Posts tagged with "Brownfields":

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Sasaki's plan for a "Central Park" in Florida soaks up brownfield toxins

Sasaki has designed a 180-acre masterplan in Central Florida for what it's calling the “Central Park of Lakeland.” Bonnet Springs Park, situated between Tampa and Orlando, is set to become a major cultural magnet and an ecological jewel of landscape design in the state. The massive site, which is being privately funded by a pair of local philanthropists, has sat vacant for over 30 years and gone through numerous attempts to reuse it. Now, the over-100-year-old former rail yard is being officially transformed with a vision from the Boston-based planning and design consultancy. By restoring the site's natural ecosystems and removing any harmful contaminants from its days as an industrial throughway, Sasaki will revitalize the land into a mega-park that’s safe for all ages. Because 84 acres of the abandoned brownfield contain arsenic and petroleum hydrocarbons, the team plans to stockpile the toxic materials into large, undulating hills, completely altering the land's topography. The architects will also remove invasive exotic plants and construct wetlands and bioswales to treat stormwater runoff. Four new buildings will also be constructed for the park, including the “Bridge Building,” which will be set between two man-made hills and house a children’s museum. Overlooking Lake Bonnet, a nature center will feature classrooms, an exhibitions space, a café, and a boat rental facility so visitors can learn more about the parkland and the freshwater lake itself. An events center and welcome center will additionally be built out for weddings, corporate events, and other large-scale gatherings. An extensive network of walking and biking trails, as well as a sculpture garden and canopy walk will be incorporated into the park’s design as well. This huge community undertaking, backed by a 20-person advisory committee of local advocates, underscores the town's collective dedication to its fast-growing population by providing a new connection to nature and play. Sasaki and the Bonnet Springs Park Board aim for construction completion in 2020.
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Archtober Building of the Day: Freshkills Park

This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. On Sunday, Archtober toured Freshkills Park, a former New York City landfill on Staten Island redeveloped into a 2,200-acre green space. Our tour guide was Mariel Villeré, the Manager for Programs, Arts and Grants at Freshkills Park. She gave us insights into the park’s history, design, and construction. An NYC Parks minibus picked us up from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal for the 30-minute ride to the site. After signing our waivers and traveling some distance over sanitation department roads, we arrived at the Visitor Center. Here, Villeré delved into the history of the site and the project. Until the mid-20th century, Freshkills Park was a wetland. In 1948, Robert Moses chose this supposedly “useless” site to create a landfill, which by 1955 was the largest in the world. The waste was dumped into four huge mounds, North, South, East and West, which today form the basis of the park’s landscape. The waste dump, which all five boroughs used, was officially ordered to close in 1996, and the last barge of refuse was sent to Freshkills after the World Trade Center attack in 2001. (The boroughs now have separate contracts with outside landfills; Staten Island’s garbage, for example, is shipped to South Carolina). In 2001, the Freshkills Park Alliance and NYC Parks launched a competition for a site masterplan, which James Corner Field Operations won. Their plan proposed the four distinct areas of the park based on the garbage mounds, along with a central area, known as the Confluence. Our tour focused on North Park, which recreates and strengthens the site’s wetlands and creeks. The entire site is two-and-a-half times the size of Central Park. In North Park, we took in the stunning views over Staten Island to Manhattan on the north and the rest of Freshkills Park to the south. Villeré discussed the vision behind the park’s design, noting how they needed to balance the recreation of the former habitat with the understanding that the site’s ecology and meaning have been irrevocably changed by 50 years of trash. While the garbage is under several layers of topsoil, no attempt is made to downplay the typical mound shape of the landfill. This creates an ecological opportunity in the northeast, where the drive for reforestation sometimes sidelines open spaces and wetlands. The diversity of the park has increased dramatically over the last few years, with over 100 species of birds now counted at the site. Villeré outlined the manifold challenges of creating a park on top of a landfill. Landfills generate two byproducts: landfill gas and leachate. At Freshkills, landfill gas is funneled into treatment facilities where its components, methane and CO2, are separated. The methane is piped into the New York City gas grid. The other product, leachate, is the liquid that forms, on a small scale, at the bottom of a trash bag. At Freshkills, permeable pipes laid in concrete ditches at the bottom of each mound collect the leachate. It is then treated and separated into leachate cakes, a highly concentrated substance, and clean water. We also drove by a flare station, which is a backup in case there is an issue with the system piping methane into the grid. Since the site is so huge, the project is necessarily phased. These phases are arranged from the outside in order to give back to the surrounding community, which was negatively impacted by the dump. The timeline has therefore prioritized small, demonstrable projects along the park’s edges. So far, some wetland restoration, Owl Hollow soccer fields, the New Springville Greenway, and the renovation of Schmul Park have been completed. We got a view of Schmul Park in the Travis neighborhood just to the west of the park. The redesign of a Moses-era blacktop playground–also by James Corner Field Operations–is now vibrantly colorful, packed with children and families on the warm October day. It is a blueprint for the success of an extraordinary project that will transform not only an extraordinary site, but how we think about the relationship between waste and nature in New York and beyond.
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Atlanta plans to combat food deserts by hiring its first Urban Agriculture Director

Atlanta has staked a commitment on urban agriculture. The city is poised to hire its first Urban Agriculture Director this fall. Conceived by the office of Mayor Kasim Reed, the position is part of a strategy to eliminate food deserts in south and west Atlanta by promoting agriculture within the city limits. Urban food deserts are determined by a neighborhood's poverty rate, median income, and distance to groceries selling fresh produce. The USDA maintains an interactive map of food deserts, including those in Atlanta, here. Atlanta's Agriculture Director will be an advocate, consultant, policy analyst, and community liaison between gardeners and farmers and the resources they need to establish viable plots. The director will also consult on brownfield remediation, zoning and code inquiries, and any other issues surrounding access to, and use of, land. Interested candidates have until September 15th to apply for the position.
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Quick Clicks> Pantone Glass, Epic Photo, Seattle Brownfields, Bike Comb

