Belle Isle is a 985-acre island in the middle of the Detroit River originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. While details are still being negotiated, it appears the plan could save the City of Detroit $8 million per year in operating costs. Though Detroit would still own the land, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources would operate the island as a state park, charging motorists an $11 entry fee. Bicyclists and pedestrians would still get free access.
The potential deal comes on the heels of some good news for Motor City urbanists. In addition to filling out the gaps in the city’s riverwalk, Detroit is moving forward with its M-1 Rail plan, as well as an ongoing $300 million renovation of its Cobo convention center.
Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of Central Park, spent nine formative years on a 130-acre farm on the southern shore of Staten Island. Olmsted’s involvement in agricultural experimentation and nature conversation allowed him to develop his own thoughts about open space and urban settings. At 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 19th join Alan G. Brake, executive editor of The Architect’s Newspaper, at the Museum of the City of New York as he moderates a discussion exploring how Olmsted’s time on Staten Island influenced the field of American landscape architecture and the timeless parks he designed for the city. Included on the panel will be Ryan J. Carey, co-curator of From Farm to City; Tatiana Choulika, Associate Partner at James Corner Field Operations; and Gus Jones, Snug Harbor Heritage Farm Manager. The panel is also in conjunction with the museum’s exhibition From Farm to City: Staten Island, 1661-2012.
Earlier this year AN looked at Midway Crossings, designed by James Carpenter with lighting designers Schuler Shook and landscape architects BauerLatoza Studio, a project that uses light and urban design to create a visual connection across Frederick Law Olmsted’s Midway Plaisance. The project, formerly known as the Light Bridges, is now nearing completion, and the result seems to accomplish the goal of better joining the main campus of the University of Chicago with its expanding facilities across the park. Tall light poles and wider sidewalks with planted, raised easements create an inviting place for pedestrians, and the University hopes the two crossings, at 59th and 60th Streets, will create focused centers of foot traffic, improving safety. Purists may feel that the University has co-opted public park space, but the design team’s use of light as the main element shows a light hand in the landscape. Read More
Chicago has been getting a lot of screentime over the last few years, standing in for Gothman in Batman Begins and enduring the wrath of the Transformers. A blockbuster of a slightly more highbrow sort is in the works, with an adaptation of Erik Larson’s bestseller The Devil in the White City. The Sun-Times and others reported this week that Leonardo DiCaprio will portray the serial killer H.H. Holmes. The story is set amid the preparations for 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition, and the story of construction of the fair grounds, one of the major developments in the City Beautiful movement, as well as the growth of Chicago as a whole, forms a parallel narrative. Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted play major parts in the story. Their roles have yet to be cast. Whoever lands the roles had better start growing their facial hair now. Read More