Posts tagged with "Parks":

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Philadelphia packs its riverfront pop-up park, RiverRink Winterfest, with holiday cheer

Just a few months after Philadelphia’s hugely popular, but temporary, Spruce Street Harbor Park closed up shop, the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest has opened in its place. The new space, which is open until March 1st, was commissioned by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation and designed by the New Jersey–based Groundswell Design Group, the same team behind the Winterfest's summertime predecessor. The Winterfest is so overflowing with wintertime amenities that it appears less like a pop-up park and more like an idyllic backdrop for some Christmas-time romantic comedy. There is a regulation-size ice skating rink, a bar with craft beers and spiked drinks, fire pits, a restaurant, a holiday market, and heated tents known as “The Lodge.” Shipping containers from the Harbor Park have been repurposed into Winterfest stores, and lights strung up over the summer were programmed into a brand new light show that plays every half hour. Set within the Winterfest is also a winter garden that Groundswell’s David Fierabend created “with hundreds of holiday trees and shrubs, woodchips, rustic furniture, market lights and fire pits,” according to the DRWC.
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Bjarke Ingels joins Foster and Gehry for Battersea Power Station redevelopment

Bjarke Ingels is slated to join elder architectural statesmen Norman Foster and Frank Gehry at the Battersea Power Station in London. The multi-billion dollar, mixed-use redevelopment was originally master planned by, yes, another starchitect, Rafael Viñoly. Ingels' firm, BIG, joins the bunch after winning a competition to design a public space for the project called Malaysia Square. Why is it called Malaysia Square? Because, lest the Brits forget, the project is backed by a Malaysian development consortium. BIG's plan for Malaysia Square goes beyond the name; it takes its form and design from the caves of the country's Gunung Mulu National Park. The Battersea developers describe the space as a “two-level urban canyon.” To that end, Malaysia Square is clad in limestone, granite, marble, sandstone, gravel, and has dolomite striation. The square's natural materials are sculpted into a dramatic design, but don't necessarily make for the most comfortable place to stretch out. Before unveiling Malaysia Square, London Mayor Boris Johnson addressed criticism that the Battersea Power Station development has too few affordable units and will just be another investment opportunity for wealthy foreigners. (15 percent of the plan is currently "affordable.) “I think 600 affordable homes are better than no affordable homes," Johnson told the Guardian. "If you didn’t do a deal of this kind you couldn’t get either the transport or the affordable homes so that’s the reality." The mayor also said that the development comes with two new Tube stations and the first extension of the system in a quarter century [h/t Dezeen]    
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Bush Terminal Piers Park finally opens in Sunset Park, Brooklyn

Finally. After years and year of delays, Bush Terminal Piers Park in Sunset Park, Brooklyn is open. DNAinfo reported that the opening comes more than 10 years after people started talking about turning the brownfield site into a public space. The long-anticipated park includes a waterfront esplanade, wetlands, tidal ponds, lawns, and athletic fields designed by AECOM and Adrian Smith Landscape Architecture. There is also a comfort station by Turett Collaborative Architects. But after all this time waiting for a park, Sunset Park residents won't actually have that many hours to use it. Until March, the park is only open every day until 4:00p.m. In the Spring, it's open until 5:00p.m., and over the summer, closing time is pushed back to 8:00p.m., which is still five hours earlier than New York City parks typically close. In response to AN's question about the park's early curfew, a spokesperson for the New York City Parks Department said hours are subject to change, but are currently set according to "daylight and security." So for the foreseeable future, Sunset Park's new park closes just before Sunset. The official ribbon-cutting ceremony takes place on Wednesday.
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Could Olmsted & Bartholomew’s 100-year-old parks plan finally happen in Los Angeles?

