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.
Posts tagged with "Parks":
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.
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.
Go Down, Moses, indeed. Highway-removal advocates were awarded a small victory this week as New York State announced it will be tearing out a two-mile expanse of the aptly-named Robert Moses State Parkway (aka the Niagara Falls expressway). The section to be removed runs along the main part of the river gorge and has long been a barrier to pedestrians seeking access to recreation areas. The Buffalo News reported that some sections of the roadway will be kept, but the long-term plan is to build a multi-use nature trail for sports such as hiking, biking, and cross country skiing. This will be the first time in half a century that residents and visitors will have access to nature trails without the inconvenience of crossing the parkway. There will be car access to the gorge by way of Whirlpool Street, which will be turned into a two-lane parkway. New York State Parks officials anticipate the entire process will take around three years and cost up to $50 million. According to the Buffalo News, “It would also constitute the largest expansion of Niagara parkland since the Niagara Reservation was created in the 1880s.”
Robert Hammond and Joshua David met at a community board meeting in 1999. The future of the then rusting and decrepit High Line was on the docket, and it was very much in doubt. The two joined forces to create Friends of the High Line, a non-profit that led the charge for the preservation and transformation of the disused line rail into a linear park. Today, Hammond announced he will step down as the organization's executive director, saying, in a statement, "My passion has always been in starting new things, and I am looking forward to pursuing whatever my next project may be. In my heart I am an entrepreneur."
The Detroit Free-Press is reporting Belle Isle could become a state park. A public hearing is expected Thursday, and city council could vote on the plan as soon as January 29. Belle Isle is a 985-acre island in the middle of the Detroit River originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. While details are still being negotiated, it appears the plan could save the City of Detroit $8 million per year in operating costs. Though Detroit would still own the land, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources would operate the island as a state park, charging motorists an $11 entry fee. Bicyclists and pedestrians would still get free access. The potential deal comes on the heels of some good news for Motor City urbanists. In addition to filling out the gaps in the city’s riverwalk, Detroit is moving forward with its M-1 Rail plan, as well as an ongoing $300 million renovation of its Cobo convention center.
Another Announcement at Brooklyn Bridge Park: Rock Climbing Wall Could Rise Under the Manhattan Bridge
It seems as if a day can’t go by without a new announcement from Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Brooklyn Paper reported Tuesday that park planners are pushing for a free bouldering wall to be built beneath the Manhattan Bridge. The proposal calls for a ten to 12-foot-tall climbing wall at Plymouth and Washington streets. This fits within a larger vision to develop the park area by Main Street by expanding lawn space, designing a new entry plaza, and relocating the dog run. This news comes right after philanthropist Joshua Rechnitz announced he was abandoning plans to build a velodrome, a complex for cyclists, in the park. As planners delved into the project, they found that the mounting costs of construction exceeded Rechnitz’s $50 million budget and growing concerns about flooding as a result of Hurricane Sandy added another layer of complexity to the design. Rechnitz, however, is still on the hunt for the right location for his velodrome in New York.
New York Governor Cuomo might have just tipped the scale in the heated dispute over a 3.5-mile stretch of abandoned railroad track in Queens with his donation of nearly a half-million dollars to the Trust for Public Land to conduct a feasibility study for a High Line-style linear park called the QueensWay. Slated to begin in January and February of next year, the study could take up to eight months to complete. But some Queens residents are pushing to restore train service on the elevated viaduct, and in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, a faster and more efficient connection between the Rockaways and Midtown Manhattan is winning the support of some local advocates and politicians. As Crain’s mentioned in a recent story, it would be no easy feat to rebuild the Long Island Railroad’s Rockaway branch, and could likely cost up to half-billion dollars.
It has been a busy few weeks at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Last week, AN got a preview of the Squibb Pedestrian Bridge, which will be completed before the end of the year, and today, Mayor Bloomberg announced the opening of the new sports fields on Pier 5 and the nearby Picnic Peninsula, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. Regina Myer, the President of Brooklyn Bridge Park, told the crowd that they have been advocating for these recreation fields since the mid-1980s, which will now be used for a variety of field sports including soccer, lacrosse, rugby, flag football, and cricket. This $26 million project spans 5-acres and offers turf fields supported by shock pad and organic infill made of sand and coconut fibers, shade sails on the northern and southern sides of the pier, and lighting for evening games. In addition to field recreation, there will be an area reserved for fishing with bait and preparation tables provided and a 30-foot promenade on the periphery of the field. While Mayor Bloomberg said that “Pier 5 is designed to withstand sever weather events,” it didn’t make it through Hurricane Sandy unscathed. According to the press release, the electrical equipment “sustained significant flood damage during Hurricane Sandy,” and evening play will be postponed until the equipment can be replaced. The Picnic Peninsula, next to Pier 5, will offer a barbeque area outfitted with picnic tables made from salvaged long-leaf yellow pines, umbrellas, grills (to accommodate more than two dozen grills), a concession area, and a tetherball court. “Before Mayor Bloomberg, most of Brooklyn—except for Coney Island and Brighton Beach—was closed off from the water,” said Borough President Marty Markowitz. “I think one of your legacies, frankly, is that we’ve opened up to the waterfront.” The last three unfinished piers planned for recreation space are wedged in the middle of Brooklyn Bridge Park, and are slated for completion in Fall 2013. The 5-acre Pier 2 will be reserved for basketball, handball, and bocce, in addition to a skating rink and swings. Pier 4 will offer an area for non-motorized boating and an upland park. Pier 3, however, is the only unfunded slice of the park, but the plans for it include a “reprieve” said Paul Seck, Associate Principal at Michael Van Valkenburgh Landscape Architects, with lawn areas and an esplanade.
Parks for the People The Octagon Museum 1799 New York Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. Through November 30 Parks for the People presents student ideas of how to reimagine our national parks as natural, social, and cultural destinations. Teams from City College of New York, Rutgers, Cornell, Florida International University, Kansas State, Pratt, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Washington competed in a semester long studio, engaging questions of the preservation, sustainability, accessibility, and technology in 21st century national parks. The National Parks Service, Van Alen Institute, and the National Parks Conservation Association sponsored the competition, which ultimately declared the teams from City College, for their work on the Nicodemus National Historic Site in Kansas, and Rutgers, for their project at the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in Pennsylvania (above), the winners. All seven entries, each representing a different region of the country, will be on view at the Octagon Museum in Washington, D.C.
An inventive new park in Copenhagen’s Norrebro district, "Superkilen," designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Superflex, and Topotek 1 serves as a sort of cultural collage of artifacts sourced from 60+ nationalities. Superkilen slices its way through the center of the city, soaking up and flaunting its inhabitants’ diverse cultural backgrounds along the way. The kilometer-long wedge of urban space, completed this summer, is divided according to use into three distinct color-coded zones and sports bike paths linking directly to Copenhagen’s cycling highways. The park’s "urban furniture" integrates a range of symbolic and functional items from all over the world. Armenian picnic tables join Iraqi swings, Brazilian benches, Chinese Palms, Islamic tiled Moroccan fountains, and an Indian climbing playground, among others. A "Green Park," almost entirely green, offers trees, plants, and grassy hills suitable for sunbathing, sports, strolling, and picnicking. The "Red Square" is brightly painted in geometric patches of radiant reds, oranges, and pinks and is intended for recreational use with indoor and outdoor sports arenas and exercise facilities. Locals can gather and mingle at the "Black Square," which acts as the city’s “urban living room,” and play a game of backgammon beneath a Japanese cherry tree, illuminated by a giant neon-red star from the USA.
Little, leafy-green patches are sprouting up over Los Angeles as part of the city’s “50 Parks Initiative,” a public-private program designed to revive some of the city’s neediest, most densely populated communities. To date, there are actually 53 of these pocket parks planned, with one of the first parks, 49th Street Park in South Los Angeles, opening earlier this month. When completed, the small parks combined will cover a total of 170 acres, and many of the individual parks will be under an acre. Not only are the parks small, but they will be somewhat self-sufficient. Requiring only four to six months to build, these micro-recreation areas will be decked out with “no mow” grass, drought tolerant plants, smart irrigation, and solar-powered, self-contained waste bins that can hold five times the average amount of trash. And to keep intruders out after hours, automatic time-lock gates and solar motion-activated cameras will be installed. Adding to the good news, these pocket parks tap unused lands. Many will be located on foreclosed properties that cannot be rehabilitated or tucked away on vacant parking lots. Designed to serve people within walking distance of the park, they offer a hyper-local community center. Funding for the parks comes from federal grants such as the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and from over a dozen other sources including local, state, private, nonprofit, and corporate donations. A special nod goes to the Department of Recreation and Parks Board of Commissioners and the Los Angeles Parks Foundation who are the driving forces behind this initiative. Parks and Rec will be overseeing park designs and working with neighborhood residents and organizations.