Posts tagged with "Landscape Architecture":

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A New Bench-mark at Governors Island

Southside Precast Products fabricates landscape architecture firm West 8’s designs for an organic system of concrete benches and curbs.

When Dutch landscape architecture firm West 8 envisioned a new terrain for Governors Island in New York’s East River, part of the plan included a section dubbed The Hills. The recently completed curving expanse of green space is defined by nearly one dozen curved sections, or “petals,” of seamless, white concrete bench and curb edges fabricated by Buffalo, New York-based Southside Precast Products. Ellen Cavanagh, Director of Park Design and Construction for the Governors Island Trust, said that the concrete pathways along the petals help define areas where the ground was formed to rise and recede. “They call it eyeliner,” she told AN in a recent interview. “Thick and bold white stripes give your eye an anchor so you have a better sense of depth as opposed to one solid color.” At approximately 24 inches in width, the curbs along Governor’s Island are decidedly more massive than standard street curbs.
  • Fabricators Southside Precast Products
  • Architects West 8
  • Location Governors Island, New York
  • Date of Completion November 2013
  • Material precast concrete, custom coating, rubber, foam, plywood
  • Process AutoCAD, hot wire cutting, hand molding, band sawing, hand sawing, buffing, mold casting
From Southside’s 37,000-square-foot facility, 4,250 curb and bench units were fabricated using a combination of custom molds. To expedite production and cut costs, a standard set of shapes was defined in AutoCAD and formed from rubber molds, but none were of standard, square dimensions. “Everything has a radius edge, from seats to curbs to the grass level,” explained Southside President Paul Rossi. The team worked with rubber and foam molds to achieve the desired, smooth texture on 3.2 miles of concrete at an affordable price. In addition to unique profiles and varying heights, West 8 designed an organic, circular low bas-relief “fish eye” pattern for every section of the curb. “The architects were very particular about the density of the pattern,” said Rossi. To ensure the patterning met the designers’ expectations, each coating was hand applied by Southside’s team of fabricators, but was modularized for 12-foot repetitions along 140 flexible, rubber molds. For corner sections and curb pieces with receding angles, hundreds of custom molds were cast to ensure the surface of each piece remained perfectly smooth and the patterning unblemished. To withstand weathering, Southside follows production guidelines established by the Architectural Precast Association (APA) for air entrainment, consolidation, and consistency of binder to aggregate. Beyond APA standards, the fabricators took advantage of the Buffalo climate and put each piece through freeze-thaw testing. Southside also applied a proprietary coating—a secret blend of epoxy and a marine-grade coating for fiberglass—to withstand salt from de-icing treatments and the river’s brackish water. The treatment, however, will not discourage development of a patina that will enhance the fish eye pattern. Once site installation was completed, designers from West 8 were able to observe the execution and American craftsmanship of their design. “Their principal was impressed with the quality of Southside’s work,” said Cavanagh. “Their principal felt it was the best product he’d seen in his career working with precast concrete.”
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Penn State Students Present Visions for Pittsburgh Neighborhood

Fourth and fifth-year landscape architecture students at Penn State's College of Art and Architecture recently presented their proposals for reshaping a Pittsburgh neighborhood. The twelve participants in the school's Pittsburgh Studio spent most of the semester focusing on Hazelwood, a neighborhood set to host a new site for a historic branch of the city's Carnegie Library. At an exhibition in a local church, the Studio exhibited the projects to the community members they had designed them for. Such interaction between students and residents is characteristic of a program that fosters engagement between the two groups along every step of the creative process. Removing students from the vacuum of an classroom setting and placing them in the sites of their prospective designs brings additional weight to the work they generate. Says participant Aaron Ramos, “Once you meet these people, you connect and grow relationships with them and you feel responsible for what you design...I take more ownership with what I present to them and they take ownership, too.” The Studio is a collaboration between the College of Arts and Architecture and the Penn State Center, a branch of the school that enables broader engagement between the School and the city of Pittsburgh. The program, now in its 6th year, will culminate in a tangible impact on Hazelwood. City councilman Corey O' Conner says that $10,000 has been set aside to allow for the implementation of one of the yet-to-be chosen student designs.
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Los Angeles Celebrates Aqueduct Centennial with Interactive Garden

