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Archive for the ‘Public Spaces’ Category

Joe Weishaar & Sabin Howard / U.S. World War I Centennial Commission

Winning WWI Memorial design by Joe Weishaar & Sabin Howard / U.S. World War I Centennial Commission

Houston’s Big Green TransformationThe Huffington Post, 1/21/16
“The car-centric, zoning-averse city is undergoing a monumental transformation that is being led by landscape architecture–transformation at a scope and scale unseen in the U.S. in more than a century.”

7 Picturesque Public Parks Soon to Sprout Around the WorldForbes, 1/23/16
“Now underway on Governors Island, ‘The Hills’—designed by Dutch landscape firm West 8—will comprise of four mounds made entirely of construction debris and clean-fill material, blanketed with over 860 trees and 43,000 shrubs.”

How This Pop-up Park Engages an Excited CommunityThe Landscape Architect’s Network, 1/25/16
“When designing a site, it is necessary to research and analyze existing conditions in the beginning, but after a project is implemented, natural and human processes usually change the landscape in unexpected ways.”

Landscape Architect Sara Zewde’s Urban Monument Design Has Brazil BuzzingTadias, 1/26/16
“In the spring of 2011, Sara Zewde was on her way to Harvard’s Graduate School of Design to study landscape architecture when she found herself in the middle of a movement to preserve a historic Afro-Brazilian heritage site in the Pequena Africa (little Africa) neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.”

World War One Centennial Commission Moves Forward, CautiouslyThe Washington Post, 1/26/16
“The World War One Centennial Commission has decided to go forward and endorse a winning design in the competition to create a new national memorial to the Great War at Pershing Park.”

WWI Centennial Commission Selects “The Weight of Sacrifice” for Memorial in Washington, D.C.Architectural Record, 1/27/16
“The United States got in and out of World War I in well under two years. The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission hopes it can move as quickly.”

Recreational, Scenic Wetlands Planned for Inner Harbor The Baltimore Sun, 1/28/16
“Three years from now, a green oasis of floating wetlands, bay grasses and terraced edges leading down to the water will greet visitors to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, under a plan unveiled today by officials of the National Aquarium.”

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Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana / Lacamo.org

Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana / Lacamo.org

Five cities, both large and small, and eight states were winners of the first-ever National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC), which was organized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Rockefeller Foundation. Communities impacted by major disasters in the past few years will receive $1 billion to develop “resilient infrastructure and housing projects.” While many projects boost resilience for coastal or river communities, there are also inland projects that aim to protect communities against fire and flooding. A majority of the projects include multi-use green infrastructure — systems that both provide flood prevention and control and public green spaces. Winning projects also focus on transit, housing, and jobs. Some 40 communities submitted proposals.

In a conference call, HUD Secretary Julian Castro said this investment in resilience will help communities become “safer, stronger, and richer” as they adapt to climate change, which is the “great challenge of the 21st century.” The past few years, he said, have seen “extreme and devastating drought, wildfires, flooding, and tornadoes.” And with 2015 now just confirmed as the hottest year on record, extreme climate events will only get worse.

Here’s a brief overview of the state and city winners, organized by the amounts they won:

States:

Virginia: $120,549,000 for the Ohio Creek Watershed and Coastal Resilience Laboratory and Accelerator Center, which will develop “distributed green infrastructure projects, such as rain barrels and gardens, and combine them with coastal shoreline development to address flooding due to storm surge and torrential rains.”

Iowa: $96,887,177 for the Iowa Watershed Approach, an innovative program, which seeks to create local “watershed management authorities” that will assess hydrological and watershed conditions and create management plans for a more sustainable agricultural system.

Louisiana: $92,629,249 for its Louisiana Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments Program, which aims to protect coastal wetlands, retrofit communities threatened by flooding, and reshape high-ground areas. The funds will also help a tribal community on Isle de Jean Charles–whose land has submerged by an amazing 98 percent since 1955–move to a new location.

California: $70,359,459 to pilot its Community and Watershed Resilience program in Tuolumne county, which was hit by wildfires in 2013. The program aims to create a environmentally and economically sustainable model for forest and watershed health that can be rolled out across the state.

