Posts tagged with "Parks":

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San Diego Symphony is slated to build a bayside concert hall by Soundforms

San Diego is soon to boast one of the most acoustically innovative waterfront concert venues in Southern California, according to local officials. Set to open next summer on Embarcadero Marina Park South, the San Diego Symphony will get a permanent space to host its shows, all centered around a 13,000-square-foot stage structure by London-based consortium Soundforms and local studio Tucker Sadler Architects The $45 million project is part of a larger proposal to encourage year-round activity in downtown San Diego. The venue, Bayside Performance Park, will be built on a 10.8-acre existing greenspace that’s able to hold over 3,000 people on average, and up to 10,000 on special occasions. It will be located directly across the from the San Diego Convention Center and will mimic its design in form and texture. Soundforms, best known for the “Olympic Bandstand” structure it created for the 2012 London Olympics, will scale up its most famous product, the Soundforms Performance Shell, for San Diego’s premier outdoor music hall.  Taking cues from the convention center’s stand-out shape and the surrounding downtown skyline, Soundforms will create a concert shell with a cantilevered roof at the edge of the parkland. It will be wrapped in durable, white fabric—a nod to the convention center’s rooftop sails—and built by tensile structure contractor Fabritecture. Charles Salter Acoustics, a sound company in San Francisco will work with consultant Shawn Murphey to install a massive sound system that can accommodate orchestral performances, Broadway musicals, film screenings, and popular artists.  Tucker Sadler Architects and Burton Landscape Architecture Studio will root the structure in place and connect it to the entire Embarcadero Marina Park South by designing a terraced lawn with temporary seating and a widened public promenade that wraps around the venue. The design team will also add sunset steps to the back of the pavilion, which locals can access when performances aren't happening. For the San Diego Symphony, such a space has been a long time coming. For the last 15 years, it's had to assemble and disassemble a stage for its popular Bayside Summer Nights concert series. But that’s all changing now. According to a press release, Bayside Performance Park will be the only permanent outdoor performance space that doubles as an active park on the West Coast.  [This project] supports the Port of San Diego’s goals for a vibrant and active San Diego Bay waterfront,” said Chairman Garry Bonelli of the Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners in a statement. “Bayfront visitors will love the new and improved performance facility, not to mention the improved park and park amenities.”  Construction will begin in September. 
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Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates reveals vision for new Buffalo waterfront park

Michael Van Valkenburgh (MVVA)’s vision for Buffalo’s expansive new waterfront park has finally been unveiled. Stretching 92 acres along the shore of Lake Erie, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park will be a verdant hub of cultural and recreational activity that connects downtown Buffalo to the city’s Lakeview neighborhood. Designed in collaboration with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the organization that donated $50 million towards the project, the park is a major beautification effort for the City of Buffalo. The foundation worked alongside MVVA, the city government, as well as the University at Buffalo Regional Institute over the last two years to engage different communities surrounding the existing 77-acre LaSalle Park—the landscape that the new project will overtake—to create a new and dynamic playspace for the lakeside city. MVVA’s initial aerial renderings reveal multiple shifts in the topography throughout the site, which, as it exists today, is fairly flat to accommodate straight views as well as room for sports. In a former interview, Van Valkenburgh told AN that this flatness would generally remain in the firm’s design proposal because “there’s a kind of wonderful, almost magical concept of playing at the edge of a lake,” he said. “At the same time, we’ll likely want to add some topography to the landscape to allow people to get to a higher level over the water to see Buffalo’s famous sunsets.” In keeping with the original functions of LaSalle Park, the upgraded landscape will include many baseball and soccer fields, as well as pools, playgrounds, and promenades with those uninhibited views of Lake Erie. Large-scale lawns, reminiscent of those found in Brooklyn Bridge Park, will also be integrated into the design so that families can picnic, play frisbee, or go sledding during Buffalo’s snowy winter. In addition, the design team has proposed what appears to be a peninsula built of terraced rocks where Buffalo residents can connect directly with the water—something the old park was lacking according to Van Valkenburgh. While this first set of visuals showcases the size and scope of the park project, it doesn’t yet include details on where or how these topographic changes will occur. However, a key component of the plan is that the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park will enhance the landscape directly surrounding the city’s historic pumping station (to the northwest of the park), as well as extend a branch of parkland across Interstate I-90, connecting into Lakeview. Van Valkenburgh said he plans to create some sort of noise buffer around the roadway to keep a peaceful tone within the landscape. Right now, a large-scale model of the landscape design is touring the city and locals can view the vision up close. On Thursday, it’s heading to the LaSalle Park Pool Building.

