If you’ve been to Sneak Peak, perhaps you’ve noticed your own reflection in the side of a Department of Sanitation garbage truck.
This 20 cubic-yard garbage truck faced with hand-tempered mirror is The Social Mirror by artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles. The Social Mirror debuted in the grand finale of the first NYC Art Parade in 1983 and was most recently exhibited at the 2007 Armory Show. According to Ukeles, “This project allowed citizens to see themselves linked with the handlers of their waste.”
Since publishing Manifesto for Maintenance Art, 1969!, Ukeles’s work has revolved around the role of the artist and our relationship to maintenance and service work, and most importantly the workers who perform these essential, everyday tasks for the rest of society. She has worked as the first and only official artist-in-residence for the New York City Department of Sanitation since 1977, where her projects have included Touch Sanitation (1978-1984) and Flow City (1983-1996) .
Not surprisingly, Ukeles has also played an important role in the Freshkills Park project, advocating for a public park on the site since 1989. She has produced several gallery installations on Freshkills and was a contributor to the Draft Master Plan for the park. Ukeles is currently designing a permanent nature viewing platform and two related earth works in South Park as part of the City’s Percent for Art program.
Find out more about maintenance art and Mierle Laderman Ukeles’s work in this video from the 2011 Creative Time Summit.
Though the 2012 Olympic Games have come to a close, the landscape of London’s East End has been dramatically transformed for the long-term utilizing a ecologically-based design approach that has much in common with the Freshkills Park master plan.
According to The Dirt, nearly 250 acres of formerly-industrial land were turned into a beautiful setting for the Olympic venues inspired by Victorian and post-war English pleasure and festival gardens. The landscape design, by LDA Design and Hargreaves Associates, incorporated hillocks with views of the surrounding city, stormwater management practices including bioswales and rain gardens, and new bio-habitats such as wildflower meadows, wetlands, and wet and dry woodlands. The site designers even had an Olympic Park Biodiversity Action Plan to attract native species like kingfisher, sandmartin, and European eel! The River Lea, which flows through the site, was previously canalized, but now benefits from wider, more natural banks. All of these designed landscape improvements contributed to the 2012 Olympics being heralded as the most sustainable Olympic Games yet.
Many of the same types of interventions are being incorporated into Freshkills Park, as the former landfill site is transformed into an expanse of rolling hills and restored woodlands and wetlands. Many of the native flora and fauna have already begun to return to the site!
The Olympic site in London will now be converted to public park land. James Corner Field Operations (the landscape architecture firm that created the master plan for Freshkills Park) has re-designed a 55 acre piece of the new public park, set to open in 2014 as Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. According to inhabitat.com:
The redesigned Olympic Park will include a 12-metre wide tree-lined promenade that will open up to a series of outdoor “rooms”, separated by tall grasses. These active spaces will host a classic carousel, an amphitheater and a play space with a climbing wall. There will also be spaces reserved for picnics, concerts and other events.
(via The Dirt)
After the success of The Highline in New York, it seems that every city is now attempting to transform abandoned or underused public spaces into lush urban parks. Treehugger has reported on the recent developments in unusually located parks, the latest being the Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, Texas. The 5.2 park, which is set to open this fall, is currently being constructed over a busy highway. The park itself will be built upon a deck-like structure, providing the surrounding neighborhood, and the city at large, with much needed public recreation spaces, including a pedestrian promenade, gardens, restaurants and performance pavilions.
While Klyde Warren Park represents Dallas’ admirable commitment to the revitalization and creation of urban green space, Treehugger duly notes that an even more enivronmentally and innovative friendly plan would have been if the city of Dallas had opted to convert the entire highway into a park, as they have done in Seoul, Korea.
If you, like us, are currently immersed in the London 2012 Summer Olympics, it is fascinating to imagine if the games were instead taking place in our own backyard… More specifically at Freshkills Park!
As WNYC has reminded us, during New York City’s bid for the Olympics back in 2005, Staten Island and Freshkills Park were featured as a prominent site for large scale sporting events. The park itself would have hosted the Staten Island Olympic Cycling Center where the BMX and Mountain biking events would have taken place. While the rest of the borough was set to become home to the Greenbelt Equestrian Center, Fort Wadsworth Road Cycling Course Cycling and Richmond Olympic Softball Stadium. Thankfully both horseback riding and biking will eventually be offered on the island as part of the Freshkills Park master plan.
Despite losing out to London, New York City has still gone forward with several Olympics’ related infrastructure and venue plans. For instance, the proposed gymnastics arena, has been built instead as the Brooklyn Nets Stadium at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. WNYC has also produced a fascinating interactive feature which depicts all the proposed Olympic sites throughout the rest of the city.
A San Francisco company is spurring local urban agriculture by turning organic waste into mulch, and giving it away for free. Bayview Greenwaste collects plant waste for a fee, grinds it into mulch, then gives it away to any organization that wants it, including nonprofits, municipalities, private citizens, schools, and power plants.
The high-quality mulch allows grassroots organizations to move community garden projects forward. Hayes Valley Farm is an urban agriculture site that has benefited from Bayview Greenwaste. Built on the site of a former freeway ramp that was torn down, Hayes Valley Farm utilized mulch from Bayview Greenwaste at no cost and used a process called ‘sheet-mulching‘ on the soil, which was “polluted, choked with weeds, and lacking in nutrients.” Hayes Valley Farm is just one of many public, private and community-based entities that has benefitted from this model.
The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) will be holding a FREE public event at 105 Water Street, Staten Island on Saturday, July 28th. Visitors will have a chance to preview the site-specific submissions to the 2012 LAGI NYC design competition, while also learning more about the interaction between renewable energy technologies, land art and public art. Attendees will get to take home a complementary copy of the LAGI publication, A Field Guide to Renewable Energy Technologies. We’re excited to see all the submissions and hope to see you there!
Across the pond, the nonprofit organization greenspace scotland, in partnership with Scottish National Heritage, has created a fascinating new e-resource called “Creating Climate Change Parks.” The resource provides important design guidance for both the retro-fitting of older parks with climate change-friendly updates, such as tree planting schemes, green roofs and water management techniques, as well as guidelines for newly designed parks. This important initiative, although based in Scotland, is carving out an essential and potentially universal role for 21st century parks as leaders in the field of sustainable design.
Learn more about this exciting project on greenspace scotland’s website.
Recently, UK scientists and environmental organizations teamed up to create a smartphone app that allows users to track invasive plant species. PlantTracker “tells people how to spot invasive plants and lets them snap geo-tagged pictures of the species and submit them to the organizations to better help them manage the populations.” This crowd-sourced tool was developed by the UK’s Environment Agency, along with the Nature Locator project at Bristol University and the National Environmental Research Council’s Center for Hydrology and Ecology.
TreeHugger reports “invasive species are considered to be the second biggest threat to biodiversity after habitat destruction.”
In an attempt to draw attention to the dearth of greenspace and poor air quality in the region, the nonprofit VerdMX has constructed three ecostructures throughout Mexico City. One such structure is a vertical garden of over 50,000 plants.
Formerly notorious for its poor air quality, Mexico City is now an example of successful campaigns by policy makers, environmentalists, and various other groups to improve the city’s air. The VerdMX structures aim to generate interest in the movement while improving the air at the same time. Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, 30, architect of the sculptures states that “it’s a way to intervene in the environment.”
The burgeoning entrepreneurial, environmental, and arts scenes in the capital city have given rise to numerous small-scale efforts. Though sometimes met with hesitation, such projects are becoming commonplace as citizens recognize the importance of maintaining environmental health in the megacity.
(via New York Times)
With landscape architects riding a wave of creative post-industrial reimagination in New York City–rail lines, concrete plants and landfills are all turning green–it was perhaps inevitable that underground park spaces were next. And so it goes that a team of design speculators have taken on the challenge of re-envisioning the Lower East Side’s former Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal as a sun-lit subterranean park, dubbed “The Delancey Underground.” Dan Barasch of PopTech, James Ramsey of RAAD Studio, and R. Boykin Curry IV recently revealed their plan for the project at a local community board meeting and have set blogs a-buzzing with their tantalizing renderings. The team’s vision for transforming the long-abandoned two-acre trolley terminal into an urban oasis includes fiber optic “remote skylights”, greenery, pools, picnic areas and public art.
While questions of security and maintenance loom large in considering this proposal, the team, which has not yet secured funding or MTA support for the project, have made an appealing and provocative case for the provision of more one-of-a-kind public spaces, especially in the very modest portfolio of parks on the Lower East Side.
(via the Architect’s Newspaper)