This month, Adriaan Visser of Rotterdam's city council and Adriaan Geuze, principal of landscape architecture firm West 8, unveiled a new plan for the municipality's 0.6 mile long Coolsingel. The streetscape aims to restore the allure of the 19th century boulevard which once defined the area. Boasting a new green esplanade with natural stone paving, the street will have a two-way bike path that is expected to liven up the space which is currently dominated by cars. Officials reiterated that West 8 in tandem with local authorities hope to make the boulevard into a place that is comfortable for both pedestrians and cyclists. They added at one day Coolsingel could become the new heart of downtown Rotterdam. West 8 described its proposal as a place for "all seasons." Utilizing a pre-existing green space, the Rotterdam- and New York–based firm calls for an environment that will be "framed by trees, terraces and pleasant seating areas." Changes to the Coolsingel are part of a wider scheme called the Binnenstad als City Lounge program (literally, the City Center as a City Lounge) that intends to kick-start developments in the city to make it "more lively and attractive." In what is becoming quite a trend, streetscape projects that aim to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists are cropping up more and more as architects and cities notice the importance of place making. Recently, six United States–based placemaking organizations were awarded $3 million each to develop their respective cities. Other pedestrian-first projects of note include Danish firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)'s Superkilen, which added a splash of color to Copenhagen's streets with its street-turned-park-turned-museum. Like Rotterdam, Mexico City is also set for a environmental injection as Fernando Romero, principal at FR-EE, just revealed plans earlier this summer for a green street in the capital city's Avenida Chapultepec.
Posts tagged with "Streetscape":
Who polka dotted West Lakeview? The area around the Lincoln/Wellington/Southport intersection on Chicago's North Side looks like a giant game of Twister, as Streetsblog's John Greenfield points out, thanks to a whimsical, low-tech placemaking initiative that is part of a larger $175,000 streetscape project along Lincoln Avenue. The blue and green dots visually tie together sidewalks and neckdowns at the busy six-corner intersection, setting aside space for pedestrians and discouraging risky passing maneuvers by cars during times of heavy traffic. Plastic bollards, makeshift furniture and large planters provide some protection for pedestrians using the intersection's crosswalks, or just enjoying the expanded (polka-dotted) public space. The painted dots are supposed to endure Chicago weather for three years, at which point the city has planned a more permanent streetscape improvement. In recent years Chicago has gradually reclaimed small portions of neighborhood streets for pedestrian activity, through initiatives like its "Make Way for People" program and others.
Kansas City's main rail station will get a $7.5 million expansion and streetscape improvement, local officials announced this week, including a new bridge designed to improve circulation between the terminal's “front and back yards.” Union Station was built in 1901, but its last major renovation was in 1997, when a major renovation closed the Beaux Arts building—which is on the National Register of Historic Places—for two years. Now KC-based Burns & McDonnell, picked by the Union Station board after a “rigorous” review process, will guide the redesign, renovation, and reconstruction of the local landmark's outside areas. A $2.25 million tax credit from the Missouri Development Finance Board kicked off fundraising for the project, which topped off only after a recent gift from the Bloch Family Foundation. The Hall Family Foundation covered more than half of the total project cost with a gift of more than $4 million. The new landscape features include a bridge for cars and pedestrians connecting Union Station's various outdoor spaces to its parking garage. New spaces include an outdoor events plaza to the west of the adjoining Science City for interactive exhibits and community-based events. Officials hope to complete the project by 2017.
Iowa City this week picked engineer-turned-artist Cecil Balmond to anchor an overhaul of the city's downtown pedestrian plaza. His sculpture will be the focal point of Iowa City's Black Hawk Mini Park Art Project, the first phase of an $11 million streetscape redevelopment project that officials hope to start next year. Balmond's work aims to enliven public spaces with forceful, architectural installations. His studio has strung shafts of light in Anchorage, Alaska, explored the Solid Void of sculpture with a forest of metal filigree in Chicago's Graham Foundation, and woven steel like rope to bridge a Philadelphia railway. The Chicago Transit Authority recently tapped Cecil Balmond Studio to contribute art for an overhaul of the 91-year-old Wilson Red Line station. An artist review panel consisting of Genus Landscape Architects Brett Douglas and Angie Coyer, and Iowa City staff Geoff Fruin and Marcia Bollinger selected U.K.–born Balmond over artists Vito Acconci and Hans Breder. Construction on the project is expected to begin next year.
