Posts tagged with "James Corner Field Operations":

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AIA New York State names nARCHITECTS 2017 Firm of the Year

AIA|NYS has named Brooklyn-based nARCHITECTS as the 2017 Firm of the Year. Established in 2005, this yearly award highlights a firm in New York State that has made"notable achievements in design, community service, education and service to the profession and the AIA." nARCHITECTS, led by Principals Eric Bunge, AIA, and Mimi Hoang, AIA, was founded in 1999. The firm has been recognized for its work in pushing the boundaries of architecture through innovative concepts, awareness of social responsibility, and the successful incorporation of technology within their designs. AIA|NYS stated in their press release, “The team has proven through their innovative design approach that they are a leader in the profession, noted by their peers and capturing the attention of the design world.” The firm has completed several notable projects within and outside of New York City. Projects in New York include Carmel Palace, New York City‘s first entirely micro-unit apartment complex, and The Switch Building in Lower Manhattan, a mixed-use apartment and gallery space which displays a creative approach to the area's zoning regulations and features distinct angular facade elements in a modern interpretation of the classic New York bay window. Projects outside the state, such as the redesigns of Chicago’s Navy Pier, Seattle's Waterfront and Cleveland’s Public Square, in collaboration with James Corner Field Operations as design lead, highlight the firm's strengths in merging building and public space design within existing urban landscapes.
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First look: REX’s sleek retrofit of Brutalist 5 Manhattan West

REX has bestowed a shiny new skin on a late Brutalist office building that was, until recently, one of the ugliest buildings in Manhattan. Up until the renovation, the building was known as the elephant's foot, in dubious honor of a horrific 1980s renovation that left the elegant concrete structure clad in brown metal panels and beige paint. Now called 5 Manhattan West, the building has undergone yet another makeover, spearheaded by REX, to update its facade with the latest in form-fitting fenestration. The Brooklyn-based firm ultimately devised a pleated glass facade that ripples down the building like a stretched ziggurat to flood the large, open interiors with light. These pleats are composed of panels angling out toward each other from the floor and ceiling, a design driven by the need to mitigate the structure’s slope, which limited the leasable space along the interior perimeter. But the unique form is more than just window dressing. According to Joshua Prince-Ramus, REX's founding principal, “What’s interesting about the geometry is that the sun doesn’t hit the lower piece of glass, so we can have a building that is transparent and simultaneously energy efficient." Prince-Ramus praised REX's client, Brookfield, for its holistic approach to sustainability that centered reuse—not just LEED-level performance. "In our lifetimes, adaptive reuse is going to be the stuff from which we make 'capital A Architecture,'" he said. The pleating also complied with ADA standards for head strike, allowing for uninterrupted exterior views while maximizing tenants' floorspace, and allowed the designers to rigorously test the concrete from the 1960s, which was cast using different standards from today. The structural maneuvering honestly exposed concrete from Davis Brody's (now Davis Brody Bond) original design, a move that was especially evident on the east-west breezeway. The renovation was done with tenants in place, on a feverish nights-and-weekends schedule. Although some floors have yet to welcome new tenants like J.P. Morgan Chase and Amazon, 5 Manhattan West's common spaces and outdoor areas by James Corner Field Operations are largely complete. The squat, 1.7-million-square-foot structure features ground level retail, a two-story elevated breezeway on the southern side, and a full interior renovation, with open floor plates ranging from 86,000 to 124,000 square feet (no, that's not a typo). With ceiling heights from 15 to 17.5 feet, the super-sized office spaces allow the old-new building to compete with Hudson Yards' office spaces, which feature large, and largely column-free, interiors. Adamson served as executive architect for the $350 million project. The 5 Manhattan West re-clad slots the office building squarely into Brookfield Office Properties’ Manhattan West development. Bounded by Ninth Avenue to Tenth Avenue and 31st Street to 33rd Street, Manhattan West encompasses nearly six million square feet across six buildings.
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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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SOM and James Corner to rework Pereira’s Metropolitan Water District in Los Angeles

