Posts tagged with "Parks":

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City of Toronto to build 21-acre park over downtown railroad tracks

Toronto Mayor John Tory has announced plans to protect 21 acres of downtown real estate for the future Rail Deck Park. The park will be placed on top of an existing rail corridor. According to the city, this may be the last opportunity to create a public park for the city's expanding downtown population. According to the Ontario Ministry of Finance, greater Toronto's population is projected to increase by over 2.8 million, or 42.9 percent, in the next 25 years. The population of downtown Toronto is expected to double. Public improvements like this proposed park take an important step toward preparing the city for a long-term population boom. This announcement comes as part of Toronto's TOCore initiative, which is set up to ease downtown into this more populated future. TOCore is a long-range plan to create infrastructure and amenities to accommodate a significantly higher population density. Among the planned improvements are more options for bike commuting, new community facilities, and, of course, new parks. "Great cities have great parks. As Toronto grows, we need to take bold action to create public space and make sure we build a city that makes future generations proud,” said Mayor Tory in a press release. “This is our last chance to secure a piece of land that could transform the way we experience our city.” The park will be built on what is now Toronto's western rail corridor, on a site that spans from Blue Jays Way to Bathurst Street. No other details are available yet. Toronto will follow in the footsteps of Chicago's Millennium Park, Philadelphia's University City, and Hudson Yards in Manhattan by capping a rail yard to make room for new development.
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New York City and NYCEDC announce conditional approval of world’s first subterranean park

Last week New York City deputy mayor Alicia Glen and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) president Maria Torres-Springer announced that the city has selected the Lowline to officially occupy vacant trolley tracks under the Lower East Side as the world's first underground park. Conceived by James Ramsey of raad studio and Dan Barasch, the Lowline will use a custom solar array to channel natural light into the windowless space, which sits adjacent to the J/M/Z lines at Essex Street. (The Architect's Newspaper toured the Lowline Lab, the park's freakily lush demo and educational space, last fall.) At the Lab, an above-ground solar array refracted onto a paneled canopy provides different light intensities to grow everything from pineapples to moss. Since its opening, the lab has hosted 2,000 schoolchildren and 70,000 visitors, an early indication of its potential popularity (it is slated to operate through March of next year). Last fall, NYCEDC, in conjunction with the MTA, put out a request for expressions of interest (RFEI) to develop the Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal, a 60,000-square-foot space below Delancey Street between Clinton and Norfolk streets, under a long-term lease. The RFEI stipulated that the developers must implement a community engagement plan that includes quarterly Community Engagement Committee meetings as well as five to ten design charettes; complete a schematic design to submit for approval in the next 12 months; and raise $10 million over the next 12 months. "Every designer dreams of doing civic work that contributes to society and to the profession. Over the last 8 years, we just stuck to what we thought was a great idea that could make our city and our community better. We're thrilled to move ahead on designing and building a space that people will enjoy for generations to come," Ramsey said in a press release. Principal Signe Nielsen of Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects is landscape designer for the project, working with John Mini Distinctive Landscapes. The Lowline's creators and backers hope that the park will showcase adaptive reuse possibilities for vestigial spaces, as well as provide the densely-populated neighborhood with additional green space. “We couldn't be more thrilled for this opportunity to turn a magical dream into reality," said Barasch, the project's executive director. “The transformation of an old, forgotten trolley terminal into a dynamic cultural space designed for a 21st century city is truly a New York story. We know with input from the community and the city, we can make the Lowline a unique, inspiring space that everyone can enjoy." (Courtesy raad studio)
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City of Baltimore to open design competition for McKeldin Plaza

The City of Baltimore is hosting a citywide design competition to seek proposals for the redevelopment of McKeldin Plaza in downtown Baltimore. The call follows plans to demolish the existing McKeldin Fountain later this year and the Department of Planning will supervise the open competition.

This follows years of talk about redesigning the plaza, which is currently dominated by the 1982 Brutalist concrete McKeldin Fountain. The fountain stands adjacent to the Inner Harbor area and memorializes former Baltimore mayor Theodore McKeldin, who was instrumental in  revitalizing the harbor area in the 1960s.

