Posts tagged with "AECOM":

Zaha Hadid Architects paid women employees about 20 percent less in 2017

Following a 2017 change to U.K. law that required firms with 250 or more employees to report their gender pay gaps, Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has released data showing their female employees were paid 20.86 percent less on average in 2017. The firm’s pay gap reflect a general trend across the industry, although some firms have an average pay gap as low as ten percent, according to the Architect’s Journal. Through an in-house report produced by ZHA (available here), the firm compared the median incomes earned by both men and women–the middle-most figure–to calculate the pay disparity. Men were paid 20.86 percent more on average and received bonuses 64.94 larger on average, while only 75.6 percent of women received a bonus in 2017 versus 84.05 percent of men at the studio. Across the firm’s 310 U.K. employees, 37 percent are women. ZHA has chalked this imbalance up to the higher percentage of men in leadership positions, who have been with the firm the longest and command bonuses that are tied to the company’s revenue. According to the report:
“This pay gap exists because [a] higher proportion of our longest-serving team members who grew the practice with Zaha Hadid over the past 30 years are male and have continued to lead the company since her passing in 2016. We therefore currently have a smaller proportion of women than men in higher paid senior positions.”
In an effort to address these imbalances, ZHA has increased the company’s maternity pay and partnered with the Architect’s Journal’s Women in Architecture forum. A mentorship program has also been established throughout the firm. Still, even as firms are motivated by public exposure to address the imbalances in pay between men and women, studies have shown that the pay gap is widening. Foster + Partners, AECOM, and other big names have disclosed similar figures, though they claim that the imbalance also results from having more men at the top and not as an equal pay issue. Foster + Partners has, for their part, also committed to broadening gender diversity at the senior level, while AECOM pledged to create a more inclusive workforce. Transparency in the field has become a pressing topic as of late, as more and more women have been coming forward with their experiences regarding harassment, discrimination, and general misconduct. A full list of U.K. companies who have disclosed their pay and bonus gap data is available here. Companies have until April 4 to disclose their pay gap report, and more industry figures will be forthcoming.

Montreal to begin construction on massive automated light rail

After years of deliberation, Montreal’s regional light rail has been given the go-ahead to begin engineering and construction. Reseau Express Metropolitain (REM) is a fully automated, $5.3 billion light rail project consisting of 26 stations spread out over an approximately 40-mile electrified network. Upon completion, the REM will be the fourth largest automated light rail line in the world after Singapore, Dubai, and Vancouver. NouvLR General Partnership, which includes multinational engineering firms SNC-Lavalin and AECOM, is leading the construction and future operations of the network. The architecture and design of the future stations result from a collaboration between award-winning firms, Perkins+Will, Lemay, and Bisson Fortin. As reported by the Global Construction Review, the new light rail network will establish a comprehensive rapid transport link between downtown Montreal, the international Aeroport-Montreal Trudeau, and the suburban areas of South Shore, West Island, and North Shore. The four branches of the REM will consist of surface-level, underground and overhead routes, serviced by an initial fleet of 240 cars. The 26 stations will have 260-foot platforms, universal access facilities, and a number of intermodal connections to the city’s bus and commuter rail networks. Although REM will be a network independent of the Montreal Metro, the city’s existing public transit system, the two bodies will share four stations within the city’s center. With Greater Montreal boasting a population of over four million, the seamless integration of regional rail with local rapid transit has the capacity to dramatically boost economic growth within the city. The CDPQ estimates that REM could attract $4 billion in private real-estate investment and reduce congestion-related costs by $1.5 billion. Construction is slated to begin in April 2018, with an expected completion date of 2021. However, there are significant hurdles to overcome before construction begins, such as making the necessary land purchases. According to Business Insider, CDPQ will consult local communities and host urban planning competitions to insure that initiatives surrounding the new stations integrate into their neighborhoods and support local residents. Funding for the project derives from a mix of government entities and state corporations. CDPQ Infra will provide $2.35 billion as well as cover any cost overruns, the Governments of Quebec and Canada will provide $1 billion each, the public utility corporation Hydro Quebec will contribute $230 million, and the Montreal Transit Corporation will chip in $405 million. The REM is not the only ambitious infrastructure project undertaken in Canada recently. On December 17, Toronto opened the largest expansion of its subway system in decades. Although Toronto’s 5.3-mile extension of its subway network falls under the purview of the municipal Toronto Transit Commission, it similarly ties the urban core to the suburban periphery.