In a surprise move, SOM and James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) are coming together to transform the long-dormant William Pereira–designed Metropolitan Water District headquarters in Los Angeles’s Chinatown neighborhood. Los Angeles–based developer Palisades announced the design team on Tuesday via press release, explaining that the firms would work together to convert the historic late modernist structure into a “a mixed-use project focused on innovative design, open space and community.” The release explained that SOM design directors Paul Danna and José Luis Palacios would spearhead designs for the adaptive reuse portion of the project. JCFO will be responsible for the landscape design, including the site’s public open spaces. In the press release, Palacios said, “At the heart of this project is a desire to reflect the spirit and the history of this property through a modern, forward-thinking lens that embraces the Downtown site’s adjacency to Chinatown, Bunker Hill, Echo Park, and the Civic Center.” Palacios added, “It’s a challenge we are confident and energized to embrace.” The firm has its work cut out with the tower-and-matt project, as the expressive cast concrete structure—originally built between 1961 and 1973—has sat vacant for years. A tower portion of the sprawling complex was redeveloped starting in 2014 as a mixed-use development called The Elysian by Linear City Development and David Lawrence Gray Architects. The development includes 120,000 square feet of retail and 96 live/work units. The matt remaining portions of the complex have languished in tandem and were almost demolished entirely last year under previous development efforts. A brief but unsuccessful effort was made to landmark the structure, but the building’s nomination was left unapproved by city agencies. Potential reuse of the structure, however, represents a bright spot in Pereira’s fading legacy, as many of the notable architect’s other works have—or soon will—fall to the wrecking ball. Historian and Pereira scholar Alan Hess told The Architect's Newspaper, "MWD was a key turning point in Pereira’s long and influential career as he sought to maintain the vitality of Modern architecture while adapting to the realities of the 1960s. No place was better suited to understand these realities than Los Angeles. As one of the city’s innovative architects, Pereira designed the striking MWD to be true to Modernism's principles while creating a livelier, more human environment." Hess added, "Nothing would be more appropriate than for Palisades [than] to continue Pereira's spirit of innovation by showing how adaptive reuse addresses the prime need of our times: sustainability." Kim Cooper, preservation advocate with Esotouric told AN, "We're encouraged to see such a good team assigned to this important structure, and that the site's long and influential past is on their mind. Preservation and restoration of the Pereira structure's great bones can definitely be a part of any redevelopment project, and we look forward to being part of that conversation." Designs for the project are currently under development and a timeline for project completion has not been released. See the project website for more information. SOM’s Danna and Palacios will both be presenting at the upcoming Facades+ conference in Los Angeles taking place October 19th and 20th. See the Facades+ website for more information.
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Mirage houses, Mongolian blob museums, and other updates from the architects of Instagram

At The Architect’s Newspaper, we’re plain addicted to Instagram. Sure, we love seeing Brutalist concrete through “Inkwell” or “Ludwig” filters, but there’s also no better place to see where architects are getting their inspiration, how they’re documenting the built environment, and where they’ve traveled of late. Below, we bring you some of the best Instagrams of this past week! (Also, don’t forget to check out our Instagram account here.) A new exhibit on the historical iterations and potential of scaffolding went up at the Center for Architecture, and Shohei Shigematsu of OMA was the exhibition's lead designer. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZmIjN-hQh0/?taken-by=centerforarch A short hop across the East River, the Noguchi Museum is gearing up for the October 25 opening of Gonzalo Fonseca's architectural sculptures, many carved from stone. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZ1f0wpHH1F/?taken-by=noguchimuseum SO-IL's Florian Idenburg paid a visit to a panopticon prison in Haarlem, Netherlands called Kijk in de Koepel. His visit was timed perfectly with two news bits that had us chuckling this week: One upsettingly real (Jeremy Bentham's literal severed head displayed in an upcoming exhibit), and the other pure satire (meet Synergon). https://www.instagram.com/p/BZoAOCVn8AC/?taken-by=florianidenburg Andrés Jaque, founder of Office for Political Innovation, posted the opening of his new exhibit titled Transmaterial Politics, which opened at Tabacalera Madrid on September 28. Poppy and probing as always. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZpq6FJAz4E/?taken-by=andres_jaque MAD Architects threw us back to their Ordos Museum in inner Mongolia, a mass of organic and rigid forms cloaked under an undulating shell of metal tiles. Without wanting to, we will imagine it springing to life at night and prowling the Gobi Desert under a shrouded moon, much like Gehry museums (wherever they live). https://www.instagram.com/p/BZnkPdyFNdq/?taken-by=madarchitects Geoff Manaugh, author of BLGBLOG, visited the extremely Instagrammable Mirage by Douglas Aitken in the California Desert which is clad with mirrors both inside and out. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZ4WEW5j_M1/?taken-by=bldgblog The DesignPhiladelphia conference shared their city's redeveloped Navy Yards, landscaped by James Corner Field Operations. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZy-YJzF9WA/?taken-by=designphilly This last one is short and sweet, and we tell you this only because of the crushing guilt that would consume us otherwise. Winka Dubbeldam ate a grasshopper. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZ0lE02BVh9/?taken-by=winkadub That’s it for today, hashtag archilovers and quote-on-quote gallerinas. See you next week for more drama.
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What is the future of the Chicago riverfront?

