Thanks to a new student-led effort, green is no longer just the color of the year, it’s also the new orange. When the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville embarked on a $68 million expansion three years ago, the plan set aside no money for landscape design. But a collaboration between five landscape architecture students from Iowa State University and eight offenders is bringing a touch of green behind bars.
Austin, Texas–based architects Dan Cheetham and Michelle Tarsney have given a new face to some of the city’s underutilized spaces: alleyways. Their one-of-a-kind community art installation, 20ft WIDE, seeks to resolve conflict between architecture, art, and humanism in order to create places of lasting value. The once forgotten alley between Ninth and Tenth streets, which connects Congress Avenue and Brazos Street in Downtown Austin, has been transformed into a collaborative space to bring attention to public urban places and foster discussion about the new possibilities for their uses
“On face value, in Southern California, getting rid of a freeway is sacrilegious,” said Brian Ulaszewski, executive director of nonprofit urban design studio, CityFabrick. Yet that’s just what officials in Long Beach are preparing to do, joining a growing number of international cities looking at highway removal. Using funds from the California Department of Transportation’s Environmental Justice Grant Program, the city, along with CityFabrick, will convert a one-mile stretch of the Terminal Island Freeway into a local road surrounded by more than 20 acres of parkland.
The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national philanthropic organization that provides monetary support for the shoring up of distressed communities, has pledged $100 million in capital to lead an effort to develop 15 low-income neighborhoods in the City of Los Angeles. Under the city’s Measure R, plans for expansion of light rail and rapid bus lines within these communities are currently underway. The monetary initiative by LISC will continue development beyond transit, expanding affordable housing, schools, businesses, and community facilities, and will complete market assessments of each neighborhood to strategize locale-specific investment.
Austin’s new temporary art installation, THIRST, is inspired by Texas’ ongoing periods of severe drought since 2011. According to studies conducted by Texas A&M Forest Services, over 300 million trees have succumbed to the state’s extremely dry conditions over the past three years. Located between the Pfluger Pedestrian Crossway and the Lamar Boulevard Bridge, a white-ghostly tree now hovers over Lady Bird Lake and is surrounded by a floating barrier.
Sound recordist Chris Watson has returned home for his most recent project: creating an aural map of the contemporary landscape of Sheffield, England. Two years ago, the Guardian reported, Museums Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery asked Watson to undertake the project, mapping the noises of a town he has not lived in for thirty years. Over the past 18 months, the audio artist made a series of ambisonic recordings of the natural and urban environments of the city. The result is a 36-minute sound journey, Inside the Circle of Fire: a Sheffield Sound Map, on current exhibition at the Gallery.
Los Angeles–based artist Cliff Garten has just completed his latest commission: Ribbons, a series of landscapes and sculptures in the courtyard of the Beaux-Arts 50 United Nations Plaza in San Francisco. The symmetrical design riffs on the existing structure’s classical uniformity by inserting a sculptural collage of paving, seating, fountains, and plantings into the building’s 20,000 square foot courtyard.
A year ago, Hurricane Sandy swept through the East coast—destroying thousands of homes, shutting down infrastructure, and knocking out substations—which resulted in $68 billion in damage. Yesterday, a day before the anniversary of the super storm, ten finalists in the Rebuild by Design competition unveiled their proposals to remake a more resilient coastline. The competition—launched by Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), among other participating organizations—called on the final teams to provide ideas for making the affected coastal areas more resilient to withstand future storms and climate change.
The Swedish Transport Administration launched a conceptual design competition in 2011 for a new bridge in Skuru, Sweden. The competition received great national and international response, including one fanciful proposal by Danish firm, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). The competition brief stated that the new bridge should adhere to high aesthetic standards and coincide with the existing bridge and the surrounding valuable cultural and natural landscape. Ingels deploys his characteristic hedonistic sustainability to bring nature onto the bridge itself.
The Village of Cold Spring, New York is set within a beautiful landscape along the Hudson River. Strewn about the bucolic landscape are the ruins of the West Point Foundry, begun by President James Madison for metal and brass production after the War of 1812. The 87-acre site housing the foundry was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the spring of 2011 and now, with partial funding assistance from a Preserve America grant and in collaboration with Scenic Hudson, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects has enhanced the historic locale as a sustainably-designed preservation park. Last week, the West Point Foundry Preserve Park officially opened to the public.
We don’t normally look to the New York Post for stories on architecture and planning. But while getting our shoes shined for tonights black tie Heritage Ball we had a chance to read the paper’s Late City Final. There in the middle of stories on JonBenet Ramsey, a lawyer “ripping a Jet Slugger,” and Lady Gaga’s thigh tattoo was a smattering of the latest in design spectacle.
Next to a story on Mitt Romney’s new 5,900 square foot “secret hideout” in Holiday, Utah (which will apparently feature a bookcase that swivels open and leads into hidden room), there is a long story on Midtown Manhattan street plazas that both Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota are apparently thinking of “yanking…out,” according to the paper.