Rejoice, lovers of landscape architecture, because the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has published their 2018 ASLA Professional Awards and awarded their top honors to projects across the U.S. and Canada. The Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates–designed Brooklyn Bridge Park, a project twenty years in the making but closing in on the finish line, took home the Award of Excellence in the General Design category. The transformation of a formerly-industrial landscape into a leisure-oriented waterfront park that simultaneously knits together formerly disconnected communities paved the way for an entire generation of similar projects. Ross Barney Architects and Sasaki’s revitalization of the Chicago Riverwalk, another urban landscape project that has been heavily lauded in the past, was recognized with a General Design Honor award. The ASLA chose a wide variety of winners this year. West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture’s master planning and landscaping of the Main Fountain Garden at the Longwood Gardens was honored alongside a culturally sensitive native cemetery in Nunavut, Canada, and an international sculpture center in the grasslands of Fishtail, Montana. In the Residential Design category, the Word + Carr Design Group’s Balcones Residence in Austin, Texas, received the Award of Excellence. The landscape balances positive and negative space and creates a dialogue with the house’s boxy, concrete forms while requiring little maintenance. The top prize in the Analysis and Planning category went to A Colorado Legacy: I-25 Conservation Corridor Master Plan, a master plan by the Design Workshop - Aspen which created a strategic vision for a 17-mile-long stretch of Interstate 25. Other than offering solutions to the urban sprawl surrounding the interstate, the plan serves strategies for preserving up to 100,000 acres of open space while promoting sensible development. Three projects received Honor awards in the Research category, each tackling resiliency in one form or another. The University of Pennsylvania’s interactive Atlas for the End of the World - Atlas for the Beginning of the Anthropocene tracks the decline of biodiversity worldwide as conservation clashes with development and climate change; Mahan Rykiel Associates tracked the 1.5 million cubic yards of sediment dredged from Baltimore Harbor in Design with Dredge: Resilient Landscape Infrastructure in the Chesapeake Bay; and Ayers Saint Gross explored sustainability strategies for the National Aquarium in Baltimore with their Urban Aquatic Health: Integrating New Technologies and Resiliency into Floating Wetlands project. In the Communications category, the Landscape Architecture Section, Knowlton School, The Ohio State University took the Award of Excellence for their free, online library of historical landscapes. The database, 100 Years of Landscape Architecture at The Ohio State University, offers virtual tours of historical and contemporary landscapes around the world, inlcuding in virtual reality, and is meant to serve as both a teaching and landscape architecture recruiting tool. Last but certainly not least, Design Workshop received the Landmark Award for their From Weapons to Wildlife: The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Management Plan. The ambitious plan demonstrates how a 17,000-acre Superfund site could be converted into one of the country’s largest urban wildlife refuges. Now in its third phase, the plan was put into implantation in 1992 as the U.S. government and Shell struggled to remediate what was once a testing ground for biological and chemical weapons. A full list of this year’s Professional Award winners is available here. No less important are the recently announced 2018 ASLA Student Awards, available here.
