Posts tagged with "Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates":

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Obama Presidential Center won’t move controversial parking garage

Despite comments from Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects that the forthcoming Obama Presidential Center (OPC) would consider moving a freestanding parking garage out of the Frederick Law Olmsted–designed Jackson Park in Chicago, officials have decided to keep the building on the greenway. The 450-car structure will potentially eat up five acres of parkland in addition to the 20 acres the center itself is taking. The decision to build an aboveground garage on the eastern edge of Midway Plaisance, a narrow strip of historic parkland that connects Jackson and Washington parks, has been contentious from the beginning. Although the two-story structure had always been envisioned with a green roof on top to help it blend into the surrounding park, critics charge that this fails to negate the destruction of a historically significant landscape. Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed all three of the aforementioned parks in 1871, while Jackson Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. As opposition from the local South Side community continued to mount, Tod Williams said earlier that, “We are wondering whether this parking should exist here, or whether it should be pressed further into the ground ... or whether it comes back to the site here.” But following a private meeting between the Obama Center design team, the Obama Foundation, and local community activists last night, the Foundation has announced that the garage will be staying put. Part of the Obama Center master plan calls for linking the site with the nearby Museum of Science and Industry, and the location of the garage proved too integral in that design for designers to consider moving. The walkability that an aboveground garage brings was also given as the reason why the team couldn't bury the structure. Instead, project landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh detailed a list of changes that the design team hoped would assuage outcry from concerned preservation groups. Van Valkenburgh told the Chicago Sun Times that landscaped slopes would be installed on all sides to better camouflage the building, that the plan would call for no longer staging busses on the Midway, and that the entrance to the garage would be moved to cut down on the time it took to walk to the Center. Additionally, the green roof has been made more pastoral, and plans for a basketball court and barbecue area have been tabled. “I think that the way it honors the intent of the original Olmsted plan is with a strong landscape connection between Jackson Park and the beginning of the rest of the Midway,” said Van Valkenburgh. Despite the changes, the Chicago City Council will still need to give the Obama Foundation permission to build in the Midway, while a review of the entire OPC is also underway at the federal level.
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The iconic St. Louis Arch is revamped with new landscape designs

“Our project is at the end of a seventy-year project,” said Gullivar Shepard, principal at Brooklyn-based Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), of his firm’s St. Louis CityArchRiver design. Back in 2010, MVVA’s team won a competition to rework the landscape around the St. Louis Gateway Arch—technically the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial—to make it more universally accessible, easier to maintain, and more integrated into its urban context. Expanding and popularizing the site’s little-known museum was also a key goal. While the client was technically a foundation, the firm would have to work closely with the site’s owner and preservation-minded steward, the National Park Service (NPS). The challenge was complex: The landscape was hardly a clear-cut expression of Eero Saarinen and Dan Kiley’s designs.

Kiley was on Saarinen’s original design team, whose 1947 proposal won the memorial competition. But the project languished until 1957, when funding became available. Saarinen and Kiley were internationally renowned by then, “so they went back to the drawing board, literally, and came up with a new design for the memorial,” said NPS Historian Robert Moore. “Basically, it evolved from a rectilinear-looking plan to a very curvilinear plan that echoed the curves of the arch itself.” Moore described how the curving paths and ponds were Saarinen’s ideas, while the allées and cypress circles came from Kiley.

The NPS subsequently stepped in and became involved in the design, thinning out Kiley’s dense vegetation. After the completion of a 1964 “final landscape plan” with Kiley (Saarinen had passed away in 1961), the NPS continued without him. Money to build the landscape only became available in earnest in the early 1970s, with much of the landscape elements in place by 1974, though final plantings were made in 1983. During this time, the NPS made small changes to Kiley’s ponds and the special stairs Saarinen had designed. “Again, [there were] many hands in the design,” said Moore.

