Railroad Park | Birmingham Alabama | Tom Leader Studio

Railroad Park-Birmingham Alabama-Tom Leader Studio

Aerial image of the park with phase II amphitheater by Kennedy Violich Architecture

Tom Leader Studio(TLS) spent five years working extensively with a public / private partnership to build this downtown central park and master plan the rail corridor. TLS managed a large team of consultants including multiple architects, local landscape architect, and engineers. Abandoned rail lines are a constant theme in all of our work today. This project celebrates the active participation of 11 tracks of well-loved trains that slowly lumber through this downtown on a viaduct. The park site is a former warehouse and brick-making site and much of the park is formed with materials recovered from historic uses. The park is four blocks long by one block wide and was historically, the lowest point in town. The scheme draws on this ample water in creating a large reservoir for irrigation which also discharges through a stream and series of ponds as a summer fountain. Needed floodwater storage is created by excavating for this water system, using the spoils to create a series of knolls along the rail viaduct. The “Rail Trail”, located atop this little mountain range is a series of on-grade and bridge connections which allow train-spotting up close, views over downtown and of the frequent large music events and parties within the park. The park contains performance venues of varying scales from small to extra large such as the annual “Crawfish Boil” attracting 30,000 music fans. Noisy or quiet, day or night, the park is only completed by the industrial ballet of freight cars slowly rolling in both directions.

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LAMP & the Low-Line | Chicago Illinois | Moss

LAMP & the Low-Line | Chicago Illinois | Moss

moss was commissioned to formulate the LAMP (Lakeview Area Master Plan) by the The Lakeview Chamber of Commerce to pro-actively plan for business, economic development, and sustainability initiatives in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. The plan creates a hub for urban scale sustainable design innovation and improvements while enhancing the pedestrian environment, strengthening business opportunities, and mending the urban ecosystem.

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SWA Group design Mixed Use Fairgrounds in California

SWA Group-Mixed Use Fairgrounds-Solano360
SWA Group has been named to provide detailed site planning and a Specific Plan for the 149-acre Solano360 mixed-use development that will transform the County Fairgrounds property at I-80 and Highway 37 into a year-round destination. The project will integrate a new County fairgrounds with entertainment, retail, hospitality, event- and meeting-space, offices and open space. Solano360 is a joint effort of Solano County, the City of Vallejo and the Solano County Fair Association.
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Preserving biodiversity in suburban, rural areas [Event: Workshop]

Development in urban, suburban and even rural areas can often limit the variety of plant and animal life in these environments. In some cases, development also means an increase in exotic plants, which can ultimately displace native plant communities, which in turn can disrupt local populations of birds, bugs and other native wildlife.

Developers, planners, landscape architects, policymakers, landowners and others involved with the management of growth and development can learn about techniques for conserving and restoring biodiversity at upcoming workshops sponsored by University of Missouri Extension and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

The University of Missouri Extension is holding a workshop at two locations in Missouri: April 26 at the St. Charles County Extension Center, 260 Brown Road, St. Peters; and April 27 at the Boone County Extension Center, 1012 N. Highway UU, Columbia. Workshops run 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at both sites. Cost is $35.

For information and registration details, contact either Scott Killpack at the St. Charles County Extension Center at 636-970-3000, killpacks@missouri.edu; or Kent Shannon at the Boone County Extension Center at 573-445-9792, shannond@missouri.edu.

“Creative Placemaking”: A resource for revitalising communities and cities

I have just skim read Mayors’ Institute on City Design’s (MICD) most recent publication, Creative Placemaking(pdf)by Dr. Ann Markusen, principal of Markusen Economic Research Services, and Anne Gadwa, principal with Metris Arts Consulting focuses on how communities are using the arts and other creative assets to help shape their physical, social, and economic character.

From the parts of the 69-page Creative Placemaking(pdf) document that I have read it has great content that gives data about the industry including number of artists, contribution to USA GDP, industry exports,  and cases studies. The report also looks into partnerships, regulatory hurdles, avoiding displacement & gentrification and developing metrics for evaluation.

The report points to key elements for a project’s success – Initiators, Distinctiveness, Mobilizing Public, Private Sector Support, Arts Community and Partnerships.

Creative Placemaking(pdf) provides 14 case studies from across the USA and a summary of each project.

Creative Placemaking(pdf)is a resource for mayors, arts organizations, the philanthropic sector, and others interested in understanding strategies for leveraging the arts to help shape and revitalize the physical, social, and economic character of neighborhoods, cities, and towns. If your artist, designer, landscape architect, architect or a city employee this document is a must read.

I’ll think this great quote from the report  sums up the quality of  Creative Placemaking(pdf)

A culture-based revitalization effort must be appropriate to its local circumstances, not a “me, too” replica of what other cities and towns are doing. The best of the projects nurture distinctive qualities and resources that already exist in the community and can be celebrated to serve community members while drawing in visitors and new businesses, as Mark Stern and Susan Seifert’s longitudinal study in Philadelphia finds.

Download the report at National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) – warning direct link to PDF (right click save as)

Other resources on NEA’s website along with other arts and community design resources:


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