19 finalists announced for MTA’s Genius Transit Challenge

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced the 19 finalists in three categories for the MTA Genius Transit Challenge today. Winners will be declared in early 2018 and will receive up to a $1 million genius award (or the profit of 363,636 card swipes, according to the New York Times). The MTA assembled a panel of technology and transportation experts to review the 438 submissions, narrowing it down to 64 and then 19. During phase two of the competition, the final contenders refined and elaborated on their original submissions. The three categories are: to improve signaling, to identify strategies to better deploy subway cars, and increase communications infrastructure. Each submission in these categories was reviewed on “its ability to fulfill the Challenge’s core objectives, whether it could be implemented in a rapid timeframe throughout the Subway System, innovativeness, and cost-reasonableness.” With the recent release of the RPA’s newest plan, we can only hope at least a few improvements are made, genius or otherwise. FINALISTS IN THE SIGNALS CATEGORY AECOM: Intelligent Alignment of Service Delivery to Customer Demand Alstom: Train-Centric Peer-to-Peer CBTC Ansaldo STS: Video Odometry, Heads-Up Display and Augmented Reality Arup: Acorn: Autonomous Car Operating Rail Network Robert James (Individual): Connected Vehicles & Ultra-Wideband for Communications & Location Metrom Rail : Positive Train Control System based on Ultra-Wideband Siemens : Dramatically Accelerate Communications-Based Train Control Deployment Thales Group: Several Integrated Ideas to Accelerate Communications-Based Train Control Deployment Thales Group: Next Generation Positioning: Autonomous Train Car Platform FINALISTS IN THE CARS CATEGORY Alstom: Upgrades to Improve Subway Car Reliability Craig Avedisian (Individual): Modify Cars to Enable Trains to Have 4 More Cars Bombardier: Modular Car Concept Utilizing a Common Vehicle Platform CRRC MA: Technology-Advanced Cars with Shorter Vehicle Lifecycle CSINTRANS: Open Information System to Improve Operations Efficiency & Customer Communications Faiveley (Wabtec): Newly Developed Brake Control System FINALISTS IN THE COMMUNICATIONS CATEGORY Alcatel-Lucent (Nokia): Standards-Based Trackside Private LTE Network with an IP/MPLS Backbone Alstom: Multi-Service High Capacity, Flexible Network Bechtel: The Big B: Semi-Automated Robotic System Transit Wireless: Dedicated LTE Network to Connect Trains to Tunnel Entrances and Trackside Radios The MTA Genius Transit Challenge Finalist Judges Sarah Feinberg, Former Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration Daniel Huttenlocher, Dean and Vice Provost, Cornell Tech Charles Phillips, CEO, Infor; Former Co-President and Director, Oracle Kristina Johnson, Chancellor-elect, SUNY Nick Grossman, General Manager, Union Square Ventures Eliot Horowitz, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, MongoDB Balaji Prabhakhar, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Stanford University Joe Lhota, Chairman, MTA Pat Foye, President, MTA Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim, Managing Director, MTA Janno Lieber, Chief Development Officer, MTA

