In May Barack and Michelle Obama ended months—perhaps years—of speculation over where the 44th President would site his presidential library, choosing the University of Chicago as the host of the hotly anticipated legacy project. Dozens of proposals were winnowed down to one, prepared by U of C with the help of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The Barack Obama Presidential Library—that is, the actual project—does not yet have an architect, however, and the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that a call for submissions is nigh. They quote anonymous sources saying “a very general” request will go out “very soon," suggesting the first couple and their nonprofit team of advisors on the subject do not yet have a specific designer in mind. The library, which many hope will be an economic boon for the South Side, will be based in either Washington or Jackson Parks. That decision remains controversial, and may factor into the winning design—from whomever might propose it.
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New renderings for one of the largest public space projects in the Midwest have been revealed, showing a new 2,500-square-foot “Café Pavilion” in Cleveland's Public Square. Brooklyn's nARCHITECTS designed the structure, which appears in renderings via project lead James Corner Field Operations. It will be the only structure on the 10-acre square, besides the existing Soldiers and Sailors' Civil War monument. Cleveland's Public Square is the subject of a major overhaul led by designers and engineers at at James Corner Field Operations, Cleveland's own LAND Studio and Westlake Reed Leskosky, as well as transportation consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard. The project aims to remake the splintered downtown park into a pedestrian-friendly destination that will catalyze development in the area. The cafe structure will serve as a billboard for that transformation. A curated “art wall” faces out, beckoning pedestrians passing by Terminal Tower and acting as the primary entrance to Public Square. Stainless steel panels and tall glass windows broadcast modernity on the building's other faces. “As a building with no back, each side of the Café Pavilion is meant to be a unique ‘front’ façade that offers a different experience,” reads the project description. The cafe, currently under construction, is expected to open in 2016.
Atlanta, Georgia's Buckhead Community Improvement District is forging ahead with a proposal to cap the GA 400 highway with a nine-acre park that could potentially double or triple the value of surrounding neighborhoods. Spanning one third of a mile, the floating park will connect Lenox and Peachtree roads, two arterial roadways, and cap the highway and MARTA line while providing access to the Buckhead Station. Currently in the feasibility stage, the park is being designed by local firm GreenRock Partnership and global engineering giant Jacobs. If approved, the public green space will connect via crossover ramp with the PATH 400, a pedestrian and biker-friendly overpass between Old Ivy Road and Lenox Road. The addition will continue the trail through the heart of Buckhead’s commercial district and bring it closer to Lenox Square. Renderings show a park with plentiful gathering areas, restaurants, new access to MARTA Station, and even a dog park. There will also be an active green plaza at the MARTA Rail Station’s main entrance, while the MARTA bridge portal will have a dedicated food truck area. For the northernmost tip of the park, David Allman, CID Chairman, imparted visions of a small-stage performance area large enough to accommodate 4,000-7,000 people and a public art installation. Initial cost projections have totaled around $200 million, but the CID Board is committed to the project’s completion. “It’s a big, audacious project,” Allman told Buckhead View. “It could also be a dramatic game changer. It is daunting because of its size but it can turn out extraordinarily well.” Allman cites a similarly large-scale, highway-superimposing project in Dallas, the Klyde Warren Park over an interstate highway. Construction cost $110 million but the park has since attracted two million visitors in two years and increased the value of surrounding office spaces threefold. The CID bills its public-private project as “an effort to transform an unattractive, barren bridge over the GA 400 into something that reflects Buckhead’s spirit.” The initiative coincides with a spate of high-rise residential developments, collectively bringing an influx of 700-plus units. On an adjacent site, high-rise offices are also proliferating, including the Three Alliance Center and a proposed office at Tower Place.
