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Posts Tagged ‘gentrification’

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

Stoss’s greenway begins just south of the Gateway Arch, amid a tangle of freeways and rail lines. Image courtesy Stoss.

The Chouteau Greenway (pronounced “show-toe”), which is planned to run about five miles from Forest Park on St. Louis’s western edge to the newly rejuvenated Gateway Arch National Park at the Mississippi River, is not a park. It’s not even a park system. It’s a landscape-driven development strategy for an entire swath of the city. Its goal is to break down the city’s stark north-south racial divide by attracting St. Louisans from across a socioeconomic spectrum toward a corridor defined by a tangle of transit infrastructure. Along the way are some of the region’s most eminent education, medical, and cultural institutions.

The plan is led by the Great Rivers Greenway, a public agency that works to connect the city’s three rivers with a network of greenway trails (which currently measures 117 miles). It envisions these often desolate and transit-scaled corridors as a series of parks, memorials, trails, and art spaces that tell the cultural history of the city. The proposed greenway could put St. Louis’s two premier urban landscapes—and the city itself—on a new pedestal. But inspiration for the winning plan from the Great Rivers Greenway’s design competition, concluded earlier this month, draws from subtle histories.

The winning prescriptions, by Stoss, call for reviving ecologies long paved over and making visible the erased narratives of African American communities. “We wanted to use this project as an opportunity to unearth these buried histories,” says Stoss’s founding director, Chris Reed, FASLA. Especially in its treatment of the bulldozed African American neighborhood of Mill Creek Valley, (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 ZACH MORTICE

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The Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail. Photo courtesy of John Becker.

When the urban planner Ryan Gravel resigned from the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership board on September 26, the organization lost one of its most vocal and influential proponents, and in a way, its own creator. The BeltLine, a 22-mile network of parks and trails that weaves through 45 Atlanta neighborhoods, grew out of Gravel’s 1999 Georgia Tech master’s thesis. His consistent message regarding his departure has been that he had to distance himself from the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (ABP) board because the organization wasn’t doing enough to provide affordable housing and maintain an atmosphere of diversity and inclusion for residents living near the trail.

Gravel’s calls to action are a broad redirection away from property acquisition and development that guided the trail’s early days. He now wants to ensure that the existing trail meets the socioeconomic needs of the Atlantans who advocated to make it a reality. And he’s willing to sacrifice some (more…)

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BY KEVAN WILLIAMS

In North Miami, flooding and sea-level rise have spurred talk of relocation, as well as cries of “climate gentrification.”

In North Miami, flooding and sea-level rise have spurred talk of relocation, as well as cries of “climate gentrification.”

From the August 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Before the city was built, the land around Miami consisted of a low band of limestone, the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, dissected by lower sloughs, marshy freshwater streams that eventually were filled in and developed. The Arch Creek neighborhood of North Miami is one such area. “Fast forward, [and] they’re what FEMA calls repetitive loss properties,” says Walter Meyer, a founding principal of Brooklyn-based Local Office Landscape Architecture, of the homes built in these vulnerable, low-lying areas.

After multiple claims, the homes are no longer eligible for the National Flood Insurance Program.

Meyer was one of nine urban planning experts convened by the (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

A broad coalition of community organizations and officials takes a preemptive stand against gentrification.

A broad coalition of community organizations and officials takes a preemptive stand against gentrification.

From the June 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Data can be deceiving, or at the very least hard to parse. But for the residents of East Harlem, the numbers spoke loudly. On average, the community was losing nearly 300 affordable housing units per year, based on eight years of data collected by WXY Architecture + Urban Design. If real estate development continued at the current rate, more than 4,000 affordable housing units would be lost over the next 15 years. “People began to realize that a ‘do-nothing’ option was not going to result in the same old thing,” says Adam Lubinsky, a planner and managing principal at WXY. “A ‘do-nothing’ option would mean 300 homes lost per year to development.”

East Harlem, a largely Latino community where one in three residents lives below the poverty line, was also named as one of eight neighborhoods out of 15 that have been identified for rezoning by the city. Rather than wait to respond to a zoning proposal by the city’s Department of City Planning (DCP), local organizations began working vigorously with elected officials to develop recommendations for how to use zoning to preserve affordable housing stock, open space, and the community’s cultural heritage. The result was the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan, and according to people involved, it marked the first time a community in New York has developed such a plan ahead of a DCP proposal.

“I’ve rarely seen such a broad-based and grassroots approach to plan and comment on zoning,” says Deborah Marton, the executive director of the New York Restoration Project, an open-space conservancy that participated in the process and also manages nine community gardens in East Harlem. “It was a sincere and messy effort that eventually resulted in (more…)

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BY TIM WATERMAN

The Milan Expo 2015 raises unsought emotions about food, cities, the world.

The Milan Expo 2015 raises unsought emotions about food, cities, the world.

From the July 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

A city like Milan reflects the strivings of generations. It has a rich quality of everyday life that includes a sophisticated food culture, which, as in so many Italian cities, is both distinctly local and, because of its history of trade, cosmopolitan. The evolution of the city’s form has intertwined with the tastes and appetites of the Milanese. The convivial quality of many of its spaces comes from enclosures such as its ubiquitous courtyard gardens, its cool semiprivate zones where neighbors come into contact, or its sidewalk cafés. Milan was once Mediolanum (meaning “in the midst of the plain”), the capital of the Western Roman Empire. It was enclosed by walls, but open to its countryside in the Po River Valley, where alluvial soils raised abundant grain and grapes, and roads brought influence from all over Europe.

Milan’s economy has suffered, as has all of Italy’s, from the crash in 2008, and recession and unemployment are tenaciously rooted. While its economy continues to be underpinned by industry and agriculture, notably by small, family-owned farms, government policy has looked to urban and infrastructural development for solutions to the crisis. Italy’s new, post-Berlusconi government is trying to show evidence of its ability to deliver, and Milan, the financial center of Italy, has become a showcase of contemporary neoliberal development. In particular, two developments have shown great international visibility: the Milan Expo 2015 and the business district at Porta Nuova, best known for the Bosco Verticale (vertical forest), the heavily vegetated and much-published twin luxury apartment towers by the architect Stefano Boeri.

Boeri has courted controversy at both sites, attracting antigentrification protests both from the working-class neighborhood the towers protrude from, as well as accusations of deploying expensive greenwash that would never be possible in a lower-cost development. Much the same objections have been raised against the plans for this year’s expo in Milan, which he master planned with Jacques Herzog, William McDonough, and Ricky Burdett. “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” is the expo’s motto, meant, as it was, to embody a sustainable ethic, but it clashed with the presence of food giants such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola among the nations represented. Lavish spending on the project further excited anger, as many people questioned the concentration of municipal spending on one site instead of many, and the inevitable siphoning away of funds that such concentration engenders. On May Day in Milan, cars blazed in the streets, windows were smashed, and ‘No Expo’ graffiti proliferated.

(more…)

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