While many architects moon over biennials and architecture festivals, these shows are often a bit esoteric for the general public. The Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) is no exception. Amidst the complex discussions and abstract installations, the average visitor may enjoy the show, but also feel a bit disconnected. However, there is one show at CAB that anyone would find accessible. Located in EXPO 72 across the street from the Chicago Cultural Center, the exhibition, Chicago Urban River Edges Ideas Lab, presents the visions of nine firms for the Chicago River. Chicago Urban River Edges Ideas Lab was initiated by the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development and the Metropolitan Planning Council to solicit proposals for the city’s quickly evolving riverfront. Firms participating in the show include David Adjaye, James Corner Field Operations, Perkins + Will, Ross Barney Architects, Sasaki, Site Design, SOM, Studio Gang Architects, and SWA. Each firm addressed three sites along the river with designs that ranged from outdoor theater spaces to water remediation and ecological classrooms. Other ideas included policy suggestions, such as SWA’s forest bonus, rather than a density bonus. Multiple offices proposed ways of engaging more closely with the river itself, including James Corner Field Operation’s softened edge and Perkins+Will’s riverside beach. The three sections of the river addressed by the show are the Civic Opera House, the Congress Parkway, and the Air Line Bridge. Each of these sites present different challenges which the city hopes to resolve. While large stretches of the riverfront have already been converted into the Chicago Riverwalk, there are over 156 miles that have yet to be developed or connected with public walkways and activity spaces. The initial downtown stretch of redeveloped space was designed by Ross Barney Architects and Sasaki, and was completed earlier this year. The exhibition, which was also designed by Ross Barney Architects, aims to engage public feedback and present ambitious yet feasible visions of the river’s future. Throughout, large renderings with texts allow visitors to compare proposals side by side. Those interested are directed to the project's extensive website to watch interviews with the architects, watch animated shorts about the proposals, and send commentary to the city and designers. “We thought this would be a great way to bring together a bunch of very creative folks, as well as help Chicagoans begin to imagine how this could work and what their place in it would be,” explained Josh Ellis, vice president of Metropolitan Planning Council at the exhibition opening. While the exhibition is not intended to be a competition, it is clear that each of the offices poured resources and brain power into the project. The Department of Planning and Development as well as the Mayor’s office have been explicit in their search for ideas for the future of the river. “This is just a snapshot of how serious each of these teams took this. These are meant to be ideas that can be realized,” said Clare Cahan, studio design director at Studio Gang at the opening. “There are things that will be attractive to communities, attractive to the city, and attractive to developers.”
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Philadelphia airport announces five finalists in landscape redesign competition