The Chicago Park District starts work today on a new project by Yoko Ono. Her first permanent public art installation in the Americas will be a meditation on world peace, harmony with nature, and Japanese-American relations dubbed SKY LANDING, which is slated for a parcel of Jackson Park once home to the historic Phoenix Pavilion. Instead of a groundbreaking, construction began Friday with a “ground healing” ceremony on Wooded Island. Ono's installation, set to open in June 2016, will include a sculpture and landscape design meant to evoke a sense of harmony with nature. The details of the project are still largely undefined. “I recall being immediately connected to the powerful site and feeling the tension between the sky and the ground,” Ono said in a press statement. “I wanted the Sky to land here, to cool it, and make it well again.” Following the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, the Japan Construction Company shipped several prefabricated, traditional Japanese structures to Chicago's South Side, establishing the Ho-o-den (Phoenix Pavilion). It remained on Wooded Island until fire destroyed the Phoenix Pavilion in 1946. Now home to Osaka Garden, the site is part of a public-private overhaul of Jackson and Washington Parks under the nonprofit banner Project 120 Chicago. Led by the Chicago Park District and businesspeople including Robert Karr, Jr., a lawyer and the executive vice president of the Japan America Society of Chicago, Project 120 Chicago was convened to “revitalize” Frederick Law Olmsted's South Side parks, which have suffered from years of deferred maintenance. In 2012 the group's efforts began with an initiative to plant hundreds of cherry blossom trees. They then hired architect Kulapat Yantrasast and his firm wHY to look into building a new Phoenix Pavilion. Preservation landscape architect and planner Patricia O’Donnell and her firm Heritage Landscapes were hired to lead larger preservation efforts in the parks.
Last year Minneapolis broke ground on a major mixed-use development centered around a park next to the under-construction stadium that will house the Minnesota Vikings football team. Now dubbed “The Commons,” the 4.2-acre park was the subject of a public meeting last week, at which its design came into clearer focus. Designed by San Francisco's Hargreaves Associates, the site has a lot going on, in the words of MinnPost's Marlys Harris: “a café, promenades, a Great Lawn, a lesser lawn, a water feature, play areas for kids, a stage, garden-y places, trees (of course), places to compete at bocce and chess, kiosks, an ice rink in winter, tables with umbrellas, moveable chairs, public art and benches and terraces where public snogging could occur.” It will also accommodate fan festivals and other Vikings-related events on game days. Hargreaves fielded a reported 2,750 survey responses while designing the park, whose budget is projected at $22 million. Only a small portion of that has been raised, and public officials have said the space will be financed by private donations. As public discussion of the democratically designed space continues, budget adjustments may align with Harris' call "to survey the public on what they could live without." One remaining question is whether Portland Avenue, which currently bisects the park site, will remain open to automobile traffic.
The City of Atlanta has announced a competition for the design of an outdoor cultural pavilion for prominent display on the Westside trail of the Atlanta BeltLine. The BeltLine is the most comprehensive transportation and economic development ever undertaken by the City of Atlanta, and among the largest urban redevelopment programs in the US, providing affordable workforce housing, brownfield remediation, public art, and historic preservation. The National Pavilion Design Competition seeks designs for the second pavilion in a series of small, multi-purpose artistic pavilions occupying green spaces along the BeltLine as part of the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine program, which represents the South’s largest outdoor temporary art exhibition. The culture-conscious platform engages hundreds of artists to display visual and performing arts in the parks and along the trails of the BeltLine. The pavilion’s prospective location at the intersection of the Westside trail and Allene Avenue poises it to become an iconic landmark for the Adair Park community and its surrounding historic neighborhood. In the spirit of fostering community gathering, the Atlanta BeltLine is also seeking designs for a permanent performance space at Adair Park. Design-wise, the facility should represent the quality art and architecture which the BeltLine strives to embody. The competition is seen to straddle the fields of art, architecture, landscape architecture, and the pedestrian experience, as well as provide a catalyst for economic development. “This competition demonstrates that small yet exceptional design can offer huge benefits for Atlanta communities,” said Melody Harclerode, President of AIA Atlanta and manager of the National Pavilion Design Competition. The only eligibility requirement is that an individual or team member be a licensed architect holding active AIA membership. The first place winner stands to receive a $10,000 cash prize, while a $5,000 and $3,000 prize are up for grabs for the second and third place winners respectively. The competition represents a partnership between AIA Atlanta, Atlanta BeltLine Inc., and the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.
