As many baby boomers are reaching retirement, many think we need to have more of those important end-of-life discussions. There’s The Conversation Project, and as of this year, Medicare is now reimbursing discussions about near-death medical care. But what about the permanence of our cemeteries? How will urban areas—with increasing land shortages and rising urban populations—address, preserve, maintain, finance, update, and develop these spaces? Our cemeteries were some of the first public urban green spaces in the United States, serving as refuges from city life. But perhaps more so than other urban public parks, they are layered with a complex web of social, political, cultural, and environmental issues. “As the meeting point between the living and the dead, cemeteries are peculiarly fraught ground. That makes them easy for cities to ignore,” writes Next City. “Crime, environmental problems, historic preservation, social class, religious traditions, and the thorny legacy of who is included in cities, and who is not, all come crashing together in urban cemeteries.” Beyond traditional land burials, cremation is popular. Some are proposing vertical or skyscraper cemeteries. And then there are eternal reefs, cryonics, and composting. But in Austin, Texas—a city with one of the highest concentrations of millennials in America—urban planners and city officials are attempting to tackle the issues of future cemetery planning and historic preservation head-on. The city is proposing a top-down approach with its first-ever cemetery master plan that spans five urban cemeteries. The report outlines maintenance plans—a key part is improving drainage to prevent flooding–as well as developing outreach services to local residents. One idea Austin is proposing is columbariums: vertical funeral niches that would hold funeral urns. Voters approved a $2 million bond to begin the cemeteries' capital improvements in 2012, but the city will need to further address funding. Up for some historical reading? Here’s a 1950 report on city cemeteries from the American Planning Association’s Planning Advisory Committee.
Posts tagged with "Texas":
Thorsten Brinkmann: The Great Cape Rinderhorn Rice Gallery Through May 15 German artist Thorsten Brinkmann describes his absurdist installation, The Great Cape Rinderhorn, as a “decaying palace,” full of bizarre, unexpected opulence. A visit is like becoming a child stepping inside a world you don’t understand—and don’t want to. Nothing makes sense, and that’s the point. Walls are covered with unmatched swatches of green, teal, brown, and pink wallpaper, interspersed with portraits of people adorned in trash and lampshades. In the center, a plywood crate has a huge animal horn perched atop it and contains a small opening to allow visitors to enter a hidden “cinema,” where a video shows a king struggling to find the right pose and a tunnel leads to the palace inhabitant’s secret room. Brinkmann is a confessed hoarder, and many of his discarded objects adorn the show. Forget rational minimalism. This is much more fun.
Shots fired! Fritz Steiner, the University of Texas at Austin's architecture dean, says that he is leaving his post because of the state's new campus carry laws. Under Steiner, the UT-Austin architecture school has ranked among the best in the country. According to The Texas Tribune, Steiner said that "I would have never applied for another job if not for campus carry. I felt that I was going to be responsible for managing a law I didn't believe in." What's Texas's loss is Pennsylvania's gain: When the University of Pennsylvania School of Design approached him last semester about an opening, Steiner was receptive. On July 1, Steiner will become dean of University of Pennsylvania School of Design. For the past 20 years, it's been perfectly legal to carry concealed guns onto campus, but not into campus buildings. Although new campus carry laws were ratified last year, the laws don't go into effect until the first of August. In a state with some of the nation's most liberal gun laws, it's worth noting that the new law does not allow open carry on campus; students, faculty, staff, or visitors must have a handgun license; and the gun owner must be 21 or older. Public universities are allowed to create some limited "gun-free zones," but those zones can't include classrooms. Students for Concealed Carry, a campus group that supports gun rights, criticized Steiner, stating that, essentially, the only thing to fear is fear [of the law] itself. For his part, Steiner is looking forward to returning to the institution from which he earned three degrees: "Penn is a great institution and I am very happy to go to Penn, but I was approached ... and, if it wouldn't have been for campus carry, I wouldn't have considered it."
Neighbors of the recently approved Houston Botanic Garden (HBC), designed by New York–based West 8, oppose the plans, saying that the to-be-built garden will increase traffic in their neighborhoods and prevent neighbors from criss-crossing the site on foot, as is local custom. Right now, the 120-acre site, in the southeastern area of Houston, is home to publicly-owned Glenbrook Golf Course. "The Park Place Civic Club is taking the position of formal opposition," President Larry Bowles told The Houston Chronicle. "Members feel that the garden will disrupt the neighborhood environment that we're used to here and that the open space that the current Glenbrook Golf Course provides will be in essence taken away." The HBG organizers are planning to lease the site from the city, which means that there's extra imperative to keep the public engaged. West 8's plans respond to community desires for connection to the bayou, shady walking paths, access to the outdoors, and space for community events. The master plan will connect the two "precincts" of the garden, named the Island and the South Gardens, with a bridge over Sims Bayou, one of the few bayous in its natural state, that defines the northern border of the proposed park. The bridge over the bayou is part of "Botanic Mile," a wending drive that will take visitors to the heart of the park, an arrival plaza in the South Gardens. The design had to be hurricane- and flood-proof: Landscaping will elevate the site's topography to bring it outside of the 100-year floodplain. Rounding out the program are a classic glass conservatory for exotic plants, as well as amenities like a cafe, visitor's center, lecture hall, and events pavilion. With a goal of opening in 2020, the group has raised $5 million already, and aims to raise $15 million through 2017. Construction on the project's first phase is expected to begin in 2018. Tomorrow, a public meeting will be held to discuss plans for the HBG. Adriaan Geuze, co-founder and principal of West 8, will be on hand to answer residents' questions.
In November, Field Constructs Design Competition presented site-specific installations by emerging architects and landscape architects at the Circle Acres Nature Preserve in East Austin. AN recently reported on the winners, but check out the full set of imagery for each project below. As AN's Nick Cecchi reported,
Each of these projects is a diverse and unique response to the competition brief, yet all are united in a search for the latent possibilities in this unique site and the confluence of historical, social, and economic concerns it brings together. As social commentary and landscape art, they provide critical fodder not only for architecture and design professionals, but for the public as well. Competitions and proposals of this scale are not only opportunities for emerging voices to have a dialogue with each other and the distinguished members of the jury, but also demonstrate to the public that architects and designers are constantly reimagining how we interact with our natural and built environments.2015 FCDC Winners 99 WHITE BALLOONS INVIVIA — Cambridge, Mass. USA BLURRED BODIES StudioRoland Snooks — Melbourne, Australia DUCK BLIND IN PLAIN SITE OP.AL + And-Either-Or — New York, NY USA HYBROOT OTA+ — Austin, Texas USA For more FCDC, check out AN's original article.
To architect Ersela Kripa, "borders are much thicker than we imagine." She and her partner Stephen Mueller (AGENCY) are building on the strong legacy of theory and practice at the US-Mexico border with their students at Texas Tech University El Paso. This fall, students produced FLASH Installation: Architecture at Rush Hour, a daylong "tactical occupation" of an underused bus terminal at the El Paso/Juárez border. On a map, the US-Mexico border is easy to depict and define. Its implications, however, run deeper and elude precise definition. In Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, Chicana writer, activist, and cultural theorist Gloria Anzaldúa muses on the border's many meanings:
"Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them. A border is a dividing line, a narrow strip along a steep edge. A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary. It is in a constant state of transition."Juárez and El Paso form a binational metropolis. When Kripa and Mueller arrived in Texas this September to teach at TTU-El Paso, they were intent on engaging with the space around them. Housed in an active Amtrak train station, the school's identity is tied to the flow of goods and people across borders. In conversation with AN, Kripa explained that "cross-border issues are a daily way of being" for her students. In her and Mueller's fall studios, students range in age from 20–50, and many work full time in addition to their studies. Around 30 percent of students cross the border every day for school. TTU-El Paso hopes to grow its architecture program around critical engagement with border culture. To that end, TTU-El Paso staged its third Beaux Arts Ball in October. To accommodate attendees, food trucks, and a dance floor, a lightly used bus parking