Last week, the Philadelphia Horticultural Society, in partnership with the Philadelphia International Airport, announced the five finalists selected to compete in the redesign of the 130-acre landscape surrounding the airport. The competition, announced at the beginning of June, asked landscape architects to conceive of an "Image Maker" landscape that leaves a memorable and lasting impression on the city's visitors. The landscape design would offer a chance to showcase Philadelphia as "America's Garden Capital," as well as create a more sustainable landscape for the major transportation hub. The finalists are: James Corner Field Operations Of High Line (New York City) and Navy Yards (Philadelphia) acclaim, James Corner Field Operations wrote that they intended to create a design "environmentally and horticulturally extraordinary, reflective of the diverse identity of the city, feasible, phase-able and achievable." OLIN The only Philadelphia-based firm of the selection, OLIN has previously designed Bryant Park, revamped the plaza at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, landscaped Grace Farms in rural Connecticut, and participated in many other high-profile projects. Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects This New York-based firm is known for their work on Edward W. Kane Park at the University of Pennsylvania, and have done extensive work throughout the New York metropolitan region, including the Governors Island Park and public space. The firm was also collaborating with Heatherwick Studio on the recently killed Pier 55 project. West 8 A Dutch firm with offices in New York and Belgium, West 8 is familiar with airport design, having done a similar revamp for Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport in 1992. Phyto Studio A niche firm from Arlington, Virginia, Phyto Studio aims to honor Philadelphia's "gutsy, gritty, and revolutionary spirit" in their design. They have completed small-scale projects for botanical gardens, residential properties, and public infrastructure across the country.

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Each team will receive a stipend of $20,000 to develop a plan and budget for the challenge. The final designs will be showcased at the Philadelphia Horticultural Society's annual Flower Show from March 3 – 11, 2018, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center at 12th and Arch Streets in Philadelphia.  The winning design will then help to raise funds and take further steps in implementing the project.
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MVRDV, BIG, and James Corner Field Operations selected to future-proof Bay Area

Resilient by Design | Bay Area has chosen 10 multi-disciplinary teams to partake in the next phase of a design challenge focused on future-proofing California’s San Francisco Bay Area against the destructive effects of climate change and sea level rise. The 10 teams will partner with community members and organizations over the next nine months to develop innovative approaches for the region. The teams include several notable architecture and landscape architecture firms, including BIG, MVRDV,  and James Corner Field Operations. Each of the selected teams contains at least one community member and several of the teams are entirely Bay Area–based. Resilient by Design is modeled on Rebuild by Design, a federally-funded New York City re-visioning competition held after 2012's Hurricane Sandy. The 10 selected design teams include:
BIG + ONE + SHERWOOD Bionic Team Common Ground HASSELL+ Permaculture + Social Equity Public Sediment The All Bay Collective The Field Operations Team The Home Team Team UPLIFT
The teams were each awarded $250,000 to engage in research over the next three months and to work with community members to analyze chosen sites with the eventual goal of crafting an adaptation strategy for a specific project location by May. “Resilient by Design is creating a blueprint for the world, bring together community members and experts to show how we can collectively tackle climate change,” Amanda Brown-Stevens, managing director of Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge, told The Architect’s Newspaper. “We know that it is time for something different, a new approach that matches our new reality but draws on who we are and what we have always been able to do: think differently, innovate, come together, and adapt.” Formal announcements for team and site pairings will be timed to coincide with California Governor Jerry Brown’s scheduled Global Climate Action Summit in December. The most recent announcement comes after the Bay Area Challenge was awarded a $4.6 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation earlier this year.
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James Corner Field Operations’ Freshkills Park moves closer to realization

James Corner Field Operations' plans for Freshkills Park in Staten Island inched closer to fruition this week after New York City authorities awarded a $23 million contract to Lomma Construction Corporation to carry out the first phase. Occupying what was once the Fresh Kills Landfill site on Staten Island, the North Park will cover 21 acres and be open by 2020. In an email to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), a spokesperson for NYC Parks said that North Park had been identified as an area for simple recreational facilities, vast natural settings, meadows, wetlands, and creeks. "It is envisioned as a lightly programmed natural area connecting with Schmul Park in the Travis neighborhood, extending the rich habitat provided in the adjacent William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge, and capitalizing on one of the quietest and most sheltered areas of Fresh Kills," they said. Inside visitors will be able to find an observation tower from which they can look over the Arthur Kill River and watch birdlife on the marshes. When complete, Freshkills Park will be 2,200 acres—almost three times bigger than Central Park, second only to Pelham Bay Park. It will be the largest park built in New York City since the 19th century. 450 of its acres will be wetland. The Phase One work will also mean that come 2020, the public will be able to use broad pathways, "secondary paths," a seven-acre seed farm, a forested plateau, a composting comfort station (i.e. a composting public bathroom), a picnic lawn, a waterfront overlook deck, a bird observation tower, and a bicycle repair station. A parking lot for 67 spaces will also be included. Some areas of the park are now open to the public, though only during certain times of the year. According to DNAInfo, two parks connected to Freshkills have already been completed: the Richmond Avenue greenway and one entrance to North Park, Schmul Park.

