In October 2009, Seattle Parks selected SvR Design + Hewitt as the primary design consultant for four Belltown blocks, from First to Fifth Avenues will be turned into Seattle’s first park boulevard with swales and natural landscaping. Last month SvR Design + Hewitt presented two different design options for Bell Street in the Seattle neighbourhood of Belltown to the community to receive feedback.
The design team presented two options for the first area of the project between 4th and 5th Avenue. The design team walked the audience through a comparison of the options requesting input on the “Sluiced Surface” option and the “Measured Movement” option.
The community offered positive feedback and direction for the design of the park. The community encouraged the designers to look into a combination of the two designs emphasising the importance of safety, activation, lighting, and using green / recycled materials.
The Daily Journal of Commerce – Seattle has two designs for park along Bell Street cited
Nate Cormier, senior landscape architect at SvR, said the two designs are meant to represent “bookends” of the area’s history. Bell Street and the area around it have changed dramatically in the past 100 years. Tons of rock and soil that originally formed a steep hill there were removed and the land was regraded.
After receiving the communities feedback the team will come up with a single design and present it at a public meeting in April. Construction should occur in 2011.
For more information and to download the Presentation PDF go to [SOURCE: Seattle Parks & Recreation]
VIA: Daily Journal of Commerce – Seattle has two designs for park along Bell Street
IMAGE SOURCES: Seattle Parks & Recreation (SvR + Hewitt)
Existing Conditions looking along Bell from 4th to 5th Avenue
View Larger Map
New York Times recently published When Parks Must Rely on Private Money by DIANE CARDWELL concerning the struggles of cities to fund the construction and maintenance of parks throughout the USA. Many parks are funded through selling of land or revenues generated by carparks or taxes from new nearby developments and others are funded by residents and companies donating funds in return for naming rights or plaques. Cardwell cites examples of parks that have been constructed with the use some private funding including Millennium Park in Chicago and the Highline and with the tradeoff causing issues in some cities.
The article stimulated a few ideas I have had during my career. I find that funding of new or redevelopment of parks is a often a fine line between private and public funding, which often blurs the line between public and private space. Private funding often causing issues with residents because of naming or commercial activities in the new park that create a private area.
An ever-growing trend for cities around the world is to justify the cost of construction and maintenance of parks through inclusion of private funding or commercial activities such as paid parking garages, retail shops, restaurants, or areas that are commercialised for entertainment(concerts, festivals, etc). How to strike a balance between private and public funding is very complicated process for each city and requires research and consultation.
Many cities find it hard to redevelop parks with the use of public money as it is often controversial as parks are sometimes seen by residents as non-essential. Residents see hospitals, schools, and police as essential services within the community whereas parks are seen as non-essential and that public monies would be better spent on other services. To avoid this cities seek private funding in return for naming rights or a commercial development on or near the park. Now the question is how far to go with private funding and how much is the park compromised by accepting the funding in return for naming right or commercial development?
This issue of public and private funding will become more and more prevalent around the world as developers of retail and residential developments blur the line between public and private space by creating spaces in developments that are town squares and parks that can be accessed by the public. This blurring will cause some confusion with city residents as to what is public space and what is private. It also raises the question – Are developers going to develop parks and maintain them or will it always remain the domain of the local government?
Private development of public parks as apart of residential developments or commercial developments, which are then handed to government after certain period is already occurring in some parts of the world. Will this become a growing trend across cities for small and large parks? Or will it remain only in residential developments?
By Damian Holmes
Susan Szenasy posted on Metropolis an article titled “United We Stand” in which she recalls some government officials giving encouragement at a recent NeoCon East annual trade show that there is “a new day for government design”. Szeasy goes on to talk about the importance to design of the recent $5.5 billion allocation to General Services Administration and the Department of Defense’s $7.4 billion reconfiguration funding.
However the point I found most interesting in Szenasy’s article was the GSA signing of a new accord with AIA, ASLA, IIDA; in which they have pledged to collaborate to achieve design excellence. I find this encouraging that professional associations have come together.
Currently, there is change occurring not just in the short-term with the Global Financial Crisis, but it seems more and more that sustainability, the environment, and climate change is becoming more important to the world. I feel that we need to move forward with new ideas and be armed with new tools especially in the area of urban design where cities are shrinking in the USA, new eco-towns are being built in the UK and new mega-cities are being designed and constructed in China, India, and Africa. Now is the best time to seek out other disciplines for collaboration not just for the networking and possible work opportunities but for the greater good of the profession. As Landscape Architects I know we often seek collaboration with other disciplines whether they are internal or external of our companies, however I think that as we head towards a new decade we should make more of a commitment to further collaborate with other professions to improve your knowledge and their knowledge so that together we can create a better future.
By Damian Holmes
Read the full article that inspired this post at the [SOURCE: Metropolis - United We Stand]