Despite a smattering of gray skies, Chicago inaugurated another stretch of its revamped riverwalk this Memorial Day weekend, and visitors were eager to explore the newly expanded public space. Kayakers, pedestrians, locals and tourists alike came to check out the partially opened project, which will remain under construction through the summer. Along with Ross Barney Architects, Benesch, and Jacobs Ryan and the Chicago Department of Transportation, Sasaki Associates led design on the project—a major component of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's bid to rebrand the Chicago River as the city's “second shoreline.” Work began in 2013, and many of the storefronts built along the riverwalk's newest section—from State Street to Clark Street—still await tenants. Construction work continued right up until opening day.
https://twitter.com/DillonGoodson/status/603226446484656128 https://twitter.com/MASContext/status/602684099443105792 https://twitter.com/chrisdmerritt/status/602313220930560002 https://twitter.com/mdsmith577/status/602261780560277504 Curbed Chicago rounded up some more photos of the riverwalk from this weekend.
In keeping with Paris’ mounting aversion to automobiles, Mayor Anne Hidalgo recently announced plans to bar motorists from the banks of the River Seine by summer 2016. This latest blow to motorists occurs in tandem with the all-or-nothing anti-pollution target Hidalgo set last year of banning all non-electric or hybrid vehicles from Paris’ most polluted streets by 2020. Renderings for the futuristic River Seine project a motor-free parkland consisting of a tree-shaded promenade with space for children’s playgrounds and sports facilities. The length of this promenade is TBD, with some proposals occupying a modest 0.9 miles, while others insist on a 2.05-mile car-free quayside, potentially freeing up 1.4 acres of parkland. “All of this is part of a comprehensive policy in which we assume very deliberately that there will be fewer cars in Paris,” Hidalgo told reporters at a press conference. “Therefore, in calculating the flow of spillover traffic I don’t project myself into a world where there are as many cars as today. Objectively, that will no longer be the case.” The Seine has a distinctive double-tiered embankment that has allowed it to moonlight as a motorists’ artery into the city center without detracting from the romance of the riverscape. The upper embankment sits at street level, and has remained a scenic promenade dotted with quaint booksellers’ stalls. The lower embankment, where the roads traverse, is at water level and is sunken below high walls, with sections of road encased in tunnels. The City of Paris began reclaiming the Seine in 2002 under the "Paris Plages" program, when it closed down sections of the quayside to create a temporary summer beach complete with real sand and sun loungers. In 2013, the city barred cars permanently from a long stretch of the Left Bank to create a waterside park. According to the mayor, the city’s slow assail on motorways is part of “an urban, almost philosophical project which consists of seeing the city in another way than through the use of cars.” In Hidalgo's car-cutting schemes along the Seine are also architected toward freeing up the Georges Pompidou Highway on the North side, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Just when you were getting tired of more High Line copies, Dutch architects MVRDV has breathed new life into the genre with their winning proposal for the “Seoul Skygarden,” a 3,000 foot long section of disused elevated highway. Their design doesn’t simply reappropriate the space into a linear public parkway—it uses the original 1970s structure as the basis for an urban horticultural extravaganza. Form that structure, which was deemed unusable for cars in 2009, the designers have attached a series of stairs, lifts and escalators as well as new satellite gardens that will grow with the needs of the park. The design features 254 different species of trees, shrubs, and flowers, which are chosen to showcase the biodiversity of Seoul. The library of plants is organized alphabetically and will educate visitors. New leisure spaces such as flower shops, street markets, libraries and greenhouses will provide respite from the city. The new urban thruway will connect two zones that were previously separated by a railway station and a subsequent 25 minute walk. The now-pedestrian friendly path will reduce this walk to 11 minutes, while simultaneously producing an estimated 1.83 times its own cost for the city.
