San Juan Island Development Network

Project: San Juan Island Development Network: Microcosm of America
Location: San Juan Island, Washington
Designer: Joshua Brooks
Year: 2012
Program: Louisiana State University, Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture
Faculty Advisors: Lake Douglas, Van Cox

Project Description: This project proposes a process-oriented planning framework, focusing on built works, policies, community programs, and funding strategies, for the San Juan Island National Park and the supporting rural community of San Juan Island. This process-based approach can help the island absorb future growth, foster the unique local culture, and protect and enhance the native ecosystem as its population doubles over the coming decade.

Theory: By employing three theoretical strands—1) systems thinking, as synthesized by MIT’s Donella Meadows, positing that the understanding of the relationship between entities offers a greater understanding of the larger system; 2) Chris Reed’s “curated ecologies,” which proposes that designers can establish a series of interactions over time between humans and ecological processes to produce desired outcomes; and 3) Rem Koolhaas’s process planning concept from the article “Whatever Happened to Urbanism,” in which he points out how modern planning efforts often don’t result in the intended end-product because of the reliance on the planning of permanent objects, instead of the planning of the processes themselves—this project attempts to challenge traditional top-down planning and unlock the potential of engaging process and complexity.

Project Goals: Five project goals are proposed within a 35-year framework: (1) connect island ecosystems through restoration easements, conservation policy, and a network of trails (2) diversify housing options and add user amenities to increase year round livability (3) support local agriculture and decentralized renewable energy production (4) structure an efficient transportation infrastructure with minimal disturbance to the existing system; and (5) foster island culture, art, research, tourism, local businesses, and natural and native history.

Design (Pilot Projects): Phase One (HIGHLIGHT): American Camp Visitor Center | As part of phase one, the American Camp parcel of San Juan Island National Park receives several upgrades, including a viaduct on an eroding cliff, several public art projects, and new visitor facilities which serve as a catalyst and demonstration for sustainable building practices and resource management across the island. Housing a theater, research laboratories, rental space, administration offices, and a large display area with views to Mount Rainer and the Olympic Mountain Range, this building serves the National Park Service, the University of Washington, and the people of San Juan Island.

Phase Two (INCENTIVIZE): Harbor CO-OP and the Island Agriculture Initiative | A biointensive urban farm and farmer’s co-op is built in conjunction with Friday Harbor grocery store, University of Washington Horticultural Research Laboratory, and the Friday Harbor community center. Using best management practices the construction of this farm will turn a fallow urban lot into an eighteen acre productive landscape with onsite packaging and propagation facilities, encouraging sustainable farming practices, combating the inflated price of food on San Juan island, and growing the local economy. To further support the growth of local farming, a harvest pickup service is offered along a selected route which connects areas of the island that are deemed best for farming.

Phase Three (GENERATE): How to build a Green Corridor Network | A network of open space corridors is grown across the island, creating an interconnected trail system, while simultaneously promoting the protection and restoration of wetlands, streambeds, estuarine habitat, and rare prairie and savannah ecosystems, as well as increasing water infiltration and curbing aquifer drawdown. A tax break program offers incentives for landowners to create ecological corridors within their property, with incentives being weighted by ecosystem type, parcel size, and proximity to existing open space.

Rather than relying on closed systems, this project offers a flexible, design-driven and process-based approach to planning, providing guidance to the National Park Service as well as the county and towns of San Juan Island on how to deal with its projected development without sacrificing culture or ecology.


Line | Point | Field – Reimagining Shougang

Project: Line | Point | Field – Reimagining Shougang
Location: Beijing, China
Designer: Max Gerthel
Year: 2011
Program: Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture
Faculty Advisor: Niels Grønbæk

Project Description: A park that incorporates change

Beijing is a city of axes. Originally, the main axis in Beijing appeared not in the form of wide tree-line boulevards as in Paris, but as a cosmological system around which the city was organized. Throughout the 20th century, the traditional Buddhist north-south axis that once dominated Beijing lost its significance to the new economic east-west highway, Chang’an avenue, constructed by Mao in the 1950’s. Symbolic of China’s entry into the industrial age, the giant Shougang steelworks was placed at the avenue’s west terminus alongside one of Beijing’s major waterways, the Yongding River.

As we now are entering a new age of transition in China, the steelworks is being moved to the coast and the vast site and surrounding peri-urban landscape will soon lie vacant. This thesis project is a strategy for how to redevelop Shougang using the ancient logic of the axis – as an organizational tool rather than simply connecting dots with infrastructure. The area along the axis is transformed into a public park through a gradual process of reconfiguring the site and refurbishing its main industrial structures.

