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Posts Tagged ‘ACCESSIBILITY’

BY ZACH MORTICE

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Just a few years ago, Keri VanVlymen, a landscape designer with Ratio in Indianapolis, had never driven a golf cart, but now she’s an expert. Over five months in 2018, she surveyed each of Indianapolis’s 13 public golf courses, trekking “every mile of every trail of every course,” she says, 49 miles in all. She’s watched colleagues get stuck on icy hills and has clawed her way up a snowy, arched footbridge, one foot on the accelerator, one hand pulling herself along the railing while the wheels spun.

In late 2017, Indianapolis hired Ratio to re-evaluate the city’s public golf courses, with an eye toward converting some into parks. Whereas most cities of its size would have one to four public courses, Indianapolis’s baker’s dozen stretches across 1,800 acres. With VanVlymen’s colleague John Jackson, ASLA, a principal and the director of landscape architecture and urban design at Ratio, the firm is proposing supplanting green fees in favor of multipurpose recreation and letting everyone onto the land.

“Golf courses are very large-scale designed landscapes,” Jackson says. “You’re playing the game through these very large corridors.” Golf courses are often designed as “18 very large rooms. If you apply that to today’s recreational trends, there’s a lot of interesting places you can go,” he says. (more…)

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BY LYDIA LEE

Robert Royston’s 1967 Quarry Amphitheater has been carefully rebuilt in all its modernist glory.

FROM THE JANUARY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Like the classical theaters of Greek and Roman antiquity, Quarry Amphitheater at the University of California, Santa Cruz is an open-air venue with tiered seating. But what would the Greeks and Romans have made of the irregular rows, with their off-kilter angles? Even to modern eyes, the amphitheater’s erratic form comes as a surprise. Designed by the noted California landscape architect Robert Royston, the 1967 Quarry Amphitheater is as much a work of environmental art as a theater. The amphitheater had been closed for more than a decade owing to disrepair and reopened in 2017 after an $8 million rehabilitation master-planned by the Office of Cheryl Barton (OCB). Among the guiding principles, according to the OCB plan, was to improve it “without compromising the intimate, immersive, spiritual, and ‘magic’ quality of the landscape experience and the quirky spirit of the historic amphitheater design.” (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

M. Paul Friedberg’s Billy Johnson Playground. Photo courtesy the Central Park Conservancy.

M. Paul Friedberg, FASLA, on why cities should be places to play instead of places for playgrounds.

 

The granite slide in New York City’s Billy Johnson Playground is an illustration of M. Paul Friedberg’s design philosophy. Its 45-foot serpentine curve is nestled into a rocky outcropping, one of Central Park’s startling moments of geologic heft. The slide came from Friedberg’s observations of how his own children tumbled down the slate gray behemoths.

Located at the East 67th Street entrance to Central Park, the playground is inspired by the park’s landscape and context, expressed through rustic wood pole knots and stone blocks. The granite slide, like other elements of the playground, is less a discrete object and more “an incident in the park” that flows naturally from its setting, says Friedberg, the recipient of the 2015 ASLA Medal. “You wanted to make it look like you just came across this.”

By layering the slide on top of geology, the slide “doesn’t have to be in a playground,” Friedberg says. And it  gets to the heart of his approach at Billy Johnson Playground. “Do you consider Central Park a place for playgrounds,” he says, “or is it a place to play?” (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

In Miami Beach, elevating streets is not without growing pains.

FROM THE AUGUST 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Faced with rising sea levels, the City of Miami Beach is lifting itself out of the water’s way—one street at a time. Beginning with the neighborhoods lowest in elevation, the city has raised dozens of streets in the past few years, some by as much as two feet. The $500 million project, which also includes new stormwater pumps, is a coordinated effort to prevent flooding in the long term. In the short term, however, the rapid elevation of the public right-of-way is presenting the city with novel challenges.

