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landscape preservation

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Have you been on The High Line Yet?

Becky

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I haven’t, but I’m dying to! What did you think?

I’m a huge fan of Bill Cunningham, and he has a charming video here about the fashions he’s seeing on The High Line.

Speaking of fashion, check out the High Line Merch here. I love the Trina Turk green and white print hat:

Keep up with High Line news over at The High Line Blog and the ever-growing Friends of The High Line flickr group pool. This shot is from flickr member ljpsf.

top two photos from thehighline.org

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Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Mies and the Giant Zip-Lock Bag…

Becky

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As many of you know, The Farnsworth House has suffered great damage from the latest round of flooding in September 2008. The house was built in a floodplain, but Mies thought the water would only reach the floor in the most severe of circumstances. Apparently, he was wrong. The Farnsworth House site asks for flood mitigation ideas, but they also include a “heard it” list, which had me in stitches. I just had to share it with you:

Before you get started though…

We have, over the course of our five years managing this property, continually investigated solutions to the threat posed by the river.  To that end, we begin this discussion with a list of previously proposed ideas:

1. Placement of a pontoons under the building
2. Longer column extensions that slide out of their footings
3. Szikorsky Helicopter to lift the 300 ton house
4. Hydraulic jacks to raise it in place
5. Building up the site flood plain by 12 ft.
6. Move the house to high ground
7. Retractable flood walls surrounding the house.
8. Waterproofing everything inside the house (vinyl upholstery, plastic laminate wood?)
9. Inflatable raft under the house
10. Internal sandbags around furniture and core
11. Dikes and dams
12. Moats
13. Fixed Moment Frame below the soil
14. Sandbags
15. Temporary flood walls
16. Reverse aquarium designed to rise out of the ground
17. Giant Zip lock bag
18. Steel waterproof shutters

When considering these ideas we evaluate them against the following criteria:
• Cost
• Sensitivity to Preservation Initiatives
• Practicality

These are the same criteria the experts will use in considering your ideas.

The problem for me in finding a solution is that the house is so connected to the site. Moving it changes everything; the planned vistas, the way it relates to the topography, the idea of the floating house in the floodplain. Then again, I’m trained as a landscape architect so I am very biased towards the relationship of built work to site. If you have any bright ideas that do not involve a Sikorsky helicopter or the world’s largest Zip-Lock bag (hey Zip-Lock, have I got a marketing idea for you…), click here to submit it. For some reason, “Rollin’ on a River” is going through my head and I’m picturing some sort of Transformer action happening with the house and a tall stacks riverboat…and now casinos are now entering my mind. Not good.

  • All photos from farnsworthhouse.org. The photos on that site are stunning, go check out the gallery if you need some inspiration today.
  • Second photo by Jon miller, Hedrich Blessing
  • Third photo by Tigerhill Studio
  • Fourth photo by LPCI
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Monday, April 13th, 2009

April 13th

Becky

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In honor of Thomas Jefferson, who would have turned 266 today, I thought I’d bring you a little Monticello moment:

all photos from monticello.org

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Friday, November 7th, 2008

Modern Transit? The Erie Canal

Becky

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I got a mule, her name is Sal…

Something about this article by Christopher Maag made me smile. I had no idea that the Erie Canal was still in use. I love that our old system of canals is being used again. Well, not the system, most of them are no longer navigable, but apparently, the Erie Canal still is, and it is regaining popularity in these days of high fuel prices. Once a route that made New York City the major port it is today, it was replaced by railroads which were later largely replaced by trucking years later. Now the canal seems like it’s ready to make a major comeback:

The canal still remains the most fuel-efficient way to ship goods between the East Coast and the upper Midwest. One gallon of diesel pulls one ton of cargo 59 miles by truck, 202 miles by train and 514 miles by canal barge, Ms. Mantello* said. A single barge can carry 3,000 tons, enough to replace 100 trucks.

I don’t know why this is so appealing to me. Maybe it’s my awe at the manpower, engineering and hyper-ambitious vision that made the canals possible back in 1825. Maybe it was working on a site in Valley Forge that had only remnants and hints of the canal, towpath and lovely crumbling old walls left. Maybe I’ve always wanted to take a really slow ride on a barge, or that tugboats are cute. Perhaps it was checking off “Modern Transit” as one of the tags for this post and grinning! Whatever it is, I love it!

*Carmella R. Mantello is director of the New York State Canal Corporation, a subsidiary of the New York State Thruway Authority that operates the Erie and three other canals.

images by Sung Park for The New York Times

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Friday, September 12th, 2008

Walkable Neighborhoods / Atlanta’s Beltline

Becky

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So last night I attended a meeting about The Beltline and found out about a fun website called walkscore.com. You simply type in a zipcode and the site shows you the most walkable neighborhoods. I put in my own address and it showed me all the walkable amenities close to me:

While the site isn’t perfect, it’s fun to see, and is very useful if you are researching a move.

By the way, the meeting I attended was about The Beltline:

OK, if you aren’t from Atlanta, you might not care about this. However, The Beltline is a huge urban planning project (thought up by a grad student for his thesis) that involves new development, land use, transportation,re-configuring roads and traffic patterns, historic preservation, new park space and greenspace, hopefully cleansing runoff, daylighting creeks, public art, et alia, and involves planning development at a very large scale for the next 30-50 years. Last night I attended a meeting about The Beltline and its effect on my neighborhood, which borders Olmsted’s Piedmont Park. Like most cities that did most of their growing after the invention of the car, Atlanta is a very car-dependent, pedestrian and bicycle-unfriendly city, and the Beltline is a loop that will connect MARTA to a new transit loop connecting many of the intown neighborhoods. Along with the development will be new connecting streets to alleviate traffic and potentially some traffic circles. I shudder at the thought of Atlanta drivers trying to navigate a rotary, as this city is truly full of the worst drivers I’ve ever seen this side of the D.C. Beltway.

The following image is from a pre-first draft conceptual plan they (EDAW) are calling “Concept A”:

One thing I’d forgotten about from my grad school days and planning board job is that urban planners talk in a bunch of acronyms. I’d also forgotten about the fugly magic-marker images they come up with, and in spite of the simplicity of their designs, no one could tell the difference between the shades of purple on this thing, which was the difference between 9 story buildings and mile-high buildings, which caused quite a ruckus. One really scary thing about The Beltline, which is supposed to be surrounded by parkland and bike paths, is that one legal option at the moment is to sell off the land for single-family homes (the red line and yellow line along The Beltline represent a new road and single family homes along Piedmont Park). Considering some of the vultures that have been trying to profit from this project already, a lot of the possiblities are scary and I can see what a tough job the color-challenged planners have in front of them.

In a city with such severe water problems, one can only hope all of this development, which has a goal of creating at least 15 dwelling units per acre (supposedly, this is the ideal transit-friendly figure), will provide some solutions instead of making the problem worse. I haven’t heard this issue addressed much in regards to the potential of The Beltline land. Kathy Poole was a huge influence on me, and I would feel much better if she had a voice in this project.

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