lot was selected for the venue. The theme: "being reflective." Student volunteers erected FLASH Installation: Architecture at Rush Hour to provide a light-filled canopy for the ball and spark conversation around the heavily policed, yet highly porous, border. Apache Barricade & Sign, a local, woman-owned company, lent the studio 256 brand-new, orange reflective traffic barrels for one day. Students spent eight hours rigging them to the bus station's ceiling in a 16 by 16 configuration at varying heights. Below, an installation of 300 ground reflectors marked a temporary dance floor on the asphalt. Why traffic barrels? The temporary structures, Kripa explained, are a "spatial manifestation of a politics of directing flow. It's an extension of politics—infrastructure that enacts the law." The impermanent pieces of transit infrastructure underscore the permanence of the (now redundant) bus canopy. Socially engaged work is the status quo for Kripa and Mueller (hence the name of the interdisciplinary practice they co-founded in 2006). The pair won the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome in 2010. While in Rome, Kripa and Mueller studied the forced movement of the Romani, addressing the Romani's housing crisis amid a city of overlapping networks, real and imagined. The pair hope to re-activate the bus depot annually with their students. "As architects are not only interested in making beautiful space, we at AGENCY feel profound obligation to expose what's happening. We [architects] are well equipped to uncover inequality and injustice." See the gallery below for more images of the installation.
The so-called Speedway in Austin, Texas, is being slowed to the pace of the pedestrian, thanks to a redesign by PWP Landscape Architecture. The road is not a racetrack as its name implies, but a street used heavily by cyclists and motorists as it cuts through the University of Texas at Austin. The project, called the "Speedway Mall," is a move by the university to improve the area and boost its usage. Construction on the mall, to be located between Jester Circle and Dean Keeton Street, will be carried out by the university starting soon on October 26 with the project set to cost $36 million. The project will convert the predominantly urban area into one that is made up of 70 percent green space, a move that will transform the space making it a social hub complete with trees, tables, study areas, and Wi-Fi access. According to the Daily Texan, Pat Clubb, the university operations vice president, stated that the scheme should free up the space for university and educational needs with outdoor learning, campus festivities, performances among other student enterprises. “[Speedway] is a wonderful asset that is not being used, and this project allows us to turn a dull, ugly — this place that students just walk past — into a true activity center,” Clubb said. “I think it will transform the student experience. It will become a place of learning, become a place of social activity. All of the things that will be possible are going to enhance the students’ experience.” “The idea is to transform it to make it safer, to make it more environmentally hospital, to make it more accessible and more usable to students,” Frederick Steiner, dean of the School of Architecture, told the Daily Texan. Steiner has confidence that the Speedway Mall, when finished in 2017, will evolve into an area that students, faculty, staff, and alumni will love about campus. “Where 30 years ago, the Main Mall was sort of the center of campus, now Speedway is sort of the center of campus and it should change to reflect that. There’s an old Joni Mitchell song about tearing up paradise and putting in a parking lot,” Steiner continued. “Well, we’re going to be tearing up parking lots and putting in paradise.”
In downtown San Antonio, famed New Haven, Connecticut–based firm Pelli Clarke Pelli (PCP) teamed up with local Alamo Architects to design the new Frost Bank Tower headquarters. It will be the first office tower to join the San Antonio skyline in three decades and one of several new PCP buildings in Texas, including Dallas’ McKinney & Olive tower and the Shraman South Asian Museum and Learning Center. Weston Urban and KDC of Dallas selected the firms in part because of its extreme care and attention to detail. When the firm's representatives shared the project with the selection team, they presented an impeccably detailed paper model of downtown San Antonio with a variety of different towers to illustrate a variety of choices for the site. Appropriately, PCP’s project leads, principal Bill Butler and Fred Clarke, are both native Texans who have spent ample time in San Antonio. The new tower is proposed to be 400,000 square feet, have an emphasis on sustainability, and will be integrated with the new design of the San Pedro Creek area, where architect David Adjaye just revealed his own art gallery. PCP's plan will include a new bridge and plaza. Ground breaking is slated to begin fall 2016 and completion in 2018 or '19, loosely coinciding with San Antonio’s 300-year anniversary in 2018.
On the heels of designing Dallas’s McKinney & Olive tower, his first in the city, Cesar Pelli snagged a competitive proposal as the architect of the Shraman South Asian Museum and Learning Center. The new museum will be located at the corner of Woodall Rodgers Freeway and Field Street in downtown Dallas. Specific details on the museum have yet to be released, but it will be the first museum in the United States exclusively devoted to South Asia; much of the collection will be focused on India. Although Pelli is best known for building some of the tallest towers in the world, the museum is not intended to be a skyscraper, but rather a new cultural addition to the burgeoning area. The proposed 4.7-acre site will be a few blocks away from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the not-yet-completed Victory Park complex, making it one of several exciting new additions to the neighborhood.
Architect David Adjaye, known for his modern, site-specific buildings including the upcoming Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, was commissioned by artist and philanthropist Linda Pace to design a structure along San Antonio’s San Pedro Creek for her eponymous foundation’s growing contemporary art collection. The new building, called Ruby City, is expected to open in 2018; groundbreaking will commence in 2016. Pace tasked Adjaye with creating a gallery space reminiscent of a building she saw in a dream. “When I visited San Antonio in 2007, and met with Linda, we sketched out ideas and together, we envisioned a building that would resonate with her dream of the Ruby City. Like a city, the design offers an organic, heuristic encounter with the Foundation’s works and my hope is that it will become a place where artists and the wider community can be inspired to realize their own dreams through a meaningful experience with contemporary art,” said Adjaye. Appropriately, Ruby City will be clad in vibrant red precast concrete panels with expansive windows overlooking the park and city. The 14,000-square-foot, two-story building will house three gallery spaces containing 800-odd paintings, sculptures, installations, and videos. “The building is envisioned as a beacon for San Antonio. The impact of the Foundation’s mission is already evidenced in San Antonio’s thriving contemporary art scene and its creative economy,” Linda Pace Foundation’s President, Rick Moore, said in a statement.
The Texas metropolis of Houston is famous (or perhaps infamous) for its sprawling footprint. But as recent census numbers affirm, that growth reflects more than just a lack of zoning—within 10 years, more people will live in Houston than Chicago, according to information from health departments in Illinois and Texas. (Read AN's feature examining Houston's first General Plan here.) Long the country's third-largest city, Chicago is projected to have just 2.5 million people by 2025. Houston is expected to surpass that number, possibly growing to 2.7 million residents. A June study by Houston's Rice University found “if both cities maintain their average growth rates of the last four years, Houston would surpass Chicago as the country's third most populous by 2030.” Previous data from the 2000 and 2010 censuses had forecast a similar changing of the guard, noting Chicago had lost 200,000 people in the millennium's first decade, while Houston gained nearly 119,000. But new data publicized by Business Insider suggests the Texas metropolis could overtake the Windy City sooner. Houston leads the nation in job growth, owing largely to its expanding population.
Images for a plan to build a skyscraper complex in north Dallas have been making waves across the web. The so-called Harwood Phase XII would top out at 1,080 feet over the Texas city. Dallas-based developer Harwood International submitted the proposal to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in August as the buildings height means it may disrupt to flight paths in the area. Online, the images have been gaining coverage attracting significant attention despite the fact that the proposal is still awaiting approval and could change as plans are refined. The project looks set to visually dominate its surroundings, and developers hope it will attract visitors to the area. The renderings show extensive use of trees and other natural features to liven up the area. They will also complement the use of wood that is featured as an accent in the project. The towers are generally clad in glass, and often include eroded box forms with softened corners. Speaking to Dallas News, local developer Harwood International said the images are "not exact representations of what might actually be built." "They are some renderings we had done a while back—they are really old,” Jihane Boury, Harwood vice president of leasing said. "We are still studying what we are going to do there." Despite their age, the images drew recent online attention after a user posted to the Dallas section of social media website Reddit. The Dallas-based firm's long-term plans appear to be in place as they aim for the structure be home to shops, eatery's and high-rise residential flats.