One of the highlights of this author's recent exhibition, Never Built Los Angeles, was a comprehensive, and interconnected, parks plan for Los Angeles assembled by the landscape firm Olmsted and Bartholomew in 1930. That old plan is seeing some new life in the Los Angeles community. If the proposed Emerald Necklace Expanded Vision Plan is realized, that idea would come to life almost a century after it was proposed. The plan (PDF), led by the Amigos de los Rios, a nonprofit working to create and preserve open spaces in poorer areas of Southern California, and The Conservation Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving open space nationwide, is intended to connect the city with a new network of parks and open spaces connected by trails, greenways, and bike paths. The idea started in 2005, when the Amigos de Los Rios laid out a 17-mile loop of parks and greenways (often underutilized spaces owned by public agencies) along the Río Hondo and San Gabriel Rivers on the east side of Los Angeles. With a grant from the California Strategic Growth Council they then partnered with the Conservation Fund to expand the scope. "They had focused on landscape architecture scale but didn’t have the experience looking at the bigger picture," explained Will Allen, Director of Strategic Conservation Planning for The Conservation Fund. The plan has grown to encompass the entire LA Basin, from the San Gabriel Forest to the Pacific.  New green infrastructure would be proposed throughout the area through land acquisition, but would center along public sites like existing parks, rivers, creeks, under utility lines, near freeways, and along public transit lines. Besides the obvious recreational and public health benefits, the plan could provide relief to the area's beleaguered water supply, provide much-needed shade with new tree canopies, and  revitalize struggling communities. Fundraising has already begun. Allen said the plan, whose cost could range from $200 million to over $1 billion, may take 20 to 30 years and involve coordination and funding from the region's 88 cities, private foundations, public bond issues, and public agencies like Caltrans, the US Army Corps of Engineers, Southern California Edison, and the LA Department of Water and Power. "There’s a full awareness that this would be a slog to get a lot of this done," Allen noted. "There's a lot of money out there. A lot is convincing people to invest in things that are multiple benefit." The scheme couldn't come too soon. Right now, according to The Conservation Fund, only 36 percent of children in Los Angeles live within one-quarter mile of a park, compared to 91 percent in New York and 85 percent in San Francisco. Meanwhile 85 percent of Americans live in cities now, so plans like these are only becoming more important. Allen calls the addition of parks in the area a civil rights issue.  "We are in the middle of a quiet crisis," said Claire Robinson, president of the Amigos de los Rios. "We're not addressing public health, quality of life, and our relationship to nature." Olmsted and Bartholomew's 178-page plan, which would have created almost 200,000 acres of small and large parks connected by almost 100 park-lined roadways, was derailed by LA's Chamber of Commerce, the same body that commissioned them in the first place. Hopefully this plan will have greater staying power.
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Planning, transit, and parks projects are transforming Indianapolis

Indianapolis has been busy remaking its downtown, embarking on several developments and planning projects that city officials hope bode well for the city's future growth. The editors at Indianapolis Monthly rounded them up this week, picking out “five projects improving Indy right now.” Two are long-term plans: Mayor Greg Ballard's LiveIndy Plan, which focuses on public safety through education and new police hires, and Plan 2020, a $2 million roadmap of “promises we're making to residents” on the occasion of the city's bicentennial in 2021. They've also got their eye on the redevelopment of Tarkington Park, a 10.5-acre green space at 39th and Illinois streets currently on the fringe between the low-income Crown Hill and “genteel” Meridian-Kessler neighborhoods. Full funding for the development, which goes toward park improvements and a new grocery store, is still pending. Local design firm Rundell Ernstberger Associates (REA) is leading the process. Indianapolis is also in the middle of a transit overhaul, which may include building a new $20 million downtown transit hub. The project's breaking ground soon. Indianapolis Monthly also calls out an in-progress luxury apartment tower at the former site of Market Square Arena. Since the demolition of Market Square Arena, surface parking lots have deadened the downtown area.
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Hollywood’s Freeway Cap Park Begins Environmental Review Process

[beforeafter] 4b-la-freeway-park 4a-la-freeway-park [/beforeafter]   We've been following Los Angeles' several proposed Freeway Cap Parks (in Downtown LA, Hollywood, and Santa Monica among other places) for years now, with a healthy amount of skepticism. But the first of these is (really? really!) moving toward reality. Friends of the Hollywood Central Park, a non-profit organizing a cap park over the 101 Freeway near the center of Hollywood, along with LA's Department of Recreation and Parks have begun the environmental review process for the transformative 38-acre space. The city of LA is now preparing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) (PDF) for the project, and the first public scoping meeting for the project will take place on September 6. The park, located about four miles northwest of Downtown LA and about 500 feet north of the 101's Hollywood Boulevard overpass, would be built on an engineered deck over the freeway. According to the Department of Recreation and Parks' Initial Study Analysis (PDF) the new highway cap park's uses would include: "landscaped open space, multi-purpose fields, active and passive pedestrian meadows, small retail facilities and kiosks (bike shops, seasonal markets, art galleries, etc.), restaurants, an amphitheater, a community center, plazas and terraces, water features, playgrounds, dog parks, and interactive community areas." The Friends of the Hollywood Central Park has said the draft EIR should be ready for public review by next spring. The bulk of funding for the EIR has included $1.2 million from the Aileen Getty Foundation and $825,000 from the City of Los Angeles. Of course funding for the park itself is still far off, but this is a major first step. [beforeafter] (Courtesy Friends of the Hollywood Central Park) (Courtesy Friends of the Hollywood Central Park) [/beforeafter]  
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Parklet Down! Motorist Rams Downtown Los Angeles’ First Parklet

