 17th century, you paid the taxe des boues et lanternes, the tax on mud and lanterns. The levy paid for the maintenance of the city’s streets and its system of lanterns, a network of some 5,000 tallow candles suspended in glass cases 20 feet above Paris’s streets, and one of the earliest examples of public street lighting in the world.

The inventor of this early illumination system was not a city planner or a scientist but Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie, considered to be the city’s first police chief. Since its earliest days, “public lighting was closely connected with the police,” writes the cultural historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch. The high-strung lanterns in Paris were “beacons in the city, representing law and order,” while the paid torch bearers who wandered Paris’s streets providing supplemental illumination also doubled as police informants.

Today, street lighting and surveillance are as tightly enmeshed as ever, as manufacturers proffer networked luminaires with embedded sensors that are capable of feeding enormous amounts of data into proprietary operating systems, turning the city into what the writer Geoff Manaugh, author of A Burglar’s Guide to the City, describes as a “forensic tool for recording its residents.”

“It’s very Fahrenheit 451,” says Linnaea Tillett, Affiliate ASLA, the founder and principal of Tillett Lighting Design Associates, which specializes in lighting for outdoor spaces. “You have a light pole that can listen to you, watch you, and it’s all hidden.” (more…)

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BY JARED BREY

As the pandemic slows projects, Philadelphia has a chance to rethink a difficult public space.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Most of Philadelphia was still asleep when city workers pulled the nine-foot-high statue of Frank Rizzo off the concrete steps of the Municipal Services Building across from City Hall, loaded it into a truck, and carted it off to an undisclosed storage locker. It was early June, and by then, the Rizzo statue, which depicted in monumental proportions the racist former mayor and bully cop, had been a target of protesters for years. They had tugged on it with ropes and chains, tried to set it on fire, yarn-bombed it with a pink bikini, and covered it in a white Ku Klux Klan hood. In late May it became a focal point of protests again. Long lines of police began standing guard in front of the statue daily. Officially, they were guarding the Municipal Services Building, but as the police presence grew, it began to seem like they were there to protect the statue or the very legacy of Rizzo himself.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney had previously said the statue would be removed as part of an eventual redesign of Thomas Paine Plaza, the elevated public podium that surrounds the Municipal Services Building. But in a statement that day, explaining the sudden overnight removal of the statue, he acknowledged that tying its removal to the long-term plans for a plaza makeover, rather than the immediate and repeated demands of protesters, was “a mistake.”

“The statue is a deplorable monument to racism, bigotry, and police brutality for members of the Black community, the LGBTQ community, and many others,” Kenney said.

Still, for days after the statue was removed, police officers and military service members remained stationed at Paine Plaza as if they were occupying a hill, looking down on the surrounding sidewalks from the high corners of its concrete walls. Pennsylvania National Guardsmen holding rifles and dressed in fatigues blocked access from the street. “Why are the cops being paid to watch this?” someone wrote in chalk on the west wall. Long after the military left town and the police force on site dwindled—up until the time this story went to print—loose security fencing remained around the entire perimeter of the plaza, vaguely suggesting that passersby shouldn’t enter the space, even as city workers and skateboarders nonchalantly passed through the gaps in the fencing. With the provocation of the Rizzo statue gone, Thomas Paine Plaza was exposed: an overbuilt space with no apparent purpose, overpoliced for no discernible reason. What was it supposed to be? (more…)

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This fall, LAM will be highlighting professional and student winners from the 2020 ASLA Awards by asking designers to dive deep into one image from their winning project.

Yongqing Fang Alleyways: An Urban Transformation, by Lab D+H Landscape and Urban Design, Professional Urban Design Honor Award.

Photo courtesy Arch-Exist.

“During the construction of this project, most of the original stone slabs from the alleys were stolen. A lot of construction waste, such as the demolition of the building bricks and tiles, was piled up on the site. We were thinking that the best way to preserve the historical context and bring back those old memories was to reuse those old materials. Thus, most of the details [in the photo] are made from recycled materials. In fact, except for the large piece of stone in the middle of the road, the rest was basically re-completed by recycled materials. All of our efforts are to make the new design and the old [memories] work together in a microintervention.”