On the ground, a new layer of vegetation is created: Phytoremediating plants which extract heavy metals and pollution from the soil, rotated every year allowing new patterns in the landscape to emerge. The plants vary in height, colour and texture, creating a complex weave for the visitor to discover. In between the islands of green are pathways that allow slow movements through the mass.

Along the axis stand towers as points of orientation and viewing platforms. From there, the visitor can observe the transforming landscape and its relation with the cosmic space – the mountains, the Yongding river and the axis connecting it all with the rest of the city.
A number of existing structures are refurbished to accommodate the park’s functions: A large hall is transformed into a greenhouse becoming a multistory food production facility; A gas holder is opened up to become a space for food market, where the local community can meet and thrive on its new organic produce; The neighboring village is developed by allowing new residents to lease land and implementing building codes for controlled construction. Finally, the dried riverbed is preserved and carefully redesigned as a grass/marshland, a space left to nature to procure itself in its own pace.

The High Line: Section 1

Project: The High Line, Section 1
Location: New York, NY
Firm: James Corner Field Operations
Year: 2009

Project Description:  The High Line is a 1.2-mile long abandoned elevated freight rail line along the west side of lower Manhattan. This 5.9 acre stretch of open space spans twenty city blocks in between and through buildings from Gansevoort Street through the meat packing district and West Chelsea, up to 30th Street, and ending at the Hudson Rail Yards. The High Line was built in the 1930s as part of the larger West Side Improvement Project, funded by the City and State of New Yorkand the New York Central Railroad, to eliminate dangerous street-level railroad crossings. The existing substrate consists primarily of rock ballast, railroad ties, steel rails, and reinforced concrete. Over the past twenty-four years since the last train ran on the High Line in 1980, a thin layer of soil has formed in some areas and an opportunistic landscape of early successional species began to grow inspiring its current design.

The High Line is now recognized as an important and distinctive asset to the city: an urban event operating on many scales—leveraging a new way of seeing the city, connecting distinct neighborhoods, providing an important green space for the immediate neighborhoods, and modeling a new kind of urban “greening.” The re-imagination of this industrial relic was a unique opportunity, and the High Line has transformed into an exceptional public open space.

Project Team Members: Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Project Detailed Credits: 

Field Operations, Team Lead, Landscape Architecture / Urban Design
James Corner
Tom Jost
Lisa Switkin
Nahyun Hwang
Lara Shihab-Eldin
Sierra Bainbridge

Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Architecture
Elizabeth Diller
Ricardo Scofidio
Matthew Johnson
Charles Renfro
Gaspar Libedinsky
Hayley Eber

Piet Oudolf, Horticulture
Olafur Eliasson, Artist
L’Observatoire, Lighting Design
Buro Happold, Structural Engineering / Sustainable Engineering
Robert Sillman Associates, Structural Engineering / Historic Preservation
Philip Habib Associates, Traffic Planning
GRB, Environmental Engineering
VJ Associates, Capital and Operating Cost Estimating
ETM, Public Space Management
DVS Associates, Site Security
Applied Ecological Services, Inc., Ecology
Code Consultants,ADA/ NYC Code / Regulations
Creative Time, Public Art Programming
Control Point, Site Surveyor

Image Captions and Credits: Images courtesy of Jim Corner Field Operations.

1. Gansevoort End, Plaza, and Stairs, Gansevoort and Washington Streets
2. The Tenth Avenue Square, from street level, with windows onto Tenth Avenue
3. Gansevoort Woodland at Night, Aerial View from Gansevoort Street to West 13th Street, looking South
4. Gansevoort Plaza and Stair, Gansevoort Street and Washington Street, looking North
5. Gansevoort Woodland, Gansevoort Street to Little West 12th Street, looking South
6. Washington Grasslands, between Little West 12th Street and West 13th Street, looking South
7. Sundeck Water Feature and Preserve, between West 14th Street and West 15th Street, looking South
8. The Sundeck, one of the High Line’s most popular gathering spots, between 14th and 15th Streets
9. Northern Spur Preserve, between West 16th Street and West 17th Street, looking South towards the Statue of Liberty
10. Chelsea Grasslands, between West 19th Street and West 20th Street, looking North
11. Sundeck Water Feature and Preserve, between West 14th Street and West 15th Street, looking South
12. Washington Grasslands, aerial view of the High Line over Little West 12th Street

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Project: Brooklyn Bridge Park
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Firm: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.
Year: 2010 – Piers 1, Pier 6;
2012—Pier 5;
2013—Pier 2, Pier 3/4 Uplands.
Firm website:

Project Description: Currently under construction, Brooklyn Bridge Park will eventually encompass approximately eighty-five acres and 1.3 miles of waterfront. The park’s goals are both ambitious and straightforward: to preserve the dramatic experience and monumental character of the industrial waterfront while reintroducing self-sustaining ecosystems to the site and investing it with new social and recreational possibilities.

