High Speed Rail gathering speed – Op-ed

News in the USA and UK over the last few days has been humming about High Speed Rail initiatives in both countries.

In the USA news is reaching fever pitch over High Speed Rail as the details of submissions for the US Government’s $8 billion high speed rail initiative start to appear.

Routes currently being reported are the $830 million route between Chicago and Detroit a new 110 M.P.H. train that will cut the travel time from Detroit to Chicago from 6 hours to 4 hour.
California  applied for
$1.1 bullion for including San Jose to San Francisco line (Bizjournals),
New York State applied for $565 million of stimulus funds for 38 passenger rail projects (NYDOT),
Pennsylvania submitted applications to the federal government for $28.2 million(PR-USA)
NJ seeks $38.5M in high-speed rail funding (NJBiz)

Virginia wants $75M for high-speed rail (Washington Business Journal)
Maryland seeks $360 million for rail upgrades (The Baltimore Sun)
Texas Requests $1.8 Billion For High Speed Rail Project (KWTX)

Florida asks feds for $270 million for commuter rail (Orlando Sentinel)

These are just some of the submissions for the stimulus. I find it an amazing about of money to spend on commuters across such a vast country. One has to hope that this is not all just spent on high-speed trains between cities but also improving of city suburban rail systems. I look forward to the next round of submissions for more rail stimulus funds in October.

Today in the UK, a report was released by Network Rail for plans of a £34 billion, 200m.p.h. high speed rail line running along the west coast on the UK from London to Scotland. The interesting thing is that the train is not only being seen as a commuter train but also as the low carbon option to cutting emissions from domestic flights, cars, trucks. The train will run from central London to Manchester with a diverging line to Birmingham. The line will then continue to Preston with lines diverging to Warrington and Liverpool after which the main line will continue to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The plans in the USA and the UK are very impressive, however I have wonder how much is achievable with so many projects being submitted at the same time with large monetary figures for high speed rail weighted against the demand over the next 5-10 years for expertise, skilled technicians and engineers. Will there be a shortage or will this put more people back to work?

I think these projects will take a long time to implement as there are a limited number of train companies Bombardier, Alstom, Siemens, etc who only have so much capacity within their factories. This factor is critical as currently there is a large demand from China, India, and Brazil for high speed trains and expertise.

I hope that governments will achieve these ambitions not just because it will stimulate the economy of the cities and companies building the networks, but will also have some impact on reducing emissions. Lets’ hope these projects are fulfilled and they don’t get lost inside the bureaucracy of governments.

Freep.com, BizjournalsNYDOT,, PR-USA NJBiz, Washington Business Journal, The Baltimore Sun, KWTX , Orlando Sentinel, Network Rail (UK)

By Damian Holmes – 26 August 2009

NASA launches ‘Sustainability Base’

Yesterday, NASA’s Ames Research Center held a ground breaking ceremony for its new ‘Sustainability Base’ – a high performance Platinum LEED Rated building in Moffett Field California. The building will feature near zero net energy consumption, use 90 percent less potable water than conventionally built buildings of equivalent size and reduce building maintenance costs.

To help achieve the building’s sustainability objectives, the company will install approximately 72 geothermal wells featuring ground-source heat pumps, and will provide parking and landscaping with California-native plants.

The $20.6 million building  is designed by AECOM and William McDonough + Partners and Landscape Architects – Siteworks.

You can also watch a video about NASA’s Sustainability Base


Israel to build 50,000 seat amphitheatre on garbage mountain

Designs for a 50,000 seat amphitheatre are planned for Ariel Sharon Park previously Israel’s largest garbage dump. The design for the 2,000 acre park will be completed by the end of this week. The design includes a 20-acre lake that will recycle water from the site, sculpting of the park so that it can serve as a flood plain during winter flooding, a large car parking lot, and a railway station. The designs are being drawn up by Latz + Partner, along with Israeli landscape architect firms Broida-Maoz and Moria Sekely. The design approval process will take up to 3 years. The park is planned to staged over a 20 to 40 year period.
SOURCE: Haaretz.com – Noam Dvir

Governors Island – Useless Beauty – The New Yorker

Wondering what’s happening to Governors Island after the International Design competition was won by the design group led by WEST 8. Well, the August 31, 2009 edition of the New Yorker (subscription only) on p. 56 has an article titled Useless Beauty’ by local correspondent Nick Paumgarten, who discusses plans for a park on the island designed by the Dutch architecture firm West 8. A section of the abstract(shown below) gives a hint of the discussion that takes place with Adriaan Geuze.

