Posts tagged with "Landscape Architecture":

Groups Call for People-Friendly Lake Shore Drive Overhaul in Chicago

Lake Shore Drive could look a lot different if a local design alliance gets its way. The "Our Lakefront" plan, commissioned by 15 different organizations including the Active Transportation Alliance, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and the Chicago Architecture Foundation, would reduce the speed limit on the north branch of Lake Shore Drive from 40 to 35 miles per hour; carve out lanes for bicycles and either bus rapid transit or rail; and replace parking spaces with greenery. Connectivity is a hallmark of the concept. The plan calls for increased lakefront access for both vehicles and pedestrians, perhaps through programmed parks and plazas “serving as access points across Lake Shore Drive and as iconic gateways between the city and the lakefront.” Unlike the southern segment of Lake Shore Drive, which was rebuilt about 10 years ago, this seven-mile stretch of highway is between of 60 and 80 years old. The “Our Lakefront” team says as long as Illinois Department of Transportation officials are considering restoring infrastructure along the road, including several ailing bridges, they may as well as look at restoring the iconic Drive’s original design. “Redefine the Drive,” as they put it. From the Sun-Times:

Lake Shore Drive was originally designed as “a boulevard. It was a pleasure drive early on,’’ said Lee Crandell of the Active Transportation Alliance, among the 15 groups that helped to write the “Our Lakefront” plan.

“It’s slowly turned into a freeway,’’ Crandell said. “We want it to feel like a boulevard.’’

Read the full conceptual plan here. Three public hearings are scheduled this week:
  • Aug. 6, 6 - 8 p.m., Gill Park, 825 W. Sheridan Road, 3rd Floor
  • Aug. 7, 6 - 8 p.m., Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson Avenue, Atrium
  • Aug. 8, 6 - 8 p.m., Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Drive, South Gallery
After the meetings, a formal design team will convene to hash out details. If anything is built, it won’t be for years. Daniel Burnham’s vision for Chicago is often evoked here to lend credibility for urban planning proposals. Amid both shrinking budgets and an urban reawakening, landscape and infrastructure projects have become increasingly common and closely watched. UPDATE Aug. 7: This story originally said the plan considered high-speed rail. That was not accurate. From Lee Crandell, director of campaigns for Active Transportation Alliance:

The platform calls for separating transit from car traffic with bus-only lanes and other public transit enhancements, such as Bus Rapid Transit. BRT vehicles are often designed to look similar to light rail vehicles (this is why BRT is sometimes referred to as light rail with rubber wheels), and the drawing does intentionally leave it open to interpretation whether LSD could include something like BRT or light rail.

Sliced Benches at Harvard Great for Loafing

Fabrikator

Seven design variations are applied across 17 custom wooden benches, fabricated by Mark Richey Woodworking.

Sited above a vehicular tunnel and therefore bereft of old growth trees, the Plaza at Harvard University, with its aggregate porcelain paving and curvaceous, sculptural benches, stands in stark visual contrast to the school’s notably shady yard and north campus. Designed by Stoss Landscape Urbanism, the plaza serves as a multi-functional space for staff, students, and the local community. A large part of accomplishing this goal fell to the unique seating solution, a collection of custom-designed, wooden slat benches that aim to increase the function and user comfort of the public space. Some of the benches are meant for lounging with no back and a low seat height, while others are higher with full seat backs. Some twist in the manner of a Victorian tete-a-tete settee, while still others support a touchdown working posture. Stoss's design for the benches, sliced like a loaf of bread, was achieved in Rhino with a Grasshopper plugin. The parametric modeling tool was instrumental in defining the benches' complex geometries. "At every change, the curves meet two general sections so there's a morphology of that form work," said Erik Prince, an associate at Stoss who worked on the plaza. "The wooden slats are an incremental radial splay of the overall geometry so every rib has a unique angle to it." The design team produced a 3D model for each of the 17 benches. Since the benches were manufactured based on information contained in the digital files, a substantial portion of time was spent developing accurate models that could be extrapolated for the fabrication process.
  • Fabricators Mark Richey Woodworking, Prescott Metal
  • Designers Stoss Landscape Urbanism
  • Location Boston
  • Date of Completion May 2013
  • Material Alaskan yellow cedar, metal, epoxy, screws
  • Process Grasshopper, Rhino, CNC milling, welding, screwing
"It was a deep model, so even the smallest changes would cascade throughout the design," said Greg Porfido, chief operating officer at Mark Richey Woodworking, which fabricated the benches. Further intricacies of the manufacturing process came from the slight change in the angle of each rib to accomplish the complex twists and turns of unique forms. The centermost rib stands vertically erect, while those radiating out to either side increasingly angle outward along the length of each bench, culminating in as much as a 30 degree lean at each end. Mark Richey Woodworking fabricated the ribs on a 5-axis CNC mill. The sharp angles of the intersecting slats, which have parallel reveals, were achieved with mitered connections fixed with epoxy and mortise and tenon joints. Once fastened together as a "bread slice," they were laid over a metal substructure and screwed from beneath. Removable metal caps on both ends conceal drivers for LED base lighting, power and data hookups, and deliver a smooth, clean edge. Reflecting on the process of parametric design and fabrication, both Stoss Landscape Urbanism and Mark Richey Woodworking were in agreement about the success of the process and the outcome of the project. "It's a great way to communicate, but it requires a very collaborative approach," Porfido said. "The stakeholders have to have trust in the process; otherwise it doesn't work."