MVVA took a broad mandate of sustainability and applied it across a range of spheres—ecological, structural, cultural, and economic. Sociological diversity, programmatic flexibility, and a robust post-industrial nature are threaded together to create a park that can function both as a metropolitan park on the scale of Olmsted’s landscape infrastructures and as a collection of smaller, nested neighborhood parks.

Brooklyn Bridge Park’s design took on a site with limited access points, a narrow overall width, extreme noise pollution from the adjacent elevated highway, a complex structural waterline condition, and a goal of capturing and recycling stormwater. Excess stormwater is collected from buildings, paved areas, lawns, and planting areas, conveyed into underground tanks, and then cycled and cleansed through rain gardens, supporting a lush swath of rain garden plantings. This runoff collection system, in conjunction with the increased use of water-absorbing lawn and planted areas, dramatically curtails the discharge of stormwater runoff into city systems and lowers the likelihood of combined sewer overflow.

Pier One and Pier Six function as “urban junctions,” entrances to the park that will attract families and individuals on a daily and year-round basis with programs such as playgrounds, picnic tables, benches, areas of accessible natural plantings, a dog run with water, and park concession buildings with restrooms. This first phase of Brooklyn Bridge Park provides vital new social spaces and urban programs while bookending the site and laying the foundation for a continuous waterfront park to grow in between. The salt marsh landscape on Pier 6, sports fields and courts on Piers 2 and 5, a community lawn space on Pier 3, a beach, and other park amenities will come with future phases of park construction.

Project Websites: Brooklyn Bridge Park NYC 
An interview with Matthew Urbanski (Places Journal) 

Project Team: MVVA, Team Lead, Landscape Architecture / Urban Design
AECOM, Marine & Site Infrastructure
Ysrael A. Seinuk, P.C., Structural Engineering
Nitsch Engineering, Stormwater Reuse Consultant
Maryann Thompson Architect, Architecture for Pier 2 and Warming Hut
Richmond So Engineers , Pier 2 Park Building & Warming Hut Structural Engineering
Domingo Gonzales Associates , Lighting Design
Open , Graphic Design
Pine & Swallow Associates , Soil Science
R.J. Van Seters Company , Water Feature Consultant
Paulus, Sokolowski and Sartor, Park Buildings Architect & MEP

Bryant Park

Project: Bryant Park
Location: New York, NY
Firm: OLIN
Year: 1991
Firm website:

Project Description: Bryant Park is a landmark project and ultimate model of urban park restoration. As one of the highest-profile and most cherished public spaces in one of the world’s most important urban centers, the success of the project was pivotal both for Olin Partnership and the city of New York.

Designed in the 1930s as the front yard to the New York Public Library, the park had declined to deplorable conditions by the 1960s, primarily inhabited by drug dealers and filled with illegal activity. The park was dangerous and unsightly. In an effort to solve its ills and return the park to mainstream society, Olin Partnership was asked to redesign the space. The project would be constructed in conjunction with planned library improvements. With an acute need for additional book stacks, Olin Partnership logically suggested locating them beneath the park.

The team studied the site intensely and referred to the groundbreaking research by urban sociologist William H. White undertaken in Bryant Park itself. The concept for improvements was based on his theory and observations—simply, the park had to be more accessible, both physically and visually. Increasing desirable attendance by all types of people at all hours and seasons met this goal by adding and modifying entrances, ramps, stairs, and pavements and by configuring an open circulation system. Active concessions, public restrooms, moveable seating, and entertainment programming were critical to the plan. Most notable, the project successfully demonstrated the design application of sociological theories derived from original field research on the site and elsewhere in the city.

Since its redesign, a diverse group of residents, office workers, and tourists flock to the space. The park has transformed public life in midtown Manhattan and has become an icon of urban park revival and rescue, both physically and programmatically. The benefit of skillful, committed management and maintenance by the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation ensures its continued success into the future.