Posts tagged with "Landscape Architecture":
Roundabouts are all the rage in Europe, but Americans have been slow to adopt this particular form of street design. Despite Los Angeles’s car-centric culture, the glitzy city is no exception, but that might start to change following the success of Riverside Roundabout, a stormwater-retaining traffic island at the intersection of Riverside Bridge, San Fernando Road, and Figueroa Street. The city’s first roundabout definitely brings the spectacle. Greenmeme, a studio working at the intersection of art and architecture, brought nine eye-catching granite sculptures to the site and created a resilient, varied landscape. The egg-shaped pods, ranging from 8 to 12 feet tall, each feature a face from a randomly-chosen local resident. Designers used 3-D scanners to capture the faces of the selected volunteers, and the sculptures bear the likenesses on either side, displaying 18 individuals in total. The sculptures were carved in slices by fabricator Coldspring using a CNC mill, with three sculptures carved from one block of granite. The end result, Faces of Elysian Valley, joins a proud tradition of face-based decorative art. The remaining granite offcuts were used to form a sculptural barricade around the center of the island and protect the “eggs” from traffic. Elongated faces have been stretched into the granite ring as well, creating a perspective trick that reveals undistorted visages as drivers circle the roundabout. Greenmeme worked with Ourston Roundabout Engineering to determine the sculptures’ size constraints, as the team needed to preserve sightlines across the island for drivers without distracting them. In designing the traffic island’s topography, Greenmeme sought to channel stormwater away from the street and adjacent bridge. The landscaped areas have been planted with native plants, and a 25,000-gallon cistern is buried underneath the roundabout, which uses captured rainwater to irrigate the green spaces and feed a water feature. Everything is powered by sun-tracking solar voltaics, including the lights used to illuminate the sculptures at night. The entire roundabout is ringed with permeable green pavers for drivers who need to pull off, and overall the landscape can handle and treat up to 500,000 gallons at a time (a once-every-ten-years rainfall event). Riverside Roundabout and Faces of Elysian Valley opened to the public in February of 2017.
Interested parties have been left standing around for an extra week while they wait to find out the three finalists of Portland, Oregon's Street Seats: Urban Benches for Vibrant Cities design competition. The announcement ceremony was rescheduled to avoid a potentially violent political protest at the adjacent Tom McCall Waterfront Park and eventually took place on August 9 in downtown Portland. Street Seats was an international competition to design new public benches for the city of Portland. Design Museum Portland organized the competition in partnership with Portland General Electric Company (PGE) and World Trade Center Portland (WTCP), which is also the site where the 15 semi-finalists have been installed. Nestled between the Willamette River and downtown, the contest aims higher than merely bolstering public seating. Juror Kregg Arntson, executive director of the PGE Foundation, hopes the seats "inspire people to come down and enjoy the community." Launched in January, the competition attracted over 200 international entrants, and many referenced the Pacific Northwest's rainy climate and penchant for locally sourced wood construction. In addition to basic physical and safety requirements, the design brief emphasized sustainable materials and innovative processes while requiring a 1/8th scale model and a video. Fifteen shortlisted entrants received $1,000 grants to fabricate and install their prototypes on site. Portland-based Kyle and Alyssa Trulen, a landscape architect and a videographer respectively, took the grand prize with their entry A Quiet Place to Sit and Rest. Inspired by author Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree," the bench reflects the design of a stump and protects the trees it's installed around from soil compaction and bark damage. The thermally treated pine and ash are also insect resistant. "The real purpose of the seat design is not merely protection," said the Trulens, "it's about the relationship of a person with a tree...in hope of a healthier urban environment for both." The runner-up, Fluid Wood, was the result of a collaboration between Portland-based architect Norberto Gliozzi and Axiom Custom Products. Fluid Wood comprises layers of laminated wood cut in an egg-like form. Another finalist by The Tubsters, from Berkeley, California claimed the people's choice award for Tub(Time), a cut-away bathtub containing hardened transparent resin representing the Willamette River and a topographical map of the downtown and central eastside. Passersby are encouraged to climb in and recline. The Design Museum, which hosted a similar Street Seats competition in Boston in 2013, was not the first to sponsor such a challenge in Portland. The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) had developed guidelines in 2012 based on similar programs in New York and San Francisco to convert on-street parking spaces to public use. During a 2014 collaboration with the Center for Architecture, Portland yielded two winning submissions for seating that were installed in the city's northeast quadrant. In the summer of 2015, Portland State University architecture students designed and built a seating structure downtown. PBOT canceled the 2016 competition for an uncharacteristically low response rate; however, PBOT's program still exists outside of the downtown area. This year's Design Museum Portland competition is unrelated to the City's previous efforts and was launched independently. Many passersby spontaneously stopped to try the seats and participate in the announcement ceremony after the unveiling, reaffirming Design Museum Portland's managing director Erica Rife's statement that it is "important to be a good neighbor and inspire this community to be closer"—a much-welcomed change from the previous weekend's police and protester standoff. The 15 seats and over 200 1/8th scale models will remain on view until February. Several seats—Fractal Rock by Holst Architects, B_tween Bench by Gamma Architects, and Fern by Yingjie Liang, in addition to the winner and runners-up—will remain installed at the WTCP while the others will be relocated to sites throughout Portland. An online exhibition and schedule of accompanying programs are hosted at designmuseumportland.org.