Connecticut: $54,277,359 for a pilot program in the city of Bridgeport to test the state’s broader Connecticut Connections Coastal Resilience Plan, which seeks to connect “economically-isolated” coastal communities through a mix of green and gray infrastructure.

Tennessee: $44,502,374 for the state’s Rural by Nature, a federal, state, and local initiative to create resilient rural communities along the Mississippi River, which will restore two miles of degraded floodplain.

New York: $35,800,000 for public housing resiliency pilot projects throughout the state, which will test efforts to build resilience into low-income multi-family housing.

New Jersey: $15,000,000 for a regional resilience planning grant program, which will help local communities create their own plans to address their vulnerability to flooding.

Cities:

New York City: $176,000,000 for coastal resilience in Lower Manhattan and efforts to protect public housing projects.

New Orleans: $141,260,569 for the city’s first-ever Resilience District in Gentilly, which will include coastal restoration, new parks and green streets, and workforce development initiatives.

Minot, North Dakota: $74,340,770 for an integrated approach to manage climate change and flooding.

Shelby County, Tennessee: $60,445,163 for its Greenprint for Resilience program, which will build a connective set of green infrastructure projects to increase protection against future flooding while creating trails and recreation areas.

Springfield, Massachusetts: $17,056,880 for an Urban Watershed Resilience Zone, which will focus on jobs, restoring affordable housing, and the creation of a new distributed heat and power plant in the event of a grid failure.

Green infrastructure, which involves using designed natural systems to provide a range of ecosystem services, is a primary area of investment, said Harriet Tregoning, who leads resilience efforts at HUD. “Lots of the projects feature green infrastructure. But we used a benefit-cost analysis to ensure that green infrastructure offers more than one benefit–not just stormwater management.” As Tregoning explained, HUD encouraged the project teams to come up with ways that “green infrastructure for stormwater managment or flood control could double as a park or greenway, bicycle or walking path.” The goal is to “capture all the social co-benefits.”

Christian Gabriel, ASLA national design director for landscape architecture at the General Services Administration (GSA) and one of the evaluators of the proposals, argued that the process also encouraged new approaches to deal with these complex, multi-faceted problems: “Great planning and design necessarily cross political and geographic jurisdictions. When multi-purpose projects are conceived from inception as trans-disciplinary, they more effectively act as force multipliers in communities.”

He added that the “competition asked proposers to not only provide compelling physical solutions but also propose new working relationships and create resilient models for collaborative work between governments and civil society.”

While the $1 billion is a drop in the bucket in terms of what’s needed, NDRC is an important expansion of the Rebuild by Design competition, which dedicated $920 million to improve the resilience of the communities hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy, as it may show this competitive financing model can work nationally as well. The NDRC involved some 25 federal agencies, including 100 experts, and it took 16 months to review the proposals and select the winners. What’s needed in the future is a scaled-up annual process, which is something we hope the next administration will take up.

Many more communities need help with resilience, or there will soon be more Isle de Jean Charles, more looking for a new home.

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Globetrotters by Agence TER and SALT Landscape Architects

Globetrotters by Agence TER and SALT Landscape Architects

Four design teams have been announced as finalists in the competition to remake Pershing Square Park in downtown Los Angeles. Pershing Square Renew, the public-private partnership behind the revamp, has whittled the finalists down from 54 entries and 10 semi-finalist teams. According to Dezeen, Eduardo Santana, executive director of Pershing Square Renew, said: “the world-class firms selected by our jury represent a huge range. They include global stars and local unknowns.”

The 5-acre park has seen many iterations over its nearly 150 year history; the latest was created in 1994 by Mexican architect and landscape architect Ricardo Legorreta and American landscape architect Laurie Olin, FASLA. Development on a new park is expected to begin later this year.

Here’s a brief overview of the four finalists, who largely present concepts rather than actual designs at this stage:

Globetrotters: This proposal, developed by European firm Agence TER and local Los Angeles firm SALT Landscape Architects, calls for “folding down the walls and edges of the existing park to reconnect Pershing Square with its immediate surrounding context, creating a seamless flow between, through, and across the city” (see image above). The design concept features a “smart canopy,” a “wind garden” for children, a “scent garden,” and a day and nighttime farmer’s market.

