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Posts Tagged ‘Manhattan’

BY JANE MARGOLIES

Randall’s Island, situated at the center of New York City, has become the park and recreational mecca long dreamed about.

FROM THE AUGUST 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

It’s a sunny afternoon in May, and lacrosse games are in full swing on Randall’s Island, a 516-acre landmass surrounded by water and, beyond, the New York City boroughs of Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx. Cyclists pedal on a path under the heroic arches of a 1917 railroad trestle. A middle school track team is warming up outside the stadium where Usain Bolt broke the world record in the men’s 100-meter dash in 2008.

The landscape architect Rick Parisi, FASLA, and I are not playing lacrosse or cycling or running. But we are roving around the island—which is bordered by the Harlem and East Rivers, the Bronx Kill, and a treacherous strait known as the Hell Gate. Parisi, the managing principal of MPFP, has helped with the transformation of the island over the past couple of decades, and I’ve asked for a tour of some of his firm’s accomplishments. Besides, I have a special request: (more…)

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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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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 FRED A. BERNSTEIN

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Daniel Biederman sweats all the details in a crusade to make parks that work.

From the December 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Daniel Biederman’s desire to improve America’s parks has him patrolling green spaces from Santa Monica to Boston, issuing complaints about everything from a messy bicycle rack weld (“it looks like Play-Doh”) to the quantity of caution tape around an out-of-order bathroom (“people will think it’s a crime scene”). When he is in Manhattan, in his office overlooking Bryant Park, he tries to speak with each of his employees daily—he describes it as essential to their professional development. (“I have to build them up so they can interact with clients.”) But, as in the business of renovating parks, building up often involves tearing down. During a weekly meeting of his business improvement district minions, Biederman browbeat one employee over how he approached newspaper circulation executives (who, he explained, “are former truck drivers, with IQs of 97”); corrected the grammar of another; and ordered his social media team never to tell him a mention of one of his parks had “gone viral,” which he dismissed as a cliché. Instead, he told the team, “Give me real data.”

Asked about his tough leadership style, Biederman later said, “I can’t have kindergarten.”

He also can’t achieve (more…)

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Under the Elevated launch event at Pier i.

Under the Elevated launch event at the Pier i Café.

Aside from the surviving section of the hulking Miller Highway viaduct looming overhead, Thomas Balsley’s masterfully designed Riverside Park South is a serene place with tall, wavy grasses and meandering pathways. The viaduct, however, bisects the park, casting shadows and blocking views. The din from the traffic overhead can make it difficult to hear people talking on parts on the park’s distinctive curved pier that juts out into the Hudson River.

Such was the case last week, when officials from the nonprofit Design Trust for Public Space and the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) had to shout to make themselves heard as they announced the publication of a new 128-page book called Under the Elevated: Reclaiming Space, Connecting Communities. The product of a two-year study, the book looks at ways to transform the often dark and dirty spaces beneath the 700 miles of bridges, elevated subway lines, and highways that run throughout the five boroughs of the city. According to the book’s introduction, the amount of space available for redesigning is nearly four times the size of Central Park.

With the publication of Under the Elevated, the Design Trust is seeking to inspire civic efforts throughout the city similar to the one it helped catalyze with its pivotal 2001 study for the High Line. “Not every neighborhood needs a High Line,” Design Trust Executive Director Susan Chin said. “However, the need to alleviate the negative impact from the presence of elevated lines is even greater in the outer boroughs.” (more…)

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