The Los Angeles Aqueduct turned 100 on November 5, and the city has been partying hard. In a performance-art piece designed by Lauren Bon and Metabolic Studios, 100 mules plus their handlers walked along the 240 miles of the aqueduct from the Eastern Sierras to its terminus at The Cascades. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County staged a special exhibit to honor the centennial. And Department of Water and Power (LADWP) employees reenacted the opening of the Cascades’ spill gates, accompanied by descendants of Los Angeles Aqueduct Engineer William Mulholland. The LADWP also unveiled a more lasting tribute to the aqueduct and Mulholland. The Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial Garden, built around the existing Mulholland Fountain in Griffith Park, was the brainchild of staff in the LADWP operations and maintenance office. According to Richard Harasick, Manager of Operations and Maintenance at LADWP, the project started with a plan to replaster and rededicate the fountain. “We were working on that, spending time [at Mulholland Fountain], and we thought: maybe we can do this one better,” he explained. Harasick and his staff came up with the idea for the garden as an interpretive monument to the aqueduct. The Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial Garden, Harasick said, has a two-fold purpose. First, it memorializes the aqueduct by recreating its journey from the northeast. A walking path beginning in the far corner of the garden mimics the course of the aqueduct. To one side of the path, a trapezoidal concrete curb, embedded with blue glass to evoke running, recalls the shape of the original aqueduct channels. Elements along the path, including mile markers and signs for the cities through which the aqueduct travels, are built of Corten steel, metal flanges, and other materials used by the LADWP in its water projects. The path terminates at a replica of The Cascades, which in turn leads to the Mulholland Memorial Compass, a concrete circle ten feet in diameter, with aluminum letters forming Mulholland’s famous declaration: “There it is. Take it!” Near the compass is a section of the original aqueduct pipe, large enough for visitors to stand in or climb through. “We were strategic with where we placed the pipe,” Harasick said. “The idea is that when you stand in the pipe, behind you is the remembrance of Mulholland. Looking forward, you see what he accomplished. Looking forward is what we will continue to do in the future with bringing water to Los Angeles.” The garden, which was planned by Pamela Burton & Company in cooperation with the LADWP, also demonstrates water-wise landscaping. The LADWP planted the garden with approximately 20 different climate-appropriate species, including Red Marin Agave, Red Yucca, Waverly Sage, and California Native Sedge. In the process, it removed 75 percent of the grass around Mullholland Fountain, thus significantly reducing the garden’s water needs. Harasick hopes that the combination of the garden’s message about the source of their water and the drought-tolerant landscaping will inspire visitors to practice conservation at home.
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Product> Water Retention Materials That Are Happy When Wet

The following selections can substantially aid in stormwater management, along roofs, walls, plazas, and more. Hybrid Green Roof System LiveRoof This modular roofing system features Moisture Portal technology and hidden tray lips that connect the roots of each vegetation unit for even water and nutrient distribution across the entire system. In times of excess precipitation, drain channels disperse water at seven gallons per minute for each linear foot. LiveRoof features mature grasses and perennials for a monolithic appearance, but with modular benefits for maintenance and ease of installation. It comes with a 20-year module warranty. Easiwall TreeBox TreeBox’s vertical green cladding panel is made from recycled poly-propylene with a waterproof barrier along a solid back panel. Measuring just under 11 feet squared, each panel weighs 34 pounds empty and can support 150 pounds—including a saturated substrate—when attached to a vertical surface via galvanized steel support rails. Easiwall absorbs 35 to 40 percent of soil volume in moisture. Its modular design is scalable to most building dimensions. Silva Cell DeepRoot The Silva Cell modular containment system transfers above-grade loads to a compacted sub-base. Increased root space serves as an on-site storm water management system and can hold up to 2 inches of storm water. Each 48-by-24-by-16-inch frame features approximately 92 percent void space for ample soil distribution and can accommodate under-ground utilities. Recently specified to support 33 Maples at Toronto’s Sugar Beach, landscape architect Marc Hallé reported that the trees “look they are on steroids. EcoPriora Unilock Multiple shapes and colors are available in Unilock’s new permeable pavers thanks to the introduction of new face mix technology. The rectangular and square pavers—large and small—feature tight joint tolerances compliant with ADA regulation. The pavers also support rapid storm water infiltration and they are strong enough to support commercial vehicular traffic. Enka Retain & Drain Bonar Enka Retain & Drain combines effective green roof drainage while promoting root health by retaining requisite moisture. Water retention material is constructed from 100 percent post-industrial recycled non-woven polypropylene that is designed to hold 15 times its weight in water and conforms to irregular surfaces and offsets. The drainage core is made up of 40 percent post-industrial recycled polypropylene filaments entangled in a square waffle pattern that creates an open flow path for water. Rainstore3 Invisible Structures Constructed from injection-molded plastic, Rainstore panels are suitable for stormwater storage and retention systems in driving areas and parking lots. Thirty-six vertical columns in each 40-by-40-by-4-inch unit store up to a total of 25 gallons of water, and can be stacked up to 24 high, accommodating more storage than chambers and pipes over a smaller surface area. Its open design also supports exfiltration of stormwater along the bottom and sides of the chamber. EPDM Geomembrane Firestone Building Products Suitable for critical containment jobs or decorative water features, EPDM Geomembrane is a flexible, easily installable water barrier for constructed wetlands, agricultural ponds, reservoirs, and landscape features. A variety of panel sizes can be specified and, with 300 percent elongation potential, the product can conform to irregular shapes and contours. It is compatible with Firestone’s QuickSeam Tape for seamless connections. It is also safe for fish and wildlife. HOG RainwaterHOG This 50-gallon storage tank can be connected vertically or horizontally to other HOGs for increased storage capacity. Constructed from a ¼-inch thick, food-grade plastic resin, the HOG can contain potable water as easily as irrigation or emergency stores. The cistern’s outlet is located on the floor of the tank rather than the side for easier access. Designed in Australia for warmer climates, it can withstand temperatures between 22 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, thanks to a UV8 stabilizer mixed into the resin.
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Open> Mathews Nielsen’s West Point Foundry Preserve Park Sustains Landscape, History

