Atlanta has staked a commitment on urban agriculture. The city is poised to hire its first Urban Agriculture Director this fall. Conceived by the office of Mayor Kasim Reed, the position is part of a strategy to eliminate food deserts in south and west Atlanta by promoting agriculture within the city limits. Urban food deserts are determined by a neighborhood's poverty rate, median income, and distance to groceries selling fresh produce. The USDA maintains an interactive map of food deserts, including those in Atlanta, here. Atlanta's Agriculture Director will be an advocate, consultant, policy analyst, and community liaison between gardeners and farmers and the resources they need to establish viable plots. The director will also consult on brownfield remediation, zoning and code inquiries, and any other issues surrounding access to, and use of, land. Interested candidates have until September 15th to apply for the position.
Posts tagged with "Urban Gardens":
Kris Steele’s “Edible Walkway” proposal to bring an urban orchard to Charlotte, NC was one of two recipients of the Keep Charlotte Beautiful (KCB) neighborhood beautification grants announced in May. Steele’s proposal was approved over 34 other proposals by KCB and received an endowment of $2,500 to get the plan moving. Steele’s project will tear down an old, rusty fence at Kingston Avenue and South Mint Street and replace it with a new fence and a variety of fruit-bearing trees and bushes. The project will be overseen by the Wilmore Neighborhood Association, the Calvary United Methodist Church, and Casteen Lawn and Tree. It has not yet been decided what types of trees and shrubberies will be planted along the walkway but there have been mentions of pear trees, apple trees, and peach trees among others. Planting is scheduled to begin sometime this upcoming autumn, with some trees possibly bearing fruit as soon as next spring. The urban orchard project is part of a growing trend in cities across North America to bring productive agriculture to sites in urban areas. Chicago, Edmonton, and Boston have recently begun projects of their own.
It’s open season for public art in St. Louis, according to the groups behind Sculpture City St. Louis 2014—an ongoing festival “intended to draw attention to the rich presence sculpture has in the visual landscape of our region.” The programming leads up to and continues after an April conference. Art exhibitions throughout the year aim to continue the conversation. For instance, Art of Its Own Making, a show at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts that features sculpture, installation, film, and performance works through August 20. St. Louis Sculpture City showcases public art, sculpture, and design throughout the year, before and after its April 10–12 conference “Monument / Anti-Monument,” which will encourage dialogue about art and public life. A full list of the shows and events that make up the ongoing examination of public art is available on the group's website. Non-profit institutions, for-profit enterprises, and government/civic art programs with programming within 100 miles of downtown St. Louis during 2014 can submit their program to Sculpture City St. Louis, which may list them on their website. St. Louis is a fitting place for the topic. From the two-block sculpture park dubbed CityGarden to plans for a revamped park at the base of the Gateway Arch, it’s a busy time for public space in St. Louis.
Installation of the first community rooftop garden in the United States—UpGarden—is almost complete. Located in the shadow of Seattle's Space Needle, the project will convert close to 30,000 square feet on the top of the Mercer parking garage into an organic, edible, herb and flower garden with 100 plots for lower Queen Anne neighborhood residents. Landscape architecture firm Kistler Higbee Cahoot is leading the design, organizing community workshops and construction of the garden with a volunteer crew. The project is part of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods P-Patch program, which helps manage almost 80 urban community gardens across Seattle. P-Patch gets its name from the Picardo family who donated land to create the city's first community garden in 1973. UpGarden was funded by the 2008 Parks and Green Space Levy. While UpGarden is built on top of a parking garage engineered to hold up dozens of cars, special effort had to be taken to consider the weight of the new garden, which can be quite heavy. A cubic yard of dry topsoil can weigh about a ton, and much, more when wet, which could overwhelm even a concrete parking structure. UpGarden's design accounted for weight by including terraced planting beds with shallower elevated filled with a lighter-weight mix of potting soil. Small seating areas have been incorporated into the landscape design along with a planted trellis and educational kiosk at the garden's entrance. Designers paid homage to the unorthodox site's automotive past by incorporating an Airstream trailer repurposed for use as a tool shed along a lavender-lined lawn at the center of the garden. A donated 1963 Ford Galaxy was also repainted purple and hollowed out to serve as a planting space for crops such as corn and pumpkins. The first crops at UpGarden will be harvested later this summer. Unfortunately, the garden is only temporary—there are plans to demolish the aging Mercer parking garage, built for the 1962 World’s Fair, in three to five years.
