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Archive for the ‘VIEWS’ Category

BY LESLEY PEREZ, ASSOCIATE ASLA

In Pittsburgh, Merritt Chase wants to help the city capitalize on its biggest unsung assets: stairs.

FROM THE OCTOBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Growing up about an hour south of Pittsburgh, Nina Chase, ASLA, always admired the bold natural beauty of the city’s dramatic hills. But relocating to the city two years ago gave her a new appreciation of the incredible amount of human ingenuity that went into transforming that terrain into a livable, connected place. “There’s this whole motley crew of infrastructure that helps people navigate the topography,” Chase says. With elevations ranging from 710 feet above sea level where the rivers meet to 1,300 feet at the highest points, Pittsburgh relies on a vast network of bridges, inclines, stairs, and tunnels to knit itself together.

It’s the stairs, however, that have come to be most emblematic. There are more than 800 stairs scattered across Pittsburgh, which according to the city’s website is more than any other city in the United States. They scale steep hills, open up vistas, function as sidewalks, and provide (more…)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

Landslag, of Reyk­javík, takes home the 2018 Rosa Barba Prize.

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The site, the Saxhóll Crater, is part of Snæfellsjökull, a volcano on a far western finger of Iceland that is the starting point for Journey to the Center of the Earth, the 1864 science fiction novel by Jules Verne. This worn-down cone of lava, 125 feet high, is a popular stop for tourists who want to walk up to its summit amid patches of multicolored mosses, lichens, arctic thyme, and bog bilberry to see views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding glacier cap, which is expected to disappear within 50 years. Tourism is up sharply in Iceland, quadrupling since 2010 to two mil­lion visitors in 2017. The wear was evident on the crater’s flank, where the path to the summit was degrading and splitting into multiple tracks, not helped by random, gabion-like treads where the going got especially rough.

The project of preserving the crater’s fragile ecology along with access to people fell to Thrainn Hauksson, of the landscape architecture office Landslag, in Reyk­javík. Hauksson’s office designed the simplest thing possible— (more…)

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BY RANDY GRAGG

Plans to string gondolas over American cities abound.

FROM THE JULY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

In the early 2000s, one of Portland, Oregon’s leading employers and research institutions, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), faced a steep, downhill battle. Sited on a hilltop, surrounded by unbuildable canyons and neighborhoods unwilling to yield another inch to expansion, OHSU’s nearest sizable hunk of developable land lay on the Willamette River less than a mile away—for a blue heron. Cars and buses contended with winding, traffic-snarled commutes of anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes.

A campus planner’s brain brightly blinked: Why not an aerial tram? Protests erupted, politicians tangled, and costs lurched $47 million over the earliest budget fantasy of $9.5 million. But in 2007, two sleek, bubble-shaped cars (their shiny artisanal shells carefully machine-hammered by craftsmen from Gangloff Cabins of Switzerland) began flying to and fro across the campus. Today, they ferry more than 50,000 riders per week to a 2.35-million-square-foot cluster of new OHSU buildings.

At the time, the tram was only the third urban transit ropeway system in America, after Telluride’s in Colorado and Roosevelt Island’s in New York. Now, however, proposals for urban tramways are becoming more prevalent. A consortium in Washington, D.C., is poised to launch a $1 million environmental impact study for an aerial connection between Rosslyn, Virginia, and Georgetown across the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., to bypass the clogged Key Bridge. New York is angling for two flights: a midtown connection to Roosevelt Island and (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. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

Click above for a full PDF of the translated text with English text available below.

BY JONATHAN LERNER

FROM THE MAY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

The Harahan Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River at Memphis, Tennessee, opened in 1916. Down its center ran railroad tracks. Cantilevered off each side was a 14-foot-wide “wagonway” for cars, trucks, horse carts, and pedestrians. This bridge is what’s called a through truss, with a latticelike steel superstructure like something from a giant Erector Set. The two outboard roadways, however, were originally planked in wood. Trains tend to throw off fragments and sparks—and not just antique ones that blew fiery debris from their smokestacks. “It’s like shrapnel,” says the landscape architect Ritchie Smith, ASLA. “Rocks, nails, anything that’s on those tracks just gets pulverized, and can even be inflamed.” In 1928, the Harahan’s wagonways caught fire and burned out of control. “They had all the water you want 120 feet below, but no way to siphon it up,” he says wryly. Rebuilt, the Harahan continued to convey motor traffic until a highway bridge opened nearby in 1949. The wagonway decking was removed. Then, until recently, only trains used the bridge—officially. “There are all kinds of people who, when they were kids, would try to go walk across it. How tempting was that?” asks Lissa Thompson, ASLA, a coprincipal at Smith’s Memphis firm, Ritchie Smith Associates.

