• Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no echo chambers. Create your FREE Cyburbia ID, and join us today! You can also register through your Reddit, Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Microsoft account.

Waterfront developments and green space - the good, bad, and ugly?

EnviroStudent

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
Hi.

I'm currently doing a small scale research project on the Melbourne Docklands and the Yarra River as part of my studies. Our client is a river advocacy organisation and wants to better understand the views of the residents so as to better take their perspective into consideration in their advocacy.

As part of the research I'm doing a literature review on themes that arise from waterfront redevelopments around the world, with a focus on the incorporation of green spaces into the built environment.

I'm curious as to suggestions people might make about case studies I could investigate further. The two obvious examples that pop up are Portland and Vancouver, both cited as benchmark examples for how to do do redevelopment well.

However, finding bad examples - with a particular focus on green space - has been a little more difficult. Does anyone have any suggestions for good, bad and ugly examples of environmental planning on waterfront redevelopments?
 

Buffaboy

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
This is my first post here and I thought this was interesting.

In Buffalo, New York, the "Canalside and Outer Harbor projects have been bureaucratic mistakes. Both have seen the government drag its feet in an attempt to create both commercial and green spaces for residents. RFPs that are too stringent, confusing ideologies, etc. One thing is clear though: people do seem to enjoy the green space that is present at the moment.
 

vmgillen

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
The bad/ugly usually skips over green space...

However, take a look at the plans for the Staten Island Ferris Wheel/Mall development. Green gets a nod, but primarily benefits the project site. The immediate neighborhood loses its sight-line to the water from the street, and generates a disconnect between the grand late 18/early 19th century civic buildings.
 

Buffaboy

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
Can you elaborate on the good points and mistakes in the physical aspects?
Okay, so some of the good points would be more pedestrian activity near the city's downtown. More people can take the Metro Rail to Canalside and walk around, engage in activities or eat.

On the flipside, some of the plans have been scaled down/value-engineered, and the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, which is responsible for the planning, construction and operation of the site, has been notoriously slow with all 3 aspects of the project. In comparison, Terry Pegula's Harborcenter, a 20 story-mixed used hockey rink and hotel complex, was announced and recently completed in under 2 years.
 

Cismontane

Cyburbian
Messages
900
Points
17
Vancouver has some inexplicably-torture-device-like playground equipment on a bare waterfront field, at Lonsdale Quay.

 

ThePinkPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
364
Points
12
Waterfront potential

I'm not sure this will answer your question, as I'm not sure the cases I'm thinking of are necessarily "redevelopment" sites. But I can think of a few places that have seemed a bit disappointing to me and perhaps in need of a makeover. Savannah comes to mind. What a beautiful city. One that has earned its spot on all of the top 10 lists it continually graces. But I found the waterfront to be out of place. It didn't have the same charm as the rest of the city. It doesn't come across as particularly inviting. Getting there from the rest of the city is a mixed bag: you pass these beautiful old oaks covered in Spanish moss. Then you walk through the backs of some shops, with extremely pungent and visible dumpsters. River street itself is opened to slow-moving but awkward through traffic, while pedestrians are crowded onto old narrow sidewalks. The prevelance of dining helps bring the area alive, but outdoor seating is limited given the use of the road by motor vehicle traffic. There are trees, but they are in huge planter boxes which don't really create a sense of place. They close the street down for festivals, but there isn't really a permanent park space from which to enjoy the area. There's also a hotel mid-block which spans the road for quite some distance. It feels very uninviting to walk through, with long walls and darkness even mid-day. I still love the city, but it's waterfront could definitely benefit from a few little touches, especially green ones.

New Orleans is probably a good place to look for before and afters to include both good, bad and ugly. I was in New Orleans for APA in 2010. It was only five years post-Katrina so I wasn't expecting much. I do remember thinking, however, that the riverfront was an underutilized gem. I'm sure a lot has changed since then, and I think I read about an ambitious master plan for the waterfront, but I don't recall the timing on it.
 
Top