AECOM guns to take over SOM’s Kansas City airport project

After Kansas City, Missouri, residents overwhelmingly voted last month to replace the outdated Kansas City International Airport (KCI) with a $1 billion, SOM-designed consolidated terminal, talks between developer Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate and the Kansas City government appear to have broken down. After the city council refused Edgemoor’s memorandum of understanding, AECOM and Kansas City–based competitor Burns & McDonnell have announced that they’re teaming up to mount a counterproposal for the new KCI. Although the vote to build the new airport was held in November, the developer selection process dragged on earlier this summer as Edgemoor, AECOM and Burns & McDonnell all submitted proposals to Kansas City officials. While AECOM, submitting under the banner of KCI Partnership, and Burns & McDonnell had both submitted plans that included detailed funding frameworks for the project, Edgemoor kept their funding plans vague and didn’t release designs for the new airport until after they had been selected as the winner. The memorandum of understanding was supposed to finalize the specific details of the arrangement between Kansas City and Edgemoor, but councilmembers have said that Edgemoor’s funding plan is still too vague for the city’s liking. Other than a lac of community investment, Edgemoor’s agreement would have also included a $30 million payout to Edgemoor if the project fell through, a provision the council found unacceptable. Councilman Quinton Lucas told The Kansas City Star that the council was right to reject the memorandum. “There’s a reimbursement agreement that obligates the city to potentially millions of dollars, a number of those costs incurred before the election,” said Lucas. “There was absolutely no detail on financing. I know we want flexibility, but we also want to know what we are binding the city to, potentially for years to come.” Following the failure to pass the memorandum, a resolution will be discussed this week that, if passed, would drop Edgemoor as the new KCI developer and scrap SOM’s plans to streamline the airport. Capitalizing on the potential shakeup, Burns & McDonnell has joined AECOM as part of KCI Partnership, and the group is putting together an alternate plan that would invest millions into the surrounding community. An AECOM, Burns & McDonnell partnership might have seemed unfathomable during the earlier selection process. Karl Reichelt, a senior managing director at AECOM, accused the KCI selection committee of "moving the goalposts" and tilting the process towards Burns & McDonnell after the committee asked additional, post-proposal questions of the teams. While at the time AECOM viewed this as allowing the other groups to reconfigure their packages on the fly, Burns & McDonnell were eventually disqualified for their proposed funding framework.

AECOM wants to add 36,000 housing units around the L.A. River

AECOM has a bold, transformational vision for the areas immediately surrounding the Los Angeles River in Downtown Los Angeles. The firm’s recently-published Los Angeles River Gateway proposal envisions a dense web of newly interconnected neighborhoods and recreational areas surrounding a four-mile stretch of the river between Elysian Park and the Chinatown, Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights, Arts District, and Civic Center neighborhoods. The plan calls for nearly 300 acres of publicly-accessible riparian areas surrounding the river. Those recreational and flood-control areas would be joined, according to the plan, by 36,620 residential units, including at least 7,874 affordable homes. The plan calls for making 100 percent of the riverfront areas accessible to the public by absorbing the surrounding industrially-zoned lands and converting those parcels to park areas. The unsolicited study seeks to join “the city with [the] river and nature” by physically connecting the neighborhoods surrounded by the L.A. River with the river itself. It also works within the confines of existing neighborhood plans and leans on already-approved proposals to paint – not a radical vision for the future – but something more akin to a visualization of what the built-out area might eventually look like under current plans. AECOM proposes a series of approaches for bridging over privately- and publicly-owned rail yards surrounding the river’s banks on either side, including plans for underground tunnels that would serve high-speed rail, public transit, and private freight trains. Other potential options include the erection of an elevated trestle system for trains that would allow pedestrians to walk below the tracks and a fill-and-mound system of terraforming to span over the tracks. The River Gateway proposal also calls for adding nearly 150,000 jobs to the area, a 200% increase over the existing number of jobs currently contained within the study areas, according to the authors. Under the plan, 97% of the area’s jobs would be located within a 10-minute walk from the handful of existing and forthcoming light rail stops that serve the area. Renderings for the scheme depict sweeping, tree-filled vistas of the areas surrounding the river, with the areas around Union Station particularly transformed by new structures. The renderings show the City’s brutalist Piper Tech records and police facility being replaced by mixed-use housing towers, for example. Low- to mid-rise apartment blocks would flank the riverbanks on both sides and ultimately bleed into realized visions projected under the new Civic Center Master Plan. The Los Angeles River Gateway plan calls for a 40-year implementation schedule, with many of the improvements either begun or partially completed in time for the 2028 Olympic Games. Under the plan, the downtown section of the L.A. River would act as a “gateway” for Olympics visitors. A full version of AECOM’s proposal can be found here.

D.C.’s Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge will be replaced by new AECOM design

Washington, D.C. will replace the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge to the tune of $441 million. Engineering firm AECOM is leading the design of the new bridge with Archer Western Construction and Granite Construction carrying out the project. The Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge originally opened 67 years ago in 1950. A swing bridge, it allows South Capitol Street to span the Anacostia River, connecting Nationals Park and Anacostia Park. More than 75,000 commuters have been taking advantage of the bridge on a daily basis since 2007. The new design will include traffic ovals on either side with greenery and pedestrian plazas added to South Capitol Street around its entrances. In 2014, the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) asked four teams to submit proposals for a new bridge; their schemes would also have to include the current bridge's demolition. The winning submission from "South Capitol Bridge Builders" (comprised of AECOM, Archer Western Construction, and Granite Construction) saw off competition from three other teams: Tutor Perini, T.Y. Lin International Group, and StantecSkanska AB, Facchina Group, and Parsons Transportation; and Kiewit Corporation, Corman Construction, and URS Corporation. AECOM's proposal does away with the original swing design and implements a wider (six-lane), fixed span bridge instead. Scheduled to be complete in 2021, it will be the largest construction undertaking in the District's history, with the project including a remodelling of the Suitland Parkway and Interstate 295 interchange.  “Investing in our infrastructure is key to how we can continue to be a growing city and the best city in the world, and improving our bridges is very critical to this mission,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser told the Washington Post. The project is a long time coming. In 1974 the bridge was re-decked, a process which was repeated just 14 years later. In 2007 it was closed for more than a month while a $27 million renovation took place, the work of which was supposed to extend its lifespan by 20 years.

New L.A. River restoration renderings revealed by Mia Lehrer, AECOM, Gruen Associates and others

A partnership between the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office, AECOM, Gruen Associates, Chee Salette, WSP,  CH2M, Mia Lehrer + Associates (MLA), and Tetra Tech has produced preliminary visioning plans for a segment of the Los Angeles River running through Downtown Los Angeles. The dramatic proposals aim to reconfigure a several-mile stretch of the concrete-lined river running from the southern tip of the Frogtown neighborhood north of Downtown to the Redondo Junction at its far southern end. Each of the seven teams was given a separate segment of the river to reconfigure and asked to take into account river-adjacent projects currently under development like BIG’s 670 Mesquit, among others. The teams were also asked to anticipate future planning approaches, including private-public partnerships and a potential extension of the Red Line subway to the Arts District. The proposals, according to a project website, are meant to focus on increasing pedestrian connectivity to the river while also “embracing bold, world-class design.” Gruen Associates, Barclay to Spring Street: Gruen Associates’ scheme seeks to reconfigure a narrow stretch of riverfront between Interstate 110 and the northern border of Chinatown by covering over an existing rail yard with a meadow and elevated public paths. WSP, Spring Street to Cesar Chavez Avenue: WSP’s proposal aims to create a series of stepped terraces that gradually meet the existing river bottom. The terraces expand as they reach the river, creating a broad, swoopy promenade. CH2M, Cesar Chavez Avenue to 1st Street: CH2M’s scheme creates a dramatic creek just south of Interstate 101 that rises up to meet the northern edge of the Arts District neighborhood. Renderings included with the proposal showcase broad bicycle and pedestrian paths as well as integrated seating and meandering trails. Chee Salette, 1st Street to 4th Street: Chee Salette’s proposal calls for a densely-packed sculpture garden sandwiched between Michael Maltzan Architecture’s (MMA) One Santa Fe complex and the L.A. River. The scheme features a river crossing that traverses the L.A. River’s bottom. Like the previous concepts, the scheme envisions placing a broad, stepped cap over the existing Metro rail yard that runs parallel to the waterway, where the Red Line extension would go.   Mia Lehrer + Associates, 4th Street to 7th Street: MLA’s proposal extends work the firm has proposed for the adjacent 670 Mesquit project—MLA is landscape architect for that project, as well—by adding a riverine forest, wetlands, and stormwater filtration pools to the eastern banks of the river. The scheme also envisions creating a connection between the forthcoming 6th Street bridge park underneath the new MMA-designed 6th Street bridge and the nearby Hollenbeck Park. AECOM, 7th Street to Olympic Boulevard: The AECOM proposal aims to utilize a network of new pedestrian bridges over the river to connect the western and eastern banks of the river around a segment of the Arts District that has seen several new development proposals in recent months, including a new SoHo House outpost and an 110-unit live/work complex by Studio One Eleven. The AECOM scheme proposes a series of elevated park islands resting on diminutive feet and focuses on improving a Department of General Services-owned lot with demonstration gardens and a new solar farm. Tetra Tech, Olympic Boulevard to 26th Street: The scheme for the final leg of the study area includes the grounds surrounding the vacant Sears, Roebuck & Company Mail Order Building, which is currently slated to be redeveloped by Izek Shomof into a mixed-use complex. The Tetra Tech scheme envisions a new bridge at East Washington Boulevard over the river as well as a series of terraced gardens along the western banks of the river as well as a covered promenade along the eastern banks. No word yet on which, if any, of these proposals will actually be built. A budget for the bridge-heavy collection of ideas has not been released. See the LA River Design Dialogue (3D) website for more information.

Has “resiliency” been hijacked to justify and promote development?

The recent visioning scheme for Red Hook, Brooklyn, is a case study in the conflicting interests that contribute to any proposed change in New York neighborhoods. We all know the story of poor, underserved areas like Red Hook that are ignored for generations, and then suddenly become intense hot spots for development. This scheme proposes not just subtle adjustments, but instead hyper-development, which brings out conflict.

The shorthand to describe this process of change is the overused word “gentrification.” But development in any New York neighborhood, let alone one like Red Hook, with spectacular views of the Verrazano Bay and Manhattan, is fraught with the prospect of winners and losers. All too often in New York City, the losers have been the poor and the winners the wealthy who want (and get) to live in these prime urban sites.

AECOM, the creator of this scheme, has presented a vision (identified specifically as not a “plan”) that it claims was done in response to community demands for new investment and infrastructure. This vision encourages the public to visit AECOM’s website and offer suggestions and critique. The project has the sense of being another top-down plan, where more valuable pieces of landscape are handed over to developers.

In fact, the vision seems to check off many of the much-needed development boxes for southwest Brooklyn: three new subway stations, a bulked up manufacturing-commercial zone, and 11,250 new units of affordable housing.

One important new piece of this “non-plan” is its use of a resiliency paradigm to justify and promote the change. Red Hook is perhaps the lowest lying waterfront area west of the Rockaways and needs new physical barriers to save it from the increasing occurrences of flooding.  In a recent study of the impacts of Superstorm Sandy, “resiliency” is defined by Leigh Graham, Wim Debucquoy, and Isabelle Anguelovski, as “the degree to which a complex adaptive system is capable of self-organization and can build capacity for learning and adaptation.” The concept is usually presented in technical, engineering, and competitive business terms where social, political, and cultural issues are never a part of the equation. The AECOM vision states, for example: “Strategies could include both green and gray infrastructures that provide coastal protection and flood management as well as development of smart grids and distributed clean power generation to provide energy security and buildings that can deal with longer, hotter summers without requiring more energy use.”

But the concept of resiliency is becoming a buzzword that animates otherwise pedestrian urban design schemes into relevant and apparently socially conscious initiatives for a more functional and healthy city. AECOM has proposed a creative resiliency plan here, but underserved communities are always wary of these code words because they often mean gentrification. Is resilience in this scheme potentially one of these words?

Many visions or plans for “resilient neighborhoods” consider only a limited number of factors in what they consider resiliency to mean for any particular neighborhood or stretch of coastline. Many advocacy groups are starting to question whether resilience in the scientific sense is enough and propose the use of the concept of “vulnerability” as a framework for understanding exactly what is at stake. 

One such plan is “Equity in Building Resilience in Adaptation Planning,” a guide produced by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), that aims to “provide a guide to localities to enable them to integrate an equity lens as they seek to build resilience in designing adaptation plans.”

The NAACP report calls into question the politics behind physical resilience. They point out a long list of factors that should be considered when planning for environmental stresses on an urban area, in addition to purely engineering factors such as income/wealth, employment, literacy, education, housing stock, insurance status, and access to fresh food.

For designers, this list offers an opportunity to think beyond traditional architecture and planning modes of resilient design, and further challenge what it means to create an equitable, 21st century city—a city that is not easily definable in the face of such large environmental issues. Problematizing “resiliency” with an advanced understanding of “vulnerability” can lead to a more progressive understanding of a rapidly changing world and urban habitat at all scales. This resiliency vision for southwest Brooklyn might yet be one of these new ways of designing cities, but it needs further refinement in how it considers and represents the public.

This article was part of our Oct. 12 issue which focused on how water is shaping today’s landscape architecture and urbanism. Communities face deluges and droughts—for some, the stakes can be survival itself, but others see opportunities for decadence. To explore these stories from around the U.S. and the world, click here.

One remote Alaska city is seeking $200 million to flee the rising sea

Echoing a great chronicler of the human condition, the tiny city of Shishmaref, Alaska, is asking whether it’s better to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or take arms against a sea of troubles to combat a looming climate change–driven disaster.

Shishmaref is located on an island five miles from the mainland, just north of the Bering Strait. For years, a reduced ice pack has hastened erosion that chips away at the island’s shores and has already drawn buildings into the sea.

Over the past decade, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, a Native nonprofit, and local officials have applied short-term physical interventions to the island to curtail erosion, without success. Doubling down on damage control, the state of Alaska tapped global engineering firm AECOM to produce the “Shishmaref Relocation Site Selection Feasibility Study,” a 300-page investigation that analyzes various scenarios for the City of Shishmaref to stay put or pack up.

Funded by a grant from the Alaska Climate Change Impact Mitigation Program, the study presents four options: Stay, or relocate to one of three different sites on the mainland. Shishmaref, a 607-person city, is majority Native and skews young—the median age is 22.5.

AECOM recommended that Shishmaref stay, citing the cost of moving and inhabitants’ cultural connection to the sea. The city already has massive infrastructure, said R. Scott Simmons, emergency manager for AECOM in Alaska. He cited a $2.2-million, 200-foot riprap seawall at the west end of Shishmaref and a revetment funded by a state grant protect the city from erosion, plus a number of projects in the pipeline: Shishmaref intends to redo its airplane runway, expand the school, and rebuild its roads, with a plan to pave those that are heavily traveled.

Touting these assets, the study, released February of this year, notes that the mainland has more stable soil and less threat of coastal erosion but that a location far from shore would undermine an economy centered on subsistence hunting and fishing.

“Alaska Natives live off the land,” said Simmons. “During annual freeze and thaw conditions, they can’t travel, and that’s the same time some of the sea mammals are migrating. If they live on the mainland, they won’t be able to get across the ice that’s forming—or not formed yet.” He explained it’s too dangerous at these times to travel to the island, which is the community’s traditional access point to the open sea.

The community nevertheless voted 89 to 78 to leave. This is not the first time: In 1973 and 2002,the city’s decisions to relocate unraveled because of logistic to relocate unraveled because of logistic constraints. Now, however, it will cost $200 million to relocate homes and infrastructure to the new site, where, among other improvements, new roads, utilities, and a barge landing will need to be built. The state has granted the city $8 million toward the move; it remains to be seen how the rest of the cost will be covered.

AECOM invites community input for their massive proposed Red Hook development

As first reported by Crain's, the multinational engineering firm AECOM has put forth a plan to build as many as 45,000 units of new housing on “underutilized Brooklyn sites owned by the Port Authority.” The Crain's story accurately portrayed AECOM as proposing the following arrangement:
...proceeds from the sale or long-term lease of the land to developers, as well as other funds generated from revenue streams such as real estate taxes, would go toward upgrading the neighborhood's infrastructure, which includes extending the No. 1 train from lower Manhattan via a new tunnel under the harbor to the Brooklyn area. AECOM's plan also involves creating three new subway stations, one at Atlantic Basin next to the container terminal, another at the Red Hook Houses, one of Brooklyn's largest public-housing complexes, and a No. 1 train station that would connect to the F and G subway lines at Fourth Avenue.
But a press conference on September 12 at the Rudin Center for Transportation flatly contradicted that. Chris Ward, AECOM senior vice president and leader of the team that created the proposal, claimed at the start of his presentation “This is not a plan.” (Ward is also the former Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey). Michelle de la Uz, executive director of the Fifth Avenue Committee, Jill Eisenhard, executive director of the Red Hook Initiative, who were in the audience, claimed they were prepared to respond to Red Hook and Sunset community requests for something to be done about housing, jobs, etc. in the community.It is then a sort of ‘vision’ proposal that asks the community and other interested parties to weigh in on the idea. It may be that the word ‘plan’ has become a dirty word associated with top-down city proposals that end up benefiting everyone one but those who live in the affected communities. The proposal offers several scenarios that go from one that would bring 45 million square feet to the market to more modest schemes. If you want to see the non-plan and weigh in, visit AECOM's website for the project.

Liberty Park successfully fills a critical role in the World Trade Center site

The park slipped on top of the World Trade Center Vehicular Security Center is a rare thing within the World Trade Center campus. Up until now, traversing the WTC site has presented the hapless wanderer with despair. To discover an east-west passage meant confronting an interminable and illegible security and construction barrier. Liberty Park is both an unexpected place for rest and relaxation and a visually appealing pedestrian corridor. Its infrastructure-as-park fascination is reminiscent of the High Line and its formalistic planter-and-seating shards recall Zaha Hadid’s cosmopolitan futurism. 

Clearly marked stairs step up the screening building and connect to a bridge across the West Side highway to the Hudson River. Along the way, the passageway folds out into a rooftop park, punctuated with stylized white concrete planters and benches that plunge out into sharp points and a long terrace that overlooks the entire campus. Its graded pathway makes the building feel like a gently sloping hillside.

It may be the mercifully limited programming and lack of overdetermined symbolism that give it the promise of urbanism—its resonance will come from being inhabited and iterated over time. What Liberty Park provides are two qualities that the reborn World Trade Center lacks: A sense of place and a free passage for walking.

Designed by Gonzalo Cruz of AECOM’s landscape studio as a part of the WTC transportation infrastructure portfolio brought to the firm by Joe Brown during its merger with EDAW, the park itself is a legacy that dates all the way back to the original Daniel Libeskind masterplan. It was meant to buffer the memorial site and provide an open public space adjacent to Liberty Street. But as security measures intensified throughout the WTC site, the Vehicular Security Center got pushed to the edge, and the park ended up plopped on top of it. As the building elements shifted during its design, the park deformed to become a complex landscape, graded and situated to disguise the robust security apparatus below. The Port Authority covered its reported $50 million price tag.

The adjacent street, once imagined as a restoration of the street grid, will be permanently blocked by a guard booth and vehicle entry barriers, but at the street level, the truck-shipment screening facility is clad in a G-O2 Living Wall, covered by rows of periwinkle, sedge, and ivy.

It may be fitting that this odd park cropped on top of a security building achieves what’s missing from the intensely programmed whole. As a leftover space, the designers were unencumbered by the duties of solemn remembrance, architectural spectacle, real estate bravado, and tourism. It anticipates the day when the World Trade Center is reborn as a part of the city, which could be a greater honor than any designated monument.

World Trade Center’s leafy Liberty Park to open this Wednesday

This July 4, New York City can celebrate one nation, indivisible, with Liberty Park and justice for all. The World Trade Center's long-anticipated one-acre Liberty Park is set to open this Wednesday. Designed for the Port Authority by New York–based Joe Brown, a design and planning advisor to AECOM, the $50 million park sits 25 feet above an entrance for security vehicles. Planted with a mini-forest of 50-plus trees, the park will provide a welcome respite from the glare of surrounding skyscrapers for visitors and office workers alike. A multihued, 25-by-336-foot-long living wall, designed by Plant Connection, shrouds one side of the security entrance, while angular concrete and recycled teak benches, blessedly free of deterrent barriers, are configured for socializing and sunbathing. An overlook on Liberty Street skates 200 feet along the park's perimeter, affording views of the 9/11 Memorial. Given the setting, loss and repatriation are central themes of the design and programming. A sapling grown from a horsechestnut tree that grew outside of Anne Frank's home in the Netherlands has found its home in the park. Additionally, Douwe Blumberg's 2011 America’s Response Monument (De Oppresso Liber), a sculpture that depicts a Special Forces soldier on horseback who fought the Taliban in the early years of the war in Afghanistan, will be mounted near While most of the green space will open this week, construction will continue on the Santiago Calatrava–designed St. Nicholas National Shrine, a reconstruction of the Greek Orthodox St. Nicholas Church that was destroyed on September 11. For those who'd like an advance look at St. Nicholas 2.0, Calatrava produced an animation of the church's interior and exterior that depicts its relationship to Liberty Park and the WTC memorial across the street. The church is expected to open in late 2018, DNAinfo reports. The park is open to the public year round from 6AM to 11PM.