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A motorized green wall that reads the weather and adjusts automaticallyTwo years ago six students and three faculty from Virginia Tech's School of Architecture + Design spent three weeks at SOM's Chicago office applying industrial fabrication solutions to the problem of high density housing for Southworks, a housing development that's currently being planned for a large vacant section south of the city. The result was LumenHAUS, an aggressively energy efficient home that won the international Solar Decathlon Competition that June for sustainable solutions to high density construction. LumenHAUS is not only net zero, it actually creates more energy than it uses by implementing, among other innovations, a modular system that autonomously responds to external weather information and internal environmental conditions to optimize energy use. This Fall Virginia Tech's Center for Design Research will begin construction on a full scale prototype of six housing modules, including a working prototype of Hanging Garden, a dynamic plant wall that reads the weather and responds by sliding along the walls and windows to either block or allow sunlight into the living unit. Hanging Garden combines automated shading control with the emerging demand for urban garden space. Each unit is composed of a series of planters and and can be configured into one of three scenarios: (1) fully nested against the side walls of the south facing projecting balcony, (2) partially deployed to protect the balcony from east or west light or wind or (3) fully deployed and aligned with the outer face of the balcony (rotated 90 degrees). Each unit can automatically adjust to accommodate changing weather patterns, plant type and user demands by means of an actuated track system provided by Hafele. Two ceiling mounted tracks run parallel to each other until the garden reaches the outer balcony. At this point the slave trolley follows the radial track and sends the garden plane horizontally along the outer edge of the balcony. "The plant wall system is integrated into our ‘responsive architecture’ smart home building control system, which was developed for the LumenHAUS," said Virginia Tech faculty member Joe Wheeler. "With real time data from both the house-mounted weather station and from interior environment sensors, the computer can detect when shading is needed or when direct solar gain is needed. For example, on a summer day when the system is in cooling mode, exterior temperatures are high and the daylight sensors detect full sun, plant walls are deployed into the full shade position along electronically controlled motorized tracks." The Hanging Garden system can be built into a larger outdoor garden patio configuration that allots two outdoor spaces on either end of the main living module. During warmer months the patio can be opened up completely, providing cross ventilation. In colder months they can be closed to act like greenhouses and serve as insulating buffers to the indoor space, becoming passive mechanisms of energy efficiency. Even those whose thumbs are anything but green can easily keep their Hanging Garden growing year-round, thanks to the self-watering system - also a great feature for when you're out of town. "When the plant walls are in their "home" position, a reservoir is refilled by a ceiling mounted valve," Wheeler explained. "The reservoir directs water to each individual pot on the wall and a floor drain in the balcony collects any overflow." The final product will have a CNC cut steel frame and slip cast ceramic pots, but the prototypes for the six modular units will be made from MDF, an odd choice for such an environmentally progressive project, though perhaps the longterm benefits of Hanging Garden, and of the Southworks complex in general will ultimately outweigh a few preliminary MDF models?
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.
Missing Parklet. Who would steal a parklet? The Oakland Local spotted a worried Facebook page for Actual Cafe whose parklet, pictured above, disappeared last week. San Francisco is the city that invented the parklet concept--transforming parking spaces into extensions of the sidewalk--and we hear they're quite popular, so what gives? The cafe has security footage of the early-morning incident. Celebrating CityGarden. St. Louis' much acclaimed urban sculpture park, CityGarden, has been awarded ULI's 2011 Amanda Burden Open Space Award, named for NYC's Planning Commissioner who sat on the selection jury. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said the garden topped projects in Portland, OR and Houston to claim the $10,000 prize. Chatham Scratched. DNA reports that plans to transform Chinatown's Chatham Square at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge have been put on hold. The $30 million project would have reconfigured the busy confluence of seven streets to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety, but with other construction projects already clogging the area, the city didn't want to make matters worse. Funds will be used for other Lower Manhattan projects instead. Directing Traffic. Robert Puentes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has penned a feature-length article on the future of transportation for the Wall Street Journal. In recounting the good, the bad, and the ugly of transportation policy, Puentes calls for innovation and sustainability along with increased access to boost the economy.
