For Detroit citizens escaping to the beach just became as easy as taking a trip downtown. The city’s urban beach opened at the end of June in Campus Martius, transforming one Detroit’s downtown traffic islands on Woodward Avenue into actual island oasis complete with 150 tons of sand.
Downtown Detroit Partnership was motivated to bring a temporary beach to the neighborhood by France’s Paris Plages plan that creates temporary sandy strips along the Seine river. For Detroit the sandy retreat is integrated into the city’s greater revitalization efforts to create economic development and bring active and accessible public spaces into everyday life. And while there are no rolling waves crashing in on Detroit’s sand island it still offers a place to lunch, socialize, or just kick back. So if you’re in Detroit this summer throw on your flip-flops and head for the shores of Woodward Avenue.
Reprogramming the City
Boston Society of Architects Space
290 Congress Street, Suite 200
Through September 29
BSA Space presents a mixed-media exhibition, Reprogramming the City, curated by urban designer Scott Burnham. The works on display—videos, photographs, media stations, renderings, models—explore how the built environments of cities around the world are being retrofitted to accommodate new urban inhabitants and visitors. The exhibit also includes examples of urban infrastructure and systems that are being reimagined to reinvent a more functional urban landscape. There are 40 innovative examples from London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Hong Kong, and Boston that seek to develop new ways of urban design from within the city.
Dubbed “The Gateway,” the portion of State Street between Lake Street and Wacker Drive features shaded tables and chairs in what the city is calling its first “People Plaza.” Flowerboxes, banners, and bright red and blue colors lighten up the otherwise utilitarian median. While the spot’s central location is probably its greatest asset in attracting visitors, satisfying views of downtown’s architectural gems impart some elegance to the straightforward design.
The South Street Seaport‘s Pier 17 won’t be around much longer in its current form as it awaits a $200 million overhaul by SHoP Architects, but this summer, the neighborhood surrounding it has some exciting plans in store that bring the hottest trends in temporary urbanism to the waterfront site. Starting on Memorial Day Weekend, the See/Change program will bring film screenings, a SmorgasBar, and pop-up shipping container boutiques in hopes of enticing New Yorkers back to this once-trendy Lower Manhattan neighborhood.
Starting Memorial Day, Chicago’s Millennium Park will host the U.S. debut of a bright array of public design projects, many of which appeared at the 2012 Venice Biennale. Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good will feature 84 works, including more than a dozen for Chicago and several that also appeared in Venice.
After a long, cold winter, many of us are itching to lock away our wool coats, slip into our flip-flops, and dash to the beach. That’s especially the case for Matt Tomasulo, the artist behind the Raleigh Beach proposal that would transform the corner of West Hargett Street into an alluring summertime oasis in inland North Carolina. His Raleigh Beach rendering depicts sunbathers soaking up the sun while lying on the sand as swimmers cool-off in the pools.
Earlier this week, AN reported on the opening of Los Angeles’s first parklet in Eagle Rock. Thursday saw the arrival of the city’s second and third sidewalk-extending mini-parks, located on Spring Street in Downtown LA’s historic core. Created by architects/developers utopiad.org, designers Berry and Linné, and builders Hensel Phelps, the 40 foot by 60 foot parklets, located just a few parallel parking spots from each other, are impressively detailed and fitted, with wood planter boxes, minimalist bench seating, stone pavers, hardwood decking, and quirky touches like seat swings, astro turf, bar seats, colorful fences, foosball tables, and exercise bikes.
What happens when you gather four tactical urbanists in one room for a “Death Match”-style debate asking, “Is Small Big Enough?” You get a choir. The panel at the Flux Factory’s discussion last night was equipped with “smackdown cards” to challenge the views of their opponents, but they all agreed more often than they disagreed, that the small scale actions at the root of tactical urbanism—and this years US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Spontaneous Interventions—are just fine. What emerged from the packed house was a highly polished discussion, where minor differences were exposed, ground down, and made smooth.
New Yorkers like to believe that they’ve perfected stoop sitting culture, but half a world away in Auckland, New Zealand, experimental design collaborative Oh.No.Sumo has taken stoop sitting a step higher. As part of St. Paul Street Gallery‘s 2012 exhibition program of curatorial practice, Oh.No.Sumo created a small-scale tactical intervention forming an unexpected theater on a small stoop where the steps are the seats. Responding to the intersection’s lack of social life and the public’s retreat into smart-phone isolation, the Stairway Cinema creates a communal node and conversation piece.
Could 2011 be the year of the pedestrian in New York? Under the guidance of DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, NYC sidewalks will continue their slow march into the street next year as the city launches a major expansion of its “pop-up café” pilot program across its five boroughs.
The first pop-up café tested out in Lower Manhattan this year proved successful enough that Sadik-Khan has expanded the program, planning for up to 12 sidewalk extensions.