The resulting shortcomings are numerous. Eighty percent of visitors, said Shepard, don’t even know there’s a museum underneath the arch. Many drive in from the highway, park on the on-site parking lot, take the tram to the top, and leave. The park is also cut-off from the city by highways, which didn’t exist in 1947.

In addition, the decision-making process was complicated by the fact that “this is not an actual historic landscape or actual historic building or fabric,” said Shepard. “It’s a monument to a historic concept, a moment of time.”

MVVA broke down the proposed interventions into 14 key decision points, each a constituent part of a larger landscape resuscitation.

Ultimately, key interventions included building new, fully accessible paths—embedded in the landscape—that snake down from the arch plateau to the river, replacing the allées’ infestation-prone ash trees with London plane trees, and bulldozing the parking lot to create a new seven-acre park that connects to Washington Avenue, a major urban corridor of St. Louis. The biggest (and perhaps most controversial) intervention was a new circular museum entrance embedded in a berm that leads up to the arch plateau. A new vegetated bridge, which leads directly to the new museum entrance, will replace caged highway overpasses.

While the stakes are high for the memorial, this project could have broader implications for other NPS sites. “This was the project that everyone in the Park Service has been very carefully watching,” stated Shepard. If the NPS, an organization “not built for change,” can successfully update a complex site like this, then perhaps similar projects could be possible in other cities.

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The Wharf, D.C.’s massive waterfront development, is now open

The Wharf–a $2 billion new development on a former industrial stretch of the D.C. waterfront–has finally opened. The developers are Madison Marquette and PN Hoffman, and the master architect and planner is Perkins Eastman. Previously the site was a mile-long stretch of boat storage, industrial space, and some back-door barbecue joints. At its northern end, it also includes the oldest fish market in the United States. Before the Wharf could be built, the existing seawall and promenade were torn up and replaced by an underground, two-story parking garage spanning the length of the development. The garages connect from below into an array of luxury residential structures with ground-level commercial space–restaurants, yoga studios, and other amenities. Last week all of these opened to the public–in total, 1.2 million square feet of mixed-use space including office structures, luxury and affordable residential space, a marina, and waterfront parks. The fish market was the only structure preserved as-is. The Anthem, a new 6,000-person theatre venue, is a cornerstone development of the Wharf. Designed by New York-based Rockwell Group, the venue is essentially a concrete volume hedged in by two L-shaped residential structures. The Anthem has a warehouse-like interior and two levels of balconies split into smaller, drawer-like extrusions. Massive steel panels flank the stage, laser cut and illuminated with the pattern of two enormous curtains drawn back, resembling the velvet drapery of Baroque theaters. The space is managed by a 30-year old staple organization in D.C. entertainment–the 9:30 Club–to whom the Wharf reached out in the initial stages. The building’s board-form concrete paneling and industrial facade are intended as a nod to the Club’s famed punk-laden lineups. In the lobby, one can look up through an installation of floating cymbals to four rectangular skylights three floors up. If you look closely, the skylights ripple with water–the underbelly of a pool for a residential structure stacked above. A key design challenge for the Anthem was its siting between two residential structures. To address the noise issue, Rockwell spent several million dollars designing a multi-layered sound barrier between the structures, which are reportedly so effective that amplified concerts are inaudible from the interiors of apartments less than a hundred feet away. Supposedly, a resident could sleep soundly while Dave Grohl shredded away on opening night. The Anthem's neighboring structures include designs by FOX Architects, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Perkins Eastman, Parcel 3A, Cunningham Quill Architects, BBG_BBGM, Handel Architects, WDG Architecture, Studio MB, SmithGroup JJR, MTFA Architecture, SK&I, and Moffatt & Nichol. Only Phase One has opened. Phase Two will add an additional 1.2 million square feet to the overall site footprint, mostly extending south. The roster of new structures will include designs by firms such as SHoP Architects, Rafael Viñoly, Morris Adjmi Architects, Hollwich Kushner (HWKN), ODA, WDG Architecture, and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA). The expansion will include increased office and residential space, an additional pier and marina, as well as increased park space. Phase One is notably without much public greenery. The construction of Phase Two is slated to begin in 2018, with a projected opening of 2021.
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Huge walkable waterside development slated for Jersey City

