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Posts Tagged ‘ACCESSIBILITY’

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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BY ALEX ULAM

India Basin Shoreline Park. Image courtesy of GGN.

Early this month, the nonprofit Trust for Public Land and officials from the city of San Francisco announced that San Francisco is the first city in the country to have a park within a 10-minute walk, or a half mile, of every resident.

“Most city residents won’t walk more than 10 minutes to get to shopping, transit, or parks, so close-to-home access to parks is vital for public health, clean environments, and thriving, equitable communities,” said Adrian Benepe, Honorary ASLA, the Trust for Public Land’s urban parks director, in a news release. “This is an enormous achievement, based on years of dedicated and thoughtful work and planning.”

To build a more equitable park system, San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department formed partnerships with nonprofits such as the Trust for Public Land   (more…)

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