It seems like just yesterday that Los Angeles opened its first downtown Parklet, a sparkling new design on Spring Street by architects utopiad.org, designers Berry and Linné, and builders Hensel Phelps. But a few weeks ago that design (already getting a little shabby from weather and use) was rammed and badly compromised by an errant motorist, leaving it closed, and leaving downtown without a parklet to speak of more than two years after the city’s parklet program began. According to CBE Los Angeles, the driver had moments, earlier been, kicked out of a club nearby and commandeered a friend's car using its keyless ignition. The suspected drunk driver side-swiped several parked cars before hitting the parklet. Three people sustained injuries from flying debris during the incident and were hospitalized. LA Department of Transportation (LADOT) spokesperson Lisa Martellaro-Palmer told AN that the city is in the process of rebuilding the parklet, and that the fix will happen “in the near future,” although the timeline has not been determined. Its sister parklet, about a block north, remains intact. So far, there are seven more parklets and plazas moving ahead in the city as part of the LADOT's People Street Program. One of them is downtown, on Hope Street.
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New York City and Investors Make Multi-Million Dollar Bet on Sunset Park in Brooklyn

With tens of millions of dollars, New York City hopes to jumpstart a transformation of Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood into a hub for artists and tech companies. As the Wall Street Journal reported, the city is spending $100 million to transform part of the Brooklyn Army Terminal—an old navy-supply hub—into space for light manufacturing. That investment is just one piece of the millions of dollars flowing into the neighborhood from real estate investors. While the money will be significant, giving new life to Sunset Park's industrial corridor will take more than artisanal pickles and startups. It will take great public space and significant improvements to the neighborhood's streetscape. At this point, however, it's not clear if that type of investment is in the cards. About 20 blocks north of the Brooklyn Army Terminal is Industry City, a six-million square foot former industrial complex that currently includes startups, artist spaces, and light manufacturing. The impressive space hosted events for this year's New York Design Week and will soon be home to the Brooklyn Nets practice facility. To continue the building's transformation, a group of investors has purchased a 49 percent stake in the complex and plans to lease remaining space to food manufacturers with connected retail spaces. The idea here is to attract locals and tourists to the site. Nearby is the Liberty View Industrial Plaza, another early 20th Century naval supply center, which has received $80 million from some deep-pocketed individuals who want to create affordable space for small companies pushed out of the Garment District. As the Journal noted, all this investment could be muted by the fact that these buildings are pretty difficult to get to from the subway and the neighborhood's residential and commercial centers. "After decades of neglect, roads in Sunset Park are filled with potholes, some sewer lines are aging and walking from the residential areas to the factories requires a nerve-racking trip across the Gowanus Expressway," reported the Journal. "Fixing all that will require significant investment." The mayor's Vision Zero plan could play a role in making that connection safer and more attractive. The waterfront side of these buildings could use some work as well. Where DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights have the Brooklyn Bridge Park, Sunset Park has concrete piers. There is one glimmer of hope, though. The Bush Terminal Pier Park, the ever-delayed park, which has been under construction since 2009, may finally open this fall.
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West 8 unveils plans for massive park in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) has released concept images for their waterfront park in the West Kowloon Cultural District. Once installed, the park will be a breath of fresh air (both literally and figuratively) for residents in the urban sprawl of Hong Kong, China. The park, designed by West 8, is merely one facet of a larger project to create the West Kowloon Cultural District, which seeks to create a cultural hub in Hong Kong. To establish this cultural atmosphere, the project's planners seek to insert several performance venues and art venues in the park. Upon its completion, the West Kowloon Cultural District will host multiple facilities to provide space for exhibitions and events, a park, and a waterfront path. The buildings will help to facilitate cultural celebrations and large-scale public events while the outdoor space will produce quality “green” space. Three confirmed venues for the park are The Arts Pavilion, Freespace, and The lawn. The Arts Pavilion will be situated on an elevated hill overlooking the Victoria Harbor and will house exhibitions and events that promote the cultural arts. The edifice was designed by VPANG architects and JET Architecture. The Freespace will be comprised of a black box and an outdoor stage, where open-air events and concerts can be held. The black box refers to a space at the center of the park that will seat up to 900 people. Finally, The Lawn will comprise the majority of the park and will be able to hold 10,000 standing visitors, making it ideal for outdoor concerts and festivals.
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Local Group Tries to Block Affordable Housing at Brooklyn Bridge Park