Landscape starchitect: James Corner Field Operations and Frederick

Landscape starchitect: James Corner Field Operations and Frederick Fisher & Partners

Landscape Starchitect: From James Corner Field Operations, the creators of the High Line Park in New York City and Los Angeles-based Frederick Fisher & Partners, this proposal seeks to create an “urban oasis and outdoor destination for the city — a place of both respite and event; both garden and theater.” The team sees the park as a node in a greater “cultural loop” that links historic landmarks and a key point in an “art and culture walk.” The proposal also calls for bringing the park all the way to its edges, minimizing any barriers to access.

Local Force by SWA Group and Morphosis Architects

Local Force by SWA Group and Morphosis Architects

Local Force: This proposal created by international landscape architecture firm SWA and Thom Mayne’s Los Angles-based practice Morphosis imagines an “eco-topia,” a “net-positive” park that provides the “water resources necessary for irrigation, sanitation, and recreation through stormwater collection and a demonstration facility for sewer mining.” The team also focuses on improving access, particularly for pedestrians and bicyclists, and the need to create a sustainable business model for the park’s long-term upkeep.

Wild Card by wHY and Civitas

Wild Card by wHY and Civitas

Wild Card: New York-based wHY architects and landscape architecture firm Civitas offer a vision of a new Pershing Squark Park that is a “social laboratory, a socio-cultural hub in an urban natural oasis.” Mark Johnson, FASLA, founder of Civitas, writes: “our goal is to generate experiences that you feel inside, that mean something to you; with social interactions that you remember and share with others.” They want to incorporate “food culture and food security” considerations into their design as well.

The four finalists are now further fleshing out their design proposals in the lead up to a public presentation in March, 2016. Public participation is seen as central to the process, and comments will be invited for the next stage as well. The 9-person jury includes landscape architect Janet Rosenberg, FASLA, and Michael Shull, general manager, Los Angeles department of recreation and parks.

Los Angeles city councillor Jose Huizar, who initiated the revamp of the park and is also on the jury, said: “Pershing Square is one step closer to once again becoming the focal point of life, commerce, and civic engagement in downtown Los Angeles.”

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Rooftop Garden in Dumbo, NYC / Architectural Digest

Can a Professionally Designed Garden Add Value to Your Home? The Huffington Post, 1/4/15
“This year marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Capability Brown – the landscape architect renowned for designing over 170 country house estates and gardens during the 18th century. His elegant style of undulating parkland and serpentine lakes can still be seen at dozens of locations, including Blenheim Palace and Stowe.”

See a Rooftop Garden in Brooklyn Inspired by the High Line Architectural Digest, 1/6/15
“Few cities in the world have real estate as expensive as New York’s. For its millions of residents, the idea of certain amenities, such as a private garden—must be quickly abandoned. Yet one apartment building in Brooklyn’s trendy Dumbo neighborhood is creatively changing all of that.”

The New Dolores Park Will Be Pristine—But Can It Last? Curbed, 1/7/15
“It was another beautiful morning in Dolores Park, accompanied by the soothing sound of jackhammers. City officials—including Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor Scott Wiener, and Dolores Park’s Project Manager Jacob Gilchrist—went along on a preview hard hat tour (sans hard hats—it’s mostly just grass out there, after all) of the park’s south end to show off the final phase of the park’s $20.5 million renovation.”

To Preserve and Protect: Working with ArboristsMetropolis, 1/7/15
“As landscape architects we love trees! Be they pre-existing or newly planted, trees are often the backbone to a site design. Mature, statuesque trees add invaluable character to a place and are often a site’s greatest asset or attraction.”

Field Mighty Real The Architect’s Newspaper, 1/11/15
“Once a quarry, then a landfill, the property at Circle Acres Nature Preserve in the Montopolis neighborhood of Austin was purchased by Ecology Action of Texas with the goal of transforming the site into a nature preserve and park.”

Let’s Talk Water Planetizen, 1/12/15
“It is important to note that landscape architects have been leaders in sustainable design since long before it became a hot topic. Environmental stewardship is a core value of the profession, and designing with water in a responsible and beautiful manner is what we do.”