Writer discusses the proposed park area with Adriaan Geuze of West 8. Briefly compares the Governors Island to the development of the High Line. A risk of a project like the High Line or Governors Island is that the place may pass from one kind of elitism, in which virtually nobody is allowed, to another, in which ambitious restoration introduces esoteric or refined tasted and uses. (SOURCE:THE  NEW YORKER)

Sounds like an interesting read for those lucky enough to have a subscription or able to buy a copy.

Another incentive to buy a copy is the article by Ian Frazier Ian Frazier, Parks Dept., “Treepocalypse,” The New Yorker, August 31, 2009, p. 26 which looks at the about trees in Central Park destroyed by a recent severe thunderstorm.

The New Yorker has also posted a video – Tour of Governors Island.

In this video, Paumgarten tours the island with Leslie Koch, the president of the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, who explains how this former military base is being converted into parks and other public spaces. (SOURCE: THE NEW YORKER)

SOURCE: The New Yorker

2009 CSLA Awards of Excellence Announced

The Canadian Society of Landscape Architects is pleased to announce the results of the 2009 CSLA Professional Awards Program.

The annual awards program hosted by the University of Manitoba Department of Landscape Architecture recognizes excellence in Landscape Architecture in categories of Design, Planning & Analysis, Research, Communications, Landscape Management, New Directions, and Residential Design.

This year out of 56 entries, there were 13 National Honour Awards

National Honour Awards

Project Name: La Promenade Samuel-De Champlain
Organization: La consortium Daoust Lestage inc. – Williams Asselin Ackaoui- Option Amenagement
Client: Commission de la capitale nationale du Quebec
Location: Quebec City, Quebec
Category: Design



Project Name: Outremont Campus – Universite de Montreal

Organization: Groupe Cardinal Hardy
Client: Universite de Montreal
Location: Outremont’s railroad yard, Montreal
Category: Planning and Analysis


outremont-campus outremont campus outremont - campus

Project Name: Lake Ontario Park Master Plan

Organization: Field Operations
Client: Waterfront Toronto
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Category: Planning and Analysis



Project Name: Point Pleasant Park Comprehensive Plan

Organization: Ekistics Planning and Design, NIPpaysage and HRM
Client: Halifax Regional Municipality
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Category: Planning and Analysis


point pleasant point  pleasant point  pleasant

National Merit Awards (6)

Project Name: Lakeview: Community Education and Landscape Politics
Organization: Centre for Landscape Research, University of Toronto
Client: None-community service work – pro bono
Location: Lakeview, Mississauga, Ontario
Category: New Directions

Project Name: Ground: Landscape Architect Quarterly
Organization: Ontario Association of Landscape Architects
Client: Ontario Association of Landscape Architects
Location: n/a
Category: Communications

Project Name: Green Infrastructure in Calgary’s Mobility Corridors
Organization: Design Centre for Sustainability, University of British Columbia
Client: City of Calgary
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Category: Research

Project Name: Southeast False Creek Waterfront – Phase 1
Organization: PWL Partnership Landscape Architects Ltd.
Client: SEFC Project Office – City of Vancouver
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Category: Design

Project Name: Garden City Play Environment
Organization: space2place design inc.
Client: City of Richmond
Location: Richmond, British Columbia
Category: Design

Project Name: Spadina Wavedeck
Organization: West 8 + DTAH (du Toit Allsopp Hillier)
Client: Waterfront Toronto
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Category: Design

National Citation Awards (3)

Project Name: Port to Port Corridor Study
Organization: CBCL Limited
Client: Cape Breton Regional Municipality
Location: Sydney, Nova Scotia
Category: Planning and Analysis

Project Name: Urban Corridor Planning/City of Houston
Organization: The Planning Partnership Limited
Client: City of Houston/Main Street Coalition
Location: Houston, Texas
Category: Planning and Analysis

Project Name: Square des Freres-Charon
Organization: Ville De Montreal – Direction des grands parcs et de lat nature en ville
Client: Ville de Montreal
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Category: New Directions

Regional Awards


IMAGE Copyright and Credit to La consortium Daoust Lestage inc. – Williams Asselin Ackaoui- Option Amenagement, Groupe Cardinal Hardy, Field Operations, Ekistics Planning and Design, NIPpaysage and HRM as noted

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