Redevelopment projects piling up along the Los Angeles River

View of the new Marsh Park (SMMC Archives)

View of the Marsh Park expansion (SMMC Archives)

Although the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has yet to secure funding for its planned $1 billion restoration of the Los Angeles River, projects along the waterway’s banks are sprouting up regularly, including parks, cafes, trails, and even new buildings. The latest, reported KCET, is the Elysian Valley Marsh Park, a three-acre landscape expansion on what was once an auto body complex in LA’s Elysian Valley neighborhood.

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Van Alen Institute Launches Competition Seeking Land Reuse Strategies for New Orleans

(Courtesy Van Alen)

(Courtesy Van Alen)

Earlier this month, the Van Alen Institute announced Future Ground, an international design competition that is hoping to attract fresh strategies for reusing the many vacant lots that dot New Orleans. The competition is seeking submissions from landscape designers, architects, planners, public policy wonks, and pretty much anybody in the business of shaping urban environments and is supported by the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA), which owns more than 2,000 vacant lots.

There are somewhere around 30,000 empty lots and abandoned structures throughout New Orleans today, most of them left by Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city in 2005. As the 10-year anniversary of the storm approaches, Future Ground is looking to create design and policy strategies capable of adapting to changes in density, demand, climate, and landscape in New Orleans over the next half-century in an effort to turn these abandoned landscapes into lasting resources.

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10,000 sunflowers help rehab a vacant lot in St. Louis

As part of Washington University's Land Lab program, a vacant lot in St. Louis was made into a sunflower field. (Richard Reilly)

As part of Washington University’s Land Lab program, a vacant lot in St. Louis was made into a sunflower field. (Richard Reilly)

On a long-abandoned lot in St. Louis’ near north side, 10,000 sunflowers are sucking up the heavy metals that have helped stall development there for “longer than neighbors care to remember,” reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The project is called Sunflower+. It’s one of the winners of St. Louis’ inaugural “Sustainable Land Lab” competition, which was organized by Washington University in St. Louis and city officials. Over the next two years, the design team will cultivate and harvest four rotations of summer sunflowers and winter wheat on the vacant lot, hopefully preparing it for redevelopment in the future.

Continue reading after the jump.

Brooklyn Bridge Park unveils 14 tower designs amid community debate

Proposal from Alloy Design + Bjarke Ingels Group. (Courtesy Alloy Design + Bjarke Ingels Group)

Proposal from Alloy Design + Bjarke Ingels Group. (Courtesy Alloy Design + Bjarke Ingels Group)

All the top names in New York City architecture are vying for a piece of Brooklyn Bridge Park, but whether any of their designs will be realized still remains to be seen. As community groups try to block Mayor de Blasio’s controversial plans to bring affordable housing to Michael Van Valkenburgh‘s celebrated park, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation has unveiled 14 design proposals for two coveted development sites on Pier 6. Those proposals were unveiled just hours before a Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation meeting that was packed with community members voicing their strong opposition to any new development in the park.

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Parklet Down! Motorist Rams Downtown Los Angeles’ First Parklet

la-parklet-destroyed

The scene. (oneironaut11 / Instagram via LAist)

It seems like just yesterday that Los Angeles opened its first downtown Parklet, a sparkling new design on Spring Street by architects utopiad.org, designers Berry and Linné, and builders Hensel Phelps. But a few weeks ago that design (already getting a little shabby from weather and use) was rammed and badly compromised by an errant motorist, leaving it closed, and leaving downtown without a parklet to speak of more than two years after the city’s parklet program began.

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Neutra and Alexander’s Orange Coast College buildings facing threat

Neutra and Alexander's Business Education Building (Les Katow)

Neutra and Alexander’s Business Education Building (Les Katow)

Here at AN we’ve seen our share of Richard Neutra tear downs in recent years. The latest possible victim is Neutra and Robert Alexander’s campus-wide buildings at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, which are being threatened by the school’s bond-supported Vision 2020 plan (pdf). If the plan passes the school could tear down the duo’s classrooms, library, business education building, and science wing, as well as extensive landscaping by famed landscape architect Garrett Eckbo, in favor of new buildings, an Urban Street, and a Grand Lawn. The undertaking would be largely funded by 2012’s $698 million Bond Measure R, and total about 250,000 square feet of new construction.

Continue reading after the jump.

Bittertang Farms’ organic amphitheater sprouts from straw in Lake Forest, Illinois

Buru Buru amphitheatre at the Ragdale Ring in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Bittertang Farms)

Buru Buru amphitheatre at the Ragdale Ring in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Bittertang Farms)

Work wrapped up this summer on Bittertang Farms’ installation at Ragdale, the nonprofit artists’ community in Chicago’s North Shore suburbs, and true to its plans the straw amphitheater springs forth from a lush hillside in Lake Forest, Illinois.

Continue reading after the jump.

New York City and Investors Make Multi-Million Dollar Bet on Sunset Park in Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Army Terminal. (Flickr / Der_Krampus)

The Brooklyn Army Terminal. (Flickr / Der_Krampus)

With tens of millions of dollars, New York City hopes to jumpstart a transformation of Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood into a hub for artists and tech companies. As the Wall Street Journal reported, the city is spending $100 million to transform part of the Brooklyn Army Terminal—an old navy-supply hub—into space for light manufacturing. That investment is just one piece of the millions of dollars flowing into the neighborhood from real estate investors.

While the money will be significant, giving new life to Sunset Park’s industrial corridor will take more than artisanal pickles and startups. It will take great public space and significant improvements to the neighborhood’s streetscape. At this point, however, it’s not clear if that type of investment is in the cards.

Continue reading after the jump.

West 8 unveils plans for massive park in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon

West Kowloon Cultural District (Courtesy West 8)

West Kowloon Cultural District (Courtesy West 8)

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) has released concept images for their waterfront park in the West Kowloon Cultural District. Once installed, the park will be a breath of fresh air (both literally and figuratively) for residents in the urban sprawl of Hong Kong, China. Read More

MAD Architects, Studio Gang, VOA to design Chicago’s George Lucas Museum

The lakefront site, outlined in white, proposed for Chicago's George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. (Courtesy City of Chicago from Lucas Museum task force report)

The lakefront site, outlined in white, proposed for Chicago’s George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. (Courtesy City of Chicago from Lucas Museum task force report)

MAD Architects, the Chinese designers known for their organically curving buildings from Inner Mongolia to Canada, will work with two local firms—including Studio Gang Architects—to bring filmmaker George Lucas’ new Chicago museum to life. Read More

On View> Fujiko Nakaya: Veil at the Philip Johnson Glass House

(Courtesy Philip Johnson Glass House)

(Courtesy Philip Johnson Glass House)

Fujiko Nakaya: Veil
Philip Johnson Glass House
199 Elm Street, New Canaan, CT
Through November 30

For its 65th anniversary, Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, is hosting an exhibition by Fujiko Nakaya that utilizes the historic site itself. Veil shrouds the Glass House as well as the surrounding landscape with fog by running fresh water through high-pressure pumps. The fog will be heavily released then dissipated at set time intervals to obscure the visibility of the area and create a unique experience for visitors.

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Michael Van Valkenburgh’s new Toronto park is a stormwater treatment plant in disguise

Corktown Common Pavilion. (Courtesy ARUP)

Corktown Common Pavilion. (Courtesy ARUP)

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) has taken its talents up north to Canada with the new Corktown Common park in Toronto. The 18-acre public space—which is part of the burgeoning, 80-acre West Don Lands neighborhood—was created with Arup and developed by Waterfront Toronto, the government-funded corporation spearheading the revitalization of the city’s waterfront.

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