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Bus rapid transit (BRT) in Bogota, Colombia / Scania.com

Bus rapid transit (BRT) in Bogota, Colombia / Scania.com

“The Paris climate agreement didn’t create the commitments we need to limit global warming to a 2 degree Celsius increase,” said Laura Tuck, vice president for sustainable development at the World Bank at Transforming Transportation, a conference in Washington, D.C. “But it was an awesome achievement. All 190 countries — everybody — are in.” All countries are now focused on how to achieve a net-zero carbon world by 2050. For Andrew Steer, president of the World Resource Institute (WRI), the success of the Paris climate meeting, and the long-term movement towards the ambitious 2050 goals, signifies the “renaissance of moral imperative around the world.”

Tuck and Steer called for undertaking “disruptive approaches” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from the transportation sector, which accounts for the second largest share of energy-related emissions.

On the goods side, this involves shifting freight transportation from roads to rails and waterways. “Freight logistics for transporting goods needs to be greener.” Suresh Prabhu, minister of railways for India, concurred, explaining how India, with the World Bank’s help, is investing billions in a new, renewable energy-powered regional rail network to better facilitate the movement of goods.

And urban transportation was described as critical to achieving a sustainable future. This is because more than half of the world’s population — who create 80 percent of global GDP, consume 70 percent of the world’s energy, and expend around the same percentage of its GHGs — are found in cities, and they can either get around in cars on in a more sustainable manner.

While many of the world’s largest cities are busy retrofitting themselves with more sustainable transportation networks, it may not be too late to do things the right way the first time around with the world’s exploding second-tier cities. “We need to get to those second-tier cities that are growing fast. We need to get to them early and get them to invest in ‘live, work, play’ environments,” said Tuck.

A key part of this strategy in developing countries is to expand street-level connectivity; invest more in public transportation, like bus rapid transit (BRT), subways, and light rail; and create a regulatory environment that enables shared transportation, including mobility on demand services like Uber and Lyft and shared car and bike services.

In addition to their many environmental benefits, these sustainable sources of urban transportation can be major job creators. Just to use one example, Steer said in Bogota, Colombia, some 40,000 workers are directly involved in keeping their city’s BRT system working, with another 55,000 indirectly involved. As Dario Rais Lopes, national secretary of transport and urban mobility for Brazil explained, his government is now forcing all of its 5,600 cities with a population of more than 20,000 to come up with a plan for moving to a BRT system, so imagine the number of jobs there. And then think about all of the jobs related to constructing sustainable transportation infrastructure. In an example from the U.S., complete streets, which provide equally as safe access for pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles, were found to create far more jobs than traditional road construction projects.

Copenhagen, Denmark, was held up as a model of disruption in urban transportation. Morten Kabell, mayor of technical and government affairs for the city, explained how the city transformed itself from a car-centric city 40 years ago to the Copenhagen of today, where more than 50 percent of the population commutes by bicycle, even from the suburbs, while just 20 percent use public transportation, and the rest drive. Copenhagen has its priorities straight: when snow storms hit, the city actually plows the bike lanes first, before streets for cars. But Kabell added that “Copenhageners aren’t so idealistic. They bike because it’s the cheapest, fastest, and easiest way to get around.” And the city has worked hard for decades to disrupt the rein of cars.

Copenhageners biking in winter / My City Way

Copenhageners biking in winter / My City Way

Kabell explained that Copenhagen, one of the world’s richest cities, “had to change in order to set this example. Only a few decades ago, we were both totally car-dependent and on the verge of bankruptcy.” City leadership believes going green is what saved the city from financial ruin and ensures its continued success. Today, instead of allowing big box stores only accessible by car, they enable small, local stores for bicyclists. And now Copenhagen is only upping the ante: they are investing $1 billion in wind turbines in the city, with the goal of being totally carbon neutral by 2025.

And if Copenhagen’s well-plowed, wintry bike lanes sound disruptive, how about “taxibots,” which are autonomous vehicles shared by one of more riders at the same time. Cities could begin to get serious about taxibots, said Jose Viegas, the head of the International Transport Forum (ITF), which just did an intriguing modeling exercise on what these vehicles could mean for Lisbon, Portugal. ITF thinks taxibots would reduce overall car use, eliminate the vast majority of parking spaces, but could also increase total vehicle miles traveled.

