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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates’

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 JANE BERGER

There’s a lot to love about bamboo.

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Thousands of lucky San Franciscans will soon be walking through a bamboo forest on their way to and from towering glass buildings in the city’s Mission District. Groves of giant Japanese timber bamboo (Phyllostachys bambusoides) are a stunning horticultural statement in a 5.4-acre park atop the new Transbay Transit Center, scheduled for completion later this year. It’s just one more sign of bamboo’s increasing popularity, despite its bad reputation.

The park, long and skinny, is 70 feet aboveground and extends four blocks, with public access by bridges that connect with adjacent skyscrapers, by gondola from street level, or by escalator, elevators, and stairways inside and outside the building. Adam Greenspan, ASLA, a partner at PWP Landscape Architecture, explains that no matter what level people are on, “we wanted them to see that there was an inhabitable landscape up on the roof.”

The dominant feature of the Transit Center is a light tower that extends from the grand concourse at street level up to the roof, where its glass dome is surrounded by bamboo. Greenspan says he selected Japanese timber bamboo because it allows for “transparency and translucency,” and when you’re inside the building, “you get a bit of filtered light through foliage and through stems and culms.” Up on the roof is a “transparent scrim of green.” The bamboo is planted in a concrete basin about four feet deep, which sequesters the bamboo’s rhizomes so they (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The most important question related to the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago’s South Side doesn’t have that much to do with its architecture.

It is instead: What kind of landscape stewardship can a presidential museum and library offer? To be located in Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted’s Jackson Park, the project already has a heap of canonical landscape history to contend with. So can the Obama library make a great park greater?

The answer is… (more…)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

The storefront gallery. Image courtesy of LAM.

First, our thanks to the many members and supporters of ASLA who gave their pledges, time, and enthusiasm to help build a new home for us all, the Center for Landscape Architecture. We are holding its public opening this week. What’s especially nice is that the center is our beloved old home, our sweet, four-story, 12,000-square-foot brick box in Chinatown, D.C. It is beautiful.

Sixteen months ago, all 50 of us moved over to Metro Center, into half our usual footage (nobody died, though it’s boring over there). Back home on Eye Street, Coakley & Williams Construction blew out all the gypsum walls that cut up the insides of our building, pulled out half a puzzling scissor stair that, we’re told, wouldn’t meet code today, and found a lot of daylight in the three-story atrium it leaves behind.

The building was redesigned by Gensler. Our lower-level garden is by Oehme, van Sweden. We had such fun bringing it together. It went fast; the hard part to believe is that we began the project in 2014. The process was always focused on embodying the mission and vision of ASLA. We already had the ASLA Green Roof, by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, which opened in 2006 (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Tillage radish is similar in shape, size, taste, and color to daikon radish. Image courtesy of MVVA.

Oilseed radish, or Raphanus sativus, goes by the name “tillage radish,” “radish ripper,” “fracking radish,” and the comic book-worthy “turbo radish.” It can reach its two-inch-wide taproots down six feet, breaking up compacted soil and rebalancing nutrient levels, and is commonly put to work as a cover crop in agricultural fields. But the designers at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) found another, more high-profile use for them: to remediate the soil during the renovation of the Gateway Arch grounds in St. Louis, one of the largest and most important landscape revamp projects in the nation. This reimagining of Dan Kiley’s mid-20th-century landscape is using an unprecedented application of soil-remediating vegetation into this sort of sensitive and historic National Park Service property, says Adrienne Heflich, an MVVA senior project manager.

It’s one sort of drilling operating that, even though it’s in a national park, is entirely welcome.

MVVA’s plan makes the park more flexibly programmed, (more…)

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BY JANE MARGOLIES

Toronto’s Underpass Park, seemingly there all along.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE

Corktown Common is the marquee public space in the evolving West Don Lands area of Toronto. Designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the lovely 18-acre park contains meandering paths, pocket-size lawns, and a marshy cove, all tucked into a multilevel landform engineered to protect the downtown of Canada’s largest city from the threat of flooding on the Don River, which flows into Lake Ontario.

But just a block from Corktown Common, the much smaller Underpass Park, designed by PFS Studio with the Planning Partnership and situated on the same flood protection landform but beneath a tangle of roadway overpasses, is quietly gaining fans.

OK, maybe not so quietly.

Visitors to the park hear skateboards hit the pavement—clack! Basketballs bounce, and young children shout gleefully in the vicinity of the playground equipment, the sounds reverberating through the echo chamber formed by the cement columns and beams that support the roadways above. The visuals, too, are none too quiet: Colorful murals on the columns take inspiration from (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

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31st Street Harbor in Chicago, by Site Design Group and AECOM. Image courtesy of Rose Yuen Photography.

The Obama Foundation on January 30 announced the selection of three landscape architecture firms to work on the Obama Presidential Center on the South Side of Chicago—a nationally renowned firm, a regional Chicago powerhouse headed by a native South Sider, and a lesser-known firm that has worked on previous presidential library landscapes.

The New York-based Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the 2016 ASLA Landscape Architecture Firm Award recipient and designer of the landscape of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, will lead the group. Chicago’s Site Design Group joins the team, offering extensive experience with the Chicago Park District, which, controversially, turned over the presidential library’s site to the city so that it could be transferred to the Obama Foundation. Finally, Living Habitats, also based in Chicago, rounds out the team, having designed the green roof landscape of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Arkansas. These three firms will work with Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Interactive Design Architects on a narrow slice of land at the western edge of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s Jackson Park, the site of the 1893 World’s Fair, next to Lake Michigan. Site Design Group is a (more…)

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