The Waterfront Partnership recently released plans for “Inner Harbor 2.0,” which will improve the area with new green spaces and pedestrian connections using Brooklyn Bridge Park and Waterfront Seattle as precedents.

 

McKeldin Plaza is an important fixture of Downtown Baltimore, and a designated free speech zone that was the focal point for the city’s Occupy and Black Lives Matter protests. In addition, the fountain is a historically significant holdout from the Brutalist movement, and its design attracts tourists and office workers from the surrounding area.

The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore supports redevelopment of the plaza into an open space, while many local artists, designers, and architects support its preservation as a public art piece.

The fountain itself has fallen into disrepair, and according to the Downtown Partnership its mechanics are prone to expensive breakdowns that leave it non-functional for months at a time. However, maintenance and enhancements could also go a long way toward revitalizing the plaza while preserving the fountain.

Up until recently the Brutalist design of the fountain matched the nearby Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, which was demolished in 2015. The theater was designed by John M. Johansen and opened in 1967, remaining in use until 2004. After its owners chose not to renew the lease on the building in favor of the newly reopened Hippodrome Theatre, the building fell into disrepair. A new high-rise residential and commercial space is now under construction on the site. Since the demolition of the Mechanic, McKeldin fountain is the only example of Brutalist architecture in Baltimore.

The fountain has its share of defenders, including Baltimore’s City Council president, who introduced a bill to block the demolition last year.

A Change.org petition calls for the postponement of demolition until a new design is approved. Others—including the fountain’s designer—are against the demolition entirely and want to preserve the site.

The Downtown Partnership plans to move forward with the demolition in Summer 2016 pending approval of permits. The fountain and the skywalk across Light Street were recently closed to pedestrians.

The architecture firms Ayers Saint Gross, Mahan Rykiel, and Ziger/Snead will oversee the project and finalize designs. Details about the public competition are still taking shape. 

 
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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.”

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Toronto’s ambitious plan for a linear garden under the Gardiner Expressway is made of 55 “outdoor rooms”

Toronto’s waterfront is separated from the city by the elevated Gardiner Expressway. While access underneath is relatively easy, it isn’t a pleasant transition. Torontonians, however, can expect some changes to their waterfront corridor as 10-acres of new public space and a mile of multi-use trail are being built under the highway. Project: Under Gardiner was designed by city planner and urban designer Ken Greenberg with Marc Ryan and Adam Nicklin of PUBLIC WORK, an urban design and landscape architecture studio in Toronto. The new park is slated to open in 2017. The scheme is strategically placed along a portion of the expressway that connects numerous destinations—including the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, Fort York (an historic military site and museum), BMO fields, and the CNE fairgrounds—as well as a string of high-rise neighborhoods. The project is conceived as a series of 55 "outdoor rooms” formed by the structural bays of the Gardiner. While it is a continuous park, each section or “room” will have a distinct atmosphere and will lend itself to particular activities and programs, including gardens, art fairs, playgrounds, and public markets.  In addition to multi-use park space, the project boasts a 1,640 foot connection to a prominent GO train station, a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists over Fort York Boulevard, and an urban theater at Strachan Avenue to accommodate public programming and year-round performances. Like the High line in New York and The 606 in Chicago, Project: Under Gardiner uses existing conditions as a catalyst for new urban engagements, while also adding significant public space to an underused portion of the city. “The re-imagination of this stretch of vacant land under the Gardiner has the potential to connect 70,000 residents to a linear spine of diverse active and passive spaces and place,” explained Paul Bedford, Former Toronto Chief Planner. “It links our past with our future and establishes a totally new way for city hall to embrace transformative city building.”
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Seattle Park Proposal to Cap I-5 Unveiled

