Rumble in the Urban Jungle – Michael Sorkin vs. “New” Urban-ists & “Landscape Urban”-isms

Heated debate in the riposte’s & the  responses ( read the comments in the original- see link below) from the Architectural Record – Like Michael Sorkin says here – it seems  a pointless debate – one that is particularly irrelevant here in the global South – we can’t really see whats the “new” in New Urbanism or what is really different in the Landscape Urbanism from what Landscape Architects here have always done – stewarded the environment on which we all depend – and try to get their clients to do what’s best for all the actor-networks involved in the city, human & non-humann – wealthy as well as the disenfranchised- not just themselves .

August 2013

A recent book by New Urbanist authors revives an old battle with Landscape Urbanism.

By Michael Sorkin

The High Line in New York, designed by James Corner Field Operations with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is criticized by Andres Duany for being too expensive and over-designed.
Photo © Iwan Baan
The High Line in New York, designed by James Corner Field Operations with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is criticized by Andres Duany for being too expensive and over-designed.

It’s hard to keep up with the musical deck chairs in the disciplines these days. The boundaries of architecture, city planning, urban design, landscape architecture, sustainability, computation, and other fields are shifting like crazy, and one result is endless hybridization–green urbanism begets landscape urbanism, which begets ecological urbanism, which begets agrarian urbanism–each “ism” claiming to have gotten things in just the right balance. While this discussion of the possible weighting and bounding of design’s expanded field does keep the juices flowing, it also maintains the fiction that there are still three fixed territories–buildings, cities, and landscapes–that must constantly negotiate their alignment.

Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, one of the leading firms in the New Urbanism movement, designed a master plan in 2012 for Costa Verbena in Brazil. The designers say the plan respects the site's topography and its sensitive ecosystems, while applying a traditional street grid.
Image courtesy DPZ & Company
Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, one of the leading firms in the New Urbanism movement, designed a master plan in 2012 for Costa Verbena in Brazil. The designers say the plan respects the site’s topography and its sensitive ecosystems, while applying a traditional street grid.

2012 London Olympics Legacy | South Park | James Corner Field Operations

Speaking of Utopian Dreams and the problems with much of neo-liberal mass planning and urban design’s excesses (see The Best-Laid Plans and London 2012: is the host city a winner? )  more beautiful, but questionable, graphics of urban public spaces in the shadow of the Olympics tower? from World Landscape Architecture by Damian Holmes

2012 London Olympics Legacy | South Park | James Corner Field Operations

A design competition was held in late 2011 to create designs for the South Plaza to provide the stage for an exciting range of cultural, sporting and community events and activities, all taking place beneath the imposing form of the extraordinary ArcelorMittal Orbit after the 2012 Games. New York-based James Corner Field Operations were chosen as the south plaza winners for their design concept, which features a tree-lined promenade connecting flexible spaces for events, cultural programmes, food stalls and other attractions. The area will have a London’s South Bank feel and will welcome the majority of visitors to the Park. The practice is renowned for its contemporary design across a variety of projects including the award winning and widely acclaimed High Line in New York City, which is recognised as one of the best new public spaces in recent years.
2012 London Olympics Legacy | South Park | James Corner Field Operations

” A Landscape framework for a socially dynamic & eventful pleasure ground…..
Taken together, the Arc Promenade, the Planting Ribbon, the Event Rooms and the Lawns and Gardens create a powerful landscape framework for both everyday use and enjoyment as well as supporting a wide range of event programming, from food festivals and markets to rides and small circuses, to concerts and performances, to arts, culture and education. The design is clearly legible, iconic, playful and varied, while at the same time capable of supporting a diverse range of uses. This theatrical event site, set within a larger network of ecological green systems, waterways and world-class attractions, creates a destination legacy park for London – scenic and social on a daily basis, and eventful and active when programmed.” – James Corner Field Operations | Competition Entry Boards

West 8 wins Yongsan Park competition in Seoul

West 8 has won International Competition for Master Plan of Yongsan Park, Korea. On the 23 April, the organizer of the competition, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs of the Republic of Korea announced the exciting news.