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] The streets of downtown Seattle are set for a major overhaul, thanks to a new masterplan by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol. As AN reported in our recent West Coast edition, the Seattle-based firm has made recommendations to improve the pedestrian realm "centers on uniting the fragmented parts of the Pike-Pine corridor, two major thoroughfares at the heart of the retail core running east-west from Interstate 5 to the waterfront." Check out their dramatic proposed transformations overlayed on Seattle's existing streetscape for a better look at how pedestrians and cyclists will fare under the plan. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] [beforeafter] [/beforeafter]
From Los Angeles to Chicago, city governments across the nation have been following San Francisco’s early lead and popping up parklets on their streets, mini sidewalk-side public parks for rest, small group gatherings, and people watching. This summer, Boston joined in on the trend, installing its first parklet in Mission Hill in September and another in Jamaica Plain at Hyde Square. While these spaces have seen success in other cities, the Boston Globe reported that the Boston parklets have shown disappointing usage during what should have been their prime season. Although no scientific surveys have been collected, observations from nearby business owners, community members, and the Globe staff have indicated that these new whimsical spaces in Boston are not seeing much traffic. Boston Transportation Department planning director Vineet Gupta admitted that the city government was expecting a lot more of a parklet embrace from the community, but assured that the low usage during this fall’s debut is only a side effect of the newness of the streetscape change. Each parklet cost around $15,000 to $25,000. “This is true for parklets; it’s true for bike lanes; it’s true for bus lanes—it’s true for any innovation in the transportation world,” Gupta told the Globe. “Initially, you don’t see the kind of use that one would hope, but things pick up.” However, Boston officials are now wondering whether they should go back to the drawing board on the design and placement of these small public spaces. In San Francisco, a parklet’s success often depends on the community’s need for public seating and the site’s distance from a full-scale park or public plaza. In Chicago, some parklets have been planted with water retaining vegetation and installed in flood zones, creating a dual community benefit. Even elsewhere in Massachusetts, a Lexington parklet was first created as a bike corral to gauge public opinion. Gupta commented that the Transportation Department plans to conduct official public surveys next year for solutions to increase Boston parklet popularity. “In many instances from around the country, it’s a little bit of a learning process, and each location is unique,” he said. “We’re learning and we’re going to make modifications if necessary.”
For nextSTL, Richard Bose takes a close look at what's next for St. Louis' transit-oriented neighborhood. The Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood and the area near the Delmar and Forest Park MetroLink stations (both Red and Blue lines) have six bus routes. They’re near the forthcoming Loop Trolley line. A Department of Housing and Urban Development–funded sustainability plan, called OneSTL is examining opportunities for transit-oriented development near MetroLink stops. AN surveyed transit-spurred development around the Midwest in our August issue, focusing on St. Louis’ Delmar Loop Trolley. “Developers really trust the fixed-track nature of this kind of public transit,” area entrepreneur Joe Edwards told Ian Fullerton. “It’s happening in cities around the country—it’s not unique to St. Louis, but it’s time that we bring it back.” Led by H3 Studio, St. Louis’ plans for the Skinker-DeBaliviere area include streetscape improvements, parking and development to varying degrees (see nextSTL for more), but critically they call for a form-based code for the area’s buildings. Eliminating parking minimums and rolling back regulations that make transit-oriented development more difficult, the plan would make the Central West End the first area in the city to implement such a code.
Marlon Blackwell, architect and professor at the Fay Jones School of Architecture, and Steve Luoni, architect and director of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center, have unveiled a masterplan for converting Little Rock's Main Street into a cultural center. The plan titled, The Creative Corridor: A Main Street Revitalization will include a pedestrian promenade, outdoor furniture, LED lighting installations, rain gardens, affordable living-units for artists and a renovation of downtown buildings for mixed-use. Luoni notes that execution is expected to occur in phases. The first objective is to separate the district from the rest of Main Street by using original lighting—potentially made up of old city street lights and composed into a light art installation—distinct landscaping, and purpose-built architectural pavement. The second phase plans to anchor the site at the intersection of Capitol and Main Street with a central public square containing an outdoor amphitheater and large LED screen reminiscent of Times Square monitors. The third phase hopes to densify the perimeters of Main Street with trees, rain gardens, terraces and a pedestrian promenade. The fourth is the creation of the transit district in coordination with the Metroplan’s scheduled expansion proposals and new bike lanes. As the project gets going, Little Rock’s Mayor Mike Studola plans to use the city’s EPA grant to create smaller-scale demonstrations of the ideas presented in the masterplan. Although the plan is intended to place Little Rock on the map of towns with unique urban designs, execution relies heavily on private dollars. In order to receive funding the location would have to draw crowds as an art center and Luoni has already discussed receiving support from various visual arts, film, dance and music organizations including the Arkansas Repertory Theater and Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. The presentation of “The Creative Corridor” was held at the Arkansas Repertory Theater and made possible by a $150,000 Our Town Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Upon earning the NEA grant Luoni commented, “The project has the potential to be a national model for consolidating cultural arts functions—artist housing, production spaces, galleries and performance spaces—as a catalyst for sustained urban development in downtown. We are proud that the NEA recognizes this potential and has directed resources from its signature grant program for this project." As of yet, funding for the full completion of the proposal has not been determined but Mayor Studola, architect Luoni and architect Blackwell remain on board to see it through.
