Posts tagged with "SCAPE Landscape Architecture":

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SCAPE highlights the importance of oysters on Staten Island

Sorry aquarium lovers, but the two massive fish tanks at the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island in New York City are no more. The tanks have been drained, the tropical fish distributed to private collectors, and an installation detailing SCAPE Landscape Architecture’s Living Breakwaters project has gone up in their stead. The change isn’t permanent. The tanks will reopen in 2019 with an as-of-yet undecided educational display curated by a committee of marine biologists, designers, educators, fishery and aquarium experts, and museum curators. Whatever changes eventually come to the tanks will be heavily influenced by the Billion Oyster Project (in partnership with the New York City Department of Transportation, Division of Ferries). The nonprofit is seeking to reseed one billion oysters over 100 acres of reefs across New York Harbor by 2035, which would filter the water and break up oncoming waves. Enter SCAPE, which has partnered with the Billion Oyster Project (BOP) to help realize the Rebuild by Design–winning Living Breakwaters project. As part of the project, a series of offshore breakwaters would be installed off of Staten Island in Raritan Bay that would both buffer the shoreline and create a habitat for marine life. The SCAPE team has been working with the BOP and the Harbor School (a water-centric high school on Governor’s Island) to turn the project into an educational opportunity in the form of the newly installed infographics at St. George. Information about the sea life under the route of the Staten Island Ferry, a breakdown of the schools and restaurants the BOP is working with, the ecological impact of Living Breakwaters, and more will greet ferry straphangers at the terminal for the next few months. SCAPE founder Kate Orff was on hand at the unveiling of the terminal on September 12 and discussed how the two installations were divided into education and design—the confluence of the two being how large landscape architecture projects can move from concept to completion. The temporary installations were funded with a grant from the Northfield Bank Foundation.
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AN rounds up our favorite climate change books of 2018

Coastal flooding, heatwaves, snow storms, droughts, wildfires and hurricanes; all of these natural disasters are being exacerbated by the effects of climate change, and architects and planners will need to learn to plan for the future. Through building structures and facets of the urban landscape that resist or incorporate flood waters, that manage stormwater runoff or create “wind corridors” to blow pollution out of city centers, designing for the impacts of climate change often means designing for health. With a wealth of sophisticated modeling tools and techniques at our disposal, it’s easier than ever to look towards the future and harden projects for what might be coming next. Below is a list of books that AN considers as helpful guides for thinking about and designing for climate change. Toward an Urban Ecology The Monacelli Press Kate Orff $34.00 Towards an Urban Ecology may feature a number of projects by New York’s SCAPE, but the overall message extends beyond a simple firm retrospective. Throughout the book, Kate Orff (now co-chair of the new climate resiliency center at Columbia’s GSAPP) dissects how designers can integrate environmental concerns with urban ones, and create a more resilient built environment. Landscape architecture can play an integral role in mitigating the effects of climate change, and often acts as the first line of defense in protecting buildings from disasters. Blue Dunes: Climate Change by Design Columbia Books on Architecture and the City Jesse Keenan & Claire Weisz $17.15 Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was a watershed moment in designing for climate resilience, as the reality of a “once-in-a-hundred-year” storm hit architects and planners along the eastern seaboard close to home. Blue Dunes follows a plan to place wave-blocking barrier islands off the Mid-Atlantic coast, and the research (and cost concerns) uncovered in the multidisciplinary quest serves as a valuable lesson for designers who want to pursue the same path. Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change Verso Ashley Dawson $21.41 The world’s cities will both be hit hardest by climate change and have the largest impact on it. How can cities cut their carbon emissions while simultaneously hardening their defenses and creating resilient systems? In Extreme Cities, Dawson argues that seawalls and hard infrastructure aren’t enough, and that the successful cities of the future will survive through fostering new social movements and ways of integrating climate change into design and planning. Adaptive Ecologies/ Correlated Systems of Living Architectural Association Publications Theodore Spyropoulos, John Frazer & Patrik Schumacher $49.11 Though it might seem better suited to our technology book roundup, Adaptive Ecologies confronts the twin challenges of harsher environments and tighter resource restrictions that buildings will face in the future. The abundance of modeling programs available to architects and planners, whether it be daylighting, planning for high-performance facades, or computational design, can be combined with active data intake from an array of sensors. As a result, new typologies, artificial ecologies and unimaginable city planning-schemes might one day reign supreme as we become more and more able to optimize building design. Climates: Architecture and the Planetary Imaginary The Avery Review: Columbia Books on Architecture and the City James Graham, Caitlin Blachfield, Alissa Anderson, Jordan Carver & Jacob Moore $36.99 A collection of essays and sample projects from Columbia University’s Avery Review, Climates examines the intersection of architecture and climate change. What precedents already exist in dealing with such an existential threat? How can architects and their work render climate change knowable while also combatting it? What kind of shifts would be required to bring awareness to the field about designing for resilience and sustainability? Far from providing concrete answers, Climates seeks more to stimulate discussion and speculation about a topic that can be hard to conceptualize. BIG, HOT TO COLD: An Odyssey of Architectural Adaptation TASCHEN Bjarke Ingels $45.30 Whatever one may think of the work being done by Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG), it would be hard to argue that the firm isn’t prolific. In Hot to Cold, architects can find 60 case studies for designing in extreme environments in conjunction with BIG’s projects all over the world, and innovative ways of dealing with extreme heat, cold, and everything in between are put on display. Designing for water is given significant weight in the book’s middle section, as BIG breaks down the master plan for their lower Manhattan-encompassing seawall system, the Dryline. How can the extreme environments of the present give designers an idea of what may be to come? New York 2140 Orbit Kim Stanley Robinson $13.65 2140 may be the only fiction book on the list, but even far-flung speculation has its uses in inspiring architects. While New York (or any city for that matter) might not be inundated with 50 feet of water anytime soon, Robinson’s work speaks to a future where adaptive reuse and clean energy are the norm, not the exception. Most importantly, 2140 presents a worst-case scenario ostensibly overcome by design, and serves as a reminder that no solution should be ruled out as too imaginative. Every book on this list was selected independently by AN‘s team of editors. If you buy something via the embedded links, AN will earn a commission. 
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Details announced for U.S. Pavilion at 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale

More details were announced Monday about the upcoming U.S. Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. The exhibition will be titled Dimensions of Citizenship and curated by Niall Atkinson, associate professor of architectural history at the University of Chicago; Ann Lui, assistant professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC); Mimi Zeiger, an independent critic, editor, curator, and educator; and associate curator Iker Gil, lecturer at SAIC. Dimensions of Citizenship will feature the work of seven architecture practices to “explore how citizenship may be defined, constructed, enacted, contested, or expressed in the built environment at seven different spatial scales. Expanding from the body and city to the network and the heavens, the seven installations raise questions about issues including belonging, sovereignty, and ecology,” according to the curatorial statement. The seven spatial scales are used as an organizing principle to examine the ways citizenship affects and is affected by the built environment. Each studio is assigned a scale as the prompt. Scale: Citizen / Amanda Williams + Andres L. Hernandez, in collaboration with Shani Crowe From the project description: “Dimensions of Citizenship begins at the scale of the citizen with the project Thrival Geographies (In My Mind I See a Line), which will consider how race shapes notions of identity, shelter, and public space in historically African-American communities. For their installation in the courtyard of the U.S. Pavilion, Williams (a recently named 2018 USA Ford Fellow) and Hernandez, who is an associate professor of art education at SAIC, will partner with Chicago-based artist Shani Crowe, whose intricate braided hair sculptures have been worn by celebrities such as Solange. While the specter of slavery and continued racial injustice will be at the core of the installation, the piece will ultimately strive for a possible architecture of freedom that might allow all citizens to thrive and participate in the democratic ideal. Scale: Civitas / Studio Gang From the project description: “Led by 2011 MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang uses design as a medium to help strengthen communities. Stone Stories builds on the Studio’s ongoing work in Memphis, Tennessee, to investigate how redesigning cities’ public space can be an exercise of citizenship and empowerment. Inspired by Memphis’s recent removal of two Confederate statues, Stone Storiesoffers an inclusive urban vision for Cobblestone Landing, an overlooked yet historically important site along the Mississippi River. Hundreds of Memphis cobblestones will be shipped to Venice and used as a platform to share the stories of Memphians past and present, offering visitors a visceral and material interaction with a distant public space and the citizens who are actively building its shared urban future.” Scale: Region / SCAPE From the project description: “SCAPE, under the leadership of 2017 MacArthur Fellow Kate Orff, will demonstrate that landscape architecture can be a critical tool for re-envisioning the response of citizens to climate change. SCAPE’s project, Ecological Citizens, understands the region as an area defined by the shifting relationships of ecology, infrastructure, and climate. It takes the Venetian Lagoon as a globally significant case study of a tidal region under ecological threat. Partnering with Università di Bologna and the Italian Institute of Marine Sciences, SCAPE will present possible solutions or interventions to aid the environmentally sensitive La Certosa island in the lagoon. Scale: Nation / Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman From the project description: “Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman challenges the way we think about national boundaries. Their project, MEXUS: A Geography of Interdependence, reveals a transnational zone comprised of eight watershed systems shared by Mexico and the United States. MEXUS provokes us to rethink citizenship beyond the limits of the nation, mobilizing a more inclusive, interdependent idea based on co-existence, shared assets, and cooperative opportunities between divided communities. Cruz is the winner of the 2018 Vilcek Prize in Architecture, which is presented to immigrants who are champions of the arts and sciences. Scale: Globe / Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Laura Kurgan, Robert Gerard Pietrusko with Columbia Center for Spatial Research From the project description: “When we zoom out to the scale of the globe, the primacy of the individual, the city, and even the nation drops away and is replaced by data: electricity, trade routes, migratory shifts, and the flow of capital, goods, and people. In Plain Sight—a collaboration among Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Laura Kurgan, and Robert Gerard Pietrusko with Columbia Center for Spatial Research—uses data drawn from images created by the Soumi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite to visualize where people live on earth. Two contrasting NASA images of the Earth taken at 1:30 pm and 1:30 amshow us the gaps in the network: the places with many people and no lights, and those with bright lights and no people. This information maps out a political geography of belonging and exclusion. Scale: Network / Keller Easterling with MANY From the project description: “Keller Easterling’s writings and projects regularly investigate the emergent territory where the state meets the digital network. With MANY, an online platform designed to facilitate migration through an exchange of needs, Easterling and team propose that we use the network to rethink possibly outdated notions of citizenship. With a nod to the pervasive and familiar share economies that define online life, MANY envisions a global form of matchmaking between the sidelined talents of migrating populations and the multitude of opportunities around the world. Favoring cosmopolitan mobility over national identity, MANY looks to short-term visas as a tool to foster an exchange of needs. Scale: Cosmos / Design Earth From the project description: “The space above Earth, as a site of existing human occupation and potential belonging, has become a territory that both captures the imagination and serves as a theater for existing conflicts or conditions. In looking to the cosmos, Design Earth’s speculative designs suggest possible off-world architectural responses. Design Earth’s El Hadi Jazairy and Rania Ghosn (recipient of the 2017 Boghossian Foundation Prize) present three “geo-stories,” which speculate on the legal geography of citizenship when extended to “the province of all mankind.” Together the stories in Cosmorama—Mining the Sky, Planetary Ark, and Pacific Cemetery—ask how we should reckon with the epic and frontier narratives that have fueled space exploration, at a time when prospects of instability and extinction have become normal on Earth.
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Studio Gang and SCAPE unveil plans for Arkansas Arts Center expansion

What does a cultural hub for the 21st century require? With their newly unveiled design for the Arkansas Arts Center in Little RockStudio Gang and SCAPE Landscape Architecture have a few ideas in mind: flexibility, inclusivity, community, and a nod to sustainability. The expansion and renovation, which is scheduled to break ground in 2019 and open in 2022, addresses a number of concerns from the existing 1937 structure and the work of eight subsequent additions. ("A very complicated puzzle," as museum director Todd Herman described the existing space.) In addition to selective demolition that will reveal the original facade, the first course of action involved uniting the spaces, which the architects plan to accomplish with the addition of a pleated covered walkway spine that links the city-facing north entrance with a new southern entrance connected to parkland. “Starting from the inside out, the design clarifies the organization of the building and extends its presence into MacArthur Park and out to Crescent Lawn,” Studio Gang Founding Principal Jeanne Gang said in a statement. “By doing so, the Center becomes a vibrant place for social interaction, education, and appreciation for the arts.” In addition to the central corridor, the expansion will also include an indoor-outdoor dining space and a multifunctional area called the Cultural Living Room that's designed to welcome visitors to engage and relax, while also offering space for large-scale events and performances. Specific attention will be paid to the sustainability of the materials and mechanical systems, underscoring the connection to nature that's at the core of the project, which has been described as a "museum in a forest." Critical to that concept is the SCAPE's new plan for the landscape, which increases parkland with more than 250 new tress and a variety of new paths and trails. SCAPE founder Kate Orff found inspiration for the design in Little Rock's unique ecology, which spans from the Mississippi Delta to the bluffs of Emerald Park. “This an exciting moment for the Arkansas Arts Center, central Arkansas, and the entire state,” Herman said of the $70 million project in a statement. “The reimagined Arts Center will be a welcoming place that encourages prolonged and meaningful interaction with the collection and programs at the Arts Center. It is intended to be a gathering place for the community that highlights the interplay between the AAC and the surrounding park.”
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Kate Orff to head new climate resiliency center at Columbia GSAPP

Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (Columbia GSAPP) and the Rockefeller Foundation have teamed up to found the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes at GSAPP. The newly created center will unite science and cultural considerations with design and planning, and Columbia has announced that landscape architect Kate Orff of SCAPE Landscape Architecture and urban designer Thaddeus Pawlowski will helm the project. Drawing from the university’s climate science and design expertise, the Center will collaborate with partners across Columbia to improve, accelerate and implement resilience projects for cities. This interdisciplinary model will involve partners from Columbia’s Earth Institute Climate Adaptation Initiative, and bring a holistic approach to resilience that will combine academic work with the Center’s existing external partners. “Design and planning methods are rapidly changing to face issues of climate dynamics and the need for resilient, flexible, and equitable urban landscapes,” said Columbia GSAPP Dean Amale Andraos in a press release. “Working jointly with natural and built systems is of critical importance – it offers a way forward for communities to adapt and prepare for the future.” The Center’s first project will be the launch of a Resilience Accelerator, funded by a $3.7 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, a joint effort between GSAPP and the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) nonprofit. The accelerator will take projects for its first cohort from 100RC partner cities starting this spring, and two finalists will work with the Center every academic semester. Over the next two years, eight cities in total will work with GSAPP students, groups from the private sector, and other resources across Columbia and 100RC to run workshops, seminars and design studios to bring their ideas to fruition. “What we are looking to do is to combine design thinking, the creative, iterative design process, together with the related disciplines, particularly law, policy, climate science and engineering,” Orff told AN. “We’ve only just begun, and the goal is to bring resilient thinking as a cross-cutting initiative across the university.” Orff, a 2017 MacArthur genius grant recipient, is no stranger to thinking about the future threatened by climate change. Orff and SCAPE regularly incorporate flooding or resiliency considerations into their designs, whether it’s with plans for a living breakwater, or at conferences meant to address the impact of a changing clime on the built environment.
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Damon Rich and Kate Orff are awarded 2017 MacArthur “genius” grants

Damon Rich, founder of the Center of Urban Pedagogy (CUP) and co-founder of design studio Hector, and Kate Orff, founder of SCAPE, have been honored with 2017 MacArthur Fellowships. Awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to individuals across a range of fields, the award gifts its fellows a no-strings-attached $625,000 stipend over five years. Unlike other awards, its fellows aren't selected based on an existing body of work so much as "extraordinary originality" and "a marked capacity for self-direction," according to the Foundation's website. Rich certainly demonstrates both. Trained as an architect at Columbia University, in 1997 Rich founded CUP, a New York City-based nonprofit that develops programs to help community development organizations and public school students address public policy and social justice issues  like zoning, tenants' rights, infrastructure design, and more. From 2008 to 2015, Rich served as the chief urban designer and director of planning for the City of Newark, New Jersey. During his tenure, he worked with local advocacy groups to redevelop the city's waterfront as an accessible urban parkway dotted with environmental installations, a process still embroiled in city politics. He also formed a coalition of city-wide organizations to revamp Newark's obsolete zoning and land-use regulations for the first time in over fifty years. In 2015, Rich co-founded the design studio Hector with Jae Shin. The firm is currently involved in the redesign of Mifflin Square Park in Philadelphia in addition to ongoing work in Newark and San Francisco. As part of the Philadelphia project, Hector has formed a coalition of local advocacy groups and city agencies to inform the final design, which may incorporate a Buddhist temple, a number of public eateries, and ongoing community programming. Forming these kinds of coalitions has become the backbone of Rich's work. "This is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Philadelphia, with Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese, and Bhutanese residents, and many more from a range of backgrounds," Rich told The Architect's Newspaper (AN). "Design groups need to have the cultural competence to treat people like they're people, and bring the spirit and identity of the place into physical form." Rich also serves as an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University's GSAPP program, where he teaches architecture and urban design. While he didn't specify how he would use the award, Rich reflected on what it might mean to the next generation. "In public sector work, I'd hope to be one voice standing up for our often beleaguered municipal planners, and encourage youth that this is a career path they might want to be a part of," Rich said. "I hope this award points to the fact that even though planning departments are very old technologies, there's still a fundamentally exciting and engrossing potential in any forum where we come together and shape the places we live in." Kate Orff is the first landscape architect to ever be awarded the MacArthur prize. Her work at SCAPE has risen to great prominence, with upcoming commissions including participation in the U.S. Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. Her emphasis on ecological stewardship, however, sets her apart from peers. Orff cares deeply about the effects of climate change on the urban fabric, as well as the long-term effects design can have on biodiversity and ecosystem wellness. Her approach also puts some of this responsibility on the users of public spaces, encouraging park-goers and community members to participate in environmental stewardship. One cornerstone project that helped put Orff's work on the map was a collaboration with photographer Richard Misrach. In 2012, the two set out to document and quantify the outfall of industrial sites along a chemical corridor known as the "American Ruhr" in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. The resulting book, Petrochemical America, examines the environmental, economic, and public health consequences of pollution in southeastern Louisiana. SCAPE's project for President Obama's Rebuild by Design competition after Hurricane Sandy proposed a series of oyster reefs on Staten Island's North Shore that would act as wave breakers and water filters, as well as serve as an outdoor classroom to educate youth on marine and coastal ecology. Most recently, SCAPE has completed a design for Lexington, Kentucky's Town Branch Commons. Their design highlighted the site's underlying porous limestone in a linear park that stretched through the city. "I really feel we need to mobilize and understand the best available science, apply it to the built environment, and to anticipate the next 50 years or the next 100 years," Orff said in her feature on the MacArthur Foundation's website. "I think we have a huge role to play, not just to beautify but literally to reset ecosystems, to reconnect people to each other through these social spaces that also can perform ecological services."
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New renderings revealed for SCAPE’s revamp of downtown Lexington, Kentucky

New York–based SCAPE Landscape Architecture has released new images of an urban park in the heart of Lexington, Kentucky. The city, working with the Bluegrass Community Foundation, has spearheaded the project which will completely transform one of Lexington's main public spaces. The Town Branch Park is part of the larger Town Branch Commons project—originally featured in The Architect's Newspaper's October 2016 issue—which proposes to uncover Lexington's long-buried Town Branch Creek. By revealing the waterway, the city will gain a new large-scale green space, complete with natural and artificial water features. The park will become a major part of the Town Branch Greenway, which connects existing downtown parks. The downtown portion of the Greenway is also being designed by SCAPE. When complete, the system of bike and pedestrian trails will stretch over 22 miles. “Every great American city has a great park,” said Kate Orff, founder and partner at SCAPE, in a press release. “We are very excited for this park to put Lexington in a competitive environment and further enhance the quality of life. This richly textured, activated park space is going to be a big draw for families and businesses.” SCAPE's initial design for the project was picked in a design competition in 2013. Now that the project is moving forward, SCAPE has amassed a team that includes AECOM, Lord Aeck Sargent, Gresham Smith Partners, Element Design, and Beiderman Redevelopment Ventures.
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Group unveils plans by SCAPE for verdant Gowanus Canal

First came the factories. Then, decay and abandonment followed by an alphabet soup of toxic waste and three-eyed fish (maybe). Now, one nonprofit has plans to transform the Gowanus Canal, one of the country's sickliest waterways, into a park and ecological corridor for western Brooklyn. Last night the Gowanus Canal Conservancy unveiled its verdant vision for Gowanus Canal–adjacent areas of Brooklyn. In collaboration with New York's SCAPE Landscape Architecture, the group's Gowanus Lowlands: A Blueprint for NYC’s Next Great Park outlines possible plans for a park along the waterway in anticipation of a master plan that will be developed over the next six to nine months. For those who don't know, the entire 1.8-mile Gowanus Canal is a Superfund site, a heavily polluted channel that cuts through the tony neighborhoods of Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, as well as Red Hook and Gowanus. In lieu of the raw sewage and malodorous trash that currently dot the waterway, Lowlands imagines boaters and picnics, performance venues and cafes, and other amusements set between attractive walking paths and arrays of native flora that will knit neighborhoods together. Grassy hills and meadows will line the edge of the canal, while mitigation basins, bioswales, and sponge gardens will filter runoff and provide habitat for local wildlife. The plan was developed with neighbors' input over the past two years, and this year the Conservancy hired SCAPE to develop the Lowlands idea. The plan dialogues with the Canal's Superfund cleanup, local and state environmental remediation efforts, as well as a potential city rezoning that could encourage more development.
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2016 Best of Design Award for Temporary Installation: Rounds by SPORTS

The Architect’s Newspaper (AN)’s inaugural 2013 Best of Design Awards featured six categories. Since then, it's grown to 26 exciting categoriesAs in years past, jury members (Erik Verboon, Claire Weisz, Karen Stonely, Christopher Leong, Adrianne Weremchuk, and AN’s Matt Shaw) were picked for their expertise and high regard in the design community. They based their judgments on evidence of innovation, creative use of new technology, sustainability, strength of presentation, and, most importantly, great design. We want to thank everyone for their continued support and eagerness to submit their work to the Best of Design Awards. We are already looking forward to growing next year’s coverage for you.

2016 Best of Design Award for Temporary Installation: Rounds

Architect: SPORTS Location: Lake Forest, IL

Rounds is a temporary plywood theater pavilion created for an artist colony just north of Chicago. It was the winner of the Adrian Smith Prize, which is sponsored by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture and included a $15,000 production grant and a ten-person, design-build residency for three weeks at Ragdale. Departing from the bandshell structure and stage most commonly deployed in this setting, Rounds establishes a dynamic and playful performance surface. Small-scale curves in the ring’s ribbon-like design act as lounge spaces while mid-scale waves serve both as covered stage areas and portals to the inner space of the ring. The largest undulation is designed for the main stage area, which can be broken down into smaller parts and distributed around the ring for several concurrent performances.

Additional support for the project was provided by Syracuse University School of Architecture and W.E. O’Neil.

Build Team Greg Corso, Molly Hunker, Jordan Nelson, Nick Zukauskas, Kevin Lenhart, Preston Welker, Sean Morgan, Dabota Wilcox, Jon Anthony, Monika  England, Kokeith  Perry, Sarah Beaudoin

Engineer Arup

Landscape Architect Rosborough Partners Fabrication Consultant Knowhow Shop Exterior Finish Stuc-O-Flex Honorable Mention, Temporary Installation: Floating The Waller

Architect: Ten Eyck Landscape Architects Location: Austin, TX

This installation of 200 empty illuminated inner tubes floating on Austin’s Waller Creek was conceived to highlight the need for improving water quality, ecological health, and public accessibility in urban waterways.

Honorable Mention, Temporary Installation: Town Branch Water Walk

Architect: SCAPE Landscape Architecture Location: Lexington, KY

The design intervention is not a physical landscape, but a communication tool conceived with the Lexington, Kentucky, Downtown Development Authority. A self-guided podcast tour of the Town Branch Culvert gives a broad understanding of the biophysical area, reveals the invisible waters beneath the city, and demonstrates the impacts each resident can have.

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SCAPE turns Lexington, Kentucky’s long-buried water into an asset

Most Lexingtonians don’t know it, but the porous limestone landscape under their feet—called karst—created their bluegrass identity. The basic water that flows through karst reportedly makes their grass grow green, their racehorses grow strong, and their bourbon taste smooth. So when downtown Lexington held a competition to revitalize and re-pedestrianize the concrete, car-driven downtown, New York–based SCAPE Landscape Architecture chose to reveal and celebrate its geology. As SCAPE founder and partner Kate Orff said, the Town Branch Commons Corridor project is “a reinterpretation, a transformation of the karst landscape into public space.”

The ambitious project, which just received a major $14.1 million funding boost from the U.S. Department of Transportation, will carve pedestrian and bike paths through the heart of Lexington, creating new green spaces and linking with regional trails at both ends. To create freshwater pools—SCAPE calls them “karst windows,” in reference to similar naturally occurring formations—the design will tap old culverts (essentially large pipes) that previously kept Lexington’s karst water out of sight.

The trail will be narrow in some areas, but wide for the Karst Commons, a new public plaza and park at the project’s northern end that will feature multiple “habitat rooms,” an amphitheater, and recreation areas. The park can flood safely in a deluge. “There’s no site here, it’s a hybrid project,” said Orff. “Sidewalk here, empty lot there, parking lot there… The thread of water means each entity has to somehow come in contact with it and embrace it.”

The road to realizing the project—now in schematic design—has been long. After winning the 2013 competition, SCAPE worked with the University of Kentucky and the Lexington Downtown Development Authority to foster public support. They created a large model of the city’s hidden Town Branch Creek, paired with self-guided podcast tours, that generated excitement and helped propel the project. The karst, citizens realized, was part of the bluegrass identity they hold dear (and market to tourists). “Here it’s all about finding a unique identity framed around a cultural and geological history of a place,” said Gena Wirth, SCAPE design principal. “What’s replicable is the multipurpose infrastructure that unites the city, its story, and its systems.”

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Crucial updates on New York–area coastal resiliency projects, two years in

On Friday, Rebuild By Design (RBD) hosted a conference at NYU to check in on the progress on the region's ten coastal resiliency projects. Landscape architects, engineers, architects, and government officials representing the six initial winners and four finalists spoke on behalf of their team's ideas. Although each project is different in scale and scope (factors which correlate, not surprisingly, to the level of funding that each received), and all are at different phases of implementation, projects from Bridgeport, CT to Hoboken, NJ reflect a desire to build back, but better: Plans enhanced oceanfronts, baysides, riverbeds, and low-lying areas with graywater remediation, waterside parks, berms with bicycle paths, and oyster beds, and other amenities to enhance both resiliency and waterside quality of life. Consistent challenges emerged, too. Foremost was the challenge of implementing projects that require input and approval from multiple government agencies with varying jurisdictions and priorities. Community engagement is key to each project, with many teams noting that initial designs were modified in accordance with the input of property owners, business leaders, and residents. Construction on the first phase of the projects is expected to be complete by 2022. Although each project will undoubtedly make its area more resistant against 100-year floods, the most ambitious projects were the buffer of berms and floodwalls on Manhattan's shoreline that stretches from East 25th Street around the southern tip of the island, and Living Breakwaters, a series of wave-breaking rock-and-oyster-colony formations placed off the south shore of Staten Island. Carrie Grassi, deputy director for planning at the NYC Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency spoke first about the Manhattan-based project. (formerly known as the BIG U). The project has two phases: Firstly, the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR), whose team is led by AKRF with design and planning input from ONE, (RBD competition winners) BIG, and Mathews Nielsen. Secondly, the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Project, or Two Bridges, led by AECOM and Dewberry, with design and planning by ONE and BIG. Grassi noted that the team wanted to make phase one, 2.5 miles of waterfront, and waterfront-adjacent space, primarily for people to enjoy: "We want to create something that we can live with for the 99 percent of the time that we aren’t flooding." One of the challenges of implementing the ESCR was establishing an unprecedented joint task force between Community Boards 3 and 6. At public input sessions, residents asked that designs focus incorporating the berms into bridges, like at the Delancy Street pedestrian bridge, near where the Williamsburg Bridge touches down in Manhattan. Plans also called for kiosks and vendors under the FDR Drive overpass near Stuyvesant Cove; residents were worried that the darkened area would be uninviting during the winter months, so the design was modified. “All of these conversations were about tradeoffs," Grassi explained. "[We considered] the community's priorities and what was needed to advance the project and make decisions.” The draft scope of work is out, and a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is being developed. Next steps include "drilling down on the design," and the environmental and land use review, although the design leaves the opportunity for additional bridges to be constructed at a later date. $335 million of the project's funding comes from HUD's Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program and $170 million in capital funds from the city. Construction is expected to begin in June 2017. The Two Bridges portion is being financed with an additional $176 million (CDBG-NDR) and $27 million from the city. Alex Zablocki, a senior program manager at the NYS Governor's Office of Storm Recovery and Pippa Brashear, director of planning and resilience at SCAPE/Landscape Architecture, closed the presentations with updates on Living Breakwaters, a stormproofing plan for the South Shore of Staten Island. SCAPE's design calls for network of submerged and partially-submerged concrete-and-recycled-glass breakwaters that will be planted with oysters. Living Breakwaters, Brashear explained, creates double resiliency by both mitigating the impact of shore-bound waves and "enhancing ecology" through natural water filtration (the project is partnering with the Billion Oyster Project, an initiative to re-seed oyster beds in the New York Harbor). To SCAPE, the strategy was not about keeping water out through walls and barriers, but about reducing the impact of flooding in the vulnerable Tottenville neighborhood. https://vimeo.com/91648619 Plans call for a rocky habitat shoreside with semi-enclosures for kayaking.  The video above, from 2014, explains the coastal interventions in-depth. Between winning the RBD competition in 2014 and now, SCAPE has surveyed the coastline—above and underwater—extensively, and construction is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2017.
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Foster + Partners and SCAPE unveil plans for massive office complex on the Red Hook waterfront

Thor Equities has released renderings of a Foster + Partners–designed waterside office complex in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The four-story, timber frame buildings will host 600,000 square feet of workspace divided over open-plan, 100,000-square-foot floor plates, plus 23,000 square feet for restaurants and retail. The 7.7-acre development will offer the public waterfront access via an esplanade and courtyard, and harbor views from rooftop terraces. New York–based SCAPE/Landscape Architecture is executing the landscape plan. The project, says Thor, is designed to meet the needs of TAMI (technology, advertising, media and information) tenants. It's a somewhat nebulous definition, but according to a 2014 report by real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield, the sector is the strongest force behind activity in New York, ahead of even the financial sector. One of the neighborhood's challenges, though, is the lack of subway service: The F/G at Smith-9th Street is about 13 blocks away. The developers anticipate that workers will arrive by foot, water taxi, or bike, and that tenants will offer employees alternative transit accommodations, like shuttle bus service to the subway. Melissa Gliatta, Thor's chief operating officer, was bullish on other options. Gliatta trumpeted the transit potential of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX), a proposed streetcar that would run through Red Hook and could begin service in 2023, although the contentious, developer-driven project is still in its nascent, public input phase. Thor's press release for the development assumes a done deal: "A planned Brooklyn-Queens streetcar will also serve the neighborhood." (Dang, well, so much for that stakeholder consensus.) Academics like Adam Friedman, the director of the Pratt Center for Community Development at Pratt Institute, voiced concerns about this, and similar developments taking shape in the borough. Speaking with Bloomberg News, Friedman noted that developers need to "pace themselves," lest new properties sit vacant. "Every developer thinks that theirs is the one that is going to be successful. That’s just the nature of the culture.” Construction is set to begin this summer. Not cost estimate is available as of yet.