Anheuser-Busch Taps Plans For St. Louis Biergarten

An 18-foot, bright red “B” plucked from St. Louis’ Anheuser-Busch brewery will find a permanent home in the beer conglomerate’s first U.S. “biergarten.” The “B” is a relic of the neon Budweiser sign replaced by LEDs in February. Located adjacent to the brewery’s tour center at 12th and Lynch streets, the beer garden joins what is already one of the region’s largest tourist attractions, drawing 350,000 visitors annually. Five of the dozen U.S. breweries are owned by A-B, which itself is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Belgium-based A-B InBev, but the St. Louis location is so far the only one with a beer garden on tap. As STL Today points out, the macrobrewer is keeping pace with local craft brewers  Urban Chestnut Brewing Co., which opened a 400-seat beer garden in 2011, and Schlafly Bottleworks, who expanded their outdoor seating last year to serve 150 people. The A-B biergarten will seat 300, and could be open by mid-summer. They will offer light fare meant to complement the 17 A-B beers available on draught, as well as daily Brewmaster’s Tastings. St. Louis earlier this year broke ground on Ballpark Village, a mixed-use development oriented around Busch Stadium.

Spontaneous Interventions To Spruce Up Chicago’s Millennium Park This Summer

Starting Memorial Day, Chicago's Millennium Park will host the U.S. debut of a bright array of public design projects, many of which appeared at the 2012 Venice Biennale. Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good will feature 84 works, including more than a dozen for Chicago and several that also appeared in Venice. One Venice Biennale carryover will be the slew of pull-down banners created by Brooklyn design studio Freecell and Berkeley-based communication design firm M-A-D. An “outdoor living room” for Millennium Park, designed by Wicker Park firm MAS Studio, is among the new installations. The space will serve as an outpost for the exhibition, according to MAS director Iker Gill, shading visitors with a canopy of more than 700 moving acrylic panels with a lively color palette. Local woodworker John Preus of Dilettante Studios will salvage lumber for the wood support structure and seating. The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events brought the design contest to Chicago for its first U.S. showing. Programs will take place at the Cultural Center, in the pop-up pavilion in Millennium Park, and at various offsite locations through September 1. Here’s a video of Freecell and M-A-D’s banner project from the biennale:

Lessons for Chicago’s Riverwalk: Engage With The City

As Chicago gears up for an overhaul of the city’s Riverwalk, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has touted his architectural cause célèbre as a way for the city to reengage with its “second shoreline.” The renderings by Sasaki Associates show six new blocks of riverfront parks, effectively connecting the shore of Lake Michigan with a small park at the foot of  the three massive towers planned for Wolf Point, at the confluence of the Chicago River’s three branches. Chicago Magazine scribe Whet Moser has a good suggestion for "Emanuel's latest obsession": learn from other riverwalks. The three he points to are in Indianapolis, San Antonio and London. Indianapolis has come back considerably from the depths of its urban flight. Its riverwalk should be a big beneficiary of that resurgence, but Moser quotes an Urbanophile blogger who notes Indy’s riverwalk remains relatively separate from its downtown business district. San Antonio and London took steps to integrate their riverwalks into the surrounding communities by adding mixed-use and expanding into neighborhoods beyond downtown. The plans as presented currently are ambitious in engaging the river downtown, but they focus on recreation rather than retail. While a riverside shopping mall is not ideal, a little more room for mixed-use development probably would enhance the experience. Likewise, the six blocks planned lay a framework for expanding into neighborhoods along the river to the north and south of the Loop, but are currently limited to downtown. Ping Tom Park in Chinatown is not far away, and one can even imagine (with a little optimism) that the industrial legacy of Goose Island just to the north could be reborn with a bit of greenspace. And other cities around the Midwest are renewing their riverfronts, as well. Des Moines' new riverwalk is nearing completion, and Detroit’s recently got a boost in funding to build on a design competition spotlight. Ross Barney Architects and Sasaki Associates are the designers on the project.