Jersey City, New Jersey—where tall towers have popped up with some regularity for the past decade—is about to get another huge waterside development by Studio V and the landscape architects at Michael Van Valkenburgh. Private equity firm Quadrum Global is planning a 2,150-unit complex that includes 50,000 square feet of retail and a new public park for a now-vacant parcel (though a representative for Quadrum reached out to The Architect's Newspaper on January 23 to say the unit count "might change"). One available rendering of the development, called Crescent Park, depicts glassy 12-story towers curving around a lush park and waterway. Just east of I-78 on the banks of Mill Creek Outfall, a Hudson River tributary, the development is roughly parallel with lower Manhattan's Financial District. Future residents will live within walking distance of ferry service to Manhattan and the Hudson-Bergen light rail line. Jersey Digs reports that Quadrum's partner, developer Argent Ventures (doing business as Johnston View), bought the 7.5-acre property, which is part of the Grand Jersey Redevelopment Area, for close to $35 million in April 2015. Crescent Park could break ground as early as next year, documents show. Plans call for a cleanup of the creek in addition to the new construction, though the Jersey City Planning Board has yet to approve the project. This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect's Newspaper's coverage of your city and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.
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Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s new garden is inspired by New York wetlands

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) opened its new Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden, a 1.5-acre project inspired by the wetlands of New York. The new section of the park was designed by landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and will act as a habitat for local wildlife. In addition to more than 18,000 new plants, the garden will also include a brook system, Belle’s Brook, which will feature riparian flora that can adapt to different water levels. The garden is part of the BBG’s innovative Water Conservation Project, an ongoing initiative to reduce its freshwater usage and cut down on stormwater runoff. BBG expects to cut water usage from 22 million to 900,000 gallons per year and reduce discharge to the city’s stormwater system from 8 million gallons to 2.5 million gallons per year.

Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden Brooklyn Botanic Garden 150 Eastern Parkway Brooklyn, New York Tel: 718-623-7200 Designer: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

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Pier 3, latest addition to Brooklyn Bridge Park, breaks ground

Yesterday crews broke ground on Pier 3, the latest addition to Brooklyn Bridge Park. The first section of the 85-acre park, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), broke ground eight years ago. Since then, the New York–based firm has transformed a disused bulk cargo shipping and storage complex along the East River into a wildly successful park of sloping meadows, basketball courts and playgrounds, a kayak launch, and a marina. At a groundbreaking ceremony for the $26 million dollar pier, pictured above, attendees included firm principal Michael van Valkenburgh, outgoing Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation president Regina Myer, and local officials. The day marked another important milestone: Brooklyn Bridge Park's near-completion. As of now, the 1.3-mile-long park is 90 percent under construction or complete. “Breaking ground on Pier 3 marks a landmark achievement: The final major stage of construction to get underway at Brooklyn Bridge Park," Myer said, in a statement. "A decade ago, our 85 acres were still a barren stretch of industrial wasteland. Today, 330,000 visitors enjoy our waterfront every week and now they’ll have Pier 3—a beautiful central lawn and a fabulous play space that will transform this five acre concrete platform." The central feature of Pier 3 is its great lawn, ringed with trees and traced with walkways. The other programs—an all-ages "play labyrinth" and an events space—are organized around the main grassy expanse. Construction on the project is expected to be complete in 2018.
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Hopkins Architects moves forward with revamp of Sert’s Holyoke Center at Harvard

