Posts tagged with "Parks":

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NYC Passes Zoning For Commercial Development on Governors Island

Governors Island (Courtesy of The Trust  Governors Island) Yesterday City Council green lighted new zoning to allow commercial development in 40 historic structures on Governors Island. This change will introduce restaurants and retail establishments to the sleepy, mostly park-filled island, and also help to generate revenue for the upkeep and operations of the island's parkland. One stipulation of the rezoning is a commitment from The Trust for Governors Island to use union labor for all construction projects. (Photo: Courtesy Trust for Governors Island)
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Brooklyn’s Willoughby Square Park by Hargreaves Set To Begin Construction

Nearly 10 years after shining as the “crown jewel” in the Downtown Brooklyn Redevelopment Plan, Willoughby Square Park has a clear path to construction. The one-acre park, designed by Hargreaves Associates, will be a passive space offering a moment of calm just half a block from the bustling Fulton Street Mall, but there will be plenty of action beneath the surface, where a robotically controlled parking garage will arrange 700 cars in a very compact space. The fully-automated, underground parking garage replete with plasma screens, cameras, and lasers will be located under the park and will help defray some of the costs of the its development. Automotion Parking Systems' space-saving technology also means that the garage can fit more cars than a traditional garage, cutting down on the cost of excavation. As a result, the Willoughby Operating Company will be able to cover the construction of the park and the garage with $6 million it has raised from city funding, the Economic Development Corporation, and private donors. The company has also promised to cover any additional expenses. That comes as good news, as the costs of relocating tenants, acquiring land, and funding cuts have hampered the park’s progress over the years. A ceremonial groundbreaking is planned next week on August 1 and the park is scheduled to open in 2016.
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Help Design Hollywood’s Freeway-Capping Central Park

Los Angeles, are you ready to design your own Central Park? Friends of the Hollywood Central Park (FHCP), a nonprofit formed in 2008 devoted to developing a 44-acre street-level park capping Hollywood's 101 Freeway, has initiated a new web feature encouraging residents to imagine their own dream parks in order to transform Hollywood’s densely populated, park-deprived neighborhoods into healthy, prosperous green spaces. In collaboration with Central Hollywood, East Hollywood and Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Councils and the Hollywood Chamber Community Foundation, the ambitious venture will reunite the communities presently separated by the Hollywood Freeway. The Design Your Own Park tool makes it possible for individuals to create their own versions of Hollywood Central Park by offering a range of possibilities to choose from, including large features such as fields, cafés, dog parks and libraries and smaller features such as rocks, trees, and benches. The site’s simplicity makes it easy to participate in the design process, and the tool also allows users to invent their own park elements. Laurie Goldman, FHCP president, recently told StreetsBlog LA, “knowing the level of interest in the community about Hollywood Central Park, we decided the best way to get input on what should be built was give everybody a chance to create their dream park. This is everybody’s park, and everybody should have an opportunity to submit their own ideas.” A Psomas Engineering cost estimate marks the total development price at approximately $1.15 billion. As a result of an $825,000 grant from the city and a $1.2 million donation from the Aileen Getty Foundation, the landmark infrastructure project is one step closer to making the park a reality. The plans are now under environmental review, and a scoping meeting and community meeting are expected to take place in the near future.The Draft Environmental Impact Report will be open for public comment in 2015.
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SHoP and Ken Smith Unveil Another Piece of the East River Esplanade

Connecting two existing waterfronts—Battery Park and East River Park—the rehabilitation of the East River Esplanade has been a catalyst of renewal along Manhattan's East River. The latest phase of the plan—by SHoP Architects and Ken Smith Workshop—extends the current three-block-long Esplanade north, adding recreational amenities and addresses the challenges of building a new landscape beneath an elevated highway between Catherine Slip and Pike Slip in Lower Manhattan.. The so-called "Package 4" aims to create a "front porch" for the Lower East Side by introducing new street furniture such as conversation benches, bar stools, lounge chairs, picnic tables, and swing sets hanging from the FDR highway overpass. The new plan also includes the prospective installation of amenities such as elevated exercise platforms, a skate park, games tables, a synthetic turf field, waterfront fishing docks, and multiple bike paths. The project’s designers wish to integrate a significant amount of perspective and dimension on the site by conserving already-existing open lawns, installing light fixtures under the FDR highway overpass, building multi-leveled seating and benches, and planting a diversity of foliage. Pending approval from the New York City Council and City Planning, the project should be complete by Spring 2015.
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SCAPE, Rogers Marvel to Design Water Works Park in Minneapolis

The Minneapolis Parks Foundation and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board have announced that two New York-based firms, SCAPE / Landscape Architecture and Rogers Marvel Architects, will collaborate to design Water Works Park, part of the city’s ongoing RiverFirst project. Slated for completion in early 2014, Water Works Park will be incorporated into the existing Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park above St. Anthony Falls, the only true waterfall along the Mississippi River and an important part of Minneapolis' history. The park already draws 1.6 million visitors each year, a number that officials expect to increase with the addition of the year-round, multi-use park. As part of the initial stage of the RiverFirst plan, Water Works Park will feature a series of walking and biking trails that will allow visitors access to the Mississippi as well as the adjacent neighborhoods. The plan is part of a 20-year vision to develop a 5.5-mile stretch of riverfront property in Minneapolis with an emphasis on urban ecology and mobility. SCAPE and Rogers Marvel beat out 26 other bids from the U.S. and Europe to win the project in a unanimous decision. In a press release, the selection committee highlighted the two firms' collective knowledge of the site, particularly its historical, cultural, and natural significance. SCAPE and Rogers Marvel will work alongside local planning and design teams, a factor that committee members considered when making their decision. “In our interview, it became clear that the principals of the SCAPE team work uncommonly well together, and can build a rapport with diverse partners and audiences,” they stated in the release. Schematic design for the project is scheduled to begin in August, and will include additional input from James Lima Planning + Design and SRF Consulting.
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New Guide Offers an Insider’s Look at New York City’s Urban Landscapes

In just the nick of time for outdoor summer weekends in New York City, Norton Architecture and Design Books has released a Guide to New York City Urban Landscapes. It's a concise and beautifully illustrated guide to thirty-eight public spaces that claims to be the "first wide-ranging survey of New York urban landscapes from the first half of the nineteenth century to, well, tomorrow." Researched and written by Francis Morrone and Robin Lynn with photographs by Edward Toran, it's focus is not just Manhattan and its celebrated public spaces like Times Square and the High Line but also on little-known sites like the Concrete Plant Park on the west bank of the Bronx River and Erie Basin Park and Newtown Creek Nature Walk in Brooklyn. It also features the relatively-unknown (at least to me) Urban Garden Room in the Bank of America Tower and my favorite Liz Christy Garden on the northeast corner of Houston and Bowery. This is perfect book to consult before your relatives come to town and expect an insider's tour of the city or before you pass by an unknown bit of green in the city. Many of the urban landscapes described in the guide are likely known only by nearby residents or only the most keen city observers.  
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Make Way For People! Chicago Opens First “People Plaza” on State Street

The median of a downtown stretch of State Street is now home to the latest of Chicago’s People Spots, a series of parklets sprinkled throughout the city as part of its “Make Way for People” program. Dubbed "The Gateway," the portion of State Street between Lake Street and Wacker Drive features shaded tables and chairs in what the city is calling its first “People Plaza.” Flowerboxes, banners, and bright red and blue colors lighten up the otherwise utilitarian median. While the spot’s central location is probably its greatest asset in attracting visitors, satisfying views of downtown’s architectural gems impart some elegance to the straightforward design. Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein, 42nd Ward Ald. Brendan Reilly, and Chicago Loop Alliance Executive Director Michael Edward were on hand Friday to dedicate the space, touting business opportunities for nearby restaurants and bars. The goal of the program is to activate public space for placemaking's sake, with economic development expected for nearby retail corridors. A cleaning team will service The Gateway from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. each day through the end of September, according to a press release from the Chicago Loop Alliance. On Saturday, the city is hosting a bicycle tour of the People Spots in Andersonville and Bronzeville.
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Michael Van Valkenburgh Releases Details of Main Street Section of Brooklyn Bridge Park

[beforeafter]bbp_mainSt_02 bbp_mainSt_03[/beforeafter] Much has been brewing at Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) over the last six months starting with the opening of Pier 5 to the completion of Squibb Park Pedestrian Bridge. And now, according to DUMBO NYC, the Park, along with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, recently unveiled plans at a community meeting to overhaul the Main Street section of its 1.3-mile waterfront stretch at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge. [beforeafter] bbp_mainSt_04 bbp_mainSt_05[/beforeafter] The proposal sketches out space for a variety of activities and amenities such as an outdoor nature exhibit facility, a new Department of Environmental Protection building with restrooms and center for children's educational programming, a revamped landscaping program, a bouldering wall, a dog run, and an area reserved for active recreation.
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Rockwell Group Designs A Treehouse-esque Playground for Park in Brownsville

The Rockwell Group and NYC Parks unveiled their plans last week to turn a 1.5-acre section of Betsy Head Park in Brownsville into a lush and active playground. When designing Imagination Playground, the firm looked to treehouses for inspiration. The site will feature a winding ramp that snakes around London Plane trees and connects to slides and a series of jungle gyms that spill out into an open area with sand, water, benches, and plantings. In collaboration with landscape architecture firm MKW + Associates, the Rockwell Group has taken on this project pro-bono and will donate a set of Playground Blocks to the Brownsville Recreation Center. The $3.92 million playground was funded with the help of government subsidies from Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Markowitz, and Council Member Mealy. Partner David Rockwell founded Imagination Playground in partnership with NYC Parks and KaBOOM, a non-profit organization, to encourage activity and unstructured play for children at nominal cost by providing loose building blocks in outdoor recreational spaces. Right now the project is slated to break ground in spring of 2014 and open in 2015.    
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Coming Soon To Vacant Lots in St. Louis: Chess, Farming, Sunflower Rehab

The winners of St. Louis’ first-ever “Sustainable Land Lab” competition, put on by Washington University and city officials, attempted to make the most of a regrettably abundant resource: vacant lots. Local architects took top honors in a competition that garnered some four dozen submissions. Each winner gets a two-year lease on a North St. Louis vacant lot and $5,000 in seed money to realize their ideas. Five winning projects will share four lots (two finalist teams combined their proposals into one new plan) across the city. 1. Bistro Box  / Renewing Roots Urban Farm (now called Our Farm) — Repurposed shipping containers comprise a small, unpretentious restaurant attached to an urban farm. 2. Chess Pocket Park — Just what it sounds like.  A small park meant to build community around outdoor chess tables. 3. Mighty Mississippians — A "modern agricultural model" would combine farming, recreation and environmental remediation in a permacultural park. 4.Sunflower+ Project — A test plot for environmental remediation via sunflower and winter wheat farming. The plants will be encouraged through electroculture, an experimental farming technique that uses electricity to encourage plant growth. St. Louis, like many cities pock-marked with vacant land, spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year just mowing vacant parcels. The land lab competition follows other innovative design competitions, like Flint, Michigan's Flat Lot and the Cleveland Design Competition, that encourage adaptive reuse and creative public projects throughout the Midwest. A ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled for April 27.
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Golden Gate National Parks Get Their Due

One of the jewels of the San Francisco Bay Area, the Golden Gate National Parks (including their new visitors centers), last week received the Stewardship Excellence Award from The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF).  The award, created in 2001, is given to a person, group, or agency that shares TCLF’s mission of stewardship through education. In this case the groups overseeing the project were The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and The Presidio Trust, working with the National Park Service. The Golden Gate National Parks was established in 1972 and comprises 80,000 acres of open space and historic districts along the San Francisco and Marin coasts.  It is considered one of the nation’s largest urban parks and is used by 16 million people annually. "These stewards, working with many Bay Area practitioners, have skillfully faced the daunting design challenge of balancing nature and culture within the parks," said TCLF founder and president Charles A. Birnbaum in a statement. The award was given concurrently with the publication of a guidebook, What’s Out There: Golden Gate National Parks, produced by TCLF.
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AEG Funding Pledge Makes Redesign Of LA’s Pershing Square More Likely

Once considered downtown LA’s central park, the problematic 4.5-acre Pershing Square may soon be slated for a few welcome changes. Councilman José Huizar of District 14 recently told LA Downtown News that sports and entertainment company Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) has committed $700,000 seed funding to re-think the 164-year-old park. The money is part of a community improvement package AEG had agreed to in order to create a football stadium in Los Angeles. One of the possibilities the office is investigating is returning the park to a much simpler design, more in line with the needs of downtown's added population. “As it stands now, Pershing Square is overdesigned. If you’re standing outside you can’t even see what’s going on inside,” said Rick Coca of Councilman Huizar’s office. Coca said there are still several other details that need to be put in place before the office can further push the move. For one thing, the seed money is contingent on the realization of the Farmer’s Field football stadium, which was approved last year, not to mention the question of who would ultimately purchase AEG. Pershing Square’s history has been problematic since its conception as Block 15 in 1849. The park has gone through a number of names and renovations since then, the latest of which came at the hands of Ricardo Legoretta and Laurie Olin in the 1990s. Greenery gave way to granite and concrete with a 125-foot purple campanile rising from its center. The re-design has served to isolate the public from the space and the amount of hardscape can become intimidating for passers-by. As more and more residents move back downtown, Huizar’s office has said that starting the conversation about Pershing Square will someday lead to more opportunities to turn things around in the historic park.