Project Team Members: AltieriSeborWieber LLC, Brandston Partnership, Inc., Joseph R. Loring & Associates, Inc., Lynden B. Miller Garden Design, Rosenwasser/Grossman Consulting Engineers, P.C., Tishman Construction Corporation

Hunters Point – Candlestick Point

Project: Hunters Point / Candlestick Point
“Ecological equity and the last great expansion of San Francisco”
Location: San Francisco, CA
Firm: Bionic
Year: 2009
Firm website:

Project Description: The City of San Francisco and a developer have proposed a 700-acre development for Candlestick Point / Hunters Point Shipyard at the southwest edge of San Francisco. It will be the last large expansion of the city. The proposal includes commercial, retail, and residential space for 20,000 people, and a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers. In response to the plan, a coalition of environmental organizations commissioned Bionic to create an urban design alternative that better address the needs of the existing community, including environmental health, economic development, and the creation of open space and its ecology. Through a community design process and analysis of the issues on a city-wide scale, the project documented an actual and perceived exclusion from the large landscapes and open spaces that the rest of the city residents benefit from.

By leveraging existing ecological assets and projecting a reconfiguration of property lines, the alternative planning approach calls for an urban design that is fundamentally different from the City/developer proposal. It proposes flora/fauna/pedestrian connections to open spaces outside the project boundary, and the re-connection of existing patches of habitat. The resulting composition of large-scale spaces provides an alternative that creates more development areas, continuous habitat corridors and large open spaces, and connects existing neighborhoods to the water.

The open space becomes one continuous park representing the six ecological communities of San Francisco. The habitat corridors expand the potential for existing species to flourish while additional habitat is created to reintroduce native species. Anticipating the future importance of water infrastructure for the immediate area and the City, the approach defines areas for water resources. The open space is capable of hosting water storage, wastewater treatment, and large-scale storm water treatment as infrastructural elements. On-site water resources will mandate the integration of building systems with the open space infrastructure. A sub area of the plan proposes to add several city blocks to the project area for the daylighting and restoration of Yosemite Creek. The addition would connect the waterfront to Third Street, the main commercial and transit corridor for the Bayview neighborhood. Once the stream is daylighted, it presents ample opportunity for a variety of open space uses, such as stormwater treatment, urban agriculture, and active and passive recreation. Most importantly, it provides a connection from the existing community to new parks, open spaces, and the Bay.

Project Team Members:
Marcel Wilson-Principal, Kelly Schoonmaker- Associate
Client: Saul Bloom – Arc Ecology]
Sierra Club
Urban Strategies Council


Project: Streamlines
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Firm: Stoss Landscape Urbanism
Year: 2011
Firm website:

Project Description: The project re-imagines 5.5 miles of Mississippi Riverfront in Minneapolis, from the cultural riverfront in downtown north to the city limit. Stoss’s proposal is titled Streamlines; it’s about sheer, unfiltered experiences of direct contact with the river and river life, in many ways and at multiple moments. And it’s about weaving these experiences back into the everyday city.

Streamlines is also a project about working ecologies, ecological systems and dynamics put to work to clean, to re-constitute this working riverfront, and to guide a longer-term transformation of the city fabric. But it is not about a single green line along the river. Rather, this project is about multiple threads, multiple strands; it evokes the stories and lives of the people who live, work, and play by the river’s edge and have done so for centuries. It builds from the rich histories and evolving identities of the Mississippi River, the ecological, economic, social lifeblood of the city, and of the continent. And it puts in place a series of working and operational landscapes, green infrastructures, and landscape-based urban fabrics that will guide this transformation for the next generation of city-dwellers, just as the Grand Rounds did for 20th-century Minneapolis.

Project Team Members:
Designer: Stoss Landscape Urbanism. Chris Reed, principal, lead designer
Scott Bishop, project manager
Meg Studer, project designer
Design Team: Jill Allen, Thomas Clark, Jill Desimini, Sandrina Dumitrascu, Alexandra Gauzza,
Marguerite Graham, Taekyung Kim, Stephanie Morrison
Collaborators: Michael Maltzan Architecture (architecture + infrastructure)
Utile, Inc. (urban design)
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Antimodular Inc. (interactive public art)
Close Landscape Architecture + (associate landscape + planning)
Applied Ecological Services (ecology + natural resources)
Buro Happold (sustainability + infrastructure)
Hr & A Advisors, Inc. (economic development)
Plandform Ltd (ecology + environmental planning)
Project Projects (identity + environmental graphics)
Moffat Nichol (waterfront + hydraulic engineering)
Nelson\Nygaard (transportation planning)
Davis Langdon (cost estimation)
Pine & Swallow (soil science)
Jim Tittle, Nice Pictures (videography)
Eric Silva (audio)