Eco Park Contest

New contest on Desall.com: MetaFin and Desall invite you to propose a new concept for a green recreational area that is due to be built in the near future in the whereabouts of Venice (Italy), conceived as an aggregation space for families, a playground for children, an area dedicated to sports, culture, associative activities and events.

MetaFin is looking for new ideas for the design of a new green area conceived for recreational and aggregation purposes, that will host several structures and suitable equipment.

For more info: https://bit.ly/EcoParkContest

Contest timeline

Upload phase: 13th May 2019 – 09th September 2019 (1.59 PM UTC)

Client Vote: from 09th September 2019

Winner announcement: approximately by the end of November 2019

Total awards

€5000

Participation is free of charge and open to all creative people (at least 18 years old).

METAFIN

MetaFin is the holding society of a group which has been dealing for 40 years in the branch of buying and selling, logistics and transport of frozen seafood products.

We select and offer to our clients the best products caught in every sea in addition to logistical services suitable to their needs.

Always focused on environmental protection, MetaFin’s societies manage platforms and mechanized cold stores with the main use of energy coming from renewable sources (solar panels).

DESALL

Desall.com is an open innovation platform dedicated to design and innovation, that offers to companies a participatory design tool involving in the creative process an international community coming from all over the world. To date Desall gathers more than 100000 creatives from over 210 countries and has collaborated with international brands like Luxottica, Whirlpool, Electrolux, ALESSI, Enel, Leroy Merlin, KINDER, Barilla, illy, Chicco, Mondadori and many more.

Thanks for the contamination of different cultural backgrounds and creative industries, the Desall community is able to provide high-quality project solutions for every product development phase requested by the client, from concept to product design, from naming to packaging.

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Brooklyn's Domino Park blends industrial chic with careful pacing

For the first time in 160 years, a 6-acre span on the East River waterfront in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge is open to the public. Located in front of the former Domino Sugar Refinery in Brooklyn, James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) designed Domino Park to inspire curiosity about the site’s history while including new materials to balance its unique identity with performance. A unifying element in Domino Park is its artifact walk that weaves throughout the site. According to Lisa Switkin, senior principal at JCFO, “Integrating the artifact walk with custom furniture made from reclaimed wood from the Raw Sugar Warehouse creates a unique experience where people come into contact with remnants of the original refinery and have an up-close relationship with those artifacts.” Throughout the park, JFCO-designed benches, tables, and chaise lounges create texture and a sense of community. The elevated walkway is supported by beams from the refinery, while other factory elements such as columns, lattice beams, and a loading dock are incorporated throughout. Stadium-style seating made out of the refinery’s salvaged wood creates a central gathering space in front of a water feature by Soucy Aquatik. The refinery’s influence is also evident in the playground, designed by Mark Reigelman, with its many nods to factory structures. It also incorporates part of the factory’s old floors. The park is organized into three areas. Each is connected by Hanover pavers selected in a mix of finishes for durability and color, “keeping with the tough, industrial look as well as maintenance and loading requirements,” said Switkin. The most active area, in the southern end, holds a dog park, a picnic playground, a bocce ball court, and a tennis court. The middle area is dotted with lawn chairs and features a fog bridge. The recreational stretch in the north houses the lawn, a beach, the playground, and the elevated walkway. Tectura pavers were chosen for the walkway because of the manufacturer’s ability to produce the long-format precast concrete planks needed to fit the dimensions of the walkway and meet the load criteria. Introducing new lighting by BEGA, Sentry Electric, and LED Linear, along with Landscape Forms’ Ring Bike Racks and Chase Park Receptacles, JCFO was able to work with materials that are highly durable and sustainable. Switkin explained, “These products created a dynamic urbanscape to activate the neighborhood.” Master Planner: SHoP Architects and James Corner Field Operations Landscape Architect: James Corner Field Operations General Contractor: Kelco Pavers: Hanover Architectural Products, Tectura Designs Lighting: BEGA, Sentry Electric, LED Linear Furniture: Custom benches, tables, and seating steps made with reclaimed wood from Raw Sugar Warehouse, Landscape Forms' Ring Bike Rack and Chase Park Receptacle, Elkay Drinking Fountains Fog Bridge: Soucy Aquatik Playground Designer: Mark Reigelman Custom Playground Equipment: Landscape Structures
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Sasaki's plan for a "Central Park" in Florida soaks up brownfield toxins