Tempting indeed. Anybody willing to clamber out along the exposed girders could have been rewarded with (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. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

Click above for a full PDF of the translated text with English text available below.

BY JONATHAN LERNER

FROM THE APRIL 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Diego Gonzalez was driving through San Pedro Garza García, the poshest municipality in metropolitan Monterrey, one of the richest cities in Mexico. “When I was a kid, in the 1970s,” he said, gesturing broadly through the windshield, “all of this was agricultural. I came here hunting rabbits.” San Pedro is built out now. Its dominant typology is the single-family house, and its circulation patterns exist to serve cars, so it’s not unlike any late 20th-century North American suburb, except that it has an orthogonal grid instead of a dendritic street plan. Also, almost every property is enclosed within a high security wall. Gonzalez’s destination was the campus of the University of Monterrey (UDEM).

UDEM demarks San Pedro’s narrow western border, at a point where lateral ridges off the soaring Sierra Madre mountains pinch close to the Santa Catarina River. West of the campus, where the valley opens out a bit, a new suburb is being developed; land prices there have quadrupled in the past decade. When the university campus was first established in 1981, “it was in the country,” noted Gonzalez’s passenger, René Bihan, FASLA. “Now they are landlocked. They have no choice but to be smart about how they infill.” One of UDEM’s smart choices was to hire (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 different languages. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

Click above for a full PDF of the translated text with English text available below.

BY DANIEL ELSEA

FROM THE APRIL 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Paris “is still a crucible, still a focal point.” These are words written by Henri Lefebvre, the philosopher and sociologist best known for his insights regarding urban development, power, and the organization of space in cities. He wrote these words in his seminal work The Production of Space as the dust was still settling from the trauma of the 1968 revolts that rocked the city. His words previewed a French modern tradition meant to inject gusto in the city—the grand projet. In the 1970s and 1980s came a string of grands projets: from great new cultural institutions with muscular buildings to match (Centre Pompidou, Musée d’Orsay) to a corporatist paradise for French multinationals (the La Défense business district). The inauguration of grands projets continued apace through the 1990s with loud echoes of France’s global reach (Jean Nouvel’s Institut du Monde Arabe and Musée du Quai Branly) and a rather large park by Bernard Tschumi (Parc de la Villette). With their strong design pedigree and a dose of radicalism, these seductive projects are a bursting of the French id, and they’ve been good to French designers.

Crucially, grands projets involve heavy public sector backing. It is in this tradition that Paris has embarked on major regeneration projects around the Périphérique, the ring road around the edge of Paris proper. Three significant new neighborhoods are being built at the moment, and each of them features a large public park at its heart, the Grand Parc de Saint-Ouen, the Parc Martin Luther King, and Parc de Billancourt, designed by either Agence Ter or Atelier Jacqueline Osty, Parisian landscape architects known for their large-scale civic projects with a growing international profile. Ter recently won the competition to overhaul Ricardo Legorreta’s Pershing Square in Los Angeles.

The parks anchor massive regeneration projects delivered via public–private partnerships, or P3s, in which private developers collaborate with the state to deliver whole new neighborhoods and a significant expansion to Greater Paris’s housing supply. But these are not the P3s you might know. The public sector retains a majority share of ownership in the delivery vehicles set up for each. In France, one P is more important than the other two. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates plan uses a series of intensely programmed pavilions at the park’s urban edge. Image courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

Update 4/10/2018: The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has chosen Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates’ plan as the competition winner. 

At 22 acres on a prime Detroit River site southwest of downtown, the future West Riverfront Park could become the city’s new civic front yard.

A design competition hosted by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has collected a short list of plans to fill this need, with work by GGN, James Corner Field Operations, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), and Hood Studio making the cut. The winner will be determined by jury later this month. Several of these plans deal with the site’s relative surrounding vacancy and lack of connection to active, urban uses by building up dense layers of programming, but differ on whether the park is to be a regional centerpiece or one notable amenity along the Detroit RiverWalk’s miles-long string of them.

West Riverfront Park is part of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy’s larger plan to rejuvenate 5.5 miles of the Detroit Riverfront. East of downtown Detroit, 3.5 miles of the RiverWalk is already complete, featuring entertainment and event spaces, sculpture gardens, cultural venues, parks, and hotels. At the confluence of downtown, Corktown, and Mexicantown, the West Riverfront Park sits near some of the city’s most dramatically resurgent (and stable) neighborhoods. But the park site has been largely barren for decades. Previously, a hulking warehouse for the Detroit Free Press dominated the site. It was privately owned and closed off to the public for about (more…)

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