British firm Hopkins Architects (formerly Michael Hopkins & Partners) has been granted planning permission from local authorities to build the new Smith Campus Center for Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Hopkins was selected for the project back in 2013, but plans are now becoming clear with new renderings of the project. Included in the plan are shopping areas, cafes, and student exhibition areas. These areas will look out onto the open space laid out in front of the building, while sitting alongside and sheltering the study spaces inside. Such a scheme creates a defined hierarchy within the structure. Outdoor social space is separated from the quieter, more formal areas of study via the threshold of shopping, cafe, exhibition spaces, and reception area. The plan will become part of the Josep Lluis Sert's 1960s design for the Holyoke Center. Joining onto the exterior facade (as seen in the pictures) will be a steel structure, clad mainly in glass with softwood and concrete interior. After being appointed to the project in 2013, Hopkins Architects' vision for the Smith Campus was formed after asking students, faculty and staff about what they thought the campus should be. An exhaustive study into this comprised public meetings, over 25 focus groups, and almost 6,000 responses to University-wide survey. “One of our key design objectives was to ensure that the building engages the vibrancy of all of Harvard Square,” said Tanya Iatridis, senior director of University planning, speaking to the Harvard Gazette. “The new Smith Campus Center will embody the aspirations and values that we hold dear and seek to preserve. It will draw us together more closely, strengthening the sense of community at Harvard by encouraging spontaneous interactions among students, faculty, and staff, as well as members of the broader community,” Harvard President Drew Faust told the Harvard Gazette. “While plans are not yet final, and we have more feedback to gather, we are all pleased with the project’s direction and progress.” Joining Hopkins will be U.K.-based firms, Arup on the engineering team and  Faithful + Gould as project management consultants. It won't be an all British show however, as U.S. practice Bruner/Cott will be executive architect and Cambridge firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates will serve as landscape architect. The project is expected to break ground later in 2016 with the new campus expected to open in 2018.
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Bjarke Ingels and James Corner give Philadelphia’s 214-year-old Navy Yard a boost into the 21st century

Bjarke Ingels is giving Philadelphia's antique Navy Yard a jolt into the 21st century. BIG teamed up with James Corner Field Operations to bring a $35 million office building, called 1200 Intrepid, featuring double curves designed to mirror the contours of Corner's surrounding landscape. "Our design for 1200 Intrepid has been shaped by the encounter between Robert Stern’s urban master plan of rectangular city blocks and James Corner’s iconic circular park,” Ingels said in a statement. “The ‘shock wave’ of the public space spreads like rings in the water invading the footprint of our building to create a generous urban canopy at the entrance.” The 94,000-square-foot, four-story structure just broke ground in the Navy Yard. It stands adjacent to the Central Green, a park that boasts circular plots occupied by a variety of trees and plants, pedestrian pathways, and a hammock grove. In addition, it offers a fitness station, a table tennis area, and a running track that 1200 Intrepid's design responds to. The park and building are part of Pennsylvania’s plan to transform this segment of South Philly from an industrialized business campus to a multi-functional industrial space that will accommodate 11,000 employees working for companies ranging from the pharmaceutical industry to Urban Outfitters. The plan to revitalize the Naval Yard began in 2004 when the state commissioned Michael van Valkenburgh Associates, Robert A.M. Stern, and numerous experts to create a master plan that “includes environmentally friendly workplaces, notable architecture, industrial development, great public spaces, waterfront amenities, improved mass transit, and residential development,” according to the Navy Yard website. Ingels’ building will help reach the Yard’s estimated goal of supporting up to $3 billion in private investments, 13.5 million square feet of development, and 30,000 people. Although 1200 Intrepid has yet to secure tenants, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal, it is set to open its doors in 2016. The project is being developed by Pennsylvania-based Liberty Property Trust and Synterra Partners.
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Ride Chicago’s new elevated park and bike path, The 606, with this time-lapse video

