With Detroit bankrupt and under the authority of a state-appointed emergency manager, all options for the city’s future are on the table. But not all news out of the infamously depopulated city is about cutting back. A new park downtown broke ground this week, and plans surfaced for a massive urban forest on Detroit’s southeast side.
The Bjarke Ingels Group, along with Tess, Transsolar, Base, Transitec, and Michel Forgue, have revealed their winning design for EuropaCity, a 200-acre urban cultural and commercial destination located between Paris and Roissy. Combining the forms of a dense European city with an open landscape, EuropaCity is set to be a retail, cultural, and leisure city of unprecedented scale. Modeled on the European urban experience and equipped with cutting edge green technologies, the development will serve as a retail and cultural hub for the region as well as a laboratory and showcase for sustainable design.
Gotham Greens, the company that currently operates a 15,000-square-foot greenhouse on top of the Greenpoint Wood Exchange in Brooklyn—is bringing its green thumb to roofs across New York City with three massive new rooftop farms in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.
Soon, the biggest of the three planned farms at 60,000 square feet—among the largest rooftop farms in the country—will be built atop an industrial facility in Jamaica, Queens. The New York Daily News reported that Gotham Greens received a $900,000 grant last year from the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) to cultivate the sprawling new hydroponic farm on a rooftop in Jamaica. The three urban farmers behind the venture anticipate an opening as soon as 2014.
Southern Philadelphia High School has teamed up with Roofmeadow, a Philly-based green roof design and engineering firm, and the Lower Moyamensing Civic Association to bring the city its first rooftop farm in a new campus-wide plan to take the school from gray to green. The plan includes rain gardens, street trees, vegetable gardens, and a rooftop farm. These elements will be incorporated into a new curriculum for the school’s culinary and science departments, providing students with a chance to escape the classroom and engage in hands-on learning, while nearby residents will gain access to fresh produce and new green space.
“South Philly High is on the cutting edge of sustainability and innovation,” said Kim Massare, President of the Lower Moyamensing Civic Association in a statement to greenroofs.com. “It is changing the way we think about what a school should be and using technology to drive change in a totally new direction.”
The school is working with Roofmeadow and community representatives to develop the master plan, which targets large, underutilized properties on the school’s urban campus. The project will be crowdfunded through Projexity, an online platform that provides the support and framework for bottom-up neighborhood development projects, from creating proposals, to gathering funding, holding design competitions and getting the final approval necessary to move forward. The first of five stages of fundraising begins here on April 9th.
While Two Trees still needs to make it through the ULURP process before breaking ground on its SHoP Architects-designed mixed-use development for the Domino Sugar site on the Brooklyn Waterfront, the developer has just announced plans for Site E, a vacant parcel on the corner of Kent Avenue and South 3rd. A large section of the 55,000-square-foot lot will be dedicated to a community green space run by North Brooklyn Farms that will host a range of Brooklyn-friendly activities and classes from yoga to urban farming. And on the western side, there will be a bike course, organized by New York City Mountain Bike Association, with areas for riders of all levels. This new urban farm-meets-bike recreation spot will open to the public in May and close once construction commences on the development.
Urban rooftop farming is on the up-and-up in New York City and across the country. Putting his official stamp of approval on the movement, New York Mayor Bloomberg stopped by the city’s largest rooftop farm, the 43,000-square-foot Brooklyn Grange atop a building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. With the growing season in full swing, the plants were towering nearly as high as the Manhattan skyline in the distance.
New York City is home to over 700 food-producing farms and gardens spread over 50 acres of reclaimed lots, rooftops, schoolyards, and public housing grounds. This week at a launch and press event, the Design Trust for Public Space (in partnership with the Brooklyn-based non-profit community farming project Added Value) debuted the most comprehensive survey yet of the city’s urban agricultural infrastructure, Five Borough Farm: Seeding the Future of Urban Agriculture in New York City.
Despite the Motor City’s notoriety as a symbol of urban decay, development is actually going on in Detroit. And with almost 40 square miles of vacant land, Detroit has the chance to redefine urban renewal outright. The city recently took note of one major way some residents are turning blight into bounty: Mayor David Bing signed off on Michigan State University’s plan to seed urban agriculture in Detroit with $1.5 million over the next three years.
Installation of the first community rooftop garden in the United States—UpGarden—is almost complete. Located in the shadow of Seattle’s Space Needle, the project will convert close to 30,000 square feet on the top of the Mercer parking garage into an organic, edible, herb and flower garden with 100 plots for lower Queen Anne neighborhood residents. Landscape architecture firm Kistler Higbee Cahoot is leading the design, organizing community workshops and construction of the garden with a volunteer crew.