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

Landscape Architects in NY Mag’s – Reasons to Love New York

New York Magazine recently published its ‘Reasons to Love New York’ and in at No.33 was Because Times Square will never be finished and reported that

When the department of Transportation closed seven blocks of Broadway to cars this summer, New Yorkers were offered an object lesson in how profoundly urban space can be altered by a few traffic barriers and a bucket of paint. Within hours, the newly pedestrianized Times Square was colonized by wanderers, nearby office workers, and tourists calling home (“You will not believe where I am standing!”).

The Rooftop Garden Climbs Down a Wall

Ken Belson of the New York Times has written an interesting piece about green walls which looks at the green wall as a source of food production. Belson talks to a varied number of designers, universities and manufacturers about the green walls as food production. He also states that at $500 a panel they aren’t for everyone.

Belson has a great quote he cites from Paul Mankiewicz, the executive director of the Gaia Institute in New York.

“We have 30 miles of rooftop in New York City and maybe 3,000 miles of walls,”

Read the article at the SOURCE: New York Times – The Rooftop Garden Climbs Down a Wall

Urban Garden inside Bank of America

WRT Urban Garden, Bank of America New York

WRT’s New York office have installed living sculptures in the Urban Garden Room at Bank of America Tower’s 60-foot high street-level atrium space at One Bryant Park, New York. The Durst Organization, the building’s owner and developer, commissioned WRT to create an appropriate – natural – signature for New York City’s first LEED Platinum office tower. The designers created a sculptural solution: four monumental landscape sculptures, ranging in height from a 7-foot monolith to a 25-foot archway. They have been carefully positioned in the light-filled space at the building’s entrance to create an immersive experience. The WRT team included lead designer Margie Ruddick and sculptor Dorothy Ruddick. The Montreal-based firm Mosaiculture Internationale fabricated the sculpture from scale models using galvanized steel frames. Created in multiple pieces, each sculpture contains an internal irrigation system that was wrapped with porous fabric, then hand-composed with thousands of ferns, mosses, and lichens. When completed, the living sculptures were loaded onto three 52-ton trucks, transported from Canada and carefully assembled on site by a professional installation crew over a 42-hour period. Now known as the Urban Garden Room, the new living green space is a daily pleasure for building users and a delightful urban surprise for busy passersby, offering a welcoming, soothing reprieve from the clamor of everyday city life.


Could Detroit become the City of Urban Agriculture?

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The idea of returning Detroit to farm land is an interesting idea that was recently covered in New Geography(DETROIT: URBAN LABORATORY AND THE NEW AMERICAN FRONTIER, Nov. 4) and New York Times(Plowing Detroit Into Farmland blog post Nov. 9 based on New Geography article).

The New Geography article reviews the size and scale of Detroit in comparison to other cities and the extent of urban decay since the 1950’s and that Detroit could become farmland.

In my opinion, Detroit could become a city of urban agriculture; it has the land, water & infrastructure(roads, rail) and lots of deserted industrial space that could be converted to markets and storage/logistics.  However it would require a either a grass roots movement which gets financial backing (after initial results) from investors or a federal incentive as the city of Detroit is shrinking and resources are already stretched.

Urban agriculture could supply the people of Detroit and other cities in region with food. Large areas of housing could be converted to open fields where the blocks are large or rows of green houses where the blocks are narrow. The agricultural areas could also grow crops for ethanol(although resource intensive) to supply raw materials for fuel(refined in Detroit) for the farm machinery and cars.

Urban agriculture combined with alternative energy such as wind and solar could convert Detroit from a city to a urban core with villages (see New Geography for diagram). The city could become self-sufficient and a possible testing ground for urban design that could be used for other North Americans cities going through the same changes in size and urban form.

New Orleans is currently a hot bed for Urban Design experiments for the South, which came about from a natural disaster maybe Detroit can come back as the hot bed of Urban Design for Northern climates.

Detroit has the opportunity and basic resources but does it have the will to change?

Read more information used as background for this post at [New Geography] & [New York Times]

By Damian Holmes

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