Chicago's long-awaited bikeway and elevated park, The 606, opened last weekend (on 6/6, no less) to a rush of pedestrians and cyclists who were eager to test out the new 2.7-mile trail after years of planning, design and construction. The public park remains extremely popular in the sunny week following its debut. Formerly called the Bloomingdale Trail, the former railroad has been likened to New York City's High Line, but it is quite different—the 606 is as much a highway for bikes as anything else, due in part to its having been largely funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) improvement program. For those who haven't had a chance to visit the trail, Steven Vance of Streetsblog snapped this time-lapse video of a recent bike ride that covers the length of the trail, which runs through the West Side neighborhoods of Humboldt Park, Logan Square, Wicker Park, and West Town. (Vance is also a contributor to AN.) Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates led the design of the trail, which slopes slightly at various points throughout its length to slow bike traffic and suggest spaces for community events. Several access points connect the elevated trail to parks and city streets below. Meanwhile with The 606 up and running, affordable housing advocates are worried the popular park could help swell the tide of gentrification sweeping out longtime neighborhood residents.
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Creek Show shines a light on Austin’s Waller Creek

On the evening of Thursday, November 13, temperatures in Austin, Texas, dropped below freezing. In spite of the fact that most locals are unaccustomed to this degree of frigidity, more than 1,000 people turned out for Creek Show: Light Night 2014. The event, which ran from five in the evening until midnight, celebrated the unveiling of a series of light installations along Waller Creek between 5th and 9th streets. Organized by non-profit group Waller Creek Conservancy, Creek Show is a prelude of sorts to the ongoing plan to transform the flash-flood prone waterway into a chain of public parks designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and Thomas Phifer and Partners with lighting design by Linnaea Tillett. It features five "illuminating works of art" by local architects and landscape architects, including Baldridge Architects, Design Workshop, Jason Sowell, Legge Lewis Legge, and Thoughtbarn, which turned in High Water Mark (pictured at top). Located under the 7th Street Bridge, High Water Mark is composed of 100-foot-long undulating, electroluminescent wires suspended 20 feet above the waterline. Hidden Measures is by University of Texas landscape architecture professor Jason Sowell. Sowell stenciled messages in photo luminescent paint along the creek that describe the waterway's physical dimensions and hydrologic infrastructure. Baldridge Architects set up a colonnade of sorts of LED tubes called Tracing the Line. The succession of vertical lights rise out of the creek, indicating its path through this segment of downtown Austin. Legge Lewis Legge's Light Bridge is made up of a rope and hanging electroluminescent wire that arc over the water, suggesting a bridge. Flow by Design Workshop (below) is a series of tarps strung across the creek that are illuminated by color changing lights. The tapestries roll and flutter in the wind, emulating the coursing of the water below.
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Michael Van Valkenburgh’s new Toronto park is a stormwater treatment plant in disguise

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) has taken its talents up north to Canada with the new Corktown Common park in Toronto. The 18-acre public space—which is part of the burgeoning, 80-acre West Don Lands neighborhood—was created with Arup and developed by Waterfront Toronto, the government-funded corporation spearheading the revitalization of the city's waterfront. The Common has all the requisite features and amenities to attract Torontonians and their kids to what was, until recently, a brownfield site. Using Brooklyn Bridge Park and Hudson River Park as reference points, the reclaimed space has an array of natural plants, landscapes, ecosystems as well as lawns, athletic fields, picnic tables, play areas, and a pavilion that includes a community kitchen. That can all be seen at first glance, but the $27 million park was built as more than a play area—it was built to work. Representatives from Arup told AN that the park is designed as a “cistern” that stores and treats stormwater to protect the surrounding neighborhood from flooding. This is done through natural elements like plantings, bioswales, a landscaped berm, and a living marsh. But the play areas do their part as well. Water used at the large splash pad, for example, is treated and then directed back through the marsh. “An expansive urban prairie on the berm will respond to changing water levels and frame the more active areas of the park,” MVVA said in a statement on its website. “To the west, lawns, marshes, and woodlands will provide settings for walking, cycling, sledding, sports, sunbathing, and public art, with a multifunction pavilion at the center.” This was all part of a vision to create a park that acts like a cistern, but doesn’t necessarily  look like one. This was the team's challenge: mask all the tricks and tools that make the park sustainable within the park itself. “If a mechanical engineer does her job right everything she does should be invisible,” said Jennifer McArthur of Arup.
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Mayor de Blasio Goes All In on Urbanism in Downtown Brooklyn

