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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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BY ZACH MORTICE

The Lake Michigan coast, on the South Side of Chicago. Photo by Zach Mortice.

In 2014 alone, 22 billion gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater made its way into the Great Lakes, according to the Great Lakes Commission. On its way there, this stormwater degraded the rivers and streams it flowed through and caused flooding in areas where hard surfaces terminally halt its infiltration.

To deal with this regional calamity, the Great Lakes Commission and Lawrence Technological University have launched a new initiative to disseminate technology and techniques that can mitigate untreated stormwater pollution, the Great Lakes Stormwater Technology Transfer Collaborative.

This partnership between the Great Lakes Commission, a Michigan-based nonprofit that works to protect the ecology and economic health of the region in the United States and Canada, and Lawrence Tech’s Great Lakes Stormwater Management Institute will leverage the commission’s widespread industry contacts with the school’s technical expertise.  (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 ZACH MORTICE / PHOTOGRAPHY BY SAHAR COSTON-HARDY

FROM THE DECEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

New Yorkers avoid Times Square, and Chicagoans stay away from Navy Pier. It’s an ironclad rule. The public spaces that are most popular are there to attract tourists. Locals don’t go there.

In Chicago, going to Navy Pier had been something like a grudging civic responsibility you accept when you have out-of-town guests. It’s always been the most meta of Chicago’s architectural landmarks—essentially a large viewing platform, at more than half a mile long, for the city’s epic skyline, the finest way to see it all without a boat. But best to keep your eyes on the horizon, and not look at the motley collection of cotton candy vendors and garish signs that crowded the waterfront.

But today Navy Pier is looking and acting more like an authentic part of the city, for locals and tourists alike. A renovation by James Corner Field Operations has turned it from a tourist mall to a (more…)

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

Image courtesy of James Corner Field Operations, Courtesy Navy Pier, Inc.

From “Pier Review” by Zach Mortice in the December 2017 issue, on James Corner Field Operations’s design-savvy renovation of Chicago’s former foremost tourist trap, Navy Pier.

“Pier paver.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

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.

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BY KATARINA KATSMA, ASLA

Landslide 2017

FROM THE DECEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

In a time of great upheaval for the United States, it is hard to keep track of the many risks to our national landscapes. Even our nationally recognized and federally protected sites are under threat from privatization or lax oversight, making them vulnerable to destructive practices that place monetary gain over equitable enjoyment of parkland. Open Season on Open Space, this year’s Landslide program from the Cultural Landscape Foundation, minces no words on this subject, calling out municipalities, states, and the federal government for undermining a century’s worth of progress for our public lands, parks, and national monuments.

The reclamation of urban parks for future development is a slippery slope. Appropriating parkland for a presidential library could be considered of exceptional merit. But once such land has been taken from Chicago’s Jackson Park, it could set a precedent for future development or change the criteria for what is considered exceptional and therefore worthy of erasing park space.

Landslide considers the monetization of open space and weakening of park equity as the biggest threats to Jackson Park. These, along with detrimental effects of shadows, resource extraction, and the devaluation of cultural lifeways, make up Landslide’s five central themes. And it is the last two that loom greatest over the Antiquities Act of 1906, an act pivotal in the protection of federally owned lands now under siege by the country’s current administration.

The threat to our open space may not necessarily be from land use. With recent rezoning of the neighborhood surrounding Greenacre Park in New York, the possibility of perpetual shadow could damage precious park space in an area almost completely dominated by hardscape and high-rises. Although the selected open spaces only begin to account for the landscapes in danger of erasure, they work to remind us of the long road ahead in the preservation and maintenance of America’s cultural landscapes for generations to come. (more…)

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This December LAM is under (and around and in) water. The feature well is saturated with new ideas about designing with and through water. The Port of Baltimore is open to designing with its dredge materials and has green-lit a pilot project for Mahan Rykiel’s sustainable and social enhancement of the Chesapeake’s Hart-Miller Island. Along the lakeshore, Chicago’s Navy Pier is putting aside its tourist-magnet past, with a redesign by James Corner Field Operations that now attracts native Chicagoans and visitors alike. And a handful of local efforts aim to combat the persistent encroachment of sea-level rise in the vulnerable communities surrounding Hampton Roads, Virginia, one of the most important strategic sites in the United States.

In Water, the EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge draws out creative solutions from landscape architecture students for treating and managing stormwater. Four landscape architects discuss the benefits and challenges of working in multidisciplinary firms in Office. In Materials, a quirky relic of an industrial past gets a glittery makeover for a Seattle park. And this year’s Landslide campaign from the Cultural Landscape Foundation calls attention to public landscapes and national monuments in immediate danger of erasure. All this plus our regular Books, Now, and Goods columns. The full table of contents for December 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 posting December articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Pier Review,” Sahar Coston-Hardy; “Dredging Up the Future,” Mahan Rykiel Associates; “The Rising Tidewater,” Sahar Coston-Hardy; “The Biggest Smallest Move,” Mutuus Studio; “It Always Rains on Campus,” Cory Gallo, ASLA; “In the Mix,” Joe Ben; “Not Gone. Yet,” Jeff Katz

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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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