The Village of Cold Spring, New York is set within a beautiful landscape along the Hudson River. Strewn about the bucolic landscape are the ruins of the West Point Foundry, begun by President James Madison for metal and brass production after the War of 1812. The 87-acre site housing the foundry was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the spring of 2011 and now, with partial funding assistance from a Preserve America grant and in collaboration with Scenic Hudson, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects has enhanced the historic locale as a sustainably-designed preservation park. Last week, the West Point Foundry Preserve Park officially opened to the public. Famous for its development and manufacture of Parrott guns, the Union army and navy’s weapon of choice during the Civil War, and for its role in the United States’ Industrial Revolution, the West Point Foundry helped unite and progress America from 1817 to 1960, more than a century and a half. The site is home to housing and machine ruins, bridges, dams, paths, roadbeds, rail tracks, and a dock from the original foundry. However, the natural forest and marsh wetlands in which they stand are also of preservation significance. In the design of the Foundry Preserve Park, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects took care to “respect the site’s history and ecology.” Combining existing pathways and rail lines to create a walking narrative among the ruins and placing educational displays near important sites, the landscape architecture attempts the least intrusive path for visitors. Exhibitions at the park’s Foundry Cove illuminate on marsh renewal and the natural wildlife. Working with the Michigan Technological University’s Industrial History and Archeology Program, the firm researched for a design that allowed sustainability of the industrial history and of the valley environment. “Good design is often a matter of working with, not competing with, nature," Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects said in a statement. "The historic Village of Cold Spring marks one of the most stunning geologic expanses of the Hudson River. When Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects designed the West Point Foundry Preserve, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, we let the landscape be our guide.”
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Studio Gang’s Boathouse Opens, Celebrates Chicago River

Amid the clamor to take advantage of Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House this weekend, some may have missed the opening of Studio Gang’s boathouse along the Chicago River’s north branch. The WMS Boathouses at Clark Park opened Saturday to fanfare led by the Chicago Rowing Foundation, who were eager to celebrate the first of four new boathouses to be built along the Chicago River. The boathouse design translates the alternating “M” and inverted “V” shapes from a time-lapse motion image of rowing into the building’s basic organizing form. Targeting LEED Silver, it also features a landscaped garden where the site meets the river. The building’s upper clerestory collects southern daylight in the winter and ventilates in summer. Practice rooms for rowers are flooded with light and river views, instead of being shut away as in many athletic facilities. Similarly the building engages the river itself to a degree rarely seen in Chicago. Contrast the gently sloping approach of Studio Gang’s project to the bunker-like revetment across the river. As the city turns its attention to the downtown riverwalk, it's encouraging to see neighborhood projects embrace it, too. WMS, an electronic gaming company based on the river’s opposite bank, contribued $2 million to help build the boathouse on Chicago Park District land.
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These Winning Student Projects are the Future of Landscape Architecture