Sasaki has designed a 180-acre masterplan in Central Florida for what it's calling the “Central Park of Lakeland.” Bonnet Springs Park, situated between Tampa and Orlando, is set to become a major cultural magnet and an ecological jewel of landscape design in the state. The massive site, which is being privately funded by a pair of local philanthropists, has sat vacant for over 30 years and gone through numerous attempts to reuse it. Now, the over-100-year-old former rail yard is being officially transformed with a vision from the Boston-based planning and design consultancy. By restoring the site's natural ecosystems and removing any harmful contaminants from its days as an industrial throughway, Sasaki will revitalize the land into a mega-park that’s safe for all ages. Because 84 acres of the abandoned brownfield contain arsenic and petroleum hydrocarbons, the team plans to stockpile the toxic materials into large, undulating hills, completely altering the land's topography. The architects will also remove invasive exotic plants and construct wetlands and bioswales to treat stormwater runoff. Four new buildings will also be constructed for the park, including the “Bridge Building,” which will be set between two man-made hills and house a children’s museum. Overlooking Lake Bonnet, a nature center will feature classrooms, an exhibitions space, a café, and a boat rental facility so visitors can learn more about the parkland and the freshwater lake itself. An events center and welcome center will additionally be built out for weddings, corporate events, and other large-scale gatherings. An extensive network of walking and biking trails, as well as a sculpture garden and canopy walk will be incorporated into the park’s design as well. This huge community undertaking, backed by a 20-person advisory committee of local advocates, underscores the town's collective dedication to its fast-growing population by providing a new connection to nature and play. Sasaki and the Bonnet Springs Park Board aim for construction completion in 2020.
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NYC Parks Commissioner talks policy, parks, and breaking down barriers

