Page N1.2 . 26 May 2010                     
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    Great New Landscapes


    Inspired by Chinese agricultural landscapes, a series of terraces was created at Houtan Park to bridge the elevation change from the road to the river's edge, and to slow runoff into the wetland.

    The cascades and terraces, interspersed by footpaths, help oxygenate the nutrient-rich, contaminated river water, while removing nutrients and suspended sediments. Different species of wetland plants also help by absorbing different pollutants from the water. Field testing indicates that the wetland system can treat 2,400 cubic meters (500,000 gallons) of water per day to a level safe for nonpotable use at the Expo.

    "This is very powerful," praised the awards jury. "The scope is exquisite. The presentation is excellent."

    "Shanghai never has a blue sky," added the jury, "and recognizing this kind of sustainable project in that context is important."

    Planning Growth in Rwanda

    Located in a region of ridges and valleys, the Rwandan capital of Kigali currently numbers about a million residents. That population is projected to triple by 2030, according to AECOM Design + Planning (formerly EDAW).

    Currently, about 70 percent of Kigali residents live in unplanned areas of ad-hoc development, and 80 percent live without basic infrastructure. And of the 730 square kilometers (280 square miles) of urban and rural areas within the city boundaries, only about half is buildable, due to the presence of steep slopes and wetlands.

    To plan for projected growth within that context, the city initiated a master-planning effort aimed at expanding Kigali's economy while providing safe and livable neighborhoods. AECOM Design + Planning contributed to the development of the Kigali Conceptual Master Plan, performing landscape architecture and planning for prime consultant Oz Architecture. A transect model was used to illustrate the plan's recommendations for how future aspects of urbanization should respond to topography and to each other.

    The conceptual master plan recommends defining development zones based on the terrain. The highest-density urban areas would occupy hilltops, while steep slopes, forests, and wetlands would be preserved, and many flat, low-lying areas would be set aside for agriculture or reforestation. Low- and medium-density development would occur on the intermediate slopes.

    The plan also recommends the development of clear and consistent planning codes; the use of efficient, decentralized infrastructure systems, such as energy-sensitive water pumps and rainwater harvesting facilities; and the implementation of fine-grain pilot projects to build local capacity.

    The jury remarked, "It is well done for the landscape structure and shows in a simple way how to integrate urban and cultural landscape."

    Bryant Park Transformed

    The 1992 redesign of Manhattan's Bryant Park helped transform the previously derelict backyard of the New York Public Library into an active public center. ASLA recognized the project's long-term success with the Landmark Award, given in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

    A public park since 1871, and redesigned in the mid-1930s, Bryan Park had suffered from physical deterioration, and by the 1960s and 1970s, it was the site of frequent illegal drug use and other illegal activities.

    The park's renaissance began with the public library's planning for renovation in 1979. The private Bryant Park Restoration Corporation (BPRC, now Bryant Park Corporation) was formed. And William H. "Holly" Whyte, an urban planner and researcher of design's influence on behavior, was commissioned to study the park. Whyte recommended improving access to the site by removing iron fences and shrubbery, along with other changes that could alter the way the park was used.

    Landscape architecture firm Hanna/ Olin Ltd. — now Olin — used Whyte's report as a guide in its redesign of the park for BPRC. A collection of small changes increased accessibility and openness: the modification and addition of entrances, stairs, and ramps; the enlargement of the central lawn; and the removal of hedges lining the lawn.

    New features were introduced, such as cast-iron lamps based on historic designs; 300-foot- (90-meter-) long borders of herbaceous perennials and evergreens, designed by Lynden B. Miller; and gravel walkways to replace stone paving in some areas.

    Management and programming played key roles in the park's transformation, starting even before the redesign. Concerts, ice skating, and other events — too many events, according to some critics — continue to draw people to the site, and also provide a revenue stream to support maintenance. The kiosks and restaurant pavilions were designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates.

    The park is also a large-scale green roof. At the time of the redesign, Olin responded to the library's need for more stacks by suggesting building them beneath the park. Davis Brody Bond, LLP designed the two-story library extension.

    "Refreshing and so beautiful," said the jury of Bryant Park. "It is amazing in that it has a lot of history and has solved a lot of problems, turning a derelict space into an effective place that people want to be."

    Lakeside Retreat

    Richardson & Associates, Landscape Architects played many roles in the development of a remote lakeside vacation home in New England, from establishing access to the project site, located almost a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the nearest existing gravel road, to providing for the necessary utilities and infrastructure to support the "camp."

    The design intent was to carefully insert the new buildings into the existing landscape — 369 acres (149 hectares) of thick woodland, wetlands, and lakeside cliffs and boulders.

    Tree trunks and root zones were protected, and small saplings and overhanging tree limbs along the new access road were tied back during construction. Even the mosses and lichens on boulders were carefully preserved, by covering them in burlap and irrigating during construction to mitigate the temporary openness of the site.

    Aiming to "stitch" the new development into its surroundings, the landscape architect went so far as to introduce new boulders — from old quarry tailings in a nearby granite pit — and arrange them to give the illusion that they were a natural part of the site.

    Some areas were revegetated using a palette of plant species from the site, sometimes using actual transplanted groundcover mats and sapling stands.   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    Cargo pier transformed into a viewing platform, updated with an arbor, railings, seating, and planters.
    Photo: Kongjian Yu Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Plan and section diagrams depicting the sequence of water filtration by the constructed wetlands at Houtan Park
    Image: Turenscape/ Peking University Graduate School of Landscape Architecture Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    The banded pattern of the wetland plantings at the entrance to Houtan Park corresponds to functions in the filtration process.
    Photo: Kongjian Yu Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Houtan Park site plan (top) and aerial rendering from the southwest (bottom).
    Image: Turenscape/ Peking University Graduate School of Landscape Architecture Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    AECOM Design + Planning helped develop a conceptual master plan to guide future development of Kigali, Rwanda, a city of about one million people.
    Image: Andrew Irvine, Pamela McMillian, Craig Johnson, Briana Hensold, Heather Saunders Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Kigali site plan diagram showing existing and proposed urban centers.
    Image: Andrew Irvine, Pamela McMillian, Craig Johnson Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    A transect model was used in the Kigali Conceptual Master Plan to illustrate recommendations for how future buildings, infrastructure, transportation, land uses, and density could respond to the terrain and to each other.
    Image: Andrew Irvine, Pamela McMillian, Craig Johnson, Briana Hensold, Heather Saunders Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    An example of topography and existing low-density settlement patterns in part of Kigali, Rwanda.
    Photo: Russ Butler Extra Large Image


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