—Zhongwei Li, Lab D+H Landscape and Urban Design

 

Planning for urban renewal requires careful consideration of surroundings as well as sentiment; in Guangzhou’s old town, a transformation revitalized a network of crumbling alleyways while honoring residents’ emotional attachment to a culture of street life. Phase 1 reimagined two alleyways as central points of public life by rehabilitating existing alleyways and adding larger-scale public nodes. First, several damaged or illegal structures were removed; many of those materials were reused throughout the project. Insufficient drainage and lighting were remedied with a multifunctional system that blends historic features with contemporary infrastructure. Three new public amenities—the Grand Wooden Steps, the Roof Garden, and the Water Feature Garden—provide and define new public space. During the day, the Grand Wooden Steps are used as a rest and display area, whereas at night they become seating for movie screenings. Nearby, the Water Feature Garden is set back from the main street and shaded by existing trees. The Roof Garden connects the rear of buildings and provides a semiprivate leisure area. Acting as new nodes for existing alleyways, the project unifies and modernizes the neighborhood without damaging vibrant, historic public life. “The Yongqing Fang alley project proves that choices made at the microscale have the capacity to inform much larger urban design decisions,” said the jury.

—Anjulie Rao

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BY KAMILA GRIGO

Copenhagen’s stormwater detention roads are everything but.

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

As part of its climate change and urban flood mitigation strategy, Copenhagen aims to build 300 stormwater management projects over the next 20 to 30 years. Among the projects are a series of detention roads, entire streets redesigned to convey and detain rainwater locally to relieve the existing storm sewer system. It’s an ambitious target that reflects the city’s understanding that investment in these projects is a way of managing greater long-term risk to city infrastructure while providing citizens with multifunctional spaces in the short term.

The Sankt Kjelds Square and Bryggervangen by SLA is a pilot of the detention road concept. Completed in 2019, it comprises the entirety of the 2,300-foot-long Bryggervangen road and Sankt Kjelds Square, the roundabout in the middle. “It’s quite a simple project,” says Bjørn Ginman, a project director at SLA, who says that the fundamental concept is about seeing water move through the site. Rain gardens lining the pedestrian rights-of-way receive rainwater from sidewalks and the roofs of adjacent residential buildings, while road runoff is directed into larger infiltration ponds at the roundabout and at intersections, though not before an in-ground diverter (one of the municipality’s first applications in a public road context) deals with the most polluted first flush. (more…)

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The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

Image courtesy Lewis/Nordenson/Tsurumaki/Lewis.

From “Designs for Apartness” in the August 2020 issue by Haniya Rae, about Paul Lewis and Guy Nordenson’s manual for reorganizing spatial patterns and relationships per the omnipresent dictates of social distancing and COVID-19.

“Elbow room needed.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

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.

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BY JARED BREY

Buffalo plans the country’s biggest environmental impact bond to fund green infrastructure.

FROM THE AUGUST 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In 2018, the City of Buffalo, New York, cut the ribbon on Jesse Clipper Square, a small park named for the first Black soldier from Buffalo to die in World War I. The square, originally dedicated in the 1930s, was designed by John Edmonston Brent, one of Buffalo’s first Black architects. Today it sits in the median of William Street, a wide arterial street connecting downtown Buffalo to the neighborhood of Willert Park. As part of a broader greening of William Street, the park was expanded and planted with new trees and a rain garden. According to the Buffalo Sewer Authority, the project helps prevent some 284,000 gallons of water from entering the city’s combined sewer system during typical rain storms.

Green infrastructure projects like the William Street overhaul—small-scale interventions designed to manage stormwater on public streets, parking lots, and rooftops—are the bread and butter of the Buffalo Sewer Authority’s Rain Check program, a $380 million commitment that originated in a 2014 consent agreement between the city and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and improve water quality. Under the terms of its Long Term Control Plan, Buffalo committed to spending $93 million on green infrastructure to manage stormwater on at least 1,315 impervious acres. In the first phase of the plan, Rain Check 1.0, which began in 2015, the sewer authority focused on public projects that could be carried out relatively easily, according to documents. But Rain Check 2.0, announced last spring, is going for tougher targets, mostly on private property.

To help push the project along, Buffalo’s Mayor, Byron Brown, announced in February that the city would issue a $30 million environmental impact bond (EIB) to help fund a grant program that will encourage private landowners to install green infrastructure. Environmental impact bonds are a kind of municipal borrowing that links bond investors’ returns to the performance of the projects funded by the bond. One of the first EIBs in the United States was issued in 2016 by DC Water, Washington, D.C.’s water authority, to help fund green infrastructure related to its own agreement with the EPA (see “The River Beneath the River,” LAM, November 2018). Since then, more cities have begun experimenting with the bonds, including Atlanta, New Orleans, and Baltimore. In many cases, new funds for green infrastructure equates to more work for landscape architects. (more…)

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