Latest News in Landscape Architecture
In this week’s Latest News in Landscape Architecture, we uncover 2014’s top developments in landscape architecture, announce plans to make Paris’ city center more pedestrian friendly, and highlight a new controversial — yet critical — discovery that could improve the quality of healthy habitats for bees. Did you know that the latest science suggests that about 85 percent of plant species on Earth either require or strongly benefit from insect pollination?
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As 2014 comes to a close, Charles A. Birnbaum (president of The Cultural Landscape Foundation) reflected on key advances in the industry. Here are three:
• “Thanks to national design talent, visionary political leadership, and successful public-private partnerships, Houston is transforming from the City of Petroleum to the City of Parks.”
• “Mellon Square“ in Pittsburgh, PA, the first park over a parking garage, reopened following an extensive restoration by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and Heritage Landscapes.”
• Garden Design Magazine, long a staple for informative stories and great photography, has been resurrected by publisher Jim Petersen.
WATCH: Mellon Square: Rebirth of a Masterpiece
Home of the renowned park known as Gardens by the Bay, Singapore will soon welcome another striking addition to its Changi Airport. The 134,000-square-meter project will become a major destination, creating a seamless connection to terminal 1 while linking terminals 2 and 3 through pedestrian bridges. Led by the global practice of Safdie Architects, the “project jewel” will introduce public gathering space, retail, and plenty of entertainment. However, the most impressive feature is arguably the 40-meter-tall waterfall coined the “rain vortex”, which completes the soaring glass dome. Construction has started, and the project is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2018.
Explore What Makes a Biophilic City
WATCH: A First Look: Jewel Changi Airport
While sleek, innovative, and world-class parks are becoming more abundant, this movement also brings controversy, says David Callahan, founder and editor of Inside Philanthropy. Callahan contends “that these luxurious parks, funded by extensive private donations and built by some of the most visionary designers around, don’t really serve the needs of the whole.” Perhaps to level the playing field, private park entrepreneurs should be required to contribute funds to support parks in “less-visited” neighborhoods.
Paris will join London, Rome, and New York in becoming the latest city to reduce its dependence on cars by establishing pedestrian zones in the city center. Anne Hidalgo (mayor of Paris) believes this ambitious plan will reduce traffic and pollution, which Paris has battled for decades. “In the four central districts, apart from bikes, buses, and taxis, the only vehicles allowed will be residents’ cars, delivery vehicles, and emergency vehicles,” said Hidalgo. Across Europe, fewer people own cars, and Paris ranks among the highest, as 60 percent of Parisians don’t have their own car, up from 40 percent in 2011.
The global collapse in bee populations continues, however the Xerces Society, a non-profit environmental organization, has released a collection of concepts for re-establishing a healthy habitat for our winged friends. Through thoughtful design and the use of highway corridors and utility rights-of-way, plus corporate campuses and croplands, a vigorous pollinator habitat may begin to be restored. However, until this campaign can successfully launch, the “talk” about banning neonicotinoid insecticides has to shift from discussion to reality.
As buzzwords such as sustainability and landscape urbanism continue to flourish, a term that describes all of the aspects of quality life of a place is quickly catching up. Known as livability, it’s been uttered across the world, but who knows “what” it really means? Meet Jan Gehl, Founding Partner of Gehl Architects and his wife, Ingrid Mundt, a psychologist. Together in 1965, they developed a data-driven approach to collect data and assess how to improve the livability of cities and neighborhoods, yet their discoveries are only one small part of the full equation. One method of improving a city’s livability is to “mix the city and assemble the people rather dispersing them,” says practice partner and CEO Helle Søholt.
Explore the ingredients for a livable city in pictures.
WATCH: Interview: Jan Gehl on planning for people-oriented cities
With the days counting down, don’t forget about that landscape architect in your life. Instead of buying them another gift card, have a look at SvR’s holiday gift guide. From modular building sets to a handcrafted bike chain mason jar, it’s certainly worth a look for those struggling to shop for designers.
News report by Brett Lezon