Little, leafy-green patches are sprouting up over Los Angeles as part of the city’s “50 Parks Initiative,” a public-private program designed to revive some of the city’s neediest, most densely populated communities. To date, there are actually 53 of these pocket parks planned, with one of the first parks, 49th Street Park in South Los Angeles, opening earlier this month. When completed, the small parks combined will cover a total of 170 acres, and many of the individual parks will be under an acre.
Not only are the parks small, but they will be somewhat self-sufficient. Requiring only four to six months to build, these micro-recreation areas will be decked out with “no mow” grass, drought tolerant plants, smart irrigation, and solar-powered, self-contained waste bins that can hold five times the average amount of trash. And to keep intruders out after hours, automatic time-lock gates and solar motion-activated cameras will be installed.
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An intelligent, temporary dwelling that automatically responds to weather
For his thesis project at Shenkar College of Design, located in Ramat Gan just outside Tel Aviv in Israel, industrial design student Ohad Lustgarten created a six foot-tall prototype of Shade & Shelter, a lightweight, low cost dwelling unit designed to provide protection from the elements. Though Lustgarten had desert environments in mind when he designed the unit’s flexible folding slats to shield against sandstorms, sun and cold, Shade & Shelter could work equally well for campers along a hiking trail. Read More
Tokyo-based SANAA has unveiled its next U.S. project, a meandering structure called The River for the Grace Farms Foundation, a faith, arts, and social justice non-profit in New Canaan, CT. Situated on one acre of the 75-acre Grace Farms, the building is defined by its flowing roof that hovers ten feet above the landscape on slender metal posts. Interior spaces are formed by increasing the building’s width and enclosing spaces in floor-to-ceiling glass, creating a seamless transition between interior spaces and a landscape designed by Philadelphia-based OLIN.
Today, thousands of tourists and New Yorkers make a loop on the Staten Island Ferry between the borough and Manhattan, but as soon as 2016, they will also be able to make a vertical loop on the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, anchoring a new mixed-use project on the North Shore waterfront in St. George. Mayor Bloomberg today unveiled plans for Harbor Commons, which includes 350,000 square feet of retail space for 100 outlet mall stores, a 200-room, 120,000 square foot hotel, and a massive green-roofed parking structure, but all eyes were on the project’s neighbor; the 625-foot-tall New York Wheel will offer stunning views of New York City and its Harbor to an estimated 4.5 million people per year.
LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s “Vision Team,” a group of eight architects consulting on the city’s planned football stadium and convention center expansion have issued a damning report on the latter project, reports the LA Daily News. The center is being designed by Populous and developed by AEG. “This is not good city design,” Norman Millar, dean of Woodbury University School of Architecture, and a Vision Team member, told the Daily News this week. Among the team’s complaints, they worry about having visitors enter the new hall through a dark passage created by bridging the building over Pico Boulevard. The team also frets about possible fumes under the tunnel, the configuration of the center’s huge ballroom, and the amount of natural light that would enter the building. The Vision Team also includes Hitoshi Abe, chairman of Architecture & Urban Design at UCLA; Scott Johnson of Johnson Fain; Joseph Coriaty, a partner at Frederick Fisher and Partner; and Paul Danna, principal at SOM. The group has met at least three times. Villaraigosa’s spokesman Peter Sanders told the Daily News that the mayor knew about the Vision Team’s concerns. “We believe we have the best plan given the constraints that exist,” Sanders wrote. The project’s EIR goes before LA City Council tomorrow. Read More
Last night, updated plans for Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail were presented at a public meeting—the public session’s last chance to comment on the design before final plans are presented this December. The trail is an elevated linear park designed by a team including Collins Engineers, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, and Frances Whitehead on a former rail viaduct running through Chicago.
AN contributor and sustainable transit enthusiast Steven Vance attended the meeting at the Humboldt Park Field House, recapping the event on the GRID Chicago blog. Among the details confirmed at the meeting, construction is set to begin summer 2013. While the trail will open for bikers and pedestrians in Fall 2014, landscaping and art installations will continue into 2015.