If you've passed by One Bryant Park in the past month or so, you may have noticed what looks like a kind of leafy-green Stonehenge clustered in the lobby of the Bank of America building. The three monoliths and twenty-five foot tall archway are made of galvanized steel frames seeded with thousands of ferns, mosses, and lichens, an installation designed by a team from Wallace Roberts & Todd, led by designer Margie Ruddick and sculptor Dorothy Ruddick. The piece is meant as a reminder of the building's green cred, as the Cook + Fox tower achieved LEED Platinum. Unlike the original Stonehenge, we don't have to wonder how this one was built. In fact, you can watch it being assembled in the above time-lapse clip, which compresses the entire 42 hours of installation into a mere 30 seconds. Watch as the mysterious shruboliths rise before your eyes, and check some photos after the jump.
Architect and writer Brian Newman recently took a walk through St. Louis' newest urban park and sent this dispatch. Before setting foot in St. Louis’ downtown City Garden, which officially opened to the public last week, before you come across the bright red Keith Herring totem or Tom Otterness’ bulbous bronze Gepetto, even before you see its verdant paths and shaded lawns, you see the packs of happily damp children, wrapped in beach towels. There are children everywhere in City Garden, swimming in fountains and splashing under limestone framed waterfalls, playing in front of a huge interactive LED video wall and climbing on any one of the almost two dozen sculptures installed throughout the park. The City Garden brings to downtown not only an entirely new, and enthusiastic, demographic, but a new formal and aesthetic framework. This isn’t to suggest that before the ribbon was cut and the crowds began exploring the grounds that downtown St. Louis didn’t have green space and sculpture. But the sum of these existing parts seldom congealed into much. City Garden changes that. Its 2.9 acres offer meandering gravel paths, hills, outlooks, multi-tiered water features, and enough trees to shade a visitor’s stroll virtually from edge to edge. Designed by Charlottesville, VA landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz, and financed locally by the Gateway Foundation, the $25 million park is divided into three distinct latitudinal bands, each taking cues from regional geographic and geological precedents. The Northern River Bluffs band features a chain of terraces topped by an airy grove of willow oak, honey locust, and serviceberry trees, a shallow wading pool and an adjacent glass pavilion which houses the Terrace View restaurant. An arching limestone wall defines the Middle Flood Plain band, and runs nearly the two-block length of the park. A narrow water basin framed by black granite tile is punctuated by a cascading waterfall at the eastern its end waterfall. Across the park’s central axis, a plaza features 102 in-ground water jets, each of which plays a role in multicolor- and time-coordinated choreography, and is the real epicenter of children’s play. The Southern River Terrace band separates the City Garden from Market Street and offers an unbroken stretch of Ginkgo trees and an 1,100 foot long granite seat wall that gracefully wends its way across the length of the park. Where the wall bends, small gardens of wildflowers and native grasses appear, providing some relatively secluded seating for visitors who may not be so inclined to explore the park’s many water features. Sculpture by renowned artists, including Mark di Suvero, Tony Smith, Aristide Maillol and Jim Dine, is liberally installed throughout each of the bands and operate like a series of magnetic poles, pulling the visitor deeper into the park. Downtown St. Louis has no version of New York’s Broadway to bisect its city blocks at oblique and irregular intervals, producing much needed relief from a relentless street grid. With the opening of City Garden, downtown has found a respite from the strictly orthogonal, an opportunity to take a step away from the rigorous logic of the existing city layout. Its shapes and gestures seem to relate less to the monolithic steel structures directly across the street than to the robust organic forms of Sullivan’s nearby Wainwright Building and the lavishly ornamented City Hall from the late 19th century. While its forms may be suggestive of a particular era of the past, the attention paid to sustainable planting strategies and responsible material use speaks clearly to our contemporary concerns. City Garden undoubtedly has the capacity to spur economic growth in its immediate vicinity and, perhaps more importantly, it also has the potential to change perceptions about its urban home.