The final touches have been put on London’s now-infamous Garden Bridge, designed by Heatherwick Studio with Arup and landscape designer Dan Pearson. The most recent renderings, released early this week, show exactly what the spaces on the bridge will look like by offering an up-close look at the garden-like landscaping. The Garden Bridge Trust (GBT) describes it as an “oasis of escapism.” Like New York’s High Line, the bridge is a collaboration between the architects and landscape designers, but Pearson said that “Thomas [Heatherwick] always described the garden as being the reason the bridge is there and we have a very generous space with which to make a garden.” This includes 27,000 square feet of planted green space, with ferns, grasses, 270 trees, 2,000 shrubs, hedging plants and climbers, more than 22,000 perennials, and 64,000 bulbs, according to GBT estimates. The new details of the plan include a conceptual framework laid out by Pearson and his team that includes five separate zones that make reference to the green spaces of London. They are: a marsh, a “cliff top landscape,” two woodlands, and a traditional, planted garden area. The design is the last step in unveiling the bridge to the public, which includes several skeptical parties. The approval process has been called into question, including the quick approval of former MP at the Department for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles. Others have questioned the design itself as unnecessary given the extreme need for bridges across the river in other, lower-income East London neighborhoods. Heatherwick has also been tapped to design a similar park that will hover above the Hudson River in New York. It remains to be seen if the Manhattan version will meet the same opposition as the London bridge. Part of the difference is that the Garden Bridge is being sold as a piece of public infrastructure that will connect two important parts of town, but is being heavily regulated including no bicycles, no protests, and no night walking, as Olly Wainwright has mentioned in the Guardian. Sam Jacob pointed out that the bridge raises many questions about public space in a city rapidly consumed as a territory of global capital and speculation. He probably would have preferred the city just build his version, which included the lyrics to Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 98” etched into the stone balustrades. It's hard to fault Heatherwick for the political turmoil, however. He has delivered a beautiful piece of parkland, and we would have to believe that he is doing his best to mitigate the undercurrents of neoliberalism and inequality that are highlighted by the project. In a recent interview with AN, Heatherwick said, "I’m very influenced by the Jane Jacobs book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. It almost made me fall in love with public-ness. With the bit we share together, and the subtle chemistry existing in the social interactions in public space." Sometimes the architect is hard to blame. [via gizmag]
Wonders of the World: Ashikaga Park in Japan begets a fairytale dreamscape with thousands of dripping wisteria blooms
If marveling at Spring’s fledgling flora will usher in warmer weather quicker, here’s something to ogle. The wisteria blooms at world-famous Ashikaga Park, located 50 miles from Tokyo, Japan, gives New York City’s botanical garden a run for its money with its live hanging curtains of cascading petals that render a fairytale-like dreamscape. The park is home to Japan’s largest and oldest flowers, a cultural icon locally known as fuji. What is now a panorama of pastel petals began as four giant wisteria vines in 1996, which have since grown to cover 11,000 square feet. The carefully pruned blooms hang from trellises and are grouped in clusters, and with proper manicuring, can grow upwards in tree form rather than climb surfaces. Related to the pea and native to North America, China and Japan, the climbing plants can be seen in their best light from mid-April to mid-May, when tourists from all over the world throng the park. The 291 foot-long Tunnel of White Wisteria envelops visitors from all sides, while the Giant Wisteria is a living umbrella whose multi-colored shade spans 118 by 118 feet. Meanwhile, the Yae-fuji wisteria trellis of purple blooms resembles hanging grapes, but the main attractions are the white wisteria “Waterfall” and the yellow Kibana-fuji. One hundred and sixty of the wisteria plants are more than 60 years old, while one plant has reputedly attained the tender age of 144. Fuji start off as light pink blooms, which then become purple, white, and then yellow. Beneath the surface, 260 tons of charcoal is buried, which fertilizes the soil and helps to purify the air much the way ash from a newly-erupted volcano yields richer earth. An awe-inspiring experience redolent of scenes from Avatar, the park admits adult visitors for around 1,000 yen, depending on the season.
Just about every city on planet earth wants to build its own version of New York City's hugely popular High Line. The ever-growing list includes Miami that plans to turn a 10-mile stretch of underutilized land beneath its elevated Metrorail into a park and bike path. The project is called "The Underline" because, well, you get it. While there is no firm construction timeline for the project, James Corner Field Operations, the lead landscape architect behind the actual High Line, has been picked by a local jury to create a master plan for the park. The firm was selected out of 19 submissions and five finalists that included dlandstudio, Balmori Associates, Perkins + Will, and Stoss. The Miami Herald reported that the $500,00 design contract is being funded by local cities and private foundations. The design is due in September and no construction money has been secured just yet.