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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NBBJ and Chan Krieger Sieniewicz to merge

NBBJ, a global architecture and design firm, and Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, internationally-known for urban design and architecture excellence, announced today a merger of the two firms that will create an integrated team of over 700 architects, landscape architects, urban designers, planners and interior designers.

The Chan Krieger Sieniewicz team, including its five principals, will continue in their current roles. As part of the transition to the NBBJ name, the Cambridge office will operate as Chan Krieger NBBJ.

The merger gives NBBJ, which already operates a project office in Boston, a larger presence in New England. The Seattle-based firm has offices in several U.S. cities, including Columbus, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle. Overseas offices include London, Beijing, Shanghai and Dubai.


NY State to close parks and raise fees

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is closing 41 parks and 14 historic sites across the state and reducing services 23 parks and 1 historic site.

According to the Press Release

The Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) today put forward a list of closures and service reductions in order to achieve its proposed 2010-11 agency savings target and help address the State’s historic fiscal difficulties. As part of a comprehensive plan to close an $8.2 billion deficit……

The plan also assumes $4 million in park and historic site fee increases that will be identified at a later date, and the use of $5 million in funds from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to finance OPRHP operations.

SOURCE: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

To see the list of parks and historic sites

Continue reading NY State to close parks and raise fees

Private vs Public Money for Parks

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

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New look for Federal Plaza, gone are the green benches

The award winning Federal Plaza designed by Martha Schwartz is going to get a new design as the plaza is reconstructed over a 12-18 month period to fix the plaza deck that is settling and leaking affecting the building and carpark below the plaza.

The current design of swirling green benches designed by Martha Schwartz will be removed and replaced by magnolia trees, low evergreen plantings, marble benches and  a fountain designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA).

The Tribeca Trib recently reported  about  Matthew Urbanski’s (a principal with MVVA) presentation of the new design to Community Board 1’s Seaport/Civic Center Committee.

Much of the design, Urbanski said,  was influenced by the “microclimate” of the plaza, which receives too much sun in the summer and too little in the winter, plus a wind tunnel effect along Worth Street. The magnolia trees are positioned at the northern end of the plaza where they can provide shade and some shielding from winter winds.

To read and see more about the new plaza design go to the [SOURCE: Tribeca Trib – Yet Another Look in Store for Federal Plaza]

New York luring developers with landscape

New York is creating new parks in Queens at Hunter Point South to lure developers and then tenants to the area. Weiss/Manfredi are the landscape architects for the project and the New York Times recently quoted Michael Manfredi as saying

“The city needed to signal to a fairly skittish development community that it’s serious about this project,” a partner in the New York firm Weiss/Manfredi, the landscape architects on the project along with Thomas Balsley Associates. “Unlike most projects, where open space follows housing and lots of charged debate, here the open space comes first.”

Read the rest of the article in the New York Times

[SOURCE: New York Times – Landscaping as a Seductive First Step]

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Walter Hood in the New York Times

New York Times feature with Walter Hood about Crown Memorial State Beach

Mr. Hood, whose landscape architecture firm designed the grounds of the de Young Museum in San Francisco, lives in Oakland, and he spends a lot of time traveling. In August, he accepted a Cooper Hewitt National Design Award at the White House. (His words have been edited and condensed.)

read more at the SOURCE: New York Times – A beach with a different view

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