Taxibots study / ITF

Taxibots study / ITF

Still, to put all of this in perspective, Ani Dasgupta, director, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities at WRI, said the vast majority of the world’s transportation spending is still on car-based infrastructure. He said with increased political pressure, national energy policymakers now must really think again before approving a new coal-fired power plant. Dasgupta believes the world will have really turned the corner when national leaders feel the same pressure when they want to build a new highway. “But we aren’t there yet.”

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LA+ Pleasure / LA+

LA+ Pleasure / LA+

A recent New York Times money column encourages financial planning for play. Architect Bjarke Ingels pitches projects of “hedonistic sustainability.” The second issue of LA+, a new journal from University of Pennsylvania’s landscape architecture department, sets aside questions of saving money or the earth to focus exclusively on pleasure for its own sake. What if landscape architects ignored the perils of inundation, extinction, and urban anomie in favor of the pleasures of the flesh? The authors of the short piece, “Why so serious, landscape architecture?,” argue that such pieties help neither the earth nor the profession. The journal’s collection of articles guide us through an alternative landscape of leisure and sensory delight.

To understand why this approach feels so transgressive, we can look back to Ancient Greece and Rome, and the Stoic view of pleasure as “something lowly and servile, feeble and perishable, which has its base and residence in the brothels and drinking houses” (so said Seneca). Yet an article on the urbanism of pleasure in Rome shows, to the contrary, how that city’s landscape developed as a space of leisure as opposed to an arena of virtue. Contributions go on to describe the central role of pleasure to the shaping of cities, from Rome back then to New York, Hong Kong, and Singapore today. They render pleasure as eternally fundamental to the development of urban form and experience, but also as something whose parameters are constantly changing.

But the larger forces behind the evolution of leisure go unexamined here. For example, how have we gone from the rise of pleasure-driving to new designs for a pedestrian-friendly Las Vegas strip?

Las Vegas Street Signs / Stefan Al and Cricket Day

Las Vegas Street Signs / Stefan Al and Cricket Day

Critique is no fun. Yet some contributors hint at the role of pleasure in combating contemporary landscapes of austerity or promoting joyful coexistence. The strongest articles are the historical ones, tracing the linkages between pleasure and the development of Rome, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and New Orleans. All the landscapes in question here are overwhelmingly urban. The spaces that support our pleasure through extraction—of diamonds or opium poppies—make only a brief appearance. So does the landscape of outer space travel, perhaps pleasure’s final frontier.

In a triumph of pleasure over method, the journal itself takes a wunderkammer approach, more interested in the joy of collecting than in the pursuit of science or editorial logic. LA+ bills itself an interdisciplinary journal of landscape architecture, and indeed, design projects and interviews here share space with articles in fields ranging widely from philosophy to sociology to marketing to neuroscience.

While it is heartening to see such a drive to engage with knowledge beyond the field of landscape architecture, there is little through line from one contribution to the next. A stronger organization could help guide readers and direct a path through such historical, geographical, and disciplinary variety. Issue 3 will be dedicated to “tyranny.” Perhaps the editors will bring an iron hand to their task.

This guest post is by Mariana Mogilevich, a historian of architecture and urbanism, whose research focuses on the design and politics of the public realm.

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OY/YO sculpture by Deborah Kass / Etienne Frossard/Courtesy of Two Trees Management Co, Vulture

OY/YO sculpture by Deborah Kass / Etienne Frossard/Courtesy of Two Trees Management Co, Vulture

New York Has Solved the Problem of Public Art. But at What Cost? Vulture, 12/17/15
“It is such a simple joy to feel the real rhythms of the city and see this perfect public sculpture, especially in an age when public space seems more and more turned by developers into private arcades for the privileged.”

Obama Center Chooses Architects Strong On Modernism, Innovative Thinking The Chicago Tribune, 12/21/15
“I also wonder when — or if — landscape architects will be brought into the process. Their involvement seems crucial, given that the presidential center will be built in an Olmsted park.”

