Posts tagged with "park":

New seven-acre Atlanta public park will sit atop parking facility

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has announced plans for a new parking center and ‘mobility facility’ in the city's Grant Park neighborhood. The $48 million project, titled Grant Park Gateway, will sit on what is currently an eight-acre surface parking lot that serves Zoo Atlanta. The new deck will be partially underground and will provide approximately 1,000 parking spaces, more than double the current lot's capacity. A rooftop park and other vegetation on the structure are intended to help manage storm water run-off and to help the project reach LEED-certified status. A multidisciplinary design-build team led by Atlanta-based Winter Johnson Group and Smith Dalia Architects will helm the project. "The Grant Park Gateway will be the first facility of its kind in the City of Atlanta, and earned its name because it provides an entirely new way of looking at the entrance to a community," said Mayor Reed in a press release. “The design benefits the Grant Park neighborhood and respects its history as Atlanta’s oldest park, while addressing parking demands, reducing traffic congestion, and improving the overall safety in the area.” The parking garage itself will utilize an intelligent parking system that will be able to tell visitors where to find empty spots and help manage some of the traffic jams that have plagued the area. As if the rooftop park was not enough to make the area a destination, a new restaurant, which the Mayor said will highlight local cuisine, will also be placed on the deck’s rooftop for visitors to enjoy. The Department of Parks and Recreation will host several meetings with the community in the coming months to engage local residents about the project, which is projected for completion in late 2018. To learn more about the project, you can visit Smith Dalia Architects’ website here.

Take a look at the new Emancipation Park in Houston

[UPDATE 6/13/2017: This article has been updated with images of the finished project.] Emancipation Park in Houston has undergone a major transformation courtesy of Chicago-based Perkins + Will. The revamp to the 10-acre park has been a long time coming. Preliminary work began in 2011, but now the project is finally complete, offering a new "Recreation Center" and spiraling sculpture that reflects the vision of the park's founders. Opened to the public in 1872 by its founders, Reverend John Henry “Jack” Yates, Richard Allen, Richard Brock, and Reverend Elias Dibble, Emancipation Park is firmly rooted in African-American history. At the time of its opening, the park was the first truly public park in Houston. In the years that followed, it became a vibrant space, hosting games of tennis and volleyball as well as numerous other community activities. Boasting a swimming pool from the 1930s, the site was also the only place where African-Americans could swim in the city. Come the 1960s however, times had changed and the cosmopolitan aura had run aground. After construction of U.S. Route 59 and policies of segregation carved up Houston's Third Ward district, the park's state drastically declined as affluent African-Americans left the area. Friends of Emancipation Park, however, started to make changes in 2007, initially by cleaning up the place. By 2011, Philadelphian architect Phil Freelon with his North Carolina–based firm, The Freelon Group, were working on a much bigger plan to give the park a much-needed facelift. Freelon has a well-established pedigree in such typologies. Of late, he has worked on almost all buildings dedicated to black heritage  in the Eastern Seaboard: The International Civil Rights Center and Museum (Greensboro, NC); the Museum of the African Diaspora (San Francisco); the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture (Charlotte); the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture (Baltimore); the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (Atlanta), and finally the crown jewel to date: the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Now acting as project principal and design director at Perkins + Will (since 2014), Freelon has seen Emancipation Park finally completed. Along with the aforementioned Recreation Center and sculpture, the rejuvenated park now has a new pool and a canopied plaza which provides a welcoming front porch and cover for the park's main entrance. On the north side of the new building—which faces the major event lawn—the canopy functions as the band shell. Down the south side, the roof structure provides shading and filters daylight into the gymnasium that is housed inside the Recreation Center along with a fitness center and a multi-purpose room which can accommodate meetings, banquets, and balls. "The design of the new Emancipation Park Recreation Center is a reflection of the community’s goals and aspirations," said Freelon speaking to The Architect's Newspaper. Freelon added that new sculpture was meant to symbolize hope. "It looks forward, to the future. It's a positive symbol," he added. The exterior of the Recreation Center comprises a series of panels that range in earth tones. "From a deep brown to a rich rust color, the varying shades are reminiscent of the historic painted tin roofs that remain prevalent in the Third Ward today," Freelon continued. "This 'patchwork' texture also symbolizes the coming together of the community in support of the revitalized Emancipation Park, its programs and the celebration of Juneteenth."

SWA remakes a historic plaza in downtown El Paso to appeal to Millennials

From the 1880s to the late 1960s, El Paso’s San Jacinto Plaza was the place to see alligators at alarmingly close proximity. Crowds would sit around the fountain in the middle of the park to watch the sad spectacle of captive reptiles circling their enclosure. When the city asked landscape architecture firm SWA to redo the plaza seven years ago, the firm’s Los Angeles office had the tall task of designing a park that would preserve the turn-of-the-century Arcadian layout beloved by residents and draw crowds, just as the alligators once did.