Take note. The Seattle waterfront plan is getting a lot of competition. Last month, we saw an opposing proposal to the James Corner Field Operations plan rejected by city council and put on the ballot for next summer. The project—Initiative 123—calls for reinforcing a portion of the Alaska Way Viaduct that runs north-south along the western edge of Seattle as well as building a new section. These two pieces would create a mile-long, High Line–style park. Now a Seattle- and Idaho-based firm, Patano Studio Architecture, is proposing an $800 million project to the east as part of a larger conceptual plan to expand the Washington State Convention Center. The project would cap Interstate 5—a highway that runs through multiple neighborhoods such as downtown Seattle, South Lake Union, and Capitol Hill—and build a park on top. The architects describe the highway built in 1962 as a "savage scar of roadway" that forever divided the city. Their project would cap a 2 mile long section of the the highway running from Lakeview in the north, south to downtown. The resulting 45 acre park would feature plants, trails, and community spaces, and be adjacent to affordable housing. Toward the downtown end, the park would run over a proposed 20,000 seat NBA / NHL arena that would also double as additional customizable convention space for the Convention Center. The arena would be an alternative to Chris Hansen's proposed NBA / NHL arena in SoDo. The concept, if accepted, could take about 5 years to build. "In our mind, the old guard way of thinking and planning the city is one project at a time," Christopher Patano told the Seattle P-I. "I think what we're finding is this one-piece-at-a-time approach is not producing a cohesive result. It's not producing a city that functions the way the people of Seattle want it to function."
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Aim High, Get Low: New “Lowline” linear park eyed in the Bronx

Call it High Line fever: since the first leg of James Corner and Diller Scofidio + Renfro's High Line debuted in 2009, High Line–like projects have popped up all over the city and across the country. Now, not ten miles from the original, the Bronx may be slated for its very own rail-to-park conversion. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has asked Mayor Bill de Blasio to transform an unused slice of below grade train track in Mott Haven into a "lowline." The block-long site, bounded by Brook Avenue, East 156th Street, St. Ann's Avenue, and East 150th Street, is owned by CSX. In order to reclaim the space for parkland, the city would need to buy or seize the land from the railroad company. On a visit to the site in September, Mayor de Blasio deplored the condition of the trash strewn corridor, which doubles as a homeless encampment. Soon after the mayor's visit, city workers cleared out the belongings of the residents and removed debris from the site. Sandwiched between schools and their athletic fields, the lowline would be adjacent to mixed income housing projects Melrose Commons and Via Verde.
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Van Alen Institute announces winner of National Parks Now competition

After a ten-month competition in which four teams proposed schemes in Northeastern national parks: Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park (Paterson, NJ); Sagamore Hill (Oyster Bay, NY); Steamtown National Historic Site (Scranton, PA); and Weir Farm (Wilton, CT), the Van Alen Institute has finally announced the winner. Each submission, as outlined by the competition, had to focus on attracting new audiences and engaging younger generations with natural landscapes and historical contexts. With funding from the National Parks Service, the teams were able to realize their ideas. The victors, "Team Paterson" who submitted their proposal for Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, presented a plan that connected immigrant communities and their restaurants to Great Falls. The project, called "Great Falls, Great Food, Great Stories," used food as a vehicle to bridge the history and environment of Great Falls with modern day life in Paterson. The project finishes with a tour from park staff, eventually leaving the park and entering local restaurants for a communal meal. Such was the success of the competition that the Van Alen Institute was able to draw "Six Great Ideas for Connecting Parks to New Audiences" using each project. The institute claims that "these ideas can be used by NPS for similar sites across the country as well as municipalities, advocates, and others who are invested in the future of parks, historic sites, managed landscapes, and many other types of landscapes." "We're thrilled with the wide range of proposals for visitor experience strategies that the four teams developed," said Shaun Eyring, Northeast Region Chief of Cultural Resources, National Park Service. "This competition has helped the National Park Service assemble a toolkit of design and programming solutions that can highlight the rich resources all of our parks have to offer in a way that attracts a much broader, more varied audience." "Van Alen Institute competitions explore unconventional ways that people can engage with their environments," said David van der Leer, executive director of Van Alen Institute. "National Parks Now pushed both designers and park staff to break from their traditional understanding of parks and reimagine what types of experiences a park could provide for the visitor of the future."
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Obama foundation gears up to issue open call for architects for Chicago’s presidential library

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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nARCHITECTS reveals Café Pavilion for Cleveland’s revamped Public Square

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.
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Atlanta may be getting a nine-acre highway capping park

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.
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Yoko Ono breaks ground on public art project for Chicago’s South Side

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.