Four Finalists Announced for Revamp of Pershing Square in Downtown LA Dezeen Magazine, 12/22/15
“Architecture studio Morphosis and landscape architect James Corner Field Operations are among the four teams that have been shortlisted to redesign one of Los Angeles’ oldest public parks.”

Building a More Resilient Landscape With PolycultureDallas News, 12/23/15
“Much research using native plants has focused on conserving and restoring open lands, but corporations, hospitals, restaurants, housing subdivisions and college campuses have many open areas — some are acres, others are small beds outside a door.”

The Green Shoots of Gardening in the UAE The National, 12/24/15
“In the Middle East the winter months are a time of growth and abundance in the garden and represent the peak of the growing season.”

Peter Latz: Rehabilitating Postindustrial Landscapes – The New York Times, 12/30/15
“The landscape architect Peter Latz grew up amid the ruins of postwar Germany in Saarland, a coal- and steel-producing region whose bombed-out factories and mines would inspire his work.”

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Madrid + Natural / Arup via Arch Daily

Lowlife The Architect’s Newspaper, 12/2/15
“Even the worst gardener knows that a plant needs light to grow. And yet, in defiance of basic biology, a lush garden grows inside a windowless warehouse on the Lower East Side.”

Making and Taking: 2015’s Notable Developments in Landscape Architecture  – The Huffington Post, 12/3/15
“For broken, derelict, and underutilized urban space, 2015 was a good year. In North American cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Toronto and elsewhere, landscape architects contributed to the ‘urban renaissance’ through excellent design, thoughtful urban planning, and prescient environmental management.”

Buffalo Build – The Architect’s Newspaper, 12/7/15
“Amid Houston’s rapidly crowding skyline and population, landscape architecture firm SWA Group is carving out green space in Buffalo Bayou Park, a $58 million remediation overhaul of a 160-acre, 2.3-mile-long public park. Completed in October, the updated park west of downtown now features hiking and biking trails, a dog park, a visitor’s center, an outdoor concert space, gardens, picnic areas, play areas, and event spaces.”

A Seawall That Proves That Strong Infrastructure Can Be Pretty, TooCitylab, 12/9/15
“Seawalls are typically some of the most brutish and aesthetically gross pieces of water infrastructure around, but Metamorphous, by Paul Sangha Landscape Architecture, turns a seawall into a 200-foot-long piece of public art.”

Arup Releases Report Envisioning a Greener Madrid Arch Daily, 12/14/15
“Arup’s Foresight + Research + Innovation and Madrid sustainability, master planning, and landscape architecture teams have released Madrid + Natural, a series of guidelines to address climate change within the city.”

A Park to Sop Up Pollutants Before They Flow Into the Gowanus Canal The New York Times, 12/15/15
“At the foot of Second Street in Brooklyn, hard by the Gowanus Canal, is a tiny green space with a very big job.”

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Sherbourne Commons /

Sherbourne Commons / ASLA 2013 General Design Honor Award. Sherbourne Common / Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg

A newly expanded and now mobile-friendly version of ASLA’s Designing Our Future: Sustainable Landscapes online exhibition highlights real-world examples of sustainable landscape design and its positive effects on the environment and quality of life. These spaces use natural systems to provide ecosystem services, transform untapped assets into vital community spaces, and create new economic opportunities — they ultimately provide significant environmental, social, and economic value.

Ten new case studies that range from a coastal ecological restoration project to a volunteer-run urban farm illustrate just what sustainable landscapes are and how they provide important benefits on a variety of scales. In the process, the case studies, written in clear, understandable language, also introduce users to what exactly landscape architects do.

The new case studies were carefully selected to show a diversity of landscape types and scales and reflect geographical diversity. There are now a total of 40 case studies.

New case studies include:

Burbank Water & Power Eco-campus, Burbank, California, a sustainable landscape for employees and visitors in the midst of a working power plant.

Drs. Julian and Raye Richardson Apartments, San Francisco, California, a safe and welcoming apartment complex, with beautiful design elements, for the chronically homeless.

Lafayette Greens, Detroit, Michigan, a volunteer-run urban farm in downtown Detroit where 800 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables are grown every year.

