Improving Superblocks in cities through Redevelopment

Superblocks have their advantages – internal circulation is pedestrian friendly but also disadvantages – long distances between blocks and sometimes impervious as they become more private rather than public space. Recently Under One Roof posted an interesting read about how development of superblocks can improve cities. Read more at [Under One Roof]

Bill Taylor ideas for Boston City Hall Plaza [VIDEO]

Landscape architect Bill Taylor from Carol R. Johnson Associates Inc. gives his big ideas for City Hall Plaza to the Boston Herald. Reported on the day that Boston Redevelopment Authority is hosting a Greening Government Center symposium with panelists from Alex Krieger, Principal, Chan Krieger NBBJ; Janet Marie Smith, Vice President of Planning Development, Baltimore Orioles; Bob Fox, Partner, Cook+Fox Architects; Chris Reed, Principal, Stoss Landscape Urbanism; Matthias Rudolph, Assisting Director, Transsolar, Inc;

Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg design recommended for Lansdowne Park

Design B - Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg

The Ottawa Citizen is reporting that Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg, a Vancouver based firm has been recommended by the jury. The Design was displayed as Design B by the City of Ottawa to the jury who deliberated on the design over the weekend. The City has not officially announced the winning proposal however I expected something to be announced soon.

For more information go to the [SOURCE: Ottawa Citizen - It’s Design B. Jury selects less flashy urban park proposal]

Lansdowne Park Design Competition entries revealed

*UPDATE*
Seems who ever wins of June 4 when the winner of the Lansdowne Park Competition will have to deal with a large amount of consultation with stakeholders and be ready to compromise on parts of there design as Parks Canada and Ontario Heritage Trust raise concerns about some of the design – Read more at the
Ottawa Citizen – Lansdowne makeover hits new snags

Recently the City of Ottawa revealed the five designs submitted by design firms for the redevelopment of the Lansdowne Park area. The designs where labeled as anonymous entrants (although if you have seen prior work of the entrants you can guess who’s design is who’s). The entrants included the following design firms:

  • Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
  • Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg
  • SWA Group
  • West 8
  • Williams, Asselin, Ackaoui & Associates

What is encouraging is that 5 firms developed differing designs and approaches to the space, often competitions can fall flat as the designs can mimic each other. This also shows that the competition brief was not too restrictive in its design constraints on entrants. The entries all offer different approaches but it is great to see entrants have given thought to the integration of  storm water, heritage, planting, public art with some being more resolved and effective than others.

The design presentations are all of good quality and show that as landscape architects we can produce amazingly presented design work. However, some of the presentation graphics where more polished than others; this may have to do with the size of the firm or there international resources and will be seen if this made a difference when the design firms for each entry are revealed.

The design entries are interesting with many different approaches to spatial arrangement, program & function, circulation, aesthetics, seasons, public art, water, budgets. However, I feel that the all the designs have the same issues which is true of much of current landscape architecture. These issues are compartmentalization, under programming (lack of cross programming) and international design style.

Compartmentalization and under programming are interlinked in that when designing we draw a bubble around an area and state this shall be X and this is Y. Programming should be cross programmed and programs should be allowed to extend beyond the boundaries of an area to create a more dynamic design. Some of the greatest cities and designs in the world are when two uses and/or programs intermingle to create an interesting and energetic place.

International design style which has in recent years grown more pronounced as the globalisation of landscape architecture services takes place. In some ways international design can be beneficial as firms can offer a unique perspective on the area and use their experience of other cultures and designs. However, often the culture of the place can be lost or represented with the token piece of public art or a local sport placed in the design. The design entries presentations sometimes fell into this ‘international design style’ in which the design could have been anywhere in the world or northern hemisphere. How we improve on this is yet to be determined and will be one of the many issues that as landscape architects we face as we design landscapes across the globe.

I also found it interesting that only one of the design entries featured French text for a design competition held for a site in the capital of an officially bilingual country. Maybe it wasn’t a request of the brief; however I find it interesting to see what language was used when presenting a design in a different country and culture from the design firms.

Overall to decide on a winner will be hard and will require deliberation, resident feedback and evaluation of budgets. I hope that the winning design is implemented in its entirety over a well staged implementation. Congratulations to all the teams for producing amazing presentations that shows that landscape architects can produce high-quality world class designs.

Below are the plans and one image from each design. If you would like to see all the designs and presentations go to the City of Ottawa – Lansdowne Park.

IMAGE SOURCE: City of Ottawa

IMAGE CREDITS: All images are copyright of the entrants – currently anonymous

AECOM wins US$60-million Kai Tak redevelopment project


Image via Wikipedia

AECOM Technology Corporation (NYSE: ACM), a leading provider of
professional technical and management support services for government
and commercial clients around the world, announced today that it has won
key contracts worth US$60 million from the Hong Kong Special
Administrative
Region to provide infrastructure design and construction
supervision consulting services for the landmark Kai Tak redevelopment
project.

The aim of the effort is to transform the old Kai Tak Airport site into
a vibrant community supported by a variety of commercial, social and
recreational facilities. AECOM’s work will encompass urban design;
landscape, road, drainage and sewerage works; sewage pumping stations;
water supply systems; and dredging and treatment of contaminated
sediment.

“We are proud to contribute our expertise to this landmark project,”
said John M. Dionisio, AECOM president and chief executive officer.
“This exciting project provides an excellent example of how AECOM is
able to leverage our global expertise and presence to serve our clients.”

Construction is scheduled to be implemented in phases during 2011. The
project’s public park is expected to be completed during 2012, while the
overall effort is scheduled to be completed during 2018.

[SOURCE: AECOM]

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