Some of those challenges, such as pumps that can fail during power outages, are mechanical. Others are legal. When one restaurant flooded, its insurance company initially refused to cover damages after classifying the restaurant’s dining area as a “basement” since it was now lower than the surrounding grade. (The city installed generators to solve the first problem and advocated on behalf of the restaurant owner, whose claim was eventually approved, to solve the second.) Other challenges involve the design of the public realm. (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 FEBRUARY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Atlanta’s Fernbank Museum of Natural History occupies a formidable 1992 postmodernist structure by Graham Gund Architects. Visitors enter through a lobby that looks down into an octagonal atrium dominated by enormous dinosaur skeletons posed as if on the brink of carnage. Beyond the atrium’s glazed rear facade is a narrow concrete terrace. Then the ground behind the building pitches steeply down 45 feet to a creek. So from inside, there’s a horizontal view straight out into the tree canopy, a promise of respite from the vaguely daunting scale and sense of menace inside.

This wooded ravine, which is sort of the reason the museum exists, was neglected and inaccessible until a recent intervention by Sylvatica Studio. Now, beginning right at the atrium’s back doors and set into the terrace’s pavement, the wooden planking of an elevated walkway leads into the trees. Not far along the walkway, just visible where it turns, a 26-foot-high, latticelike but curvilinear “tree pod” beckons from the midst of branches and leaves. Its shape and color mimic the blossom of the tulip tree, a common tree in these woods. The pod is a place to stop, or sit, gently protected by its rounded tracery. But it also offers a sweeping panorama down to the creek and streamside meadow. “It’s 35 feet off the ground. We wanted people to feel slightly—not afraid—but thrilled. ‘What is this experience I’m having?’” explains Sylvatica’s founder, Susan Stainback, ASLA. (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

A recent study shows that Portland’s public docks nicely suit swimmers.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Early morning swims across the river. An annual river float and beach party. A full-moon, women-only swim known as “Naked Goddess.” These are just some of the events organized by the Human Access Project to encourage people in Portland, Oregon, to dip their toes (and more) in the Willamette River. After all, says Willie Levenson, the ringleader (his official title) of the nonprofit organization, the river is the city’s largest public space and ought to be seen and used as such. Most recently, Levenson enlisted the help of MIG’s Portland office to explore the feasibility of repurposing downtown boat docks as places for sanctioned swimming.

City planners, working with Mayer/Reed, already had evaluated downtown Portland for potential swimming areas but had focused mostly on beaches. Levenson saw the city’s docks as another, potentially cheaper point of access. Working practically pro bono (Levenson’s budget was $5,000), MIG chose five docks (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE / PHOTOGRAPHY BY KYLE JEFFERS

Mixed-income housing alone can’t change public housing residents’ lives. So Gary Strang is putting the landscape to work.

FROM THE OCTOBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Correction appended.

The first thing you notice is all the cars. The Potrero Hill housing projects occupy a strange landscape divided by Jersey barriers and concrete retaining walls that carve up the site’s topography. Endless rows of cars are parked along its curving streets and in front of 62 three- and four-story barracks-style buildings that step down the steep hill. It’s the first indication that this isolated, often forgotten section of the city is not that well connected to the thriving, upscale urbanism of San Francisco that surrounds it. “The beautiful green landscape, the Corbusian dream, just becomes parking,” says Gary Strang, FASLA, the founder of GLS Landscape | Architecture, the firm that was hired to radically reshape this place.

For Curteesha Cosby, who lives at Potrero, these parked cars are sometimes a refuge of last resort. When she’s walking her kids to school at 7:00 a.m. and hears gunfire, she hits the ground and rolls her children under them till it ends. She says she hears shooting nearly every day. She’s exhausted by Potrero. “I just want people to be happy and everyone to be safe,” she says. Her cousin was gunned down in the housing complex a few days before we spoke. Edward Hatter, the executive director of the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, a nonprofit serving the area, tells me the community is waiting for the retaliatory violence that often follows shootings.

Potrero Terrace and Annex has long been one of San Francisco’s most dysfunctional large-scale public housing developments. Residents complain of (more…)

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