In the decade since it was rezoned, Downtown Brooklyn has grown up in a big way. Just look at its skyline and the new apartment towers and hotels that call it home. The open air between those buildings will soon be filled because development isn't slowing down—it's just getting started. But the next decade of change in Downtown Brooklyn could offer much more than the first. That's because as new buildings rose, the area’s street-level never kept pace: public space is still scarce and underused, streets are hard to navigate and dangerous, and educational and cultural institutions have been disconnected. Today, however, Mayor de Blasio announced strategies to change all that by injecting the booming district with new (or refurbished) parks, redesigned streetscapes, new retail, and better connections between its many cultural and educational institutions. These investments could be transformative in their own right, but are especially notable given Mayor de Blasio’s hesitancy to talk about the importance of urban design. To be clear, New York City’s commitment to safe, livable streets did not die when Mayor Bloomberg walked out the door. In de Blasio's New York, there have been new bike lanes and the like, but the mayor doesn't speak about these issues with the force of his predecessor. That seemed to change today as this plan goes all in on urbanism. “This is one of the city’s great success stories, and we have an incredible opportunity to take these stunning communities, parks, and institutions and knit them together,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. “The investments we are making will help Downtown Brooklyn continue its rise, generate good jobs, and make this a more dynamic neighborhood to live and work.” The plan starts where Downtown Brooklyn starts—at the mouth of the Brooklyn Bridge. The City plans to transform the 21-acre patchwork of underused parks and public plazas between the bridge and Borough Hall into a “great promenade and gateway into Brooklyn.” The renovated space, known as the "Brooklyn Strand," will be designed to better connect with the area's transit hubs and the celebrated Brooklyn Bridge Park, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. This strategy follows a study commissioned by the Brooklyn Tech Triangle - a cluster of tech companies in Downtown Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and DUMBO. It was led by WXY. While not mentioned explicitly, Vision Zero factors into this plan though the City's strategies to make certain corridors more bike and pedestrian friendly. This includes a multi-million dollar transformation of the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge—a plan that was conceived under Bloomberg and is slated to break ground next year. Over on Willoughby Street, the City will "explore non-traditional roadway design that recognizes and accommodates the heavy use of the area by pedestrians." ARUP is working with the city on that redesign. The City has also pledged to build a new one-acre public park in Downtown Brooklyn and refurbish two others—Fox Square and BAM Park. The latter has been closed to the public for decades, but will be spruced up by WXY. Fox Square will be renewed by AKRF, with Mathews Nielsen. To boost business in Downtown Brooklyn, the City will offer-up some of its own ground-floor space to retail tenants. It may also consolidate its 1.4 million square feet to provide affordable office space for businesses. And there are plans to launch a consortium between Downtown Brooklyn’s 11 colleges to “better connect the tech, creative, and academic communities.” This is intended to best prepare students for jobs at Brooklyn’s Tech Triangle. The Economic Development Corporation will provide $200,000 in seed funding to kickstart that initiative. As part of this plan, the emerging Brooklyn Cultural District, which straddles the blurry border between Downtown Brooklyn and Fort Greene, could get its very own Businesses Improvement District (BID). The City said it will work with the over 60 cultural groups in the district to market the area as a preeminent cultural hub. Of course, at this point, these are all fairly vague proposals—just ideas on paper unbound by hard deadlines. But this announcement shows that as Downtown Brooklyn builds toward the sky, the City will refocus on the people walking, biking, studying, and working on the streets below.