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Posts Tagged ‘pedestrian’

REVIEWED BY KELLY COMRAS, FASLA

FROM THE JULY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Victor D. Gruen (1903–1980) was one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, a powerful visionary who combined social criticism, persuasive charm, ambition, and talent. Known as the father of the shopping mall, he envisioned a cure for the banality of postwar American suburbia and neglected city centers that profoundly altered the landscape of postwar city development. He suggested “shopping towns,” new community centers that would contain a rich mix of civic and commercial spaces and activities, and the introduction of pedestrian zones within the core of older city centers. Later in life, he criticized that his ideas had been co-opted by developers, commercialized by economic, political, and cultural forces beyond his control, which thereby emerged on the postwar landscape as an unintended archetype: the enclosed, inward-facing, single-purpose, multilevel, two-anchor-department-store shopping center.

Gruen has left us with an impressive number of writings about his work (including the well-known The Heart of Our Cities), and two pertinent books have tackled appraisals of his work—Alex Wall’s Victor Gruen: From Urban Shop to New City (2005) and M. Jeffrey Hardwick’s Mall Maker: Victor Gruen, Architect of an American Dream (2004). But Anette Baldauf’s new translation from German of Gruen’s dictated memoirs, Shopping Town, presents us with (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Image courtesy Raphaël Thibodeau.

For a temporary installation celebrating LGBTQI Canadians during Pride Month, Claude Cormier + Associates created a rainbow canopy to acknowledge a spectrum of identities that are “plural, diverse, inclusive, and nuanced,” as the firm’s website states. Asked to “create a place with a sense of magic” for a summer pedestrian mall, says Claude Cormier, his firm didn’t want to clog the streetscape with more visual noise as thousands of people in a festival atmosphere walked Saint Catherine Street East in Montreal. So instead, they looked up, forming an outdoor room with one kilometer’s worth of recycled plastic balls strung up on wires.

Six principal colors are differentiated with three hues each, hence the title of the installation (“18 Shades of Gay”). This long strip of color (more…)

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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

Click above for a full PDF of the translated text with English text available below.

BY JONATHAN LERNER

FROM THE APRIL 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Diego Gonzalez was driving through San Pedro Garza García, the poshest municipality in metropolitan Monterrey, one of the richest cities in Mexico. “When I was a kid, in the 1970s,” he said, gesturing broadly through the windshield, “all of this was agricultural. I came here hunting rabbits.” San Pedro is built out now. Its dominant typology is the single-family house, and its circulation patterns exist to serve cars, so it’s not unlike any late 20th-century North American suburb, except that it has an orthogonal grid instead of a dendritic street plan. Also, almost every property is enclosed within a high security wall. Gonzalez’s destination was the campus of the University of Monterrey (UDEM).

UDEM demarks San Pedro’s narrow western border, at a point where lateral ridges off the soaring Sierra Madre mountains pinch close to the Santa Catarina River. West of the campus, where the valley opens out a bit, a new suburb is being developed; land prices there have quadrupled in the past decade. When the university campus was first established in 1981, “it was in the country,” noted Gonzalez’s passenger, René Bihan, FASLA. “Now they are landlocked. They have no choice but to be smart about how they infill.” One of UDEM’s smart choices was to hire (more…)

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BY ALEX ULAM

India Basin Shoreline Park. Image courtesy of GGN.

Early this month, the nonprofit Trust for Public Land and officials from the city of San Francisco announced that San Francisco is the first city in the country to have a park within a 10-minute walk, or a half mile, of every resident.

“Most city residents won’t walk more than 10 minutes to get to shopping, transit, or parks, so close-to-home access to parks is vital for public health, clean environments, and thriving, equitable communities,” said Adrian Benepe, Honorary ASLA, the Trust for Public Land’s urban parks director, in a news release. “This is an enormous achievement, based on years of dedicated and thoughtful work and planning.”

To build a more equitable park system, San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department formed partnerships with nonprofits such as the Trust for Public Land   (more…)

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The nearly unquestioned dominance cars have had over our cities for more than half a century, we’re told, is a very expensive problem to fix. Now that we have millions of miles of car-serving infrastructure, is it too late and too expensive to replace it?

No. The Spanish have a better way. Developed by Salvador Rueda of the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona (and documented in a video by Vox), the plan for Barcelona “superblocks” (or “superilles” in Catalan) gives urban planners and transit engineers a simple template to gradually reclaim streets from automobiles.

Best applied to nine-block areas as discrete superblock districts, the plan confines regular traffic to the perimeter of the site. Streets internal to the nine-block area become one-way loops, (more…)

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For 20 years, the filmmaker Clarence Eckerson Jr. has traveled the world to capture some of the most successful, unique, pedestrian-friendly city streetscapes. His videos, presented through Streetfilms, an affiliate of the transit-oriented Streetsblog website, show various methods cities have taken to create less car-dependent and more enjoyable urban environments for people. Reading almost like a series of case studies, the videos range in age and length, and highlight intensive citywide projects, such as in Copenhagen, as well as small interventions, as in Austin. To see the full list of videos, please visit here.

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BY MIMI ZEIGER

BEDIT_LAMdec14_Eckbospread

To revive downtown, the city appears poised to drive right through a masterpiece.

From the December 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The city of Fresno sits in the middle of California’s San Joaquin Valley. When you drive into town from Los Angeles, the landscape is agricultural and framed by roadside eucalyptus trees. It gives way to off-ramp clusters of gas stations, fast-food chains, and light industrial warehouses. Most of Fresno’s neighborhoods, after nearly 50 years of decentralization and flight from the urban core, sprawl north, tracking the edge of the San Joaquin River. The city’s historic downtown and civic center are a near ghost town.

At the heart of downtown is the Fulton Mall. In the early part of the 20th century, it was Fresno’s main drag, Fulton Street, six blocks lined with banks and department stores. In 1964, the landscape architect Garrett Eckbo turned the street into a modernist pedestrian mall as part of a master plan for downtown Fresno by Victor Gruen Associates. Photographs of the period show a wide promenade full of people flanked by the awnings of existing buildings. Daffodils peek out of Eckbo’s sculptural planting beds, fountains gurgle, and a clock tower by Jan de Swart, an expressive interpretation of a historic form, unambiguously marks the mall as the new town square.

Today, the mall is the center of a fight over downtown Fresno’s redevelopment. The city government, with a $14 million federal transportation grant, supports plans to put a new complete street down the center of the mall. Preservationists plan to file a lawsuit to block the scheme. The rhetorical standoff between sides comes down to revive versus destroy, but the conditions on the ground tell a more complicated story about the role of design as a catalyst and a scapegoat in a changing urban landscape.

(more…)

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