Over the next three months, The Architect’s Newspaper will feature a series interviews with Susannah Drake, founding principal of DLANDstudio, and leading public space advocates about the meaning, design, and development of public space. Up first, New York City Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mitchell Silver will discuss New York's Parks Without Borders initiative to make parks and open space more accessible. Borders are a hot topic in our current politically volcanic world. Some are geographic, most are political, and many have to do with resources and strategic control. Robert Frost’s poem titled Good Fences Make Good Neighbors is often misinterpreted as suggesting that defined boundaries between people or societies are positive. In practice, defined borders can lead to violence, social isolation, inefficiency, and habitat loss.  The classic phrase, “living on the other side of the tracks,” was taken to the extreme in the United States after World War II as new highway systems, elevated transportation structures, slum clearance, and dehumanized public housing towers transformed cities across the United States. Today, cities including Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis are working to break down physical and perceived boundaries to make a healthier living environment for all. In New York City, the efforts of three groups, one public and two nonprofit, demonstrate how smart urban planning and design can make the city healthier, safer, and more democratic by improving underutilized public lands. Mitchell Silver, commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, is the visionary behind the city’s Parks Without Borders program. As a native New Yorker who spent his formative years in the city before traveling the country and the world as a planner and thought leader, his vision as head of the public parks agency has been to expand the availability of park space by breaking down physical barriers, jurisdictional boundaries, and site lines into city parks. AN: What is the origin of the Parks without Borders program? MS: The origins came from two sources. Growing up in New York, I was always bothered by the big berm that separated Flatbush Avenue from Prospect Park. The road seemed like a raceway defined with so many fences and barriers. Through professional and personal experience, I encountered different forms of public space around the world and saw far fewer barriers. Public space was seamlessly connected to the city. Of course, fences are needed for sports and steep slopes but in many cases, they are unnecessary. When I became commissioner of the Parks Department, I remembered something that Frederick Law Olmsted said about parks: “The sidewalk adjacent to the park should be considered the outer park.” What I recognized was that the sidewalks around parks, such as Fort Greene Park and Prospect Park, were under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department but felt separate. The land from the park to the curb should feel like part of the park. The public realm should be seamless. The public doesn’t know or care who owns the land. The New York City Police Department needed to own the idea of crime prevention through community design. I submitted the idea to the Mayor as part of OneNYC and through a partnership between City Planning, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Environmental Protection, and our agency, and a $50 million pilot was launched. There were two components: $40 million was dedicated to eight showcase projects, determined through the extensive public process that received over 6,000 nominations. In addition, $10 million was dedicated to parks and playgrounds across the city already under development to enhance the park design.   The key principles are to make a seamless public realm by rethinking the edges, entrances, and adjacent spaces of parks across the city. Open space should be open. Growing dense urban centers need vital public space for all races, genders, and ages across the board. What barriers have you met in implementing the project? Resistance encountered? As with all projects of this nature, we met with all of the community boards via borough board meetings and held public meetings in each of the five boroughs to explain the program and ask the public to nominate a park for the program. We communicated our theory that good uses tend to push out bad uses. In other words, plan for what you want to see and not what you don’t want to see. Feedback was split along demographic lines. Older people perceived fences as safeguards and that reducing the height of fences and opening up parks invited crime and homelessness to take over. But we have had early success. At McDonald Playground in Staten Island where Parks Without Borders money was dedicated to a Community Parks Initiative project, the community was initially concerned about lowering fences. The park feels so open now that people ask if we added more land. And, while the plan for Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn is greatly supported by the community, there has been resistance related to the planned removal of some large, invasive, non-native trees, and the mounds constructed in the 1970s as part of the project. What is the schedule of implementation? Over 20 parks are in the pipeline. The showcase projects will be completed by 2020. They include Prospect Park, Seward Park, Jackie Robinson Park, Corona Park, Fort Greene Park, Faber Park, Van Cortlandt Park, and Hugh Grant Circle. How does the program align with other DPR/Administration initiatives? NYC Parks is advocating for Equity, Access, Placemaking, and Healthy Living. One of the programs, Walk to a Park, is intended to reduce the time it takes to get to a park. Reducing barriers and moving entrances helps increase access to parks. DPR planners conducted a thorough planning process examining the location and attributes of parks across the city and determined where residents might be underserved. Using GIS, they mapped a five-minute walk from parks, playgrounds, and trails across New York City and then used the analysis to prioritize capital expenditures. Does the DPR Parks without Borders program impact all communities across NYC regardless of demographics? Yes, with multigenerational, ADA access. At McDonald Playground, a woman hugged me suggesting that I changed her life because she can now sit with her daughter in a quieter area of the park and watch the kids play ball. She said I extended her life.  Beyond physical fences and walls, what other kinds of borders have you seen in your time as commissioner? Rules create barriers. We don’t want to engage in anti-planning which can exclude rather than include people. Including more people in more existing parks is one example. Anti-planning, or planning to prohibit a certain group is not fair. For example, some of our playgrounds have a sign that states: “Adults prohibited unless accompanied by a child.” That means a senior citizen is prohibited from using a public space or must walk to another park that doesn’t have that rule. To address this inequity, NYC Parks in 2017 evaluated all city playgrounds and installed new signs at locations that would allow adults in a park or playground, but only prohibited adults in fenced off areas where children’s play units were located, like swings, slides and climbing structures. This one change allows more adult New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy green space like sitting under a tree or using a comfort station.   As a planner what is your perspective on borders that might exist because of climate or geographic lines that are mapped but not always perceived by the public? Rockaways? In places where public safety is an issue such as around water, clearly there need to be rules and physical barriers to keep people safe. Environmental conditions can also require limited access. For instance, the habitat for piping plovers needs to be protected by limiting beach access. This reduced the walk score but was an important trade-off. In natural areas, controlling beach erosion is important. Sometimes these barriers are jurisdictional, particularly in coastal areas. New York City is doing a better job than in the past. What is your perspective on urban and transportation design decisions in the direct post-war period, in the '60s and today in relation to race, demographics, and urban living? White flight of the '60s, urban renewal with its characteristic superblocks, and highways dividing neighborhoods were not the highlight of good planning. Cities were perceived as unsafe and as a result, many parks were surrounded with high walls to create defensible space. Now Parks Without Borders is changing this situation by moving from defensible space to open and inclusive space. Prospect Park is a great example. Programming by the Alliance activated the park. They designed for what we want to see rather than what we don’t want to see. There are so many users in our parks that space needs to be very inclusive. Our parks are our outdoor living rooms and reflect those that use them. While DPR does not have purview over public housing, it would be great to get your perspective on the landscape of housing projects in New York City as well as their overall relationship to the city. The “tower in the park” model is somewhat right. The park part is not right. Residents assume that the landscape is off limits because it is fenced off. Design organizations are now engaging NYCHA Tenant Associations about opening-up the green space within the NYCHA housing campus. For example, some NYCHA Houses have converted open space to community gardens, so the trend of better using NYCHA green space is moving into the right direction. Digital access to information creates places where people collect in the city. Beyond these spheres are dead zones that might be considered another form of border. Are there any efforts by DPR to expand digital access? I’d love to see WiFi in parks. We currently have charging stations at some beaches and WiFi in some parks. Lack of funding for maintenance and operations is an ongoing issue for public space. How will Parks Without Borders impact maintenance needs of parks? Maintenance practice of 21st-century parks warrants reexamination. More funding and more staff are welcome but aren’t the answer. We need to be innovative with resources. The agency is now using a zone approach with analytics to optimize the work of maintenance crews. We are also employing new design approaches and adding horticultural staff. One example is having park cleaning seven days per week. This seems like an addition, but the change is cutting down Monday absences because those crews were not unfairly burdened with the weekend trash. This created a better team ethos. Utilization of staff is as important as getting more staff. Working smarter with specialized teams with more training that can troubleshoot issues system-wide (catch basin team, green infrastructure team) is helping. Any final words? With limited resources we are forced to think about what is important and how to be innovative, which I base of the 3 S’s of management: You must have the right organizational structure to achieve your vision and mission. You must have the right systems in place to be successful. You must have strong management and operation standards across the five boroughs to function as one agency.  
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Shirley Chisholm State Park is coming to Central Brooklyn next summer

