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BY ELIZABETH KENNEDY LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT, PLLC; MANTLE LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE; MNLA; RDG PLANNING & DESIGN; AND SWA HOUSTON

Some say the retail street is down for the count—five landscape architecture firms say not so fast.

FROM THE APRIL 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Retail is the heart of American life. Dating back to the earliest U.S. towns and cities, commercial storefronts have been more than a place to purchase goods. At their best, they have been a central hub for exchanging news, a way to make a living for recent immigrants and women, and a source of new ideas and tastes. At their worst, commercial streets have been separate spheres with hard boundaries. In many neighborhoods, as new waves of residents have arrived, commercial streets have created and sustained communities.

Before the pandemic, there were many worrying reports of street retail’s demise, a consequence of the dominance of the digital economy. Many retail companies were shifting from emphasizing products to selling experiences, but that evolution vaporized overnight in March 2020. Today, the retail street is struggling. Online commerce has accelerated under the pandemic, and many small businesses have not survived the year without a steady flow of customers. Recent economic research forecasts up to 10,000 stores could close in 2021, and though it also predicts 4,000 openings, most of those will be concentrated in discount (think dollar-store chains) and grocery. In addition, surveys suggest that many who migrated to online-only shopping during the pandemic aren’t rushing back to in-store shopping after it ends. Sociable, vibrant street life will need an injection of energy and vision to meet the next moment.

At the end of 2020, we asked five landscape architecture firms to reimagine, in the biggest way, the next world for retail. We asked each firm to choose a street they knew well and to quickly sketch out a few ideas of what that retail street might become and write a short statement. No constraints were placed except that the street should appeal to the same constituency that it currently serves—no displacement, and no big-box retail. The results, on the pages that follow, chart a way forward. (more…)

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FOREGROUND       

Carol R. Johnson, 1929–2020 (In Memoriam)
In an interview from 2010, one of the first women to be awarded the ASLA Medal looked back on
her trailblazing career.

Keep the Commons (Preservation)
Historically Black Colleges and Universities have seen their distinctive campus designs erode with
time and change. A new grant program will help them navigate the future.

Words Lost and Found (Planning)
When the Great Lakes Ojibwe tribes realized western planning for climate change didn’t
reflect their worldview, they remade it. Now natural resource planners are catching up.

FEATURES

 The Best Medicine
The Stanford medical campus in Northern California underwent a dazzling 12-year, $2 billion transformation. Details that take advantage of sight lines and the senses yield a landscape that’s also state of the art.

Shop Shape
A yearlong pandemic and skyrocketing online shopping have gutted retail streets. Five landscape architecture firms sketch out how to remake them as livelier, more equitable destinations.

The digital edition of the April LAM is FREE, and you can access it here and share it with your clients, colleagues, and friends. You can also buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. Single digital issues are available for only $5.25 at Zinio or you can 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) for more updates on #ASLAawards and the September issue.

Credits: “Carol R. Johnson, 1929–2020,” IBI Group, formerly Carol R. Johnson Associates; “Keep the Commons,” Broadmoor via Wikimedia Commons (CC by-SA 4.0); “Words Lost and Found,” Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission/College of Menominee Nation; “Shop Shape,” Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architect, PLLC (photograph), LAM (image manipulation); “The Best Medicine,” Patrik Argast. 

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BY ALEX BOZIKOVIC

Support grows for a proposal to convert Toronto’s University Avenue into a park.

FROM THE MARCH 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

The center of Toronto, a city of almost three million, is becoming increasingly crowded. So how can the city answer the need for public space? By remaking streets. A scheme by the landscape architects PUBLIC WORK proposes converting half of Toronto’s University Avenue into a linear park, and the idea has gained momentum.

In November, two not-for-profit organizations, Evergreen and the Michael Young Family Foundation, unveiled the proposal, called University Park, to the public. Adam Nicklin, a cofounder and principal at PUBLIC WORK, says the design knits together a system of existing green spaces into a cohesive whole. “It’s a chance to reimagine a great street which doesn’t perform its highest civic function,” he says, and create “a 90-acre system of parks right in the heart of the city.” (more…)

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BY CHERMAINE LEE

Months of protests leave a mark on Hong Kong’s streetscapes.