The Steven Holl Architects (SHA)-led team has won the University College of Dublin's (UCD) Future Campus – University College Dublin International Design Competition. Holl’s winning scheme will see the creation of a “green spine” across the sixty-acre campus, and construction of a crystalline Centre for Creative Design. Steven Holl Architects was joined by Dublin-based Kavanagh Tuite Architects, Brightspot Strategy, structural engineers ARUP, landscape architects HarrisonStevens, and climate engineers Transsolar. Nearly 100 teams from 28 different countries entered the competition, and a star-studded shortlist featuring Diller Scofidio + Renfro, John Ronan Architects, O’Donnell + Toumey, Steven Holl Architects, Studio Libeskind, and UN Studio was revealed in April. The SHA-designed Centre will reportedly reflect the “60-million-year-old natural geometry” of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, filtered through the “stream of consciousness”-style prose found in UCD alumnus James Joyce’s Ulysses, according to Steven Holl. The resultant building is a geometric take on SHA’s more typical institutional work, with windows and balconies carved into prismatic shapes, including a gem-like auditorium faceted like a dodecagon. A plaza and reflecting pool will meet the building at its base. Inside, the center has been optimized for collecting natural light as the jutting crystal shapes—rotated 23 degrees in reference to the tilt of the Earth—will act as enormous solar tubes. The new building will contain classrooms and maker spaces bounded by glass walls, so visitors can peer into the academic areas without disrupting the work going on inside. The Centre will act as a gateway to the seven new quadrangular green spaces the team has designed, which will be interlinked through the new pedestrian “spine” that will run parallel to the campus’s existing circulation route. The SHA team has included a series of solar power-generating weather canopies along the route, as well as cafes and social gathering spaces. UCD was founded in 1854 and is the largest college in Ireland with over 30,000 students. The current 330-acre campus was designed in 1963 by Polish architect Andrej Wejchert and contains a large number of brutalist buildings. The Centre’s budget will be approximately $60 million, and no completion date has been given as of yet.
As implied by its name, Confluence Park overlooks the meeting of San Pedro Creek and the San Antonio River in San Antonio, Texas. Located about three miles south of downtown, the park acts as a gateway for the historic Mission Reach section of the San Antonio River. The $13.7 million project includes an education center and extensive landscaping that illustrates the diverse biomes of Texas. But what most visitors will remember about the 3.5-acre park are the nearly 30-foot-tall concrete petals that emerge from the ground to form a sprawling overhead canopy. Twenty-two of these sculptural panels are clustered together to form a single, large, open-air pavilion. Another six are paired together to form three smaller gathering areas. In addition to providing relief from the South Texas sun, these panels are shaped so that when it rains, they channel water into an integrated system of rainwater collection, filtration, and dispersal. All of this reinforces the stated mission of the park, which is to act as a destination for recreation while teaching important lessons about environmental science and sustainability. To that end, the design team sought to create a composition of architectural and landscape elements that used the same kind of logic found in nature. Ball-Nogues Studio, a Los Angeles–based design practice, established the park’s conceptual master plan. From there, the design was developed in close collaboration with the landscape architect Rialto Studio, Lake|Flato Architects, and Matsys, a San Francisco–based design practice that specializes in the development of new approaches to architectural design and fabrication. That particular skill set was critical in the development of the park’s concrete. Given the structural gymnastics involved, the project’s structural engineer, Architectural Engineers Collaborative (AEC), became an integral part of the design team as well. Although petals of steel, fabric, and wood were all considered during the design process, concrete was ultimately selected for its durability and permanence. Even though the majority of funding for the project came from private donations, Confluence Park functions as a public park, and so vandalism and long-term resiliency were key considerations. Despite the apparent complexity of the assembled petals, the design only required three unique petal shapes. These three forms were refined digitally using Grasshopper and Rhino. The resulting computer files were then provided to Kreysler & Associates and fed to their large 5-axis CNC router at their factory in California. The resulting Styrofoam “positives” were then used to manufacture the fiberglass “negatives” that were shipped to San Antonio to be used as formwork for the petals. Each of the park’s 28 petals was cast on-site but not in place. Given their complex geometry, a portion of the petal had to be exposed during the pour. This resulted in two contrasting concrete textures: a smooth finish where the