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Posts Tagged ‘Demolition’

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

A group of designers, artists, and community activists are fighting to save the bridge. A rendering by the landscape architect Michael Beightol illustrates the viaduct’s potential as a linear park. Image courtesy Michael Beightol.

IN ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA, A HISTORY OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ANIMATES THE DEBATE OVER A PIECE OF CRUMBLING INFRASTRUCTURE.

 

Michael Keys used to walk the McBride Viaduct nearly every day to and from school. It was the most convenient route over the busy rail yard that bisected his east side Erie, Pennsylvania, neighborhood. Now, as a member of the local urban design advocacy group Erie CPR: Connect + Respect, Keys is one of dozens of residents fighting to save the 1,700-foot-long viaduct. The organization argues that the bridge is a crucial linkage between some of Erie’s poorest communities and that tearing it down could do harm to populations already considered vulnerable.

Erie CPR projects that removing the viaduct, which has been closed to vehicles since 2010, will force residents to cross the tracks at grade, which can be dangerous, or walk some 2,000 feet to a busy road known as the Bayfront Connector. With its high-speed traffic and blind corners, the connector is far less safe for pedestrians than the viaduct, says Adam Trott, an architect and the president of Erie CPR. Another danger, especially for children, is daily exposure to vehicle emissions. A recent World Health Organization report found that 10 percent of deaths among children under the age of five are attributable to air pollution.

The city’s decision to demolish the viaduct, which was originally built in 1938 and overhauled in the 1970s, is based on a feasibility study conducted by the engineering firm L. R. Kimball. The engineers reported that rehabilitating or replacing the viaduct were cost-prohibitive, in part because the bridge no longer meets basic road width requirements. And yet, having studied 11 alternatives— (more…)

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BY LISA OWENS VIANI

In Great Lakes cities, derelict parcels sponge up stormwater.

FROM THE AUGUST 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Eight years ago, Sandra Albro, a research associate in applied urban ecology at the Cleveland Botanical Garden (now Holden Forests & Gardens) began to think about opportunities lurking in the city’s vacant lots—in particular how to help cities with their water quality problems. During heavy rains, raw sewage from old, leaky, combined sewer-stormwater systems is often flushed into the Great Lakes, resulting in beach closures not fun for tourists. At the same time, in Cleveland, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; and Gary, Indiana—where populations have declined by as much as 40 to 50 percent since the 1950s—derelict houses and vacant lots have increased: 30,000 in Cleveland, 7,000 in Gary, and more than 6,000 in Buffalo.

Cleveland, Buffalo, and Gary are among 158 communities with permits from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to discharge treated wastewater into the Great Lakes. The agency has also charged them with implementing Long Term Control Plans under the Clean Water Act to eliminate discharges of untreated sewage from their combined system overflows. “It’s a funny thing,” says David Rankin, the executive director of the Great Lakes Protection Fund, a private nonprofit corporation that funds projects to build the health of the lakes. “Most of the time these systems do a great job of managing stormwater—they actually treat it. It was state-of-the-art Victorian engineering that dates back to the Industrial Revolution. But in heavy rains, some waste gets flushed out, too—and when you’re looking at more than 100 dischargers, it starts to add up.” According to the EPA, in 2014 the toll was an estimated 22 billion gallons of untreated wastewater discharged into the lakes.

Rankin says Great Lakes cities need to think differently about the problem—many are trying to find funding to build massive pipes. But with their populations declining, he suggests these cities should think about solutions that don’t involve tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. So when Albro came to him with her idea for using vacant lots to capture stormwater, the fund awarded her a small grant to develop a plan. She contacted 11 Great Lakes cities, (more…)

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By Zach Mortice

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The Rockwell Gardens public housing project in Chicago, demolished in 2006. Photo by Paul Goyette.

The founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) started off with a bang. The small but influential cadre of advocates for walkable and traditional-looking urbanism began meeting in 1993—the first big gathering was held at the historic Lyceum in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, with its “enormous entablature,” as the historian Vincent Scully noted in his opening remarks. The CNU’s beginnings dovetailed with the passage of a piece of legislation that enshrined the group’s approach to city building as federal policy: the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOPE VI program. After decades of crumbling, dysfunctional government-built-and-managed public housing projects, housing would instead be at least partially constructed and controlled by private developers and management companies. They would build lower-density, “mixed-income” communities of row houses and garden apartments. By the numbers, the lower density was made easier because Congress, in 1995, ended what had long been the “one-for-one” replacement rule for any public housing to be demolished. Housing vouchers, to be used to pay private landlords (who are not required to accept them), were considered sufficient for tenants not accepted into newly built units. At any rate, the policy change posed no obstacle to architects and planners.

But the 2016 election of Donald Trump was a tidal wave that washes over every corner of government—public housing design guidelines and funding policy included. HUD and the New Urbanists’ HOPE VI legacy is, pending a likely confirmation, in the hands of Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and GOP presidential primary candidate, who is neither an expert nor even a novice (more…)

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