FROM THE JUNE 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Until recently, gray metal railings have been a ubiquitous element of Hong Kong’s streetscape. Installed to delineate spaces for cars and pedestrians and enhance safety, the railings have multiplied over the past decade. In 2010, the government reported 435 miles of these roadside barriers. By 2018, the number had more than doubled to 1,087 miles, according to Hong Kong’s Transport Department.

But in the wake of the recent antigovernment protest that first erupted in response to a bill that would have permitted extradition of criminals to mainland China, the metal railings have been torn apart by thousands of black-shirted protesters to use as roadblocks, and bricks have been dug up from the road for use as weapons. Along with changing political and social dynamics, Hong Kong’s urban fabric has experienced dramatic changes. What has long separated pedestrians from the roadway is suddenly gone, and the definitions of public space have become more flexible. As the government has been slow in replacing the railings, perhaps for fear of the metal bars being again used by protesters, urban designers in the city are wondering if the interim streetscape is an opportunity. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Vitrified brick in Cincinnati. Image courtesy Robin Williams.

Uncovering historic pavements reveals each city’s “urban fingerprint.”

In the past 200 years, cities have become larger, safer, and healthier places to live, but there’s one arena of urban infrastructure that has become incalculably more monotonous and denuded: the range and diversity of pavement types on city streets and sidewalks.

Before the dominance of concrete and asphalt, city streets were paved in a wild diversity of minerals and materials: glassy vitrified brick, wooden block, crushed oyster shells, rough-hewn granite blocks, and more.

Robin Williams, the chair of architectural history at the Savannah College of Art and Design, has traveled to 40 cities across North America to study their historic pavements and found a rich spectrum of street coverings that somehow persist with no preservation protections. (more…)

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BY STEPHEN ZACKS

An expansive park at the foot of the Kremlin helped drive a series of revolutionary improvements to the Russian capital.

FROM THE APRIL 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. 

At Zaryadye Park in central Moscow, a procession of Eurasian birch trees, grasses, and shrubs winds downhill from a glass-encrusted outdoor amphitheater that tops the new Philharmonic Hall, framing photogenic views of the candy-colored cupolas of Saint Basil’s Cathedral. The park’s verdant terrain folds onto the rooftops of five scalloped pavilions that shelter a botanical display, an educational center, a food court, and a screening room that plays an immersive 3-D film on Russian history. The park, which covers 32 acres, stretches to the edge of Red Square, and even adds 11 square feet to the square that was uncovered during excavation. The pavilions, with their vegetated roofs, and most of the park’s terrain sit atop a 430-car underground parking garage. To keep the whole landscape in place, a geocell soil-stabilization system rests on top, anchoring granite pavers on pedestrian pathways that stretch onto an arching, boomerang-shaped overlook that cantilevers and hovers over the Moskva River. Here visitors of all ages and groups compulsively photograph themselves against the backdrop of the Kremlin and the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building, one of the Stalinist high-rises that define Moscow’s skyline.

Zaryadye Park is an entertaining landscape intended as a spectacular place, a special attraction, and a free public space—a term that Russian architects agree had almost no precedent in the language before a series of convergences brought the park into being. (more…)

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Technologist landscape architects rejoice—the November issue of LAM is packed with imagined scenarios, myth breakers, and tantalizing possible futures for urban design. Whether or not autonomous vehicles will allow for utopian cities of tomorrow depends on careful planning and policies today, says writer Brian Barth. And the future of autonomous vehicles might not look as green as we’re imagining. A new landscape by Ki Concepts on Honolulu’s Ford Island—site of the Pearl Harbor attack in World War II—weaves the richly layered history of the site into a sleek, cohesive design. And a new streetscape redesign by CRSA in the Sugar House business district of Salt Lake City turns a large thoroughfare into an inviting multimodal streetscape.

In Materials, Jane Berger discusses the stigma—and benefits—of the often-misunderstood bamboo. And in Tech, geodesign unites academics and agriculturists in the pursuit of the most optimal yield for their yearly crops. All this plus our regular Books, Now, and Goods columns. The full table of contents for November 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 posting November articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “The Retraining of Salt Lake City,” CRSA; “Before and After Pearl Harbor,” Alan Karchmer; “Dream Cars,” Illinois Institute of Technology; “Raising Canes,” OvS; “Models of Collaboration,” Len Kne. 

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