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Posts Tagged ‘Washington DC’

BY BRAULIO AGNESE

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After four decades, a prominent reminder of the effects of urban renewal in the nation’s capital is set to vanish.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

All cities bear scars, evidence of past planning decisions, made with the best of intentions, that affect urban space in negative ways over the following decades. For more than 40 years, Washington, D.C.’s northwest quadrant has suffered a particularly prominent one where the District’s downtown meets the Capitol Hill neighborhood to the east: A three-block-long, 200-foot-wide opening above the depressed Center Leg Freeway (I-395), which runs beneath the nation’s capital from New York Avenue down to the Southeast Freeway (I-695).

The opening—bounded by Massachusetts Avenue to the north, E Street to the south, 2nd Street on the east, and a handful of buildings along 3rd Street—is a remnant of the nationwide mid-20th-century effort to revitalize cities by bringing high-speed, multilane highways around and through urban cores. Extensive plans for the District included an interstate loop within the city that would stretch from the west end of the National Mall to the Anacostia River on the east. The eight-lane Center Leg Freeway, which skirts along the U.S. Capitol’s west side, was the second segment built.

North of Constitution Avenue, the section of D.C. the freeway would pass through was a largely black and mixed-European working-class neighborhood that had been in long decline as the city suffered from white flight and economic woes. (Partly in response to the District’s difficulties, a complete reorganization of local government in 1967 gave D.C. semiautonomous rule with its first mayor and City Council.) The area was considered blighted, and there was little effort to resist the project. But seven years after construction on the Center Leg Freeway began, (more…)

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We’re crawling over hot highways and beneath dark underpasses in this month’s LAM, looking at a push from many quarters to recolonize the spaces wasted by modern highways and railroads. We have projects in Toronto, Houston, New York, and Washington, D.C., where wasted space is coming alive again. Nate Berg kicks us off with an essay about the moves to put parks and public spaces over and under freeways. It had been a huge priority of President Obama’s Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx, who revived the sleeping debate about the scars left behind in urban neighborhoods about the freeway system.

In New York, Alex Ulam surveys the massive construction of a new mini-city, Hudson Yards, atop the West Side rail yards, where a complex landscape is under the charge of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. Jane Margolies travels to Toronto, where PFS Studio has created the exuberant Underpass Park in the bowel of a highway viaduct. Washington, D.C., is deleting a huge highway trench with several new blocks of city above it, as Braulio Agnese reports. Margie Ruddick, ASLA, and a team of designers and artists pushed the renovation of Queens Plaza in New York to its bureaucratic limits, and Julie Lasky finds it makes the soaring, clattering infrastructure around it much easier to take. And Jonathan Lerner visits the much-loved Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, where OJB Landscape Architecture has given the whole deck-park movement its favorite touchstone.

In the Foreground section, Zach Mortice interviews Susan Chin, Honorary ASLA, the head of the Design Trust for Public Space, which has pressed New York City officials to improve leftover spaces across the boroughs with its Under the Elevated campaign. Chin describes the results so far. The full table of contents for February 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 ungating February articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Low Overhead,” Tom Arban Photography; “City, Heal Thyself,” Property Group Partners; “The Lid Comes On,” Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA; “The Seven-Foot Sandwich,” KPF and Nelson Byrd Woltz, “Layers of Players,” Sam Oberter; “Estuarine Serene,” David Burroughs; “Underneath, Overlooked,” William Michael Fredericks/Courtesy the Design Trust for Public Space.

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The demolition of the interior of ASLA’s headquarters has finally gotten under way, marking a major first step in creating the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture in the heart of Washington, D.C. Members of ASLA’s executive committee and staff joined in knocking down the first wall, with President Chad Danos, FASLA, taking the inaugural first swing. Demolition continues until late March when construction will begin.

The renovation, designed by Gensler and Oehme, van Sweden, is expected to continue through late summer. Pledges contributing to the project have reached 66 percent of the $1.5 million goal, and continue to grow through the generosity of members and many other friends of the Society. For more information, and to donate, visit cla.asla.org.

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Credit: Yinan Chen [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Credit: Yinan Chen [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Find the LAM staff out and about in November:

November 6–9

2015 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO, Chicago

You can also find Landscape Architecture Magazine this fall at the following shows:

November 6–9

2015 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO, Chicago

November 7–12

International Pool, Spa, and Patio Expo, Las Vegas

November 18–20

Greenbuild Conference and Expo, Washington, D.C.

And as always, at more than 400 Barnes & Noble stores.

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BY MIMI ZEIGER

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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.

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Susan Harris at Garden Rant minces no words when she pays a visit to the new memorial dedicated to the American Veterans Disabled for Life located on an underused corner of land just south of the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. Though the site is quite tricky to get to, the design by Michael Vergason provides an experience that overcomes its harsh settings. Read on:

 

DISABLED VETERANS MEMORIAL SHINES DESPITE ITS LOCATION

SUSAN HARRIS, GARDEN RANT, NOVEMBER 13, 2014

A new memorial opened last month in D.C., this one honoring Veterans Disabled for Life. I’ve watched its progress from the U.S. Botanic Gardens across the street, and seen it presented to a reviewing agency, so was excited to finally see it open.

Here’s a fun two-minute video of its construction and, finally, dedication, from an overhead camera.

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From the December 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The modest announcement about the appointment of Liza Gilbert, ASLA, to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) in October registered lightly in the media, despite its being a milestone for landscape architecture that hasn’t been in reach since the commission was established by an act of Congress in 1910.

With the appointment of Gilbert, the commission now includes Mia Lehrer, FASLA, who was appointed in June, and Elizabeth K. Meyer, FASLA, who was appointed in 2012. For the first time, three of the seven commission members are landscape designers.

Although there has been a landscape designer on the commission for most of its 100-plus-year history (Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. was a member for the first eight years), according to CFA Secretary Thomas Luebke’s book, Civic Art: A Centennial History of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, having two landscape designers serve simultaneously is rare—three is unprecedented. But what does it mean?

For those unfamiliar with its workings, the CFA is a presidentially appointed body whose charge is to review all federal and District of Columbia government projects as well as those in the Georgetown Historic District and, significantly, those falling within the Shipstead-Luce Act’s area. The Shipstead-Luce project area contains many important national landscapes including the National Mall, the grounds of the White House, Rock Creek Park, and the National Zoo, among others. The CFA review is just one of many hurdles that projects in D.C. must surmount before approval, but it provides a critical platform for high-level design review for projects with both national and local impact. This review authority extends beyond buildings and landscape and includes medals and coins produced by the U.S. Mint, images that act as national symbols.

With the establishment of sustainability goals for federal properties in 2009, the necessity for landscape expertise on the CFA became only more exigent. The appointment of three landscape professionals confirms that landscape architecture’s contributions are fully recognized at the highest levels of government.

The CFA convenes once a month at public meetings to review medal and coin designs, memorials, buildings, and alterations to the built landscapes large and small. Meyer welcomes the addition of Gilbert and Lehrer to the commission and the impact it will have on how projects are conceived from the beginning. “More voices calling for conceptual landscape ideas at first review,” and exemplary work at final review, she says, will help strengthen the overall design. “Those ideas have to be clear at the beginning. They don’t follow from the architecture.”

As one of the only commission members living full-time in Washington, Gilbert can bring the local understanding of how the projects fit together within the city’s unique urban plan. Though still new to the CFA, Gilbert is enthusiastic about the dynamic at her first meeting, a mix of architecture, urban planning, and landscape. “The level of discussion is going to be fascinating. There are a lot of different brains in the room,” she says.

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