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Archive for the ‘TRANSPORTATION’ Category

BY JANE MARGOLIES

Toronto’s Underpass Park, seemingly there all along.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE

Corktown Common is the marquee public space in the evolving West Don Lands area of Toronto. Designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the lovely 18-acre park contains meandering paths, pocket-size lawns, and a marshy cove, all tucked into a multilevel landform engineered to protect the downtown of Canada’s largest city from the threat of flooding on the Don River, which flows into Lake Ontario.

But just a block from Corktown Common, the much smaller Underpass Park, designed by PFS Studio with the Planning Partnership and situated on the same flood protection landform but beneath a tangle of roadway overpasses, is quietly gaining fans.

OK, maybe not so quietly.

Visitors to the park hear skateboards hit the pavement—clack! Basketballs bounce, and young children shout gleefully in the vicinity of the playground equipment, the sounds reverberating through the echo chamber formed by the cement columns and beams that support the roadways above. The visuals, too, are none too quiet: Colorful murals on the columns take inspiration from (more…)

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Launching a design firm is not for the faint of heart. In building a landscape architecture business, mobile tech and shared work spaces have changed the game, but some things remain the same—long hours and total dedication are a given. Kevan Williams talked to more than a dozen young firms about what it takes to take the leap in a postrecession world and what keeps principals up at night. If big demands take time away from design, they also deliver independence and professional growth. Principals talk candidly about finding balance, building on experience, and focusing on a few key elements among other backstage insights.

Steve Durrant, FASLA, is a bike evangelist, and that makes him a bike lane evangelist, too. Fred Bernstein profiles Durrant and his firm, Alta Planning + Design, about the current state of our bicycle infrastructure. Chicago’s Riverwalk is a triumph of patience and public landscape design. The work, by Sasaki, is an insertion into the long-used but somehow underutilized spaces along the channelized Chicago River that runs right through the heart of the city’s iconic Loop.

In the Foreground, Timothy Schuler looks at the emerging questions about aesthetics and renewable energy. Can we—and should we—make wind and solar farms look better and relate more meaningfully to the places where they are increasingly part of the economy? Allyn West looks at the opportunity that drought and tree die-off made in Houston’s urban forest in Ecology. Now has student-creature design collaborations, a park design that enlarged after a social media takeover, and a Baltimore firm using a development requirement in an innovative way to provide a community benefit. The full table of contents for March can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 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 ungating March articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Start Your Engines,” Brandon Stengel/http://www.farmkidstudios.com; “Walking the Walk,” Christian Phillips Photography; “Pedal Harder,” Michael Hanson; “The Upside of a Die-Off,” Design Workshop, Inc. and Reed Hilderbrand; “The Art of Infrastructure,” Robert Sullivan.

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Underpass Park in Toronto is a skatepark and green space huddled under a highway overpass. It’s a kinetic, vibrant place, filled with sculpture installations, street art, the clatter of skateboards on concrete, and the hum of traffic overhead. PFS Studio’s project received a 2016 ASLA Professional Award for its canny reuse of a previously neglected space. And all this makes it a perfect candidate for ASLA’s first virtual reality video. Narrated by Greg Smallenberg, FASLA, principal of PFS Studio, the immersive, 360-degree video is a succinct explanation of virtual reality’s use for landscape designers, and a fun, quirky introduction to landscape architecture for the general public. The video is viewable via a smartphone YouTube app, the Google Chrome browser, or a Samsung Gear VR headset and compatible Samsung phone.

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In Sic Erat Scriptum, landscape architect and filmmaker Evan Mather argues that the Interstate Highway System that has reshaped the nation through epochal public works is not the project of technocratic 20th century humanist ambition, but something far more ancient and out of our control. Through fictionalized Grand Junction Bible College landscape urbanism instructor Melvin McNally (portrayed by Mather), his short film makes the pop-science case that the interstate is really the result of “biomigratory ecology rooted in ancient habitats and dominions.” That is, these roads follow dinosaur trails.

The video’s grainy film quality gives it an air of archival mystique that contrasts with sharp overlay maps of transit corridors throughout the millennia. Accelerated footage of miles of highway whirring past give way to fictionalized newspaper pages filled with dummy text in Latin telling of “Devil Lizards” unearthed during road construction.

There’s the interstate, which was preceded by the early 20th century highway system, which followed railroad lines. These lined up with pioneer wagon trails, themselves mapped to Native American trails, whose only purpose was to follow large mammal migratory patterns.  And concentrations of fossils found in clusters along these paths indicate these creatures were lured by “ancient dinosaur watering holes,” McNally says. It sounds like the prologue to a dusty paperback science fiction novel from the late 1950s. But broken down step by step, it seems reasonable. Foregrounded in acknowledgment of the Anthropocene age (the period of history where human activity is the strongest force affecting planetary ecosystems and geology), it questions whether we’re really writing our own novel, or instead cribbing notes from a story told long, long ago.

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BY ZACH MORTICE

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High-curbed planters break up the flow of traffic on Argyle Street. Photo by Zach Mortice.

Argyle Street, on Chicago’s Far North Side, is a sort of small-town main street in the big city. It’s the hub of Chicago’s Southeast Asian community, which has built one of the city’s most welcoming and intimate ethnic enclaves. Vietnamese grocery stores, exuberant murals, gift shops, and community nonprofits abound; pho soup restaurants make the entire street smell like lemongrass. It’s also the first (more…)

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As part of Philadelphia’s celebrated Mural Arts program, the German artist Katharina Grosse was invited to paint an episodic series of painted landscapes and buildings along the busy Northeast Corridor rail lines. The resulting composition, called psychylustro, splashes warm clouds of neon graffiti on decaying buildings and hardscrabble landscapes, implicitly calling attention to the conditions and context for this kind of postindustrial decay, even as viewers zoom by in an Amtrak train. “It’s about an astonishing encounter with painting,” Grosse says.

 

Editor’s note: This post originally referred to the site as a “disused” rail corridor. It has been updated to reflect that it is located along the very active Northeast Corridor.

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By Zach Mortice

The 2008 flooding in eastern Iowa saw the Cedar River crest at 31 feet, inundating much of downtown Cedar Rapids. Image courtesy of Sasaki.

On the morning of Jun 12, 2008, the landscape architects Gina Ford, ASLA, and Jason Hellendrung, ASLA, of Sasaki woke up in their hotel rooms by the riverside in downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to stifling heat and eerie silence. They were in town to pitch their riverfront master plan to the city council. They knew the Cedar River was expected to flood (and had stocked up on water, granola bars, and bananas just in case) but neither expected any sort of ordeal stemming from the river, which they had come hoping to reimagine as a lively and gregarious urban greenway. The power, air-conditioning, and phones were out. The hallways were empty and pitch black, and a ferocious rainstorm had darkened the skies and pushed the encroaching floodwaters. Reaching each other via cell phone, they discussed their options. In the distance, the Quaker Oats cereal mill plant’s red neon sign was still lit. “It can’t be that bad,” said Hellendrung. “They still have electricity.”

“As I said that, there was a bolt of thunder and lightning, and the sign went out. Then I was like, ‘Maybe the police will get here soon?’”

Police did dispatch rescuers, who led Ford and Hellendrung out of the hotel. A second-floor connection to the convention center (more…)

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