Playhouse. While the 300 year old Italian home of architect Armin Blasblicher features rustic, vernacular elements like stacked logs, Blasblichler updated the house with whimsical, playful elements. He incorporated doors on ceilings, doors within doors, and a contemporary interpretation of stained glass inspired by Pantone color swatches, as pictured above. More at Gizmodo. Super-giant photo. The Culver Center of the Arts in Riverside, California is exhibiting the world’s largest photograph, created by the world’s largest camera. Lost at E Minor said the camera was fashioned from a converted airplane hangar with a 6mm opening in one its walls. At eleven stories long and three stories high, the resulting landscape photograph needed a 35 minute exposure. Blooming brownfields. Seattle is cleaning up its brownfields in South Lake Union. The district, once home to factories, paper mills, and other industries, fell into decline as businesses moved out. For decades, the sites lay abandoned, tainted with toxic chemicals. The city has issued large-scale cleanups that include removing contaminated soil and building materials. The area is in various phases of redevelopment, with new offices, residences, and shops opening, reported the Wall Street Journal. Un-knotting bikes. Knowhow Shop created a playful tongue-in-cheek bike rack for Roanoke, Virginia in the shape of a large comb, keeping bikes upright and tangle-free. Resting on its side, it is made from mangaris wood and supported by black steel bars that are supposed to resemble hair, posted Gizmodo.
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Video: Making a Brownfield Beautiful

The American Society of Landscape Architects has created a great step-by-step video demonstrating how to return a contaminated brownfield site into a real community asset. The video, appropriately titled From Industrial Wasteland to Community Park, traces an abandoned refinery on its way from bio-hazard to bio-helpful. The cleanup technique shown is called bioremediation, or reclamation through plants. Here's a little about the process from the ASLA:
Bioremediation involves using plants, fungi, or soil microbes to clean up toxic brownfields. Some types of deep-rooted plants can even be used to remove toxic metals from the soil. One example is Thlaspi Caerulescens, commonly known as Alpine Pennycress. According to Cornell University researchers, a normal plant can only store about 100 parts per million (ppm) zinc and 1 ppm cadmium. Thlaspi can store up to 30,000 ppm zinc and 1,500 ppm cadmium in its shoots without being negatively affected. In fact, these types of plants thrive while restoring the brownfield to its natural state.
[ Via The Dirt. ]
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Really, Toll Brothers? Really!

When developers began proposing sizable developments for the shores of the Gowanus Canal a few years ago, at best it was viewed as yet another gonzo deal conceived of those frothy boom years. At worst, it was a bad joke. After all, this is the same body of water known to carry STDs. And so, when the federal EPA agreed to consider the contaminated body of water for Superfund status, that could only be a good thing, right? Not if you're one of those developers, as the Observer reports today. Or, believe it or not, the Bloomberg administration. Writes Eliot Brown:
The controversy centers around the nature of the Superfund program. The Bloomberg administration and developers contend it would drag out the cleanup for years, potentially stymieing both economic development and, ironically, environmental cleanup in the process. [...] For developers, this approach is frustrating. The city is rezoning the lots around the northern sections of the canal, and developers had hoped to build a new residential neighborhood, bordering what was to be a quaint stream lined by parkland and bike paths. But given the way the Superfund program assigns blame, developers worry that they could be designated as potentially responsible, and would therefore be unable to get financing to build. Further, the stigma of a Superfund designation, they worry, would drive away potential buyers, pushing down the value of the area. [Emphasis added.]
Yeah, no kidding. The Times followed up, passing along the city's official argument's against the move:
Daniel Walsh, director of the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation, said a Superfund cleanup would likely take more than two decades, putting at risk more than $400 million of private investment already committed to the area for housing and other development. Speaking at an informational forum on Tuesday night held by Representatives Nydía M. Velázquez and Yvette D. Clarke, both Democrats from Brooklyn, he said that cleanup projects like the city’s planned dredging of 1,000 feet of contaminated sediment at the bottom of the canal, at a cost of $15 million, could also be at stake. “These investments are part of the a plan that the city has developed to remediate the canal that is collaborative and efficient, rather than embarking on a Superfund process that is, at its core, an adversarial process focused on finding responsible parties for past contamination,” Mr. Walsh said. But a designation could steer hundreds of millions of federal dollars toward a comprehensive cleanup, and neighbors at the meeting were split on their support for the Superfund designation. Mr. Walsh was both booed and applauded during his remarks.
That developers like Toll Brothers would write letters opposing such a cleanup is not surprising, morals be damned. That they're still scrambling to even build in these outlying areas of the outerboroughs shows just how stuck these developers are in pre-recession wonderland. It's exactly the sort of questionable thinking the city should be protecting us from, not promoting. After all, which is worse? Living in a Superfund site knowingly or unknowingly. Granted, yes, we do have full faith in the appropriate remediation of these sites, but wouldn't their wholesale recovery--and with the polluters instead of the public and the developers themselves footing the bill--be the desired outcome? After all, Greenpoint has complained for years of heightened cancer rates and other health problems from a similarly polluted waterway. Sure, the ground under your apartment might be clean, but what about the site next door? No amount of letters or flashy marketing can change that fact. Now where's Seth Myers when you need him...