As AN covered earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio’s plan to bring affordable housing to Brooklyn Bridge Park has received steep opposition from local groups in neighboring Brooklyn Heights. They contend new housing development will eat up public space and that under-market housing would not provide necessary funding for park maintenance. Under a Bloomberg-era plan, revenue from private, market-rate development would help cover upkeep at the Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates-designed park. Under de Blasio, 30 percent of the two proposed towers for the park–one 31 stories and the other 16–would be subsidized. The groups opposing that plan have now formalized their opposition against it. According to the Wall Street Journal  the park neighbors opposing the project filed a motion in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn on Friday to stop the city from selecting a developer for the project. The publication reported, "the suit being heard Friday cited the enormous popularity of the park, the growth of the surrounding neighborhoods, increasing traffic and overcrowded schools. It seeks to force the park corporation to redo a required environmental impact statement that dates to 2005. The suit also said the original plans required that housing be developed only if it was needed to pay for the park." In the meantime, Gothamist reported that the rising condos designed by Marvel Architects are already blocking views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Midtown Manhattan.
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Cleveland’s Public Square could break ground soon, thanks to $8 million cash boost

Cleveland last year unveiled a plan to revamp Public Square—a space that, as its name suggests, is meant to serve as a civic space for the city’s downtown. Now an $8 million grant could make that ambitious project shovel-ready by the end of this year. The Cleveland Foundation announced its donation Tuesday, gifting $7 million outright and withholding $1 million until Cleveland’s Group Plan Commission can raise an additional $7 million from nongovernmental sources by Halloween. That would bring the total amount raised to $15 million, or half of the $30 million needed. The design, courtesy of New York’s James Corner Field Operations and locally-based LAND Studio, knits four fragmented quadrants of public space together into one 10-acre park with spaces for art, ice-skating, and picnicking. That would require the city to close a two-block stretch of Ontario Street, and restrict a section of Superior Avenue to bus traffic only. As the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Steven Litt reported, the foundation formally announced the gift by a bronze statue of Moses Cleaveland, the city’s founder, who planned the downtown area with Public Square at its center in 1796. If enough money comes through in time to break ground later this year, the goal is to complete work by the spring of 2016, ahead of the Republican National Committee convention in Cleveland that summer.
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Pittsburgh’s Mellon Square Returned to Its Modernist Roots

After five years and $10 million, Pittsburgh’s Mellon Square has been returned to its mid-century splendor. Dedicated in 1955, the Square served as a modern, green oasis in a city choked by pollution. But only a few decades after opening, the modern masterpiece had fallen into disrepair, its former glory hidden by cracked pavement, broken fountains, pigeons, and empty planters. As Pittsburgh has transformed itself in recent years, so to has Mellon Square. Now, the reborn space is yet another example of the Steel City's promising future. The park's original design is the work of Mitchell & Ritchey and Simonds & Simonds who created a conspicuously geometric space with prominent fountains, planters, benches, and triangle-patterned concrete. According to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), Mellon Square is the first park in America to be built on top of a parking garage. According to the ASLA's Dirt blog, “the intensive, compact Mellon Square design was layered, with three-dimensionally nested planes unfolding to a serene interior of skydome, sunlight, shimmering water, and native forest plants.” In 2008, the American Planning Association named Mellon Square one of its “great spaces.” At the time, though, the park was a dingy version of its former self. “Mellon Square had started to feel a little seedy and maybe even a little unsafe,” said the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy in a video about the space. The renovation, led by Patricia O’Donnell of Heritage Landscapes, changed that. The pavement and fountains were restored, granite walls were cleaned and repointed, thousands of plantings were added, new lighting was installed, and a new terrace was created to expand the square's usable space by 15 percent. To keep the park from falling back into disrepair, $4 million has been secured to cover maintenance and upkeep costs. Above, the Pittsburgh Park Conservancy's video on the history and restoration of Mellon Square.