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Posts Tagged ‘Infrastructure’

BY ALEX ULAM

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Nelson Byrd Woltz gets super technical at Hudson Yards.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Until recently, you wouldn’t have wanted to go strolling at any time of the day near Hudson Yards, the two gigantic superblocks located on the far West Side of Midtown Manhattan. There was little street life there and almost no nature. Barbed-wire fences and concrete walls lined the streets and concealed the large, sooty pits packed with commuter and Amtrak trains. Indeed, everything about the place was man-made, even the hilly landscape surrounding the train yards below. Walking around was disorienting because the walls cut off view corridors and limited access to Midtown Manhattan and the adjacent Hudson River Park.

Now this formerly desolate expanse is being transformed by a $25 billion private real estate development, which the Related Companies, the project’s developer, is touting as the largest private build-out in the United States and the biggest in New York City since Rockefeller Center. In place of two gaping holes in the city’s fabric, there will be a 28-acre neighborhood with offices, apartments, and more than 100 stores and restaurants. In a sense, this development, where a projected 125,000 people will live and work, (more…)

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Underpass Park in Toronto is a skatepark and green space huddled under a highway overpass. It’s a kinetic, vibrant place, filled with sculpture installations, street art, the clatter of skateboards on concrete, and the hum of traffic overhead. PFS Studio’s project received a 2016 ASLA Professional Award for its canny reuse of a previously neglected space. And all this makes it a perfect candidate for ASLA’s first virtual reality video. Narrated by Greg Smallenberg, FASLA, principal of PFS Studio, the immersive, 360-degree video is a succinct explanation of virtual reality’s use for landscape designers, and a fun, quirky introduction to landscape architecture for the general public. The video is viewable via a smartphone YouTube app, the Google Chrome browser, or a Samsung Gear VR headset and compatible Samsung phone.

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BY NATE BERG

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The carving up of cities by expressways is still a civil rights problem, but it’s being solved as an economic one.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Since freeways began slicing through cities in the United States more than 75 years ago, they have carved deep and lasting lines of separation through countless communities. Many of these communities—located in so-called blighted areas—were made up of people of color who were simply pushed aside by the transportation officials building out the nation’s vast network of interstates and urban freeways. In a somewhat surprising speech in March 2016, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, the nation’s top transportation official, acknowledged this dark history and the mistakes of his predecessors.

“We now know—overwhelmingly—that our urban freeways were routed through low-income neighborhoods. Instead of connecting us to each other, highway decision makers separated us,” Foxx said. Reflecting on his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, he noted how the “connective tissue” of the African American neighborhood where he lived rrns destroyed by two highways—infrastructure that was planned and built before federal civil rights legislation could intervene. “Neighbors were separated from neighbors. The corner store was gone because the corner was gone,” he said. “A new more convenient, high-speed thoroughfare had been created. But the way of life of another community had been destroyed.”

The huge gashes that freeways cut through cities will live on for the foreseeable future, as will their divisive legacy. But Foxx has vowed to try to undo some of that long-lasting damage. Though they may seem intractable, these divisions (more…)

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We’re crawling over hot highways and beneath dark underpasses in this month’s LAM, looking at a push from many quarters to recolonize the spaces wasted by modern highways and railroads. We have projects in Toronto, Houston, New York, and Washington, D.C., where wasted space is coming alive again. Nate Berg kicks us off with an essay about the moves to put parks and public spaces over and under freeways. It had been a huge priority of President Obama’s Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx, who revived the sleeping debate about the scars left behind in urban neighborhoods about the freeway system.

In New York, Alex Ulam surveys the massive construction of a new mini-city, Hudson Yards, atop the West Side rail yards, where a complex landscape is under the charge of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. Jane Margolies travels to Toronto, where PFS Studio has created the exuberant Underpass Park in the bowel of a highway viaduct. Washington, D.C., is deleting a huge highway trench with several new blocks of city above it, as Braulio Agnese reports. Margie Ruddick, ASLA, and a team of designers and artists pushed the renovation of Queens Plaza in New York to its bureaucratic limits, and Julie Lasky finds it makes the soaring, clattering infrastructure around it much easier to take. And Jonathan Lerner visits the much-loved Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, where OJB Landscape Architecture has given the whole deck-park movement its favorite touchstone.

In the Foreground section, Zach Mortice interviews Susan Chin, Honorary ASLA, the head of the Design Trust for Public Space, which has pressed New York City officials to improve leftover spaces across the boroughs with its Under the Elevated campaign. Chin describes the results so far. The full table of contents for February 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 ungating February articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Low Overhead,” Tom Arban Photography; “City, Heal Thyself,” Property Group Partners; “The Lid Comes On,” Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA; “The Seven-Foot Sandwich,” KPF and Nelson Byrd Woltz, “Layers of Players,” Sam Oberter; “Estuarine Serene,” David Burroughs; “Underneath, Overlooked,” William Michael Fredericks/Courtesy the Design Trust for Public Space.

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BY BRIAN BARTH

Parks and bike paths embroider the city in the Bayou Greenway Initiative plan.

Parks and bike paths embroider the city in the Bayou Greenway Initiative Plan.

From the March 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Kinder Baumgardner, ASLA, the president of SWA Group and the managing principal of its Houston office, is not the type of landscape architect to shy away from controversial ideas. In 2013, at the zenith of the vitriolic debate around the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, he sent an unsolicited design proposal to the White House, the State Department, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and a slew of other federal agencies with a stake in the project. In it were a set of overlay maps of the proposed route that illustrated various ecological and cultural dimensions of the pipeline landscape, as well as a set of renderings suggesting that a bike path be built within the pipeline corridor from its starting point in Hardisty, Alberta, down to the terminus in Port Arthur, Texas, near Houston.

“It was roundly hated,” says Baumgardner of the idea, insisting it was not an endorsement of the pipeline but an attempt to puncture the status quo notion of “infrastructure as a one-dimensional thing.” Reactions were neatly divided along ideological lines. “Some people saw it as: ‘You’re trying to make this bad thing better, and that might mean it would get built.’ On the other side, people who were much more conservative were saying, ‘You shouldn’t be doing this; it’s going to make it difficult to operate and they’ll end up closing it down.’”

The Obama administration recently gave what appears to be the final ax to the (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.

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BY ELIZABETH S. PADJEN

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ReDe Boston 2100, designed by Architerra, imagines an accessible waterfront that allows for tidal submersion.

All this talk of sea-level rise and 100-year floods…. If you’re a Bostonian, you can talk in terms of 30-day floods.

That’s the interval between astronomical high tides—the so-called wicked high tides (no one bothers with quotation marks around “wicked” anymore) that regularly flood parts of the city. Locals have been industriously filling in tidelands and marshes for a few centuries now, increasing the city’s land area by more than half. But in just the past century, sea level has risen by almost a foot, with a projected additional five- to six-foot increase by 2100 that will flood most of that filled land, leaving dry zones that almost match the footprint of the original 17th-century Boston.

Bostonians have got the message: The sea is calling, and it wants its stuff back.

The most recent effort to negotiate palatable terms of surrender is Boston Living with Water, an open, international, two-stage competition that attracted 50 entries representing more than 340 individuals. Winning submissions were announced on June 8 by Boston’s mayor, Martin J. Walsh, at a standing-room-only event that attracted more than 150 attendees, including designers, civic and business leaders, community members, students, and even Miss Earth Massachusetts (Olea Nickitina, resplendent in a sash and suitably green frock).

Selected from a field of nine semifinalists, the winners were: (more…)

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