Authorities expect the whole of Freshkills Park to be fully open by 2036. More information can be found on the park's website, here.

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New images released of Domino Sugar site public waterfront park

Today, real estate development firm Two Trees Management released new images of the James Corner Field Operations (JCFO)–designed Domino Park, which will line the waterfront of the 11-acre Domino Sugar redevelopment site in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In its press release, Two Trees confirmed that the park is on track to open in the summer of 2018, as per its original estimates. “By opening Domino Park in its entirety next summer—ahead of the site’s new waterfront buildings—we are delivering on our commitment to bring waterfront access and much-needed public park space to North Brooklyn,” said Two Trees principal Jed Walentas in the press release. “Weaving in industrial remnants of the factory, Domino Park will serve as a living, breathing reminder of the history of this storied neighborhood.” As part of its design, JCFO preserved 21 columns from the site's Raw Sugar Warehouse, 585 linear feet of crane tracks, and 30 other "industrial artifacts" that will be used in the park. This includes "36-feet tall cylindrical tanks that collected syrup during the refining process, mooring bollards, bucket elevators, and various dials and meters from the factory." JCFO is extending River Street to run the length of the park, all the way from Grand Street to S. 5th Street at the base of the Williamsburg bridge. The aforementioned artifacts (including two 80-foot-tall cranes) will feature prominently in the aptly-named "Artifact Walk," a five-block stretch that includes a "450-foot-long elevated walkway" inspired by the catwalks of the old sugar factory. When complete, the Domino Sugar project—whose campus is being designed by SHoP Architects—will feature 380,000 square feet of offices and 2,800 rental apartments (700 of which will be affordable) across four buildings. The landmarked Domino Sugar Refinery building, designed by the Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism and Beyer Blinder Belle, will retain its facade and host the offices. 325 Kent will be the first residential tower to open, in June 2017
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James Corner Field Operations tapped to activate Georgetown canal network in Washington, D.C.

