Posts tagged with "Parks":

Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

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]  
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

Proponents Lose Battle to Build Park Across Los Angeles River

A proposal to turn the old Riverside-Figueroa Bridge into a High Line–style park appears to be dead after a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge declined to issue a temporary restraining order to demolition crews. Introduced by RAC Design Build and EnrichLA last fall, the Figueroa Landbridge would have preserved part of the 1939 bridge for use by pedestrians and cyclists while the replacement span for vehicular traffic was built upstream. RAC Design Build’s Kevin Mulcahy blamed the collapse of the Landbridge scheme on the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering, who he said exaggerated the extent to which the plan would impact the replacement project. When they first introduced the Landbridge, he said, the designers were optimistic. The city had new leadership, many of whom had championed the revitalization of the LA River during their campaigns. “But what we learned is that those promises are not easily embraced,” said Mulcahy. “The politics eroded in an immediate way a very sincere opportunity. The Bureau of Engineering read the political tea leaves and said, ‘We’re not supporting this.’” At the June 2 hearing, lawyers for RAC Design Build and EnrichLA argued that the city is obligated to conduct further environmental review before removing the bridge in light of its status as an historical monument. (The bridge was declared an historic monument seven years ago, one year after the initial decision to demolish it.) The city attorney, meanwhile, claimed that delaying the demolition of the old bridge would stop all work on the new span, to the tune of $18,000 a day. Judge James Chalfant decided in favor of the city, on the grounds that the Landbridge’s proponents should have made their case in 2011. That’s when the Bureau of Engineering decided to build the new bridge upstream of, rather than in the same location as, the 1939 structure. “The judge made his ruling on a failed assumption,” said Mulcahy. “We weren’t here in 2011 because the [Bureau of Engineering] changed the work and they never daylighted that fact. We’re not late because the public has failed here, we’re late as a result of the failure of the Bureau of Engineering to act timely and appropriately.” Mulcahy isn’t sure what happens next. “We’re trying to decide what to do,” he said. “The only way to get [the story] out is to follow through with a lawsuit, and that’s not why we’re in this. We don’t exactly know where we’re going to go with this.” In the meantime, he was heartened by the public’s response to the Landbridge proposal. One Angeleno even organized a “wake” on the old bridge following the hearing. “Here we were on a Sunday with kids running around, just free play with no traffic,” said Mulcahy. “It was a day of a park spanning the Los Angeles River, an absolute proof of concept.” Whether or not the Landbridge is built, Mulcahy still sees value in the lessons learned over the past nine months. “We set out to just ask questions,” he said. “What we discovered were gaping holes in the process, and that’s both unfortunate and—I’m a little bit of an eternal optimist—we can turn that on its head. When we see these kinds of failures, these are opportunities to actually improve things. We’ll see where this goes, but it may bring about change that can actually help the next project.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Chicago Plan Commission Approves New Skate Park for Grant Park

This month, Chicago’s Plan Commission approved plans for a new skatepark at the south end of Grant Park. Plans were released last fall, showing curvy paved pathways and sculptural landscape features courtesy of the Chicago Park District and North Center urban design studio Altamanu. Using the address 300 East 11th Street, the new skate park would be the city’s fifth and would draw on the neighborhood’s local population of 60,000 students. Originally the project featured a grassy amphitheater, but that was whittled out of the new plan. In all, the skate park and associated "passive areas" will total three acres, said Chicago Park District spokesman Peter Strazzabosco. Bob O’Neil of the Grant Park Conservancy told Chicago Architecture Blog:

We were able to get input and design from all kinds of skaters and BMXers so it was crowd-sourced before crowd sourcing was cool.  We organized skaters back in 2006. The final design is innovative and allows it to be used by the entire public not just skaters and other ”wheelers”.  It will be a place for all types of people and park users to gather.

The skate park will be part of a 1.9-acre addition to the 325-acre downtown park’s southwest corner, between South Michigan Avenue and the Metra Electric District railroad tracks. The city will sell the land to the Park District for one dollar, assuming that sale is approved as expected at a City Council meeting on Wednesday.
Placeholder Alt Text

Brooklyn Bridge Parks Opens New Pier and Beach

The opening of a new pier and beach at Michael Van Valkenburgh's Brooklyn Bridge Park this week marks the halfway point in the transformation of the celebrated 85-acre site. Local elected officials and community leaders—including Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver—appeared on the new Pier 2 to mark the occasion. They used words like “amazing” and “unbelievable" to describe the new six acres of space, but didn’t need much help selling the project. As they spoke on the overcast afternoon, their voices were drowned out by people playing basketball and bocce, and children running around a new playground. "We love all the boroughs," said Silver during his turn at the mic. "But, let me say, Brooklyn is really cool." This “active recreation”  space came out of a community-driven planning process, and also includes handball courts, a field, a roller rink, and food vendors all under a protective shed. A few steps from all the action at Pier 2 is the new Pier 4 beach,  a small waterfront space that will soon look out onto a natural habitat called Bird Island.
Placeholder Alt Text

Dallas Developer Wants to Adopt Abandoned Parking Lot, Turn it Towards Economic Viability

Dallas developer Shawn Todd is proposing a $100 million parking-garage-and-park combo for a downtown parking lot that Dallas has been trying to get underway for years now. And while stories about parking garages aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, Todd’s plans are making a particularly idiosyncratic splash. Besides a massive media screen, a Trader Joe's grocery store, and adding a plethora of parking spots to downtown Dallas, the garage and park won’t cost the city a penny. Todd plans to pay for it all by himself. Pacific Plaza is a 3-acre lot in downtown Dallas that the city has been pouring money into for years now. But the city can’t foot the $10 million dollar bill required to get the park underway. The lack of funds has left the stretch of asphalt and broken concrete as, well, a stretch of broken asphalt and concrete. Todd wishes to build an eight-level parking structure that would arch over Pacific Plaza with a deck park atop the garage. Nearby Aston Park—which Todd hopes to buy out from the city—provides the footprint for more park space. Digital ticker tape similar to the one in Times Square gives the parking garage a revolutionary nod to modernity. Razing nearby Corrigan Tower and including residential opportunities is a part of Todd’s bold bag of tricks. Although the city would not have to pay for the rebuilding or maintenance of Aston Park, they are weary of selling the land to a private investor. However, nearby Klyde Warren Park employed a similar business model and was unquestionably successful, so negotiations are a definite possibility. Todd’s ambitious blueprints require some major red tape to cross before groundbreaking. Success, however, would be a big foot up in Dallas’ attempts to amp up their downtown area with commercial and economic viability.