Harvard changing the profession

Karen Weintraub recently wrote an article for the Boston Globe – At Harvard, landscape architects reinvent roles, link disciplines in which Weintraub interviews Charles Waldheim on how the profession of landscape architecture is changing by winning and managing development projects as the chief consultant.

Waldheim is cited making some great statements about the profession and its future

“There’s an increasing sense that landscape architects are really able to better manage complex urban change over time’’ than people in other professions, he said. Landscape architecture “now ends up being a place where the arts, questions of urbanism, and questions of ecology can connect.’’

Waldhiem also cites work by department member Michael Van Valkenburgh and his role in changing the profession.

Van Valkenburgh’s development of Brooklyn Bridge Park, along the East River waterfront, for instance, reclaims previously industrialized land, knits together development and nature, and provides public space.

The article also cites other staff at Harvard and the role of landscape architecture.

I find the article interesting although stating most of what most in the field know it is great to see and article in the Business section of the major newspaper website discussing the role of landscape architecture in relation to development and climate change.

Read the full article by Karen Weintraub article at the [SOURCE: Boston Globe - At Harvard, landscape architects reinvent roles, link disciplines]

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Cream rises to the top for The City + The Arch + The River International Competition

The international design competition for the reinvigoration of the area surrounding the world renowned landmark the Gateway Arch has move on to the third and final design phase with Five Teams selected. When you look at the first list of nine teams announced back in February 2010 for the second stage it was the Who’s who of design but now that list is down to five teams; its the cream of the crop and the winner of the next stage will be a hard decision for all those involved and I guess we all have to wait until late September to find out the winner.

PRESS RELEASE

The leaders of the design teams entering the third and final stage of the competition are:

· Behnisch Team led by Behnisch Architekten – Stuttgart, Germany, Los Angeles
· MVVA Team led by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates – New York City
· PWP Landscape Architecture, Foster + Partners, Civitas – Berkeley, Calif.
· SOM, Hargreaves, BIG – Chicago
· Weiss/Manfredi, Architecture/Site Design/Urbanism – New York

“The goal of the first two steps of the process was to identify design teams with the talent, capacity and commitment to create thoughtful design solutions addressing the complex issues of the site and its relationship to the city, the river and the Illinois side. With this selection, that goal has been accomplished,” said Competition Manager Donald J. Stastny, of StastnyBrun Architects. “The selected teams represent local, national and international perspective, and we look forward to working with them over the next few months as their visions evolve and they create their designs.”

“Having this level of architectural, engineering and landscape design power focused on such a visible urban park is exciting,” said Tom Bradley, superintendent of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. “We are committed to incorporating our parks into the life of their surrounding communities. I look forward to seeing the designs in August.”

The five teams will begin now and work through the spring and summer on design concepts, which will be put on public exhibition on Aug. 17, 2010. Details will be provided closer to that date.

The eight member jury – which counts a Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic, a professor in the humanities, a former deputy director of the National Park Service, a real estate economist, a museum curator, renowned architects and renowned landscape architects among its members – presented its decision to competition managers after meeting with the nine teams that competed in Stage II of the competition.

The final jury pick will be announced Sept. 24, 2010. The project will be constructed by Oct. 28, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the completion of the Arch.

The public is invited to meet the design teams on April 28 at the Roberts Orpheum Theater downtown. Joe Buck will moderate a discussion about how their past work will influence their efforts to win this competition.

The “Meet the Design Teams” event will begin at 7 p.m. It is free and open to the public. Preregistration is helpful and available through the competition Web site,www.cityarchrivercompetition.org.

St. Louis native Joe Buck is the top play-by-play man for Major League Baseball and the National Football League on FOX Sports.

“I am looking forward to moderating a forum that promises to be informational, educational and exciting for the future of our community,” Buck said.

Buck will be joined in hosting “Meet the Design Teams” by Stastny, the competition manager.

The Roberts Orpheum Theater is located at 416 North 9th Street in downtown St. Louis. Public parking is available across the street.

Also while in St. Louis, the teams will explore the competition area, be briefed on project issues and the values of the national park, and get to know the region and its people.

To help the teams understand, from a personal standpoint, what the Arch stands for and the values it represents to our region and our nation’s history, members of the public are invited to share their thoughts, stories, photos and video. Competition organizers will post selections to the Web site and include them in a presentation to the competitors. This will help the teams in their effort to meet the design goals. Submissions can be posted to the Community Connections page of the Web site or to the City Arch River facebook and Twitter accounts.

Continuing education credits, HSW, will be awarded by the American Institute of Architects St. Louis for the April 28 event.

[SOURCE: City+Arch+River competition]

KCAP wins Keqiao Water City competition in Shaoxing, China

Masterplan

KCAP Architects & Planners has won the international competition to design a masterplan for Keqiao Water City in Shaoxing, China. The 45 ha site, which is currently occupied by redundant textile industry and residences, will be redeveloped for residential use with community functions and sport and commercial facilities in a landscaped setting of waterland, parks and gardens. KCAP’s masterplan design has been chosen as winner out of 3 international entries.