Landscape architecture and urban design studio James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) has been chosen to develop a master plan for revisioning the canal network of Georgetown, a neighborhood in Washington, D.C. JCFO has an established pedigree when it comes to re-imagining infrastructure. The firm worked on New York's much acclaimed High Line and is currently planning a similar ten-mile scheme in Miami called the Underline. The name for this project is yet to be announced, but the "The Waterline" wouldn't be a bad guess given JCFO's record. Covering one mile of the Chesapeake and Ohio National Historical Park (C&O Canal NHP), JCFO will work with the National Park Service (NPS), Georgetown Heritage, the D.C. Office of Planning, and the local community to activate underused pedestrian paths through the site and tap into the canal network's forgotten historical heritage. In the coming year, Georgetown Heritage and the NPS will procure community info on how to maximize the site's assets which include: stone structures dating back to the 1830s, locks, towpaths, plazas, and street crossings. These features will aid the educational and recreational aspirations that stakeholders have for the site as well as contribute to the area's aesthetic appeal. The chronology of events for the project is as follows:
  • Conditions Assessment: Documenting and analyzing the current state of the physical structures of the canal, as well as how people currently use the park.
  • Historic Preservation: Inventorying and developing a plan to preserve the historic elements of the canal.
  • Safety & Accessibility: Recommendations to improve access to the canal and make it a safer, more comfortable place to be through interventions such as lighting, ramps, signage, and seating.
    • Recreation Opportunities: In addition to the paddling dock to be built in Spring 2018, the Master Plan will create opportunities and inviting spaces for all kinds of recreation; from active recreation like cycling and kayaking, to passive recreation like bird watching or gongoozling (watching activity on a canal).
  • Transformative Designs: There are five nodes/plazas within this one-mile stretch of canal that are currently underused or not used at all. The Master Plan will explore concepts for transformative designs for these spaces:
    • Zero Mile Marker/Tide Lock
    • Lock 1
    • Mule Yard
    • Fish Market Square
    • Aqueduct Overlook
  • Programmatic Plans: In order to bring life and activity back to the canal, the Master Plan will include plans for interpretation, education, and cultural programming.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for Washington, D.C., and the Georgetown community to create a transformative public space that blends historic architecture with rich landscapes to create a world-class and unique destination in the heart of the neighborhood,” said James Corner, founder and director of JCFO in a press release. “The Georgetown section of the C&O Canal NHP should be a landmark park for everyone, a lively center for social gatherings, a continuous link for recreation and contemplation, a connector of neighborhoods and networks and a model for urban livability and human health and wellbeing.” “The James Corner Field Operations team brings exceptional ingenuity, boundless energy and extensive experience partnering with cities, parks, and community groups to create stunning, lively spaces that reflect each site’s distinct character and maximize its potential to engage people of all ages and cultures,” said Alison Greenberg, executive director of Georgetown Heritage. Also working alongside JCFO in the design and planning process is: MakeDC, Robert Silman Associates, ETM Associates, and Dharam Consulting. These firms will help to develop the Georgetown Canal Plan, which re-envisions this popular section of the canal.
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James Corner Field Operations and nARCHITECTS team up to revamp 10-acre park in the heart of Cleveland

Cleveland’s downtown is more welcoming thanks to a civic space replacing a formerly traffic-choked intersection. The Public Square is a recently completed 10-acre park designed by James Corner Field Operations (JCFO). The $50-million project also includes a small cafe designed by New York–based nARCHITECTS with local architects Westlake Reed Leskosky. Initiated by nonprofit organization The Group Plan Commission, the Public Square is a major part of larger mission to connect Cleveland’s public spaces to Lake Erie.

The design joins four smaller traffic islands situated between the wide lanes of Superior Avenue and Ontario Street in the heart of the city. As part of making the space more pedestrian friendly, Ontario Street was shut down in that section, and Superior Avenue, which still bifurcates the area, was altered and restricted to public transportation. A butterfly-shaped path encircles the site and is flanked by curving park benches designed by JCFO. Within the paths, small hills produce an outdoor amphitheater and provide a lookout over the surrounding traffic.

The Café Pavilion, the final piece of the square, includes a large kitchen and a modest interior dining space. A 60-foot glass facade looks out onto the Public Square and a large fountain. A curated art wall covers the opposite facade, while triangulated metal panels wrap much of the rest of the exterior. Side windows, impressed into the form of the building, allow for views from the street through the dining area and onto the square. The only other structure in the square is the 125-foot Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Monument, dedicated to those who fought in the Civil War. Built in 1894, the large monument once occupied one of the quads divided by traffic, but it is now integrated into the corner of the Public Square. 

By adding a more inviting green space into the center of the city, the designers are taking part in an effort to revitalize Cleveland’s downtown. Before the park even opened, programs and events were already planned for the square, including hosting the performance season of the Cleveland Orchestra. A temporary outdoor installation by Milan-based Cracked Art was also commissioned by LAND Studio, the nonprofit landscape and public art agency that managed the project. The National Endowment of the Arts awarded arts organization Cuyahoga Arts and Culture a $50,000 matching grant for additional arts programming for the Public Square.

Like many recently built civic spaces across the country, the public–private partnership behind Public Square raised both the public and private funds for the needed $50 million for the project. Similar projects, such as Chicago’s Millennium Park and Houston’s Discovery Green, though both larger than the Public Square, have been wildly popular, much to the benefit of the surrounding cities. Others point to the success of JCFO’s High Line Park in New York as a good sign that the square will have the positive impact the city anticipates. In any case, Cleveland has a little more public space to enjoy—and a little less traffic to avoid—in its downtown.

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