Five top student-designed landscape architecture projects across the United States have received Awards of Excellence in The American Society of Landscape Architects’ 2013 Student Awards this month. In the same categories set forth in the society’s Professional Awards, including additional Student Collaboration and Community Service groups, the competition chooses winning entrants based on demonstration of comprehensive planning, environmentally sensitive thinking, and effective presentation, among quality of design and concept. This year, no entrant in the Research category nor the Community Service category received an Award of Excellence; although Honors Awards were granted to a few projects. The ASLA believes that these Student Awards give “a glimpse into the future of the profession.” Recipients and their projects are featured in Landscape Architecture Magazine and will be honored at a ceremony during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in November. General Design Category Drudge City: Sediment Catalysis Matthew D. Moffitt, Undergraduate Student at Pennsylvania State University ASLA Project Statement:
Unprecedented levels of nutrients currently trigger toxic algae blooms and elicit Lake Erie as a restoration success story. The remediation and re-use of nutrient-laden dredge material are essential strategies within future restoration efforts. Dredge City: sediment catalysis proposes the use of Edison Park in Toledo, Ohio as the site for both the processing of and exposure to sediment gouged from the Toledo Shipping Channel, the greatest producer of material within the Great Lakes system.
Residential Design Category Paths of Life - Rethink the Relationship Between Different Agriculture Landscapes and Community Life Yitian Zhao and Siyu Tian, Graduate Students at University of Pennsylvania ASLA Project Statement:
Because of the very unique climate and landform in New Mexico, the traditional pueblo life style is deeply relying on the understanding and exploiting of local landscape. However, contemporary residential development in this area is somehow ignored such kind of relationship. This project rethought and applied the traditional understanding of agriculture landscape into the contemporary residential development design.
Analysis and Planning Category Natural Water as Cultural Water / A 30 Year Plan for Wabash River Corridor in Lafayette Daniel (Zhicheng) Xu, Undergraduate Student at Perdue Univeristy ASLA Project Statement:
The project seeks to find the balancing point between culture and nature along the Wabash River in Lafayette, Indiana, which is currently underappreciated because of flooding, vacancy and disconnection. The design solution is an embodiment of cultural representation and technology of stormwater management in order to achieve ecological and social resilience. With potential for spontaneous use and dynamic programing, the site can transform into a sustainable infrastructure with a cultural identity that provides active waterfront experience.
Communications Category Above Below Beyond Diana Fernandez, Susan Kolber, and Amy Syverson, Undergraduate Students at Temple University and University of Pennsylvania ASLA Project Statement:
Through a six-week open exhibit and the distribution of an “Exhibit Catalog,” Above Below Beyond has helped to spread the word about the potential of Philadelphia’s Reading Railroad as a public, regenerative space. Landscape architecture and architecture student work provided site context, graphic imaging, and programmatic scenarios. By sharing the often-untapped resource of student work with the public, we helped to start conversations about the future of this amazing railroad.
Student Collaboration Category Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum Brad Allison, Jennifer Coogler, Kyle Cooper, Kaitlyn Hackney, Owen Harris, Jerry Hill, David Loyd, Simon Adam Martin, Austin Moore, Jacqueline Pionan, and Oliver Preus, Undergraduate Students at Mississippi State University ASLA Project Statement:
The submitted project is a 4-year, collaborative, design-build effort focused on the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum. The site was re-envisioned as an enhancement to the museum to expand its programs and redefine its mission, which has allowed it to solidify itself as a cultural amenity within the community. With the concept of “Celebrating the Past while Embracing the Future” the site now displays the most diverse collection of integrated green infrastructure technologies within the region.
All images courtesy ASLA.
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Drexel University Breaks Ground on Perelman Plaza Campus Center Redesign

The 32nd Street corridor at Drexel University in Philadelphia has become a hub for student gatherings, interaction, and events. Situated between Chestnut and Market Streets in the campus center, the corridor’s current design, however, does not serve the social and functional needs of its college population. In March, landscape architecture firm Andropogon released primary renderings and plans for a complete redesign of the space now known as Perelman Plaza. In August, more comprehensive images were revealed, and now the project is underway. Two weeks ago, Andropogon broke ground in Phase One on the site, razing the existing awkwardly angled hardscape to begin construction of a practical design for the coexistence of human traffic and nature. Perelman Plaza, named after its $5 million benefactor Raymond G. Perelman of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman Education Foundation, is set to foster community within the student body as a physical connection of the campus buildings surrounding the site. Plans reveal that Perelman Plaza will serve as an important link between old and new Drexel University structures, including the LeBow College of Business and the mixed-use Chestnut Square, both set to open in Fall 2013. Phase One of the plaza's creation will focus mostly on the landscape architecture of Cohen Garden, nestled in the courtyard between the Bossone Research Enterprise Center and the adjacent Peck Alumni Center. Future phases of the Perelman Plaza design will coordinate student spaces for large outdoor events, seating, and pedestrian traffic with natural settings for shade and aesthetic appeal. Andropogon has also proposed sections of high performance landscape that will be modified for sustainable management of rain and stormwater. The project is part of Drexel’s larger Campus Master Plan, an initiative extending through 2017 for expansion and improvements within the university that will better integrate it with the city of Philadelphia.
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Mikyoung Kim’s Stainless Steel Serpent

Brought to you with support from:
Fabrikator
 

Amuneal Manufacturing fabricates a “breathing” sculpture for a North Carolina plaza.

For a public plaza in downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina, landscape architecture firm Mikyoung Kim Design designed a unique sculptural installation that doubles as a stormwater management system. The 70-foot linear form is centrally located to engage the town’s residents with a looped, 10-minute light show. A misting sequence, drawn from a subgrade cistern, emanates through the perforated metal skin of the sculpture, giving the impression that “Exhale” is actually a living, breathing object. The original concept for the piece incorporated hydrological elements of the site in an engaging and transparent way, but the form was less defined. Over the course of nine months, designer Mikyoung Kim said her team designed countless rock-like shapes from clay, carving each from the inside out to achieve a thin, amorphous shape that consistently collapsed in on itself. Then, one night at home, Kim had a breakthrough when her idling hands picked up a few sheets of trace paper in the early morning hours. “I started folding a piece of trace paper and kept folding, and folding,” she recalled. “It was yellow and easy and beautiful; I fell in love with that.” The sheets also helped Kim balance her aim for delicacy with function and helped define Exhale’s fan-like corrugation.
  • Fabricators Amuneal Manufacturing
  • Designers Mikyoung Kim Design
  • Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Date of Completion April 2013
  • Material marine grade stainless steel, LED lighting, high pressure fog system
  • Process Rhino, Solid Edge, laser cutting, CNC press brake bending, welding, bolting
Through a series of quarter-scale mockups and Rhino drawings, the team worked to refine the size of the sculpture’s perforations, a process Kim likened to “squinting to make it clearer.” There are more perforations on the top than on the bottom, giving the impression of a sturdy base with a lighter feeling above. Another challenge came in integrating the corrugated, perforated surface with a support structure. Parametric scripting helped Kim dictate where the perforations would fall in relation to the framing elements. Kim turned to long-time collaborator Amuneal Manufacturing to fabricate the design. Amuneal converted the drawing from Kim’s Rhino files to Solid Edge. Those files were used to laser cut the sheet’s trapezoidal geometry and perforations from marine-grade stainless steel sheets. Amuneal’s CEO, Adam Kamens, estimated that almost 50 sheets where welded together to create the final form. Radial corrugations were folded on a CNC press brake. Because Exhale was designed for a plaza that wasn’t perfectly flat, Amuneal executed as much pre-assembly in its Philadelphia facility as possible. Sheets as large as the bed of a truck were craned into place and welded together on site. Abrasive finishing smoothed over seams and connections. The curved, stainless steel sheets conceal an internal misting tube that releases vapor through a high-pressure spray, as well as color-changing LEDs. Kim’s favorite part of the design experience was watching public reception of her work, which was unveiled on a warm day in late spring. “The combination of all the elements created a reaction from Chapel Hill that was a pleasure to watch,” she told AN. “I watched kids engaging it immediately and it made all of the hard work worthwhile.”
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Dlandstudio’s Gowanus Canal Sponge Park to be Constucted in Next Year

It has been several years in the making, but now the industrial strip along Brooklyn's polluted Gowanus Canal will finally be transformed into a lush and porous green space aptly named The Gowanus Canal Sponge Park that will soak up and filter rainwater to help improve the overall water quality along the waterway. This $1.5 million project, a collaboration between the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and landscape architecture firm dlandstudio, will finally get off the ground with the help of city, state, and federal funding. While a full esplanade was initially planned for the 1.8-mile stretch along the EPA Superfund site, Bloomberg recently announced that the city's first step will be a scaled-down park right where the canal intersects with Second Street. The park takes its name from its "working landscape." Dlandstudio plans on using plants and soils to soak up toxins and heavy metals from the water. The firm will also employ strategies to reroute storm water run-off to keep the sewer system from overflowing and spilling back into the mucky canal. Floating wetlands will also be implemented to absorb contaminants and toxins from sewage. The Daily News reported that the city plans on breaking ground on the park by 2014, and hopes to open it to the public by summer of 2015.
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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.

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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."