A report released earlier this week from the Center for an Urban Future (CUF) detailed the disconcerting state of New York City’s public parks system. While there’s a lot to worry about revolving around the city’s great outdoor spaces, all is not lost. New urban oases and major rehabilitation projects have been popping up throughout the five boroughs over the last 20 years—the latest of which adds 5.5 acres of restored wetlands habitat to the Queens waterfront. On Wednesday, the second phase of Hunter’s Point South Park opened to the public, creating 11 acres of continuous riverside parkland in Long Island City. The new site brings a fresh breath of air to the formerly inaccessible, industrialized site and showcases expansive views of the East River alongside Newtown Creek. SWA/BALSLEY and WEISS/MANFREDI teamed up to design the new addition after working together on the first phase of the park, which opened in 2013. Just north of the site, Gantry Plaza State Park—opened in 1998 also designed by Thomas Balsley Associates —seamlessly connects to the new space. The brand-new design features the same tone and style as its sister site, but includes several new highlights: a shaded grassy cape, a new island connected via a pedestrian bridge, a kayak launch, exercise and picnic terraces, plus a 30-foot-high cantilevered platform that gives visitors panoramic views of Manhattan. According to the architects, the park serves as a model for waterfront resilience and acts as a buffer against storm surges. The opening of the newly expanded Hunter's Point South Park comes on the heels of the new Domino Park in Williamsburg.
Posts tagged with "Thomas Balsley Associates":
After countless delays, plenty of controversy, and a few lawsuits, Brooklyn's Pacific Park mega-development (formerly Atlantic Yards) is starting to take shape. The Barclays Center's green roof is showing progress, SHoP's long-delayed modular tower is rising again next door, and a pair of COOKFOX-designed residential buildings are underway at the development's eastern edge. And now, the project's new namesake, the 8-acre Pacific Park, has finally been unveiled. The New York Daily News has posted the first renderings, and a master plan, of the Thomas Balsley-designed green space which replaces a street-level parking lot and will stretch through the development's crop of new towers. Besides the requisite grassy lawns and planted areas, Pacific Park is packed with cruise-ship-like amenities including a bocce court, basketball court, maisonette court, water garden, and play areas for kids and toddlers. There is also cafe seating, lanterns, and a "gateway portal" with graphic signage. The green space is a major amenity for the development's new tenants, but will also be open to the public. The first piece of Pacific Park will run between COOKFOX's two under-construction buildings and be completed next summer. The full eight acres will be built out over the next 10 years, along with the rest of the development.
Thomas Balsley’s geometric pedestrian plaza reclaims roadway for neighbors in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
After years of planning and workshops, Brooklyn's Community Board 2 recently approved a redesign of Putnam Triangle Plaza in Clinton Hill. The $3.75 million project, led by Thomas Balsley Associates, will significantly upgrade and expand the existing plaza that opened in 2011. The new space comes with a gray geometric paving pattern, new lighting, benches, tables, chairs, and bike racks, along with twice as many plantings and trees. There will also be new space for public art and events. The green light for the project comes months after Thomas Balsley Associates presented four options for the site to community members. That was the final stage in the plaza's public review process that had become notably heated; some local stakeholders decried the current plaza and the expensive plan to expand it. DNAinfo reported that the project will be primarily funded by the federal Transportation Enhancement Program with money also coming from New York City's PlanNYC and some local officials. Construction on the plaza is slated to start summer 2016 and last about one year.
We know, we know, we know—the internet is being overrun with drone-photographed, time-lapse videos of cities and ruins. They are like cat videos, or BuzzFeed quizzes, or thought-pieces on Hillary Clinton's ground game in 2016: they're everywhere and they're unavoidable. But sometimes they're pretty great. This five-minute video by Victor Chu is called “Ultimate Aerial Video of NYC!," and, well, yeah, it kind of is! The video starts with a quote from (who else?) F. Scott Fitzgerald and then finds its way through the five boroughs with the help of an agile drone. Some architectural highlights include Four Freedoms Park, Hunters Point South Waterfront Park by Thomas Balsley Associates, and pre-demolition 5Pointz. The drone also travels directly through the Unisphere, which is known best from the 1964-65 World’s Fair and second best from Men In Black. [h/t Gothamist]
This morning, Greenland Forest City Partners broke ground on 535 Carlton Avenue—the second tower to rise at Pacific Park in Brooklyn, the development formerly known as Atlantic Yards. The COOKFOX-designed masonry tower will rise 18 stories and include nearly 300 affordable units: 50 percent middle-income, 20 percent moderate, and 30 percent low-income. COOKFOX is also designing the nearby 550 Vanderbilt, a market-rate condo tower that is expected to get underway shortly. An eight-acre, Thomas Balsley–designed park—called "Pacific Park"—will run between these two towers, replacing what is currently a surface-level parking lot. Today's groundbreaking also came with the unveiling of a glossy new website for Pacific Park and some new renderings of 535 Carlton, seen below.