concrete was poured into the fiberglass form, and a broom finish where the concrete was left exposed. As with many other aspects of the project, a custom solution was required here, too. A special eight-inch broom was used to apply the finish consistently to the petal’s curved form and to emulate the flow of water down the petals. After the concrete had cured for several days, the petals were lifted into their final positions. As with any tilt-up concrete structure, this was the moment when the highest stresses would be placed upon the petals. Adding to the complexity of the erection process was the fact that the petals had to be assembled in pairs: neighboring petals were joined to one another with two steel pin connections to form a determinant structure. The result of all this effort is a unique landmark on the south side of San Antonio. Despite the weight of the concrete petals—individual petals weigh between 15 and 20 tons each—the resulting structure feels remarkably light. The space between individual petals contributes to this feeling of weightlessness, while acrylic lenses embedded in the concrete add a bit of playfulness to the overall composition. In addition to illustrating the possibilities of contemporary concrete construction, Confluence Park demonstrates what is possible when a highly collaborative interdisciplinary design team works with an educated client to create something truly unique. It is only fitting that a park built to celebrate the confluence of diverse bodies of water be created by a confluence of diverse design professionals. Pavilion Design Matsys Landscape Architect Rialto Studio Structural Engineer Architectural Eng. Collaborative MEP CNG Engineering, PLLC Lighting Designer Mazzetti Energy Consultants Positive Energy Waterproofing Consultant Acton Partners This article originally appeared in the July/August issue of Texas Architect magazine.
A new home for Rolex within Dallas’s Harwood District will mark the first project completed by Kengo Kuma in the southern United States. For Gabriel Barbier Mueller, founder of Harwood International and one of the largest private collectors of Japanese armor and artifacts, the project is a coming together of values for a group at the forefront of rethinking Dallas's Uptown area 30 years prior. The existing Rolex Tower neighboring the site was the first in redeveloping a neighborhood whose transformation was accelerated further with the development of the Dallas Arts District and nearby Klyde Warren Park. Kuma’s office and Harwood’s internal group, Harwood Design Factory, collaborated closely from inception through construction. Kuma creates a simplicity in form from the site, a high point within the Harwood District near the location where street grids in Dallas shift. In a nod to the Japanese castle metaphor of reaching toward the sky, Kuma and landscape architect Sadafumi Uchiyama turned to the 15th-generation stonemason Suminori Awata to construct a plinth upon which the seven-story volume would sit prominently among its nondescript neighbors. Awata implemented traditional techniques to design and construct a wall without the help of technical drawings. “Since there are no plans drawn for walls,” Awata explained, “I go to a quarry where I spend a day or two to walk around, memorizing the characteristics of each stone and figuring out where each stone will be set.” The stone wall is a highlight that is in harmony with the building and commands its own measure of respect through clear delineation and craft. The building is a twisting abstraction of Japanese architectural tradition on a reflective glass backdrop. The form is clear, and the structure carries the intention of the form upward from the stone plinth toward the sky. The details, however, appear challenging, as there are multiple points where the fins fail to negotiate the form cleanly. Reflections during the day obscure an interior volume that at night reveals spaces that leave something to be desired, primarily consisting of lab spaces that have been finished for function rather than aesthetics. The interior comes into one with the exterior form at the lobby level where the texture of the exterior is scaled down into more detailed wood fins, stone, and glass. The landscape is ever present, with views looking out toward reflecting pools and native plantings. Uchiyama’s gardens pair with labs on alternating floors where the form torques, providing green space in line with the Harwood District’s commitment to the fifth facade as a design element. The penthouse is capped with a double-height gathering space for employees behind the continuous screen of the facade. Finishes carry over from the base of the building, and a series of furnishings custom-designed by Kuma specifically for the project accentuate the space. In many ways the Rolex Building is the anti-Dallas because of its modest size and contextual design. As architecture, the composition is clear and to the point, commanding one to discover details and intricacies. Not all of these discoveries are deeply satisfying, but they still manage to provoke thoughts and conversations often absent from similar projects in the region. But on the whole, the Rolex Building is a welcome addition to Dallas that is worthy of a visit, and an example that developers should internalize.
The award-winning San Francisco Bay Area landscape architect Ron Herman has passed away. The University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design (CED) announced Herman’s passing in a post on its website earlier this week. Herman, an alumnus of the school, graduated in 1964 with a Bachelors in Landscape Architecture. The designer practiced in the Bay Area for over 35 years and created over 400 full-scale gardens during this time. Herman’s designs included some of the country’s largest and most intricate residential gardens, including Japanese garden-inspired designs for the 25-acre site surrounding the home of Silicon Valley billionaire Lawrence Ellison. Herman grew up in Hollywood, where his father owned a plant nursery. As a child, Herman helped his father install gardens at the homes of rarefied clients, including celebrities Phil Silvers and Steve Allen. After graduating from CED, Herman studied Japanese garden design at Kyoto University in Japan for three years. While there, Herman grew inspired by the tension between regimented and organic forms inherent in traditional Japanese garden design. Herman brought this sensibility back home, imbuing his works with a mix of formal and informal sequences of spaces and plantings. Like his father, Herman’s list of clients included a whos-who of celebrities and prominent individuals and companies, including the professional football player Joe Montana, Neil Young, and Ellison’s company, Oracle. Herman also designed the garden for the East Wing addition by I.M. Pei to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. In a 2002 profile, Herman summed up his philosophy to SF Gate: “A successful garden doesn't show itself all at once...there needs to be an integration or relationship between indoors and out—such as a room that opens onto the garden."
Emerging Voices winner modus studio has nearly completed a floating treehouse in the Garvan Woodland Gardens of their native Arkansas. The twisting timber Tree House rises between the oak and pine trees of the Evans Children’s Adventure Garden and is designed both to mimic the surrounding woods as well as to draw children back into nature. A soft opening for the Tree House this Saturday will cap several years of construction. Garvan Woodland Gardens is the University of Arkansas’s 210-acre botanical garden, and one of only eight public woodland gardens in the country. Modus is a frequent collaborator with the university, having most recently completed the transformation of the school’s sculpture studio. The Tree House is the first of three proposed for the woods, and modus took design cues from nature to create an arboreal play space that doubles as an educational station where visitors can learn about how trees grow. As visitors follow a suspended catwalk through the woods and the foliage recedes, visitors are gradually confronted with the Tree House’s mass. The curved Tree House reaches two stories at one end and tapers to a child-sized window at the other. The curvilinear plan, combined with the timber ribs that make up the tree house’s open structure, creates a biomorphic shape that references the expansion of tree rings. The screen created by the gaps in the scaffolding regulates light, creates unique vantage points for visitors at different parts of the tree house, and allows the building to further blend into the forest. The Tree House is rife with other biophilic touches. A timber staircase allows children to descend to the Root Plaza below, where they can experience the foliage from ground-level (or ascend up to the canopy from a trail). Inside, modus used their in-house fabrication shop to build a steel screen reminiscent of a decaying leaf, capping the tree house’s larger end while still allowing views out to the forest. Slices from native trees, bark, and other teaching tools inside the treehouse build on what modus calls the “theme of dendrology, the study of trees and wooded plants” to drive programming. The privately funded, $1.8 million project will hold its “soft” opening to the public this weekend as the landscaping underneath and some interior components are not fully installed yet. A full grand opening is expected for the fall. AN will update this article to include completed photos of the Tree House after its opening on June 30.