Central Brooklyn will soon be the home of New York City’s largest state park, which will be opening next summer according to 6sqft. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that the first phase of Shirley Chisholm State Park, a 407-acre piece of land on Jamaica Bay, will be finished by mid-2019. Named after Brooklyn native Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to Congress, the new parkland will include 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, an amphitheater, and more on top of two former landfills. The project will open up 3.5 miles of waterfront with areas accessible for kayakers and beach-goers. The initial build-out will also include a bike path that will connect the former landfill sites at Pennsylvania and Fountain Avenues, allowing visitors to easily approach both sides of the park to take advantage of the educational facilities and comfort stations placed throughout. The massive project falls under the governor’s “Vital Brooklyn” initiative, a $1.4-billion plan that funnels the state’s financial resources to community-based health programs, affordable housing, and recreational spaces in the neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Bushwick, Flatbush, Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, Ocean Hill, and East New York. For the park project, planning began 16 years ago when the site remediation process started to make way for the landfill sites’ potential future use. In 2002 the NYC Department of Environmental Protection installed over 1.2 million cubic yards of clean soil and planted 35,000 trees and shrubs. Over time, a diverse ecosystem of coastal meadows, wetlands, and woodlands has grown, resulting in the area as it exists today. The first phase of the park’s construction will use $20 million to open up the restored site and create a new waterfront. Next fall after the park opens, public meetings will be held to discuss the second phase of the design, which may include the amphitheater, an environmental education center, and a cable ferry.
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DS+R's Zaryadye Park in Moscow is a hotspot for public sex

  A Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed park in Moscow is getting a lot of attention this week after security cameras caught numerous people having sex within the 35-acre green space on Friday. Zaryadye Park, a massive landscape located across from the Kremlin along the Moskva River, opened last September to the public after a dedication ceremony from Russian President Vladimir Putin. DS+R’s $245 million design was selected out of 90 submissions in an international competition in 2013. In the project description, the architects describe the park as a place featuring “Wild Urbanism,” with intertwining sections of landscape and hardscape, natural and artificial. The parkland includes a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces with a 229-foot cantilevering river overlook, a media center, nature center, restaurant, market, two amphitheaters, and a philharmonic concert hall to come next spring. Charles Renfro, head architect on the project, said he’s thrilled at the park’s overwhelming popularity. “I love this!” he told Artnet in an email. “What freedom our park has brought to Moscow and what tolerance it seems to be engendering from the authorities.” The Moscow Times reported that the city’s chief architect, Sergei Kuznetsov, is apparently okay with the sexual escapades happening within the public park and attributes the unprecedented uptick to the safety and comfort that Moscow offers visitors and residents. Some local lawmakers, however, feel the opposite. Getting caught for having sex in public in Russia means up to 15 days in jail. DS+R’s 14,000-square-meter vision takes up a quarter of downtown Moscow and is the first large-scale park built in the city in 50 years. The site was formerly populated by a Jewish enclave in the 1800s, and once served as the foundations of a never-built Stalinist skyscraper. For nearly 40 years, it was the home of the largest hotel in Europe, the 21-story Hotel Rossiya, until it closed in 2006.
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Akron's Innerbelt National Forest turns a highway into parkland