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has announced this year's winners of its Professional and Student Awards, which honor "top public, commercial, residential, institutional, planning, communications and research projects from across the U.S. and around the world." Each of the winning projects will be featured in the October issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine and be officially presented by ASLA at its annual meeting and expo in Denver on November 24th. In total, 34 professional awards were selected out of 600 entries. General Design Category Award of Excellence Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus Seattle Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Honor Awards Slow Down: Liupanshui Minghu Wetland Park Liupanshui, Ghizhou Province, China Turenscape Gebran Tueni Memorial Beirut, Lebanon Vladimir Djurovic Landscape Architecture Segment 5, Hudson River Park New York City Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. Salem State University Marsh Hall, Salem, Mass. WagnerHodgson Landscape Architecture Urban Outfitters Headquarters Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia D.I.R.T. Studio Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Grand Teton National Park, WY Hershberger Design for D.R. Horne & Company Hunter's Point South Waterfront Park Queens, NY Thomas Balsley Associates and Weiss/Manfredi Low Maintenance Eco-Campus: Vanke Research Center Shenzhen, China Z+T Studio Shoemaker Green University of Pennsylvania Andropogon Associates, Ltd. Residential Design Category Award of Excellence Woodland Rain Gardens Caddo Parish, La. Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects Honor Awards Hill Country Prospect Centerport, Texas Studio Outside for Sara Story Design Vineyard Retreat Napa Valley, Calif. Scott Lewis Landscape Architecture Le Petit Chalet Southwest Harbor, Maine Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC Sky Garden Miami Beach, Fla. Raymond Jungles Inc. West Texas Ranch Marfa, Texas Ten Eyck Landscape Architects Inc. GM House, Bragança Paulista São Paulo, Brazil Alex Hanazaki Paisagismo City House in a Garden Chicago McKay Landscape Architects Analysis & Planning Category Award of Excellence Midtown Detroit Techtown District Detroit Sasaki Associates Inc. Honor Awards The Creative Corridor: A Main Street Revitalization for Little Rock Little Rock, Ark. The University of Arkansas Community Design Center and Marlon Blackwell Architect Devastation to Resilience: The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center Houston Design Workshop Inc., Aspen, and Reed/Hilderbrand Zidell Yards District-Scale Green Infrastructure Scenarios Portland, Ore. GreenWorks, PC Yerba Buena Street Life Plan San Francisco CMG Landscape Architecture Unified Ground: Union Square - National Mall Competition Washington, D.C. Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Communications Category Award of Excellence The Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley The Cultural Landscape Foundation Honor Awards Freehand Drawing and Discovery: Urban Sketching and Concept Drawing for Designers James Richards, FASLA, published by John Wiley & Sons Inc. Monk's Garden: A Visual Record of Design Thinking and Landscape Making Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. Garden, Park, Community, Farm Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Lands Louise A. Mozingo, ASLA, published by MIT Press The Landmark Award Norman B. Leventhal Park at Post Office Square Boston Halvorson Design Partnership Inc.
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Aerodynamics of transit inform the design for new public seating in busy pedestrian areas like train platforms.Landscape architect Thomas Balsley has been shaping public spaces in urban settings for more than 35 years, from the Bronx to Dallas to Portland. Even at large scales his work underscores attention to detail, all the way down to the furniture that adorns his sites. As a resident of New York since the 1970s, Balsley is all too aware of the way public benches and seating function in densely populated cities. For Transit Bench—fabricated by Landscape Forms custom project team at Studio 431—he designed a seating option for busy pedestrian areas, like train platforms and street-side parklets, where movement engulfs stationary seating. “I started thinking of the aerodynamic aspects of transit and airline design, where the skin of the plane is an important structural component,” Balsley told AN. “I had the idea that this folded piece of skin could be the structure.” The bench, which rests on two sled base legs, is one solid form, made from a single sheet of stainless steel with laser cut perforations that suggest motion. Based off his design for the Redline Bench (one of many products Balsley has designed for Landscape Forms), Transit Bench hones in on efficiency of form and material, something he hopes will become hallmarks of 21st century design. Wrestling to rectify an ongoing inconsistency in bench design—“Why isn’t the back as attractive as the front?” pondered Balsley—Transit Bench’s back extends 1/3 of the way down for a more balanced aesthetic. A skirt folds down to conceal the legs at the front of the bench. On the backless version of the design, the skirt wraps down over the backside as well. Rob Smalldon of Studio 431 took the Rhino design files supplied by Balsley and worked on them in SketchUp and SolidWorks. A sheet of stainless steel was laser cut in flat form, and sent to a press break to achieve its three defining bends. For simplicity and consistency, the same dye was used for all three bends. The legs are also made from one band of steel, as are the arms, which are bent to their preferred shape. “I believe some of the best designs are pretty simple,” said Smalldon, “but there’s usually twice as much effort to make it work.” The legs are bolted to the seat panel to avoid heat deformations and ensure safety and stability. “With the bolted connection, you see rounded bolt heads but no warpage,” explained Smalldon. “It looks and performs better.” In all, the bench is made from four pieces. Transit Bench was designed in New York and fabricated in Michigan. Balsley was pleased with the outcome. “If it was a fabricator I wasn’t familiar with, I would have been there. But Landscape Forms is a top shelf company,” he said. “Our other stainless pieces with them have been extraordinary.”