The project site is a large area in the centre of Seoul with a total area of circa 243 ha that has been in use as a military base for an extensive period both during the Japanese occupation and under post-War American protection. The vision of the competition, as described in the brief, is to create a park in which nature, culture, history and the future are in harmony. It will be a park which restores, sublimates, and expands upon the history and local characteristics of the area. This park shall regain the respect for nature and reclaims the lost and damaged ecological system. It will eventually become a park of new urban culture for the preservation of green spaces and a sustainable future

The new Master Plan for Yongsan National Park proposed by West 8 + IROJE has been developed through an interactive process that has consistently returned to the fundamental concept of healing. The act of healing is a process that transforms the existing site through an awareness of its history into a world-class park that inspires illusions of nature, ecological restoration and a wide ranging urban park culture. Continue reading

URBANIZED: Conversation

A discussion between Gary Hustwitt, James Corner and Ricky Burdett on the movie URBANIZED, a documentary film by Gary Hustwit

Urbanized is a feature-length documentary about the design of cities, which looks at the issues and strategies behind urban design and features some of the world’s foremost architects, planners, policymakers, builders, and thinkers. On April 12, PennDesign Dean Marilyn Jordan Taylor joined filmmaker Gary Hustwit in conversation with two of the film’s participants, James Corner, Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture at PennDesign and Principal, James Corner Field Operations and Ricky Burdett, Professor of Urban Studies and Director, LSE Cities and Urban Age/Global Distinguished Professor, New York University, following a screening of the film. Sponsored by Penn IUR, Cinema Studies and Urban Studies. For more information, visitdesign.upenn.edu/calendar/urbanized-film-screening-conversation.

James Corner Field Operations makes Fast Co.’s 50 World Most Innovative Companies

From FAST COMPANY via LAND Reader BY MARGARET RHODES recognition of one of the modern day Frederick Law Olmsteds of Landscape Architecture  and his inspirational projects number 35 of 50 for- 

 

FOR CREATING INTIMATE GREEN SPACES OUT OF INDUSTRIAL URBAN BLIGHT

 

JAMES CORNER AT THE SITE OF THE THIRD (AND FINAL) SECTION OF MANHATTAN'S HIGH LINE

James Corner Field Operations says it practices landscape architecture, but its real plan is to redesign the public realm. Corner, founder and principal, calls his work “a totally new landscape of leisure,” built from the industrial-era remnants of long-abandoned railways and city waterfronts. With minimalist clarity, Corner and his team have transformed deserted eyesores into new urban destinations. Besides unveiling the second section of the High Line, the celebrated elevated greenway running along Manhattan’s West Side, the firm recently transformed a vacant waterfront into a pedestrian attraction (Race Street Pier, in Philadelphia) and is working to convert a 4.6-square-mile dump site into a sprawling park (Fresh Kills Landfill, in Staten Island) and an old freeway viaduct into a waterside plaza (Seattle Park Central Waterfront). The firm has been taking its work overseas too: Late last year, Field Operations won the right to design the south hub of London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

 

FC: Is landscape architecture having a moment right now?
Corner: Yeah, for a number of reasons. First, the whole environmental agenda is something that landscape architects have been trained in and have worked on for years. We’ve been thinking about hydrological systems, water and air quality, biodiversity. Combined with that is a new interest on the part of cities to create a vibrant and strong public realm. Cities are beginning to invest in new parks, new public spaces, new waterfronts, and the transformation of many of these postindustrial inheritances from the 20th century.

 

Why focus on transforming urban relics, rather than doing more traditional urban planning? 
That’s where a lot of the work is today. With the shift from an industrial economy in cities to a service economy, a lot of land is abandoned and derelict. No one knows what to do with it. The High Line is a great example of making something new. When we got hired to design it, the first thing we did was go and look at it and stand on it for the first time. And the immediate feeling was, How do we not mess this up? Because what we found there was so special and strange that any design needed to amplify those conditions.

 

 

How did that compare with seeing the Staten Island landfill? 
The High Line is about a mile and a half long and about 30 feet wide, quite narrow. In some ways, even though it’s long, it’s a small thing. Fresh Kills Landfill was one of the world’s largest. It’s more than 4 square miles. It took all of Manhattan’s trash for nearly 60 years. It’s three and a half times the size of Central Park. There, the first impression was, Jeez, what are we going to do with this huge volume of land?
There’s an edginess and urban appeal that comes with these sites. It would be a shame to erase any sign of their histories. A part of what was innovative about our Staten Island approach is we devised a methodology around which a very large site could be transformed.

