Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania’

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

A group of designers, artists, and community activists are fighting to save the bridge. A rendering by the landscape architect Michael Beightol illustrates the viaduct’s potential as a linear park. Image courtesy Michael Beightol.

IN ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA, A HISTORY OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ANIMATES THE DEBATE OVER A PIECE OF CRUMBLING INFRASTRUCTURE.

 

Michael Keys used to walk the McBride Viaduct nearly every day to and from school. It was the most convenient route over the busy rail yard that bisected his east side Erie, Pennsylvania, neighborhood. Now, as a member of the local urban design advocacy group Erie CPR: Connect + Respect, Keys is one of dozens of residents fighting to save the 1,700-foot-long viaduct. The organization argues that the bridge is a crucial linkage between some of Erie’s poorest communities and that tearing it down could do harm to populations already considered vulnerable.

Erie CPR projects that removing the viaduct, which has been closed to vehicles since 2010, will force residents to cross the tracks at grade, which can be dangerous, or walk some 2,000 feet to a busy road known as the Bayfront Connector. With its high-speed traffic and blind corners, the connector is far less safe for pedestrians than the viaduct, says Adam Trott, an architect and the president of Erie CPR. Another danger, especially for children, is daily exposure to vehicle emissions. A recent World Health Organization report found that 10 percent of deaths among children under the age of five are attributable to air pollution.

The city’s decision to demolish the viaduct, which was originally built in 1938 and overhauled in the 1970s, is based on a feasibility study conducted by the engineering firm L. R. Kimball. The engineers reported that rehabilitating or replacing the viaduct were cost-prohibitive, in part because the bridge no longer meets basic road width requirements. And yet, having studied 11 alternatives— (more…)

Read Full Post »

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

In Philadelphia, the new Bartram's Mile spans multiple periods of history.

In Philadelphia, the new Bartram’s Mile spans multiple periods of history.

From the March 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Concrete slabs refurbished as public plazas. Old Jersey barriers reconfigured into retaining walls. “Just about everything you see has been repurposed one way or another,” says José Almiñana, FASLA, of Bartram’s Mile, a greenway project along the western bank of the Schuylkill River being designed by Andropogon Associates, where Almiñana is a principal.

The 11.5-acre site wraps around the nearly 300-year-old landscape of Bartram’s Garden, the oldest surviving botanic garden in the United States. Created in 1728 by John Bartram, the historic garden became a public park in 1891. For decades, however, it has existed as a 45-acre island of woodlands and walking paths surrounded by a sea of heavy industry and neglected Philadelphia neighborhoods.

The new park will help connect the garden and the surrounding area with (more…)

Read Full Post »

After barely a decade, Chatham University’s landscape architecture program gets the ax.

After barely a decade, Chatham University’s landscape architecture program gets the ax.

From the March 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The decision, announced in a posting on the web page for Chatham University’s Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program, was rather sudden: “As of June 2014, Landscape Architecture degree programs at Chatham have been closed.” David Wilson, Associate ASLA, a 2014 graduate of the MLA program and a past ASLA student president, says there had been rumors the closure would happen, so it wasn’t a total surprise, though the speed with which a decision was made “did come as a bit of a shock.”

The MLA program at Chatham, located in the heart of Pittsburgh, is relatively new, having first been accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) in 2007. Many people considered it fitting, even inevitable, to have a landscape architecture program at a school that headlines its environmental ethos and that, when it was the Pennsylvania College for Women, had counted Rachel Carson, the environmentalist and author of Silent Spring, among its graduates.

Chatham had long offered a master’s degree in landscape studies, and in 2000, members of ASLA’s Pennsylvania–Delaware Chapter began talking to administrators of Chatham College (the school achieved university status in 2007) to see whether they would be interested in hosting a landscape architecture program, recalls Lisa Kunst Vavro, ASLA, the current trustee for the chapter. The program won approval in 2003; Michael Leigh, who was faculty at the landscape studies program at the time, worked with the college to develop the program. Shortly afterward, in January 2004, Kunst Vavro became the acting director and won accreditation in 2007 after three years of what she describes as “blood, sweat, and tears.”

(more…)

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: