Posts tagged with "AECOM":
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.
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.
“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.
...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.
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.
Seattle-based Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN) will design Shoreline Parks and 900 Innes along the India Basin coastline. GGN was awarded the commission after coming first in the design ideas competition put forward by the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department and the Trust for Public Land, in partnership with the San Francisco Parks Alliance.
According to the brief, the competition encouraged candidates to "reimagine" the two locations around India Basin Shoreline Park in order to establish a "spectacular and seamless 1.5-mile-long network of public parks on the City’s southeast shoreline."
Well-recognized in the field of landscape architecture, the firm already has designed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation campus in Seattle, the Lurie Garden at Millennium Park in Chicago, North End Parks in Boston.
The India Basin Waterfront Parks, Trails and Open Space Plan, a public-private planning consortium is also underway, taking a regulatory stance to safeguard the project and make sure that the developments "along the 1.5-mile shoreline eventually look, feel and operate as a coherent, comprehensive, and integrated parks system."
“As our City continues to grow, we are committed to the sustainability of our City by making investments in parkland that enhance our world class waterfront,” said San Francisco mayor Ed Lee in a press release. “I’m pleased with the progress of the India Basin Waterfront that ensures a legacy for future generations to come.”
GGN fought off competition from 19 other proposals including one from AECOM and a joint submission from SWA and Stanley Saitowitz/Natoma Architects. A PDF, part of GGN's winning submission, can be found here.
“We are honored to be entrusted to work with India Basin's neighbors and visitors, to enhance the things that people already treasure about this gem of a site,” said founding principal of GGN, Shannon Nichol. “India Basin includes a rare expanse of original tideflats and preserved boatyard architecture. Our approach to the competition further softened the shoreline, added walking routes across Innes Avenue between the water and the neighborhood, and sized the park's spaces for everyday activities. We look forward to working with the community to test and hone that initial approach with the full input of neighbors and the people who will be using this park every day.”
Situated in a remote untouched alcove of San Francisco, the brownfield site that is the India Basin offers rare opportunity for the city to confront environmental and ecological issues with the implementation of a park complex. Currently, the site has little to offer in the way of amenities, but landscape development could see an influx of visitors to the area, to which business would undoubtedly follow.
As for the competition, five necessities were put in place. These included continuous connector trails, bike paths, increased access to the shoreline, and enhanced habitats and gathering spaces. As for the historic landmark of the Shipwright’s Cottage at 900 Innes, submissions required a brief outline of how this would be restored. After being announced as winners, GGN will seek to install a "21st-century legacy park" with particular focus on "public access, recreation, resiliency, and habitat enhancement."