 

You’re also designing parks in Seattle and Qianhai, China. How do they differ from the New York projects? 
Both transcend traditional definitions of landscape architecture. They’re much more complex projects that are also about buildings, infrastructure, transportation, and all of these different systems that go into making a city. With Qianhai [a new city being built over the next decade to hold an estimated 2 million people], one of the things we’re boasting is that it will be a carbon-neutral, fully sustainable urban center.

 

QuanHai Bay
China, Shenzhen

Does the intimacy of your spaces play a role in their success?
Definitely. But what I’m trying to push is both a concern for the intimate and larger-scale issues of sustainability and lifestyle in cities. The biggest issue over the next two decades is the world’s population growing by 3 billion people. You can build more buildings, but it’s hard to think about how to have a high-quality public realm. My interest is in these two extremes: the poetics of tactility, the beauty of intimacy; and a larger sense of how cities work and how they’re designed at that scale.

 

Photograph by Miller Mobley


First Look at James Corner’s Waterfront “Ring”

by MvB  from The Sun Break

First Look at James Corner’s Waterfront “Ring”

by MvB on May 23, 2011

“If you squint your eyes,” said James Corner at the initial design presentation for Seattle’s central waterfront, “this, too, almost has a sort of circularity, where it’s embracing and enclosing the city and looking out to water bodies. […] It’s really a device to bring together a sense of the collective and focus it.” (Watch the presentation here.)

He was talking about the Olmsted Legacy, Seattle’s park system, and how he hopes to recapitulate that with an Elliott Bay ring. “Seattle has in a sense turned its back on Elliott Bay over years,” Corner argued, “it’s now going to become a frontage.” Covering eight districts and tying into 29 streets, the new central waterfront would sit inside a larger ring, giving impetus to the creation of even more connections outside the scope of his project. In the end, Elliott Bay would be a “centerpiece for the city,” a “theater for weather.” Continue reading

Woodland Discovery Playground at Shelby Farms Park | Field Operations

New playgrounds in the United States are very sophisticated as can be seen here – our own levelof design is decidedly more organic and at a much lower cost as a future post of the new Green Point Park will illustrate. By Damian Holmes at World Landscape Architecture


“The 
Woodland Discovery Playground was designed by Shelby Farm Park Conservatory’s Master Plan design firm, James Corner Field Operations (JCFO), and the design process was anything but ordinary. To create the next great 21st century play landscape, SFPC and JCFO went straight to experts—local kids. The site for the Woodland Discovery Playground is situated on an existing twenty-year-old play area and edged by woodland that has been overtaken by Chinese Privet. The design of the playground capitalizes on its location with a woodland restoration project and significant new native plantings that enmesh the play space with its surroundings.”

View full article here.

Santa Monica Unveils Field Operations Designs for Civic Center Parks via The Dirt

A description of the progress on James Corner and  Field Operations designs for the parks in Santa Monica and the challenges facing them. Seems like it very similar to here – a lot of hype is put into the process, but similar to New York’s Governors Island compettion, ( See Interview with Adraain Geuse of West 8) this is a long and slow process: The link to the presentation on the Design Development is really worthwhile looking at:

AN AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS THE NEW AREAS TO BE DEVELOPED BY FIELD OPERATIONS IN DOWNTOWN SANTA MONICA AS WELL AS NEARBY LANDMARKS


Last year, James Corner Field Operations won the commission to design the newSanta Monica Civic Center parks, which includes a new town square and Palisades garden walk. Designs for the seven-acre, $25 million project were recently unveiled, showing an “ambitious, layered” proposal that will be broken up into a number of “systems,” writes The Architect’s Newspaper. These systems are a set of “colorful and diverse zones” that enable different experiences for park visitors.

According to The Architect’s Newspaper, the new landscape includes a set of zones: “view-centric hills, sheltered bays, and meandering pathways surrounded by plants, fountains, and small creeks.” There’s a Grand Bluff, which will provide views of the ocean and neighborhood. Garden Hill will offer the “widest variety of plant life on the site.” A new Gathering Hill is designed for ”congregation and relaxation.” The Discovery Bay is a new kids play area and will include ”an area shaded by large trees that will contain extra large steel slides, forts, and other activities.” The Town Square, which local respondents to a survey said had too much pavement, will get a new reflecting pool, reflecting the city hall.

Continue reading