After Saudi Arabia cut ties with and blockaded the adjacent peninsula of Qatar in May 2017, the Middle Eastern kingdom is reportedly looking to physically sever the nearby country from the mainland. According to the Makkah newspaper, five international firms have been invited to submit proposals, due Monday, to dig a 38-mile-long canal on the Saudi side of the border. Saudi Arabia will choose its winning firm in 90 days and begin work on the tentatively-titled “Salwa Channel” immediately after, with construction planned to take less than a year. If the canal is actually built, it would bridge the Persian Gulf with a 650-foot-wide, 130-foot-deep channel that would allow ships to pass through. This form of “weaponized landscape architecture” would turn Saudi Arabia’s eastern neighbor into a full-blown island. All of this is still in the planning stages, and, as the Washington Post speculates, plans for the $750 million canal could be a ploy to pressure Qatar psychologically. No final use for the channel has actually been proposed; there have been alternating reports that the new waterway could be used for tourism, a military base, or a dump for nuclear waste. As has also been pointed out, Saudi Arabia has already blocked Qatar’s only land route, and it’s not clear if adding any other physical barriers along an inaccessible stretch would do much to impact Qatar’s ability to move goods and people in and out of the country. Qatar itself had proposed building the same canal in years past, but ultimately decided against it over the high cost.
After years of planning and handwringing over fundraising, the first phase of Philadelphia’s own “High Line,” the transformation of the Reading Viaduct rail line, was opened to the public last Thursday. Although the Rail Park’s first spur is only a quarter mile long, the rail line will be twice as long and wide as New York’s High Line when fully built out. The first section of the linear park, located on the northern edge of Center City and designed by landscape architects Studio Bryan Hanes, reflects the neighborhood’s industrial past. Native plants and trees were planted on top of the viaduct’s steel arches, and remnants of the embedded rail track are woven throughout the zigzagging walkway. Riveted I-beams have been turned into seating, and structural steel beams are used to support the hanging benches. A timeline of the neighborhood and a historical list of the city’s industrial manufacturers have been cut into a weathered Cor-ten steel “history wall” that visitors can walk beside. Unlike New York’s High Line, the Rail Park is wide enough to include both dedicated bike trails and footpaths for pedestrians, creating new links to traditionally underserved neighborhoods when the three-mile-long park is complete. Construction on the $10.8 million elevated park was beset with delays. In planning since 2010, the project finally broke ground in October of 2016 after SEPTA, the site’s former owner, agreed to lease the rail spur to the nonprofit Center City District (CCD) during construction. Now that the section is finally open, ownership has been handed over to the City of Philadelphia, with maintenance and management split between the CCD, the nonprofit Friends of the Rail Park, and the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation. Funding for the Rail Park’s 25,000-square-foot first phase was raised in combination by the Friends of the Rail Park and through a $3.5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant from the state government. According to the CCD, this section of the Rail Park will serve as a design proof-of-concept and fundraising tool for the rest of the viaduct’s development. No timeline or estimated construction dates have been given for the second and third phases.
We have to imagine a place before we can actually be there. So St. Louis–based artists and curators Gavin Kroeber, Tim Portlock, and Rebecca Wanzo invited their fellow citizens to imagine the urban future with “a two-day festival of art and ideas that explores the collisions of race, urbanism, and futurism, providing a platform for alternate visions of the St. Louis to come.” The name of the event, “Dwell in Other Futures,” comes from the novel Dhalgren by the Afrofuturist writer Samuel R. Delaney, who also served as the keynote speaker and underpinning force that bound together a number of the program’s participants. To open the event, Delaney recited a chapter from his most recent novel that bolstered the role that intimacy might play in how we understand our spaces. Held on April 27 and 28, the program included a collection of workshops and presentations, with special emphasis on performances. For example, the multidisciplinary artist Eric Ellingsen, along with his team of Tyvek-hazmat-suit-clad landscape architecture faculty and students from the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, invited the public to join as they performed a choreographic ritual on an empty land parcel across the street from the Pulitzer Foundation. Inspired by the spray paint markings that often indicate underground utility lines, Ellingsen’s team challenged the audience to assume agency over the colored ground markings that make up our cities in order to speculate how infrastructure may connect us in more creative ways. Children and adults took charge of rolling paint applicators to inscribe the site with colorful lines while an overhead drone recorded the real-time mapmaking from a bird’s-eye view. Inside, artist Autumn Knight invited audience members to offer impromptu proposals for civic institutions as part of her La-A Consortium performance, positing playful yet bureaucratic titles such as “Shephanique Center for Literacy” and the “Jadavian Center for Creative Ecologies” as a starting point. By leveraging the power of intentional naming, Knight prompted the audience to consider how they might creatively impact the identities and activities of the organizations that constitute our society. The event closed with a bang as six different local participants delivered “Manifestos for a Future St. Louis.” These brief, bold, and highly choreographed proclamations required each participant to articulate a scenario about a possible future through whatever artistic means necessary. Architectural historian Michael Allen delivered a prescient soliloquy set to a Hollywood soundtrack, warning of a “non-topian” future that intensifies our troubled present, brimming with privatization and distrust of the public sphere. Maxi Glamour, the self-proclaimed “Demon Queen of Polka and Baklava” projected a nonbinary, gender-fluid future enacted by a spectacular drag performance. Social practice designer De Nichols closed the series with an optimistic call to action, imploring us to consider what parts of the status quo need to be destroyed in order to make space for “audacious” culture-makers and “fearless” justice-makers. What conclusions did the festival draw? Its participants proposed more questions than answers, implicating the audience every step of the way, but most assuredly, the celebratory collective voice proclaimed that the future will be black, the future will be queer, and the future city demands all of our emphatic participation.
Some might say adaptive reuse is for the birds—in which case, San Francisco–based Kuth Ranieri Architects might happen to agree. The office is currently working on an unexpected adaptive-reuse project in Suzhou, China—just outside Shanghai—with fellow Bay Area landscape architects TLS Landscape Architecture, with the aim of repurposing an aged amusement park at the foot of the iconic Lion Mountain into a central green for a new, technology-focused residential hub. For the Shishan Park project, TLS has designed a district-wide master plan focused on a new circular promenade surrounding the old central lake that once anchored the forgotten fun park. The development is carved into ten subdistricts, each anchored by iconic pavilions—also designed by Kuth Ranieri—and recreational spaces “capitalizing on the site’s natural and man-made lakes as well as the mountain’s historic significance and beauty,” according to the architects. Overall, TLS’s designs highlight 18 “poetic scenes” that visually connect occupants to the existing lake, nature zones, and views of the five distinct mountaintops that can be seen from the site. At the heart of the new urban area is the disused amusement park and its original metallic roller coaster, which Kuth Ranieri plans to convert into a new, 160,000-square-foot visual and functional center for the 182-acre development. Utilizing stainless steel mesh netting to create the outermost enclosure and wooden decking and steel platforms for new occupiable promenades, Kuth Ranieri reenvisions the dilapidated roller coaster as a superscaled aviary. The plan includes a circuitous “infinity walk” that takes occupants up and through the reused roller-coaster structure to perches above the treetops furnished with viewing platforms and an expansive sky deck. The complex can be entered from any one of three access points framed by glass-wrapped concrete parabolic arches that extend into the aviary as covered walkways. Within, the complex will also contain a ten-story circulation tower that can bring visitors up to the highest observation levels. Here, a wide staircase containing landings generous enough to host public programming will wrap the elevator core. The complex will also include a green roof–topped animal care facility. The metallic enclosure surrounding the aviary is inspired by traditional Chinese ink paintings and, more specifically, by representations of Lion Mountain in such artworks. The cascading, rounded geometries of the canopy are designed to evoke “a feeling of layered misty mountains,” according to Kuth Ranieri. The project is scheduled for completion in 2020.