SWA found harmony between programming and design, despite the trend toward “shoehorning” as much programming as possible into outdoor spaces. “The community wanted a concept that respected the formal axes [of the Arcadian layout], so the axes are still there, but now you come to a destination,” explained Gerdo Aquino, CEO of SWA. SWA collaborated with San Antonio, Texas–based Lake|Flato, which designed a cafe and shade canopy that activate the heart of the roughly two-acre park.

The canopy shelters “Los Lagartos,” Luis Jiménez’s fiberglass alligator statue, an homage to San Jacinto’s one-time residents. SWA encircled the statue with a balustrade and decorative mosaics that radiate out toward a botanical garden, custom chess and ping-pong tables, an outdoor reading room with a lending library, a produce market, and an area for washoes (a game similar to horseshoes but played with washers).

Aquino noted a recent shift in emphasis in park design from beauty and ecology toward beauty, ecology, and programming. According to him, the reason can be distilled to: “One word: Millennials. They ask, ‘Is the landscape a place where I can play? Is it a place where I can meet my friends? Can I FaceTime here?’ It’s all about me. You can’t design a park like you did five years ago.”

Second- and third-tier cities are luring all demographics, not just Millennials, back to the city center with open space projects, Aquino explained. San Jacinto’s landscape plan preserved existing older trees, while pairing native species of oak, agave, and grasses with non-native, but adaptive, plants for pops of color. “If mayors want to make their downtowns more livable,” Aquino said, “they need open space that’s ecological, financially feasible, programmed to the hilt, and also beautiful. You don’t have to live in New York, L.A., San Francisco, or Boston to have access to great design. Great design can be created right where you live.”

“SuralArk” Selected as Best Folly for Summer Installation at Socrates Sculpture Park

Socrates Sculpture Park and the Architectural League have selected Jason Austin and Aleksandr Mergold as the winners of their Folly 2014 competition. Commenced in earlier this year and launched in 2012, the contest's name and theme derive from the 18th and 19th century Romantic practice of architectural follies, or structures with little discernible function that are typically sited within a garden or landscape. Austin and Mergold's SuralArk was deemed the most deserving contemporary interpretation of the tradition, and will be erected within the park's Long Island City confines by early May. SONY DSC The winning submission takes equal parts inspiration from an upturned ship hull and a suburban home to arrive at its final form. Measuring 50 feet long and 16 feet tall, the design and its context are meant to speak to the increasingly ambiguous distinctions between city, suburban environments, and rural living. In a nod to its greater surroundings, the structure will be coated in the same vinyl sidings frequently found coating the walls of Queens residences. Such paneling will allow light to filter through the building's exterior, an effect that becomes more dramatic with night fall. The resonance of the ark form grows when one considers the East River's uninvited entry to and eventual submergence of the Park during 2012's Hurricane Sandy. SONY DSC A jury of Chris Doyle, ArtistJohn Hatfield, Socrates Sculpture ParkEnrique Norten, TEN Arquitectos; Lisa Switkin, James Corner Field Operations; and Ada Tolla, LOT-EK judged 171 entries from 17 countries before choosing the Austin and Mergold design. The pair currently work at a Philadelphia-based architecture and landscape firm that bears their name. They will be granted unfettered access to the Sculpture Park's studios and facilities throughout April in order to oversee the execution of SuralArk which should be open to the public on May 11th and remain on the grounds through August 3rd.

Rockwell Group Designs A Treehouse-esque Playground for Park in Brownsville

The Rockwell Group and NYC Parks unveiled their plans last week to turn a 1.5-acre section of Betsy Head Park in Brownsville into a lush and active playground. When designing Imagination Playground, the firm looked to treehouses for inspiration. The site will feature a winding ramp that snakes around London Plane trees and connects to slides and a series of jungle gyms that spill out into an open area with sand, water, benches, and plantings. In collaboration with landscape architecture firm MKW + Associates, the Rockwell Group has taken on this project pro-bono and will donate a set of Playground Blocks to the Brownsville Recreation Center. The $3.92 million playground was funded with the help of government subsidies from Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Markowitz, and Council Member Mealy. Partner David Rockwell founded Imagination Playground in partnership with NYC Parks and KaBOOM, a non-profit organization, to encourage activity and unstructured play for children at nominal cost by providing loose building blocks in outdoor recreational spaces. Right now the project is slated to break ground in spring of 2014 and open in 2015.    

Surprise Cuts Could Devastate Detroit Parks System

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced Friday that the city will close 51 parks. The Detroit Free Press’ Matt Helms has the full list of parks here, including an additional 37 parks that will receive limited maintenance. The closures are the result of massive cuts to the city’s parks and recreation budget due to the City Council’s rejection this week of a plan to lease Belle Isle to the state. Details of the council’s decision were evidently worked out late Thursday night, so the devastating cuts came as a surprise to many residents. The move recalls closures announced, but avoided, in 2010.

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.