Find out more:
Stoss – Complete Streamlines Submission on the Minneapolis Competition Website
Stoss – Director’s Cut – Streamlines Video

Image credits: Stoss Landscape Urbanism

Pacific Commons

Project: Pacific Commons
Location: Fremont, CA
Firm: CMG Landscape Architecture
Year: 2009
Firm website:

Project Description:  CMG lead the design and regulatory approval process for this 16 acre regional stormwater treatment wetland and trail system. The wetland treats stormwater from a highly developed 514 acre watershed. Detailed hydrologic modeling indicates that the system will treat an average of 88% of annual runoff. The design of the wetland system is emblematic of CMG’s unique approach to complex system based landscapes which combine infrastructure with ecological and water quality functions. Habitat creation, hydraulic requirements, water quality parameters, public access, and maintenance considerations are all integrated within an artfully composed environment predicated on ecological parameters. A variety of wetland plant associations are combined in a sculpted mosaic that will emerge and evolve over time based on seasonal water depths and flows. The project completes a mile long section of the regional Bay Trail system and includes a pedestrian loop and a series of overlook picnic areas.

Project Team Members: Chris Guillard, John Bela

Gubei Pedestrian Promenade

Project: Gubei Pedestrian Promenade
Location: Shanghai, China
Firm: SWA Group
Year: 2009
Firm website:

Project Description: The Gubei Pedestrian Promenade is a rare example where a city chose to rezone a vehicular road into a 700-meter long pedestrian-only sanctuary.  The sheer scale of the project serves as an inspiration for those who believe in the impossible – balance the “development frenzy” (characterized by rampant disregard for a sustainable urban fabric) with public open spaces that reduce the urban heat-island effect, allow for flexible around the clock activities, and promote healthy living through outdoor exercise, stress relieving activities and social interaction.

On the world stage, Shanghai can be seen as China’s “window to the world:” a modern-day marvel with a kaleidoscopic history.  Among great cities, modern Shanghai is unique in its approach to arts and culture, its embrace for diversity from the influx of transient workers, and its desire to reinvent itself on a daily basis. In addition, as we grapple with the growing threats of global warming and human sustainability, city-living in Shanghai has become a more sustainable alternative for those who wish to tread lightly on the environment.

Set within the Changning District in western Shanghai, Gubei is a bustling urban community with growing groups of international families and young professionals. Many are attracted to this area due to its relaxed lifestyle and the district’s dedicated effort in providing multi-cultural facilities for its residents. 700 meters in length and averaging 60m in width, the Promenade and the East, West Entry Parks are the centerpiece of a 35.6 hectare mixed-use residential project.  The linear site is divided into 3 blocks separated by two north-south neighborhood streets, with a development program of high-rise residential towers, varying from 15-28 stories in height with 2-story ground floor commercial uses.  The project maintains an open space ratio of over 60% with an FAR of 2.9.

Project Team Members:
SWA Project Team: Ying-Yu Hung, Gerdo Aquino, Hyun-Min Kim, Leah Broder, Kui-Chi Ma, Dawn Dyer, Yoonju Chang, Shuang Yu, Ryan Hsu, John Loomis, Jack Wu, Al Dewitt
Construction Documentation LDI: Shanghai Beidouxing Landscape Design Institute
Contractor: Shanghai Shangfang Luhua Co Ltd

Image Credits:
Renderings, SWA Group. Photography by Tom Fox.

Aquatic Center

Project: Aquatic Center for the South American Games
Location: Medellín, Colombia
Firm: Paisajes Emergentes + Andres Ospina Duque
Year: 2009-2010


Project Description: First prize in the international competition for the South American Games in Medellín, Colombia, the new aquatic center meets the needs of future competitions, while providing a new swimming and teaching facility and public pool. A system of gardens connects four swimming pools, while a flooded garden planted with species typical of tropical wetlands separates private and public spaces. The program required a complex system of bathrooms and changing rooms that are located beneath the aquatic gardens. A set of courtyards below ground level offer natural illumination and provide a meeting space and warm-up area for competitors and swimmers.

Project Team Members:
Architects: Paisajes Emergentes / Edgar Mazo, Sebastian Mejia, Luis Callejas
Landscape design: Paisajes Emergentes + Andres Ospina Duque
Coordination: Farid Maya
Collaborators: Juanita González, Eliana Beltrán, