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Urbanism Does anyone really understand landscape urbanism?

Pragmatic Idealist

Cyburbian
Messages
611
Points
16
There is one firm that does Landscape Urbanism relatively well. BIG in Denmark generally-seems to pay attention to closure ratios, street-level activation, and transect zones, even though some of the other ideas are a little misguided.

http://www.big.dk
 
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JimPlans

Cyburbian
Messages
409
Points
13
There is one firm that does Landscape Urbanism relatively well. BIG in Denmark generally-seems to pay attention to closure ratios, street-level activation, and transect zones, even though some of the other ideas are a little misguided.

http://www.big.dk

If this (8TALLET) is landscape urbanism in practice, then I don't seem how it is any different than new urbanism (except perhaps in the lack-of-front-porch department). It has parkland, multigenerational housing, commercial/retail on lower floors and residential on upper floors, and it's very dense. It even has a green roof. It looks like it was just plopped down in a field, but that's because it's built on the edge of a nature preserve. It's actually right near a major highway and a metro station (the water confused me at first, but it just seems to be detention ponds and not the nearby Copenhagen Canal):

8Tallet in context.

NU vs. LU: A distinction without a difference?
 

Richmond Jake

You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!
Messages
18,313
Points
44
The Walt Disney Studios is not open to the public......l.
[ot]
Care to venture a guess where this was taken?



[/ot]
 

Pragmatic Idealist

Cyburbian
Messages
611
Points
16
If this (8TALLET) is landscape urbanism in practice, then I don't seem how it is any different than new urbanism (except perhaps in the lack-of-front-porch department). It has parkland, multigenerational housing, commercial/retail on lower floors and residential on upper floors, and it's very dense. It even has a green roof. It looks like it was just plopped down in a field, but that's because it's built on the edge of a nature preserve. It's actually right near a major highway and a metro station (the water confused me at first, but it just seems to be detention ponds and not the nearby Copenhagen Canal):

8Tallet in context.

NU vs. LU: A distinction without a difference?
I think a few people are trying to blend some of the ideas of the New Urbanism and Landscape Urbanism together, although most L.U. projects are absolutely un-walkable, which is antithetical to the principal goal of N.U.

L.U., for example, likes to consider the relationship between roof planes and the ground planes. And, for the most part, that approach is compatible with the New Urbanism, since the practice essentially just puts parks on roofs.
 

Pragmatic Idealist

Cyburbian
Messages
611
Points
16
]Just because you hate cars, suburbia and cooking doesn't mean that everybody else in the country, especially in California, wants to live in an apartment, use car sharing, and not have decent sized kitchens with appliances.
The only person who is trying to force anyone to do anything in these discussions is you who contributes virtually nothing but ridiculous arguments in favor of a regime of automobile dependency that is maintained through corruption of the laws and of public investment.

Having workplaces in cities and T.O.D.'s allows people to choose walking, biking, or driving to their employment and to opt to use transit to get there. Why are you so opposed to letting people have these choices? Why do you want to keep Americans enslaved to oil consumption and automobile ownership?

I have no interest in addressing you, personally, but you repeatedly misrepresent my comments in order to construct false and simpleminded dichotomies that insult the intelligence of the readers, including myself.
 

Cismontane

Cyburbian
Messages
900
Points
17
I think a few people are trying to blend some of the ideas of the New Urbanism and Landscape Urbanism together, although most L.U. projects are absolutely un-walkable

I don't know why you take it for granted that everybody else thinks that the ideas of NU are any more workable than the ideas of LU.

And yes, i checked. The Disney Studios are intended as tourist attraction and are open to the public.
 

Pragmatic Idealist

Cyburbian
Messages
611
Points
16
And yes, i checked. The Disney Studios are intended as tourist attraction and are open to the public.
Ahhh.... You checked. Well, I suggest you rush right up to Burbank and demand entry without being an employee or an invited guest. I'm sure the guards will usher you onto the lot with no problem. If they do try to stop you, just inform them that they are ignorant and that the studio is supposed to be a tourist attraction. I'm sure they'll appreciate the education. I surely did.

In all seriousness, the studios, which were personally designed by Mr. Disney, himself, are really well-done. People run into each other almost on cue, and the birds, squirrels, and street trees make the place look anything but industrial. The plant is a wholly-appealing place that feels both comfortable and inspiring, partly by being so walkable.

This article was written by planner Sam Gennawey:

http://micechat.com/blogs/samland/3000-history-walt-disney-studios-part-1.html

You enter the Disney studio through one of three gates. The internal circulation system is based on a grid of streets like a midwestern city. A grid roadway pattern is logical and makes finding your destination easier.

The two main streets on the Disney lot street grid are Mickey Avenue, which runs north south, and Dopey Drive, which travels east west.

The internal roadways are very narrow curb-to-curb. A narrow road naturally promotes traffic calming and encourages walking, bicycling, or small carts to be the preferred method of travel. Moving around Walt’s studio would be a pleasure unlike the experience one found other movie studios in the area. The parking areas were pushed to the edges of the property.

The buildings are set back from the interior streets and lined with grass lawns and oak trees. Even the utilities were placed underground and hidden from view. The entire studio feels very intimate and welcoming.

At the center of everything, both physically and psychologically, is the Animation Building. The architectural language for the building was based on the popular Streamline Moderne style. Streamline Moderne emulated the sensation of speed, efficiency, and modernity in a distinctly American way. Walt wanted to build an efficient and functional movie making machine and what could be more functional than an architectural style that reminds people of an aerodynamic train or an airplane? The principles behind Streamline Moderne would successfully express Walt’s intentions for the facility.

The design of the animation building captures architect Louis Sullivan’s advice that, “A proper building grows naturally, logically, and poetically out of all its conditions.” Overall, the massing of the buildings features horizontal elements and clean lines. The buildings repeat various elements throughout the studio campus, which creates a sense of order and harmony. As stated earlier, this is a design pattern called alternating repetition.

In keeping with modernism, there is a lack of architectural detail. The Animation Building relies upon thoughtful use of exterior materials such as the flat ground floor bricks that are held together with recessed mortar and arranged in pairs, one on top of the other. The result is that the building does seem to hug the ground.

The Californian desert inspires the color palette for the exterior of the Animation Building. The terracotta, cream, and green building colors are arranged in a gradient. However, this choice was not only beautiful but also functional. Walt wanted the color of the exterior to calm the eyes for artists who are looking at saturated colors throughout the workday.

The windows of the Animation Building are oriented to face true north. It has been known for centuries that north light is the best for artists because they get constant light with a silvery type quality that brings out the cool, purplish, greenish atmospheric colors. When windows face north, the quality of the light tends to be shadowless, diffuse, and neutral or slightly grayish most of the day and year. The animators and color stylists could paint all day and the subject would not change. The windows were fitted with special metal awnings that could be adjusted by the occupants of each office. Even today, the north facing windows of the Animation Building continue to remain unobstructed and let in the natural light.

The view below the north facing windows has changed considerably over the years. Originally, an earthen berm was built to hide the view of Alameda Avenue. When the Team Disney Building was erected, a reflecting pool was installed. Today, the reflecting pool has been paved over and the plaza has been dedicated to tributes for Walt, Roy Disney, and the other Disney Legends recipients.

The filmmaking process starts on the third floor of the Animation Building with Walt and the storymen. Walt’s office suite was located in wing 3H on the third floor of the Animation Building in the prime Northeast corner. The suite was made up of a formal office as well as a working office. There was also a small kitchen as well as an apartment where Walt would occasionally spend the night. He enjoyed the apartment so much and found it so useful that he decided he would create the same type of living quarters on top of the fire station at Disneyland.

The storymen would hand off their work to the layout men and directors who were located on the second floor. Then the work would be divided up and the hundreds of animators on the first floor would go to work. In the basement were test cameras where the dailies could be shot and sent back up to the animators for their review.

When the animation cells were ready, they were transported in underground tunnels to the Ink and Paint Building across the street on the east just below Walt’s view. The tunnels allowed the delicate drawings to move from one phase of production to another without concern for the weather. Once the cells were painted, they would continue moving south toward the Camera and Cutting buildings.

The Burbank studio was designed to provide the artists all the comforts of home. There was a snack stand, barber, cleaners, a buffet-style restaurant, and health club. Every part of the facility was air-conditioned by a custom made General Electric system. This was a very rare thing at the time and was good for the artists comfort as well as keeping dust off the painted celluloid sheets.

This attention to detail was not just Walt being a benevolent boss; it meant that his artists really had no reason to leave work. The Disney studios work environment was unique at the time but it would become the prototype for modern day high-tech companies and other high performance organizations after World War II.
 

Cismontane

Cyburbian
Messages
900
Points
17
To my eye that all Disney nonsense smacks of garish tackiness, ugliness and excess, but to each his own. My mind likes to calmed by clean, elegant lines and minimalist design, but, again that's just me.

This is all beside the point. The most immediate question at hand concerned whether the design requirements of tech industry office buildings and whether principles like LU might be successfully applied to them, not whether a movie studio should. I've years of experience working on tech parks and non at all working on studios, so I wouldnt even know where to begin in making Disney happy. I do know what Steve Jobs' workers want though. I've actually interviewed a few of them as part of the design and planning projects for that very same company. You promised examples of successful Cali tech industry facilities that meet your design preferences, and then you provided something irrelevant. I invite you again to cite the example(s) you yourself claimed to have.
 

Linda_D

Cyburbian
Messages
1,748
Points
21
The only person who is trying to force anyone to do anything in these discussions is you who contributes virtually nothing but ridiculous arguments in favor of a regime of automobile dependency that is maintained through corruption of the laws and of public investment.

Having workplaces in cities and T.O.D.'s allows people to choose walking, biking, or driving to their employment and to opt to use transit to get there. Why are you so opposed to letting people have these choices? Why do you want to keep Americans enslaved to oil consumption and automobile ownership?

I have no interest in addressing you, personally, but you repeatedly misrepresent my comments in order to construct false and simpleminded dichotomies that insult the intelligence of the readers, including myself.

Fact: Apple will NOT have difficulty recruiting if it goes ahead with Jobs' design for its new HQ. It was a silly statement made without a shred of evidence. Your personal views do NOT represent those of everybody, and not even the views of most people, something which you do NOT seem able to grasp.

I'm sorry that you don't like having your specious statements described as what they are. I'm also sorry that you don't like it when anybody takes issue with your slavish worship of New Urbanism. Those your problems, not mine.
 

Cismontane

Cyburbian
Messages
900
Points
17
Fact: Apple will NOT have difficulty recruiting if it goes ahead with Jobs' design for its new HQ.

I find it hilarious that PI is directing such vicious criticism at a project that'll create 5,000 quality US new jobs plus retain 7,000 more in this environment in an almost totally offgrid, low energy footprint, highly carbon-efficient building. And all this by the beginning of 2015. Frankly, this "slavish" (I would even call it religious) devotion to the strictest definitions and application of Orthodox NU evokes, in my mind, Eric Cantor's dogmatic, singular devotion to tax cuts. It's nonsensical, doctrinaire inflexibility.

IMO, there are good applications of NU, mostly residential in nature and bias. Those that center around employment program and the higher end of the transect so to speak have been less sucessful than residential projects at the middle of their transect. Again, I find San Diego's Uptown District inspired, even if the retail wasn't nearly as successful as it was intended (what retail ever is?). San Francisco's Marina redevelopments seem to be reasonably successful, and there are some decently done TODs in Portland, San Diego, Dallas, the Bay Area (mostly East Bay and San Mateo), and Victoria and Vancouver. Based on these, I have recommended - even designed - NU-based approaches to projects where appropriate.. but only where appropriate and where supportable. I will also state that mere evidence that residential NU projects had higher selling prices in a real estate bubble doesn't work for me for any number of reasons.

Other explicitly NU TOD projects with any real operating track record have, however, fallen well short of their stated intentions, and failed to change transit and other alternative transportation behavior materially - their declared purpose (the big, oft-quoted San Jose, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston and Denver projects come to mind, as well as virtually all of the NJ, PA and FL TODs). Observe the near-total failure that is Secaucus. Overall, the clear "successes" remain few and far between, suggesting to me that the doctrine needs to be revisited and reassessed for some major tweaking.

In my practice and approach, results can only be measured by real, validatable performance - as measured by hard numbers, after the projects are built and people are living and working in them. Intentions count for zilch. Until one can cite real life examples of success, you really don't have much a of a leg to stand on. PI tried to claim on another thread that railed transit pays for itself by citing the controversial business plan for an unbuilt project that likely will remain unbuilt. This just doesn't work. Not to boast, but from things he's said here I honestly believe that I know more numbers about the performance of various BUILT New Urbanist projects that illustrate "success" to whatever measure, than he does, and, for the most part, I'm not even an NUist. Far from it. To be blunt, somebody needs seriously to one's own homework, not spout ad verbatim tracts straight out of DPZ's marketing department.

If one thinks this project is nonsense, I suggest showing us where alternatives (for tech offices) have worked well following your own rules for how you think projects should be done, giving us the numbers, if you will, and COMPARE those numbers to comparable figures for other approaches not your own. Show us NU tech parks and quantify the outcomes competitively in terms of sustainable performance and transit/alternative transport use. Or even show us how these approaches can create or keep more jobs than the alternative, despite their often higher costs for the developers and companies involved. Until he can do that, put me in the dubious camp with regard to virtually anything PI cares to say on the subject of planning.
 
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Messages
2,873
Points
23
-bump-
...does anyone else find the concept of landscape urbanism to be ... well, obtuse, indulgent and inaccessible? Published articles about the subject read like postmodern essays, and associated illustrations tend to be comprised of superimposed fractals and diamond cut-like shapes superimposed on a larger landscape, with no hint at any kind of human scale. There are also no hints given as to how landscape urbanism can be implemented, except for an implied "fire all the planners, and let landscape architects take care of it."

Almost 10 years later:
Dan- have you found any more clarity in defining what constitutes landscape urbanism?
Any other Cyburbian...?

I'm still stuck at: "I can't define landscape urbanism, but I know it when I see it." (A paraphrase of the late SCOTUS Justice Potter Stewart's infamous quote on pron.)

"Concrete" example:
There's no doubt in my mind that NYC's
Manhattan Highline project is landscape urbanism. A "dead" elevated, abandoned railroad spur on Manhattan's West Side was transformed into a linear open space and "living" system. It was done through the collaboration of many disciplines, including urban planning, political science, landscape architecture, and civil & environmental engineering.

I could make a long checklist of what is needed for a project to be called "landscape urbanism"; and every aspect of The Manhattan Highline would meet that checklist. And yet I still cannot put "landscape urbanism" into a succinct, comprehensible definition!


 

manonthemoon

Cyburbian
Messages
27
Points
2
I don’t think some of the examples and concepts listed are widely associated with landscape urbanism, and as others mentioned are just examples of modernism or are just pastoral/bucolic/rural designs... I’m not claiming to be the arbiter on what is or isn’t LU, but some examples are better than others... my 2c on the subject:

  • it is considered arcane and confusing by almost everyone, and is often viewed as landscape architects trying to wrestle primacy in design from architects.
  • It is primarily academic
  • It is associated with certain academics / practitioners: Charles Waldheim is credited as one of the major progenitors. Practitioners like James corner embraced it in the past (although he has distanced himself from it more recently, and most of his projects are not considered LU).
  • There is a lot of discussion about what can even be considered LU... proponents will claim projects like the high line, which may or may not be considered LU (I’m personally on the fence). I think freshkills park is a better example. Waldheim points to Meis’s Lafayette park as an example.
  • in my mind, common traits of LU are that it looks at landscape as a driver of urban and economic fabric / development; is concerned with landscape as a process and not so much with its form; and looks at the interconnectedness of urban/rural/suburban/exurban landscapes (we can’t have an urban core without the pattern of exurban industries and landscapes that support it, so in a way it’s all connected and part of the same urban “ecology”).
  • it is not arguing for the same idea as new urbanism at all. However, the two ideas can still coexist simultaneously. There are spaces in cities for many reasons (climate change issues, economic issues, local industry, etc.) that may not be compatible for replicating new urbanism or Jane Jacobs type design (think about places that may need to adopt different patterns of urbanism due to sea level rise, or a town on a decommissioned fracking or military site or whatever other weird example one could conjure... these are often the landscape urbanism studio prompts). Conversely, I don’t think any serious designer or urbanist is going to say that there should be no high density downtown areas.
  • both NU and LU have some unaddressed social justice issues.
  • detractors of LU will always point to a lack of real world examples of Designs.
  • everyone makes fun of how verbose the design language of LU is. It has to be one of the most severe crimes of talkitecture... ever.

Anyways, I’m not really a huge fan of either LU or NU, but I find the debate between the two interesting and healthy. I think it’s good for us to challenge our assumptions about what is “good urbanism” and to try to understand all the theories that are out there.
 
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