Keqiao is the major development area of Zhejiang province, occupying a strategic location between Shaoxing, a city of 3 million inhabitants, and Hangzhou, close to Xaoshan airport and along the highway to larger local cities and further to Shanghai. With its unique landscape of lakes, canals and rocks it forms a setting of scenic beauty. The area will become a recreational centre and will give new development impulses for the entire region.

KCAP’s masterplan introduces a landscape framework formed by different conditions found on the site such as the two lakes with their waterfronts, the canal and road system, the green spaces and the bridges. Enriched with carefully designed elements like public squares, parks, roads and paths a continuous landscape fabric is established which ties the entire development together.

KCAP will elaborate the winning masterplan scheme throughout 2010 in close cooperation with Shaoxing developer Gemdale and the local authorities. The first projects are estimated to start construction in 2011. ‘Working on this project is a great opportunity for us. It is an important stepping stone for our growing portfolio in China,’ says Markus Appenzeller, director of international projects of KCAP.

[SOURCE: KCAP]

[IMAGES SOURCE: KCAP]

[IMAGES CREDIT: Li Fang]

Tupper Thomas – returning Prospect Park to New Yorkers

The New York Times takes a look at the 35 year career of Tupper Thomas, the Park Administrator for Prospect Park who announced her retirement from her current position of Assistant Commissioner for Strategic Partnerships (listed on NYC DPR) last Tuesday (effective early 2011).

Ms Thomes is credited by many for bringing back from the brink in 1970′s to become a park rivalling Central Park. The New York Times article talks to her peers and gives highlights of her career which shows that passion and perseverance often counts for more than experience when entering a new job.

Another highlight of the NYT article is past and present photos of Prospect Park.

Read more at the [SOURCE: New York Times - Returning Prospect Park to the People]

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Seattle Center open space – public vs private use

According to the Seattle Times over 400 people attended a community meeting to discuss plans for the 5 acres next to the iconic Space Needle. The site was formerly the Fun Forest amusements  and the land was recently returned to the public. Bids where called for north area and the Seattle Center is entertaining the possibility of a children’s garden that was proposed by the Seattle Children’s Museum’s.

The current proposal for the south area is to allocate 1.5 acres of the land to a new 44,000 square foot Dale Chihuly glass-art exhibit proposed by the Wright Family who own the Space Needle. This proposal according to Seattle Times reports was popular with the attending crowd.  However, there was some opposition in the crowd including Iain Robertson noted by Seattle Times as ‘landscape architect’ but I think it may also be the same Iain Robertson who is Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington and on the Board of Directors of the Seattle Parks Foundation who was quoted in the Seattle Times as saying

…..Seattle Center is not the right location for a glass exhibit and that the city would be foolish to give up nearly 2 acres of open space.

“For us as a city to replace that [open space] in the future would cost an enormous amount of money,” he said. “You just don’t get a chance at this much open space in the center of the city.”

Also cited in the Seattle Times article was the Director of the Seattle Center Robert Nellams who said

there must be a balance between creating more open space — which is what was envisioned in the Center’s 2008 master plan — and generating revenue.

The Seattle Center Century 21 Master Plan was adopted in August, 2008 with an estimate of $567 million which was to be funded by a levy.

It seems as though this proposal will make the residents and stakeholders of Seattle have to deal with all too common question in these recent hard economic times of public versus private use of public land.

The current proposal brings into question the goals of the Seattle Center Master Plan and its vision. Master Plans are often well thought out documents produced over a long period of public consultation by the city and consultants to develop a vision for the next 20-100 years. To make a decision based on economics and adjacent properties owners assertions alone seems foolish.

The current proposal for Dale Chihuly glass-art exhibit seems at odds with the Seattle Center Master Plan which states

A combined ten acres at the Fun Forest and Memorial Stadium, currently paved over or walled off, is opened up, connecting the people and activities that were once isolated at its edges. The carnival rides that sit empty most months of the year are replaced with landscaping, performance spaces and play areas that invite people in to create their own active experiences.
Master plan Overview – Seattle Center Century 21 Masterplan(Page 21)  – (link to pdf)

The use of public space in key landmark locations needs to treated with the utmost respect as decisions made now can change the way a space is used for decades. I am not against the use of public land for private use if it generates revenue for the city and provides for the community but it must be in keeping with the long-term goals of the city.  We all know as designers that there are too many white elephants dotting the landscape across the world to remind us that bad decisions can haunt a city in the future.

By Damian Holmes

[SOURCE: Seattle Times - What to do with Seattle Center parcel draws a big crowd]
[SOURCE: Seattle Times - Goodbye to grand plan for Seattle Center?]

[SOURCE: Seattle Center Century 21 Master Plan] Link to pdf

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