A fantastical sounding urban garden paradise imagined by Rotterdam-based MVRDV and made up of jasmine hotels, lily pond swimming pools, offices decked with planted interiors and bamboo parks, and an alphabetized plant library will be brought to reality over the next ten years in the city of Almere, Netherlands. Today, the Nederlandse Tuinbouwraad (NTR) chose MVRDV’s plan for Almere as the winner of the esteemed Floriade 2022 World Horticulture Expo, which takes place only once every ten years. The blanket of new city fabric draped over a 111-acre peninsula will transform it into a permanent green extension directly opposite Almere’s existing city center.
Since AN first looked at the proposed design for Amazon’s three-tower complex in the Denny Triangle neighborhood in Seattle last May—and after feedback from the Seattle community and meetings with the Design Review Board over the summer—NBBJ has released new renderings. And the project now has a nickname—Rufus—a nod to the late “Amazon dog,” a Corgi who kept employees company in the office since the early days.
In response to recommendations, the evolved design includes updates to elevations, details along the lower stories, weather protection, and open spaces. Facades are asymmetrical, stepped, and diverse. In a skin study, the office tower on the southeast Block 14 sports a façade of operable windows, glass, pre-finished metal panels and gold accent trim, which connects to the neighboring meeting center via a sky-bridge. Other perspectives reveal glass curtain walls on the six-story meeting center, leaving the auditorium and stairwell exposed. On Block 19, to the southwest, a covered walkway would provide protection during Seattle’s rainy winter months. There are retail storefronts on the lower levels, which will augment the outdoor public parks and plazas.
Washington, D.C., is often admired for its monuments. Now there is another part of our nation’s capital that its 19 million annual visitors can tour and enjoy. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has recently announced the launch of an online mobile-friendly guide meant to give not only tourist, but also locals a new perspective on the historic, modern, and contemporary landscapes in Washington, D.C. and Arlington, VA.
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Two new projects prove that concrete’s rigidity is no longer set in stone
From Peter Eisenman’s Berlin Holocaust Memorial to Paul Rudolph’s Art and Architecture building, concrete has been used with finesse in minimalist and brutalist structures and, as such, is mostly thought of as cold or aggressive. Two recent projects in Portugal and Norway are set to change our hard-edged opinion of concrete and show that it can be as fluid as a ribbon waving in the wind. Casa Xieira II, a private home in Leiria, Portugal, designed by A2 + Arquitectos, and the National Tourist Route Rv 889 Havøysund in northern Norway by Reiulf Ramstad Architects both feature winding concrete wrappers that stand out in sharp contrast to their surroundings, a factor that only becomes more important when your primary building material is as stark as concrete. Read More
Last year we showcased Oyler Wu’s SCI-Arc graduation pavilion, a swooping steel, fabric, and rope construction that floated above the event like a billowing sail. For last week’s graduation the firm added a small addition while making significant improvements. The addition, which sat school directors and special guests, became a stage for diploma presentation. Made of a torqued steel shell fitted with twisting fabric (Wu calls it a three dimensional twist), the addition is no replication: it creates a simpler, more unified complement to the original, which involves a more complex web of fabric and roping. As for the original pavilion, they replaced its (disturbingly) dirty fabric with darker material and re-oriented the whole thing toward the school itself. Next year’s pavilion will be designed by Marcelo Spina. We can’t wait.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since the first green roof gathering in Chicago, when 400 green roof enthusiasts came together from around the world to share their passion and knowledge of green roofs. Since then, we’ve laid some very important foundations for the industry, which enjoyed an amazing 115% growth rate last year.
On October 17-20 at CitiesAlive, we will gather at the Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago once more, to celebrate all that we have accomplished together, and lay plans for the future growth of this industry. Performance is the unifying theme for programming that features the best and brightest in green roof and wall design, research, policy. ‘On the roof with’ conversations feature examples of what green infrastructure is best at – stormwater management, urban agriculture, increasing biodiversity, energy efficiency, job creation and more. Together, we’re building a legacy of outstanding performance!