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Public Space

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Road Trip: Greenville, South Carolina

Becky

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You know how sometimes you’re headed to some town you’ve only seen from an interstate highway (near the Peachoid) for a wedding and your expectations are low? This weekend I traveled to Greenville, South Carolina for a wedding and I could not get over how charming and beautiful that town was. I even ran into John Legend twice – go figure!

Once a thriving textile town, Greenville went through a rough patch, but now the downtown area, the west end and the newly developed Swamp Rabbit Trail along the Reedy river are very impressive. Refurbished mills and new construction include design studios, boutiques, restaurants, hotels and art galleries.

At one end of the trail was this cheerful rainbow garden.

Heading downstream (Greenville is along the fall line, so the river is full of falls and gorgeous rocks), I came across this amazing view of tree roots in section.

The Liberty Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that spans the falls and lands you at the West End of town, which is the cool design-centric area. The bridge is supported by two 90-foot masts that hold the one suspension cable. Quite impressive and a beautiful feat of engineering, the bridge was designed by architect Miquel Rosales.

At the West End side of the bridge sits the charming Passerelle Bistro, where patrons can enjoy the view of the falls from the stone patio. There are also nice clean public restrooms around the corner — always a plus on these adventures.

The West End is full of design businesses like Postcard from Paris. Is this a great ghost sign or what? This is a view from the Swamp Rabbit Trail below.

Circling the West End before heading back to the hotel, we came across an old-school Army-Navy store. Then we ran into Legend and his cutie dog Pippa in NoMa Square, which was icing on the cake. Greenville South Carolina is a charming livable city at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains that I’m still dreaming about almost a week later. I highly suggest a weekend trip, especially during spring or fall.

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Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

In Memorium: Lawrence Halprin Dies at 93

Becky

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I was sad to hear of Lawrence Halprin’s passing on Sunday night. He was one of my favorite landscape architects. For eleven years, I lived in Charlottesville Virginia and was able to enjoy the Halprin-designed Downtown Mall. I could go on about his best-known projects, like Ghiradelli Square or the FDR Memorial, but my very favorite design of his is Lovejoy Plaza in Portland, OR, and a glance at his sketchbook pages tell you all you need to know about why his designs work so well. Without weighing us down with a bunch of archispeak gibberish, we can follow the idea from it’s initial contextual inspirations to the final product:


I should have known when I went to find a picture of Lovejoy Plaza on flickr that my favorite one would have been taken by Ken McCowen. To see more beautiful images of Halprin’s work taken by Ken, click here.

Halprin was that perfect combination of conscientious urban problem solver who understood natural processes. He did such an artful job of understanding the greater context of a place and bringing his interpretations of ecology into cities in an artful way. Lovejoy Park is a perfect example of this. He contributed so much to the American landscape; whether helping to heal the gash a freeway cut through a neighborhood in Seattle or protecting the land by leaving a soft footprint at Sea Ranch. He will be missed.

For more information on the Halprin Landscape Conservancy, click here.

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Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Arc de ????

Becky

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Atlanta has this big new area full of hotels, exhibits (will “Bodies” EVER leave? The billboards are GROSS!), stores, condos, apartments, and even temporary Cirque de Soleil tents called Atlantic Station. I think they planned this project fairly well except for the fact that there is no MARTA station onsite. However, the dumbest thing I have ever seen in this city thusfar is this:

I mean, we had an Eiffel Tower at King’s Island Amusement Park in Cincinnati, but an amusement park is the proper context for such a folly. Couldn’t they come up with something more original? Is this supposed to fool us into thinking that the road to IKEA is the Champs-Elysees? Does that make the Chatahoochee river the Seine? Does your city have anything as stupid as this? Do tell!

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Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Mosaic Mania / Empty Storefront Art Initiatives

Becky

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I was googling to find out more information for you about a new public art program in Philadelphia (Arts on South) and I stumbled on this really fun blog, Mosiac Art Source. I wound up scrolling through for way too long and forgot all about the sixth borough and how they are giving artists free space in vacant buildings on South Street to try and “breathe new life” into an area that is suffering due to economic conditinos. Anyway, enjoy scrolling the mosaic image collection here, and read about how Pittsfield Mass succeeded with a similar empty storefront arts program here.

Philly mosaic building image by flickr member Scuzzi.

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Monday, March 2nd, 2009

You, Me and the Bus

Becky

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Athens GA has always been a cool town – not only the birthplace of great bands, but also a place where visual arts and architecture are celebrated. For example, right now they are in the middle of You, Me, and the Bus phase II. After phase one, four artist-designed bus shelters were constructed around town. The competition for the eight additional shelters is wrapping up as I write this. This is a perfect combination of public art form applied to an everyday function. Such shelters are usually banal and uninspired.

Has your town had its version of the Cincinnati pigs, the Chicago cows, the Outer Banks dolphins, what have you? I’m hard-pressed to find a city that hasn’t had some version of that project. Isn’t this shelter project a much better and original use of public art funds? What types of public art do you have in your neck of the woods? Would these shelters make you a little more likely to want to take the bus?

photo one by Trevor Frey for Athens Online

photo two by John W. English for the AJC

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