Condos and retail developments aren’t the only changes coming to Boston’s Downtown Crossing. Cambridge-based landscape architecture firm Klopfer Martin Design Group (KMDG) has been selected by the Boston Redevelopment Authority to design the streetscape plan for Boston’s Downtown Crossing Business Improvement District (BID). In response to an RFP to design the Streetscape Design Standards & Wayfaring Program, BRA received 11 proposals and decided to move forward with KMDG’s program. The long-term plan will consist of recommendations for sidewalk and roadway materials, a pedestrian zone, and vending and wayfinding programs. In its proposal, KMDG outlined its main objectives to “recast the crossing as a public, open space” and “connect the connections.” According to the BRA, construction is slated to be completed in late May.
One of Jane Jacobs’ most valuable contributions to the understanding of cities was her faith in the wisdom of the urban dweller. She argued that the physical city—and any approach to city planning—could not be separated from the wisdom of each individual inhabitant, “People who know well such animated city streets will know how it is. I am afraid people who do not will always have it a little wrong in their heads, like the old prints of rhinoceroses made from travelers’ descriptions of rhinoceroses.” The complication arising from Jacobs’ argument is simple though difficult to solve; how can we plan a city when planning is one part abstraction and abstraction removes us from Jacobs’ precious “real life” mentality? A step towards solving this contradiction is sfbetterstreets.org, a website launched last week by the City of San Francisco. Developed by the San Francisco Planning Department in conjunction with other city agencies, the website is part of the city’s larger, “Better Streets” initiative. The legislative concept, described in San Francisco's Better Streets Plan, is to create streets “designed and built to strike a balance between all users regardless of physical abilities or mode of travel… maximizing features for the comfort, usability, and aesthetics of people walking.” Many cities have made strides to improve the everyday experience of urban dwellers; PlaNYC in New York is an excellent example. Unique to San Francisco’s approach though—encapsulated in the “Better Streets” website—is an emphasis on direct citizen engagement through the provision of necessary tools for engaging city government and the community. The website empowers individual citizens and associations to change their streets by including ideas for street improvements, accessible descriptions of necessary permit processes, and suggestions for building community support. On the page for each specific street improvement, a small box entitled "Agency who can help" provides access to further information on how to request a specific street improvement. Sfbetterstreets.org is best understood as city-supported citizen engagement. When the New York City Department of Transportation created a website to solicit crowd-sourced suggestions for locating stations of the upcoming Bike Share program, it received over 70,000 votes from interested members of the public. San Francisco’s “Better Streets” outreach is an important example of how to harness the public’s interest in shaping city planning. Although a city-led initiative, “Better Streets” taps into the city itself, acknowledging what Jane Jacobs believes to be the most knowledgeable voice in the city: the people themselves.
Earlier this week, we checked in with the student winners of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) 2011 awards and found reason to be hopeful about the future of landscape architecture. But what legacy will those students be inheriting? The ASLA has recently doled out 37 awards to professional firms from across the globe, honoring their innovation, design, and sustainability. The submissions (most of which have been built) range from the systematic redesign of streetscapes and historical residential gardens to large scale estuarine master plans. General Design Category Award of Excellence Portland Mall Revitalization Portland, OR ZGF Architects From the project statement:
The Portland Mall, a landscape architecture legacy project and icon for progressive urban planning and design, has been transformed into a Great Street. Today it extends the entire length of downtown Portland, mixes multiple modes of transportation, stimulates adjacent development and re-establishes itself as Portland’s civic spine. A new benchmark in design, placemaking and infrastructure for the 21st century – the Portland Mall represents the region’s commitment to civic space, vital urban centers and sustainable transportation.Honor Awards City of Greensburg Main Street Streetscape Greensburg, KS BNIM From the project statement:
The City of Greensburg developed a downtown environment that not only provides a unique environment for residents and visitors, but that also provides creative features that capture and recycle stormwater. This project is a part of an overall sustainable environment that was planned for the downtown business district. All components from planting and irrigation to seating, signage and materials are highly sustainable.Citygarden St. Louis, MO Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects From the project statement:
Citygarden is a three-acre public sculpture garden created on the Gateway Mall in downtown St. Louis. Sponsored by a private foundation, the garden has played a primary role in reinvigorating the city’s center. The design weaves innovative stormwater management strategies with abstractions of local geology, hydrology, and plant communities to create a multi-faceted public space that has become a magnet for locals and tourists alike.Residential Design Category Honor Award Beyond Pictorial: Revising Philip Johnson's Monumental Beck House Dallas, TX Reed Hilderbrand From the project statement:
Philip Johnson's monumental 1964 Beck House was conceived as a theatrical viewing platform for the surrounding landscape—a motive pursued more simply and elegantly in Johnson's own Glass House fifteen years earlier. The Beck House renovation, completed in 2009, critically revises this modernist paradigm. By deftly altering Johnson's conceptual break-line between building and landscape, the project demonstrates landscape architecture's capacity to integrate the conservation of the material legacy of a project with direct engagement of the visual, spatial, ecological, and domestic characteristics of the site.Analysis and Planning Category Award of Excellence An Emerging Natural Paradise — Aogu Wetland Forest Park Master Plan Taiwan National Sun Yat-sen University From the project statement:
Aogu is a 1,600-hectare site located on the route of Asian migrating birds. The site has been reclaimed from the sea and unexpectedly reverted to a coastal wetland because of land subsiding and the cessation of farming in the area. The project focuses on establishing a series of re-habitation strategies on site that is reclaimed for human development, and emphasizes the site as a seeding process for the natural systems, as well as environmental education and eco-tourism.Communications Category Award of Excellence LID Low Impact Development: A Design Manual for Urban Areas University of Arkansas Community Design Center From the project statement:
Low Impact Development: A Design Manual for Urban Areas is designed for those involved in urban property development, from homeowners, to institutions, developers, designers, cities, and regional authorities. The manual presents a graphic argument, illustrating the application of ecologically-based stormwater treatment technologies in urban contexts. The manual’s unique contribution is its advancement of LID from a set of suburban lot-based technologies to a distributed urban treatment network deployed at neighborhood, municipal, and regional scales.Landmark Award in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation First San Diego River Improvement Project San Diego, CA Wimmer Yamada and Caughey From the project statement:
Great examples of landscape design often go unrecognized because the finished look is so natural it is unnoticed as "man made" by the observer. The first phase of the "First San Diego River Improvement Project" or "FISDRIP" is a good example. In place of a planned concrete channel as envisioned by the Army Corps of Engineers, the project was a successful collaboration by Public Agencies, Engineers, Biologists and Landscape Architects in designing a highly sustainable and functional flood control system that respected and preserved the natural habitat. Originally completed in the late 1980's, this project represents an excellent example of restorative design within an urban context, testimony to nature's ability to heal itself, survive within a busy transportation corridor and provide human connections to the natural environment.All of the award winning entries can be viewed here.
Last week, we came across illustrator James Gilliver Hancock's series of playful block elevations titled "All the Buildings in New York." It turns out this impulse to sketch block upon block of New York's architecture has been around for quite some time. In 1899, the Mail & Express newspaper company published a graphic journey down Manhattan's Broadway in a book called A Pictorial description of Broadway now archived at the New York Public Library. The stroll down Broadway 112 years ago reveals just how much New York has evolved over the past century. As the NYPL says, "The result, as you can see here, is a 19th century version of Google's Street View, allowing us to flip through the images block by block, passing parks, churches, novelty stores, furriers, glaziers, and other businesses of the city's past." Two of the most dramatic plates in the series show Times Square, above. Quite a striking difference to the neon canyon we know today. Below, you can see the lush Madison Square, also with significantly fewer high rises, and below that is a stunningly underdeveloped 59th Street showing vacant lots and buildings of only a few floors. Click on the thumbnails below to launch a gallery.