Australian To Lead University of Pennsylvania’s Landscape Department

The University of Pennsylvania's School of Design has announced that Australian Richard Weller has been appointed Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture. Penn Dean Marilyn Jordan Taylor believes that Weller is just the person to build on the department's well known legacy of research and teaching since it was founded over 50 years ago by the legendary Ian McHarg. The department has been directed by Field Operation's James Corner since 2000 who asserts that Weller is a "leading edge figure in our field." Weller has been teaching at the University of Western Australia and was director of both the Australian Urban Design Research Centre and the design firm Room 4.1.3. His current research concerns ways of "conceptualizing, representing and designing cities a mega-regional scale." In March of this year Weller will release his latest book, Made in Australia, that focuses on the long term future of cities.

Discover the Landscape Architecture of Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C., is often admired for its monuments. Now there is another part of our nation's capital that its 19 million annual visitors can tour and enjoy. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has recently announced the launch of an online mobile-friendly guide meant to give not only tourist, but also locals a new perspective on the historic, modern, and contemporary landscapes in Washington, D.C. and Arlington, VA. Created by the ASLA in partnership with 20 nationally recognized landscape architects, The Landscape Architect's guide to Washington, D.C., elucidates each site with the knowledge and perspective of a professional. Each designer was asked to present their site in a manner that would allow visitors to gain an understanding of how the location's design influences them and their sentiments about the area. This free online guide covers more than 75 landscapes organized into 16 distinct tours, highlighting how the city's lively public realm has evolved and developed over the years. Demonstrating the importance of landscape architecture in urban design, the website shows the greater role that this field plays in designing the interstitial spaces between a city's buildings and its public realm. Each tour includes printable walking or biking maps. The guide is free so as to be accessible to all and is noted as the first of many guides to come. To view the guide visit www.asla.org/guide

Cleveland Scrubs Clean a Long-Blighted Park

After nine years of fundraising, a transformed park in downtown Cleveland seems to personify the spirit of reinvention that has recently overtaken the city. Perk Park, originally built in 1972, was first conceived by I.M. Pei as a small piece of the 200-acre Urban Renewal District. It was once called Chester Commons (for its location at East 12th Street and Chester Avenue), but was renamed in 1996 for 1970s Mayor Ralph Perk. A gunman shot two young men in the park in February 2009, killing one and wounding the other. That incident spurred action from Mayor Frank Jackson and the City Council, who delivered the remaining $1.6 million for the renovation. New York’s Thomas Balsley and the Cleveland firm of McKnight & Associates are the landscape architects behind the redesign. Their plan opens up an enclosed area at the park’s center by removing interlocking walls of concrete, where the 2009 murder took place. They added trees and rows of light wands along the park’s edges. The design smartly borrows from the modernist principles that spawned the surrounding skyscrapers, cultivating a hospitable vibe that has so far received high marks from Clevelanders. The trees provide shade and a slight respite from the urban heat island effect. And, it seems, from increasingly outdated perceptions of blight and dullness in downtown Cleveland.  

Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine Celebrates Opening of Washington Park

Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood is surging back from disrepair, becoming the poster-child for Porkopolis' return to progressive urbanism. After two years of construction, the historic neighborhood’s Washington Park reopened to the public Friday. The $48-million renovation is the latest investment by Cincinnati in its urban character—much was made of Washington Park’s likelihood to attract and sustain investment nearby. A number of amenities were added, including a children’s playground, a dog park, a fountain, an event plaza and a stage for live performances. Some historic elements of the 1855 park remain, including a replica of a Civil War-era cannon. But the thrust of the project was reinvention. Once 6 acres, Washington Park is now 8 acres and boasts a new playground as well as a 450-space subterranean parking garage. Part of the original park was a cemetery; the renovation team had to move 53 bodies still buried underneath to put in the underground parking structure. Public transport, walkability, and green space are part and parcel with an economically vibrant urban core. Along with Fountain Square and the Smale Riverfront, the reopening of Washington Park could be a milestone in the redevelopment of Cincinnati’s urban identity.

