Erie Street Plaza | Milwaukee Wisconsin | Stoss Landscape Urbanism

Erie Street Plaza

The variegated surface extends into the steel marsh, which collects and cleans stormwater from the site. ©Stoss Landscape Urbanism

Erie Street Plaza is a small urban plaza in the Historic Third Ward district of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The 13,000-square-foot plaza lies at the point where the Milwaukee River meets the Federal Channel as it empties into Lake Michigan. It is the final link in a series of public space activators along the Milwaukee Riverwalk, a three-mile pedestrian and bicycle corridor that connects downtown Milwaukee to the emerging and redeveloping Third Ward, Beerline Districts, and the lakefront beyond. At the beginning of the project’s design, the future of Erie Street Plaza – its users, its function, its programming, even its necessity – were undecided. The urban context was generally one of infrastructure and industry; the site lacked neighbors and potential users. The site itself was a surface parking lot, subject to harsh environmental conditions, including high winds off the lake. Who is it for? How will it be used? This uncertainty, this open-endedness, was at the core of its design.

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Moses Mabhida Stadium Precinct | Durban South Africa | Iyer Urban Design Studio

Moses Mabhida Stadium Precinct  | Durban South Africa | Iyer Urban Design Studio

Already a celebrated icon in the Kwa-Zulu Natal landscape, the Moses Madiba Stadium and precinct, built for the Soccer World Cup 2010, in the words of the jury “is commended because of its multi-disciplinary design approach that has made the most of urban design, architectural and landscape architectural skills, driven by a visionary client. “

“The urban and landscape design at Moses Mabhida Stadium Precinct allows for ongoing integration with the broader city and coastal corridor. The design is focused on the creation of an accessible, well-made and generous public-space system. The landscape design is contemporary and executed on a bold scale with continuity of approach, aesthetic appeal and response to local place and function clearly visible.”

“The stadium precinct comprises many remarkable spaces and places. These include the uncluttered concourse level surrounding the stadium and the polished concrete podium that serves as a raised plinth with planted embankments resembling a dune. This podium defines public and semi-public movement with the base assigned highest levels of being open to the public. (“publicness”.)

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Johnson Pilton Walker & PWP selected for Barangaroo

Premier Kristina Keneally and Planning Minister, Tony Kelly, yesterday formally signed an authorisation for the $6 billion contract with Lend Lease for commercial development of Barangaroo.

At the same time as signing the contract Planning Minister Mr Kelly said that following an evaluation, Johnson Pilton Walker (Sydney based), in association with Peter Walker and Partners Landscape Architecture (California, USA) , have been selected to work with the Barangaroo Delivery Authority to design the new Headland Park and other public spaces.

This highly regarded team will design key open space features for the waterfront commercial, residential and leisure precinct, including the creation of the harbourside park and restoration of the entire harbour headland to a more natural shape. “We are determined to create a bold and inspiring precinct, which is diverse, dynamic and inclusive………..The Headland Park will include waterfront promenades, an open-air amphitheatre, area and places to picnic. It will be built to maximise its incredible location.” Mr Kelly said.

Barangaroo (previously known as East Darling Harbour) is the name given to the 22-hectare area  in Sydney that is planned to become a key commercial, residential and recreation precinct with over 22,000 workers and residents, and 33,000 visitors a day – a total of 12 million visitors a year.

[SOURCE: Barangaroo Delivery Authority] VIA Australian Design Review

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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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