Living Breakwaters, New York, New York, an innovative coastal ecological restoration project that won $60 million in the Rebuild by Design competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Pete V. Domenici U.S. Courthouse Sustainable Landscape Renovation, Albuquerque, New Mexico, an underused plaza that has become a model of sustainable landscape design in the desert.

Quarry Garden, Shanghai, China, a derelict, polluted quarry that was transformed into a garden visited by more than 3 million people in its first year.

Sherbourne Common, Toronto, Cananda, a multi-functional park and wastewater treatment plant that includes an underground Ultraviolet (UV) water purification system.

The Steel Yard, Providence, Rhode Island, an abandoned steel manufacturing facility that has become a beloved community arts space.

Sunnylands Center and Gardens, Rancho Mirage, California, an extension to the Annenberg Estate that captures every drop of stormwater, with some collected in underground cisterns for later use.

Woodland Discovery Playground, Memphis, Tennessee, an immersion in nature play for children that features surfaces made of recycled athletic shoes.

The Web site also 30 other case studies; 10 animations created by Daniel Tal, ASLA, using Google Sketchup; and companion sustainability education resources that enable users to explore sustainable design concepts in greater depth.

Designing Our Future: Sustainable Landscapes was originally made possible with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

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A nighttime section of Under Gardiner at Strachan Avenue / Project: Under Gardiner

A nighttime section of Under Gardiner at Strachan Avenue / Project: Under Gardiner

Toronto will soon transform the space beneath one of its elevated expressways into a multi-use public park and trail system. Project: Under Gardiner, situated beneath a mile of the Gardiner Expressway, will connect seven neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city, including Toronto’s revitalized waterfront. Drawing comparison to Miami’s Underline, Under Gardiner, designed by urban designer Ken Greenberg with Adam Nicklin and Marc Ryan of Public Work, is centered around a bike and pedestrian trail that will stretch from Stratchan Avenue to Spadina Avenue.

Although significantly shorter than the 10 mile-long Underline, the trail is equally connective to surrounding trails and green spaces. Under Gardiner will link to an extension of the West Toronto Railpath, expected to be completed in 2018, as well as a pedestrian foot bridge extending from a new series of parks near Fort York Boulevard, which will begin construction in 2016.

render-summer

Under Gardiner / Project: Under Gardiner

Under Gardiner is more than a trail. The columns holding up the expressway will serve as dividers for a series of up to 55 covered “outdoor rooms” that will host a “kaleidoscope of year-round destination and activities including gardens, an adventure playground, public markets, art fairs and exhibitions, festivals, theatrical and musical performances,” according to a press release.

More specifically, the western portion of the project near Strachan Avenue is slated as a “Creative Action Hub,” with maker spaces and galleries, as well as urban agriculture plots. The central portion between Fort York and June Callwood Park will become a more “Passive Hub” with contemplative spaces, native plantings, and gardens that provide winter interest. To the east, near the Waterfont, community amenities such as public markets, fitness areas, and community gathering spaces, are the priority. According to The Globe and Mail, “the designers imagine that later phases of the project could include buildings, such as an ‘innovation hub’ of art, design and fabrication studios.”

A view of wintertime at Wintertime at Fort York Boulevard / Project: Under Gardiner

A view of wintertime at Wintertime at Fort York Boulevard / Project: Under Gardiner

Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway has long been the subject of controversy. It has been on the chopping block for more than twenty years, with the Toronto City Council finally voting against tearing it down in June. At one point it was even envisioned as a $600 million dollar High Line-style park. However, a $25 million donation from philanthropists Judy and Wil Matthews – the entire cost of the project — makes Under Gardiner much more feasible as a “suture for the city’s downtown neighborhoods and the waterfront,” according to The Star.

The city is currently investigating if Under Gardiner can be managed by a non-profit park conservancy that would work in conjunction with the city. Toronto’s park and public spaces have never seen this sort of partnership nor a donation this large, according to The Globe and Mail.

The Toronto City Council will decide in early December “whether they should accept the $25 million” and begin work on the project in 2016, according to Citylab. One of the first steps after approval will be giving the project a new name that is “uniquely Torontonian,” through a “Reclaim the Name” campaign.

Watch a video about the project:

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