Redesigning the National Mall: Constitution Gardens

[Editor's Note: Following the unveiling of proposals to redesign the National Mall, AN will be running a three-part series to display the proposals for each of the three segments of the Mall: Constitution Gardens, Union Square, and the Washington Monument Grounds.] A 50-acre parcel of the National Mall, Constitution Gardens, lies just north of the Reflecting Pool and east of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Grade changes keep it somewhat hidden from the main stretch of the Mall, and many tourists (and locals) visit the monuments and Smithsonian museums without coming across it. The gardens' focal point is a small lake with an island that visitors can access by footbridge. The National Park Service has struggled with the site's poor soil conditions—the ground was dredged from the Potomac River back in the late 19th century—and with upkeep of the paths and other features. The National Mall Plan of 2010 calls for an "architecturally unique, multipurpose visitor facility, including food service, retail, and restrooms" to be developed at the east end of the lake, as well as a flexible performance space. Andropogon + Bohlin Cywinski Jackson propose a "resilient park landscape...sustained by biologically enhanced soils." Their design includes a Magnolia Bog in part of the current lake area and different edges for the lake (lakeside promenade, wetlands boardwalk, rock outcropping). The team envisions a marketplace along Constitution Avenue. The concept submitted by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architect + Paul Murdoch Architects features a cafe built into the parkland near Constitution Avenue, the ground seemingly tilting up to form its green roof. This scheme also proposes boardwalks, performance seating, and biodiverse plantings. In OLIN + Weiss/Manfredi's plan, distinctive braided pathways curve around and over the water. Interlaced pavilions would house a cafe and a more formal restaurant, as well as a gift shop. Spectators at the outdoor amphitheater would be entertained by performers on a floating barge. Rogers Marvel Architects + Peter Walker and Partners call for a large restaurant/pavilion to face a reflecting basin that would allow ice skating in the winter and model boating in the summer. Paths would be widened and, at the lakeshore, bordered by an aquatic shelf for filtration; connections with other parts of the Mall would be improved. Click on a thumbnail to launch the slideshow. All images courtesy respective firms.

Troy, Troy Again! Architects Revamping an Aging Waterfront

The design minds behind the waterfront destinations of West Harlem Piers on the Hudson River, the India Street Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and the Edge Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, have been chosen for yet another waterfront revamp. W-Architecture, a New York City-based architecture and landscape architecture firm, was selected to design and renovate the Troy Riverfront Park in Troy, New York, a $1.95 million project that's part of the city's plan to redevelop its Hudson River waterfront. Currently under construction, diseased trees are currently being cleared to open up views to the river and create a more sustainable and seamless connection to the city's downtown. Troy, like many cities on the Hudson River, has a rather neglected waterfront. Barbara Wilks, principal of W-Architecture, is known for reusing existing site materials in her park designs, but she said, "There was nothing left—it had been made into a park in the 1970's. We did incorporate the existing Vietnam memorial that had been located there later as well as the statue of Uncle Sam, who was from Troy." Accessibility and views were also an issue taken under consideration by the design team. "The most inviting aspect is the orientation to the river. From the existing park, the river was hardly visible. Now all the topography is being regraded to focus on the views up and down river." The park is concurrently being developed with the former city hall site to the west and aims to reopen towards the end of this summer.

Is Frederick Law Olmsted Bad for Landscape Architecture?

Mark Hough put it bluntly in his latest article from Landscape Architecture magazine reposted on the American Society of Landscape Architects' blog, "Our preoccupation with Olmsted stems from a chronic, debilitating inferiority complex that plagues our profession. We lament that laypeople confuse us with landscape designers and horticulturists, and we envy the greater visibility that architects enjoy. All of this contributes to a feeling of inadequacy...The fear seems to be that if people stop talking about him, they stop talking about landscape architecture. I hate to say it, but there is some truth in that paranoia." Read the rest of the article at the ASLA Dirt.