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Posts Tagged ‘W Architecture and Landscape Architecture’

As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish.

BY ROBERTO J. ROVIRA, ASLA

FROM THE DECEMBER 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Angular and lean, the new St. Pete Pier in St. Petersburg, Florida, folds its way for 1,380 feet from land to water. Under a bright, hot sun, even 10 feet may be just a few too many.

The pier’s many shifts, crossings, and cantilevers, made possible by more than 400 concrete pylons, make the journey seem rather effortless, however. This new addition to St. Petersburg’s urban infrastructure is more of a networked arrangement of spaces than a single object, the latter a fatal flaw that compromised the previous pier and contributed to its obsolescence and eventual demolition.

Subtle transitions allow the new pier’s architecture and landscape to take turns and communicate in a cohesive language while surfaces move up and down and laterally in plan and section. The roughly 3,000 feet from the beginning of the Pier District, which begins downtown, to the Pier Head building at the end aren’t all visible at once. Instead, the trip is divided into a series of manageable segments with plenty of respite along the way. Residents and tourists of all ages move along shared walks that begin with gateway elements consisting of an elaborate pergola, an outdoor market, and mature plantings preserved from the previous pier. Visitors quickly transition from downtown speed to park speed. Free trams share a curbless space and pass by varied programs that promote buy-local culture, public art that changes dramatically at night, sculptural play areas that integrate earthwork with native plantings, and a central civic plaza whose grand expanse and water features accommodate programming large and small.

New restaurants and pavilions allow one to pause, eat, listen to live music, people watch, get close to the water, and maybe even help sample it and learn something new about the bay at a nonprofit-run ecological discovery center. The broad palette of experiences leads to the Pier Head, where fishing is allowed and where beer is served (and in demand)—even on Mondays at 11:00 a.m.—at the rooftop bar. One may, in fact, decide to never get to the Pier Head, and the experience would not be the lesser for it given all the new options. (more…)

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Early on in the development of St. Patrick’s Island Park just beyond downtown Calgary, community members told its designers at W Architecture and Landscape Architecture and Civitas that they wanted a park that was both wild and accessible, a place to play and learn. This short video by Civitas offers commentary from Barbara Wilks, FASLA, and Mark Johnson, FASLA, and gives viewers a first-person view of what this naturalistic sense of experimentation looks and feels like, with requisite drone shots and GoPro-enabled immersion. Designed to flood, and surrounded on all sides by the Bow River, the park has permeable borders that let in the water and city life beyond.

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BY BRIAN BARTH

A flood-friendly park re-creates a resilient landscape in Calgary’s Bow River.

FROM THE JANUARY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In the summer of 2013, catastrophic flooding in southern Alberta killed five people and forced 100,000 to evacuate. With $6 billion in property damage, it was one of the costliest natural disasters in Canadian history. The swollen Bow River, which flows from glacial headwaters in the Rockies to Calgary, left much of the city’s urban core underwater. The inundated area included St. Patrick’s Island, one of several islands in the downtown stretch of the river, where Barbara Wilks, FASLA, and Mark Johnson, FASLA, had just kicked off construction on a new 31-acre park. A new pedestrian bridge to the island, which was partially built at the time, suffered significant damage. But for the park itself, Wilks and Johnson—the founders of W Architecture and Landscape Architecture and Civitas, respectively—say the floodwaters provided positive reinforcement of their design.

This was not the initial reaction, however, of the folks at the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), their client.

“Our client called and said, ‘Oh, God, you have to get up here; we’re going to have to change the design,’” said Johnson as he, Wilks, and I strolled across the bridge to the completed park on a clear spring day.

“The whole island flooded!’” Wilks recalled members of the CMLC team saying in an urgent and distressed call. “We said, ‘It’s going to be fine; there’s nothing to change. We designed it to flood—this is what’s supposed to happen.’” (more…)

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