Akron, Ohio, like many of America’s cities, has been torn apart by invasive highways that cut through downtowns and divide pedestrian neighborhoods with rivers of impassible concrete. But in that same city, the course is being reversed. The Innerbelt National Forest, a temporary green space, opened this summer just feet from where the Innerbelt freeway once ran through the heart of the city. The National Forest opened with the start of August and offers pop-up spaces for community amenities in a naturalistic setting. Trails and potted trees intertwine with play spaces and an outdoor museum, all of which will be open through September. The short-term installation is an experimental part of a longer-term project to engage the public to find a permanent use for the entire former freeway site. The Innerbelt freeway was originally a spur of the national interstate system that Akron built in the 1970s to bring drivers downtown. In the process, the city claimed and cleared neighborhoods, tearing apart the urban fabric at the city’s core. The line of the freeway split the surrounding area in two, effectively segregating black residents to one side and white residents to the other. In 2016 the city closed the north end of the Innerbelt without a clear idea of what would replace it. Mayor Dan Horrigan has said that the 31-acre site could be developed for housing and amenities, and that it could be used to construct a large central park. For now, the road still stands, though it is cut off from automotive traffic while the city reviews proposals. The Innerbelt National Forest is the work of the nonprofit League of Creative Interventionists. The League won a $214,420 grant from the Knight Foundation 2017 Cities Challenge to create the Innerbelt National Forest. The idea came from a 2015 event that the league hosted, called “500 Plates.” The event was a community dinner for 500 people, hosted on the highway’s bed, where people were asked what they would like to see in the space.  
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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.
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Dallas approves construction of a new 3-acre park in former downtown parking lot

Joni Mitchell, Dallas has heard you. The City Council of Dallas has decided to un-pave a 3.2-acre parking lot—in place since 1921—and put up a paradise in the form of Pacific Plaza Park. Nonprofit Parks for Downtown Dallas has been trying to swap hard top for green space in Dallas for several years. The group originally proposed donating $35 million to the city to fund the construction of four new parks in Downtown, including Pacific Plaza, with the caveat that the city would match them with $35 million to get the job done. When for-profit 4P Partners proposed building an underground parking garage topped with a park on the site, located off Pacific Avenue, Parks for Downtown Dallas decided to shift around their funds and provide one hundred percent of the construction costs for the park. This move helped expedite the project. HKS Architects, whose offices are located in One Dallas Center adjacent to the site, also made a donation for the park’s construction. Landscape architecture, planning, and urban design firm SWA Group was tapped to design the project in early 2016. They approached the park from the perspective of the neighborhood, holding two public “envisioning sessions” to gauge the needs of the community before they began their designs. The main desires were for social connectivity and, of course, access to nature. With this in mind, SWA allocated an acre of open green space as the central portion of the park, flanked by rows of shade trees intended to buffer the park from its bustling surroundings. Live oaks original to Aston Park, a small park already on the site, will be absorbed into the landscape to preserve existing foliage. Walking paths weave through the trees and encircle the green space. A 670-foot-long stone seating wall, deemed the “thread,” helps stitch the various spaces of the park together. Additionally, a halo-shaped structure anchors the southwest corner and provides an opportunity for seating, shade, and socializing. Construction on the park is scheduled to begin in early 2018 and is expected to last 12 to 18 months. Although it has been a long fight to get Pacific Plaza Park underway, Parks for Downtown Dallas is still pursuing its proposal for three other parks in the Downtown as well. “Quality ‘green space’ is an asset wherever it is found,” said Chuck McDaniel, SWA Dallas managing principal. “During the next few years, there will be a chain of parks throughout downtown Dallas that will work together to cool the air, enhance the aesthetics of our city, and make downtown an even more livable and walkable place.” To learn more about the Pacific Plaza Park and the Parks for Downtown Dallas organization, you can visit their website here.
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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."