Los Angeles’s alleys have a bad reputation. They’re perceived, rightly or wrongly, as dirty, dangerous places; havens for illicit activity. All that might change soon, thanks to a demonstration project planned for South Los Angeles’ South Park neighborhood. Called the Avalon Green Alley Network Demonstration, the project aims to transform at least eight segments of alleyway into an inviting pedestrian thoroughfare.
TransformKC is underway in Kansas City, and the dozens of projects on display are provoking discussion on topics from public transit to energy infrastructure.
A joint effort between the Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance (KCRTA) and the American Institute of Architects Kansas City (AIA KC) Young Architects Forum (YAF), TransformKC curated built and unbuilt work around the topic of “regional mobility” in an attempt to “inspire the public’s imagination.”
Last Thursday in his keynote address to the Transit Oriented Los Angeles conference, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the creation of the “Great Streets Initiative.” In an executive directive—his first since taking office on June 30—Garcetti outlined a program that “will focus on developing streets that activate the public realm, provide economic revitalization, and support great neighborhoods.” Continue reading after the jump.
At the end of September, the AIA released “Cities as Lab”, a report stipulating how innovative design can help strengthen modern urban America. Presented during the National Leadership Speaker Series in Washington D.C., it stressed how resilient cities are better suited to address upcoming social, economic, and physical challenges. The report is part of a larger framework looking to guide the international development agenda for decades to come. As a whole, it seeks to fuel the progress of critical sustainable programs around the world.
Minneapolis’ Peavey Plaza, a classic but poorly maintained “park plaza” (to borrow the term its designer, landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg, coined to describe it), has escaped demolition, preservationists announced Friday.
The Cultural Landscape Foundation said they’d reached a settlement to preserve the 1975 public space, ending a lawsuit brought by TCLF and the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota in June 2012. It awaits the signature of Mayor R.T. Rybak. Read More
In St. Paul, Minnesota, public art is valued as more than just decoration. Susannah Schouweiler of Walker Magazine reported that the city has been proactive in the encouragement of artist-city government collaboration for nearly three decades, long before initiatives like ArtPlace became popular. City Artist in Residence positions exist on the government council, City Art Collaboratory puts artists in conversation with scientists to embed themselves in the “ecology” of the city, and art start-ups are encouraging business growth on “Central Corridor.” This cross-disciplinary relationship is only expanding in what Schouweiler calls St. Paul’s “quiet revolution in public art” and the city is reaping the benefits.
Defying the standards of conventional landscaping, living walls take vegetated ground cover to the vertical extreme. For the past 30 years, French botanist and green enthusiast Patrick Blanc has made a quantum leap forward in the art of gardening by designing and building these living walls all over the globe. Blanc’s latest project—One Central Park Tower—is in Sydney, Australia, where nature’s tranquil features join forces with dynamic city life. The project is a collaborative effort between Blanc and Jean Nouvel. When completed, the major mixed-use urban renewal housing plan will boast the world’s tallest vertical garden.
As part of a larger vision a pair of skyscrapers in Manhattan’s Murray Hill neighborhood, JDS Development Group plans to build a new park at 626 First Avenue. The park will be situated alongside two luxury rental towers designed by SHoP Architects. The towers are scheduled to open in early 2016. While privately owned, the tranquil green space will be available for the public to enjoy. It will incorporate ginkgo trees, crisscrossed granite, and limestone paths, bike parking, seating and a water fountain, according to details revealed by JDS.
Across the country cities are revamping formerly industrial riverfronts. Plans are underway for Philadelphia’s Schuylkill, the Mississippi in Minneapolis, Town Branch in Lexington, and in downtown Chicago to reclaim urban rivers for mutual goals of ecology and urbanism. That hasn’t yet caught on in Youngstown, Ohio.
On September 9th, New Orleans unveiled an innovative proposal for flood management: the New Orleans Greater Water Plan. Designed by Dutch engineers and led by chief architect and planner David Waggonner of locally-based firm Waggonner & Ball Architects, the plan seeks to mitigate the damages caused during heavy rainfalls. The concept is simple: keeping water in pumps and canals instead of draining and pumping it out. The idea is to retain the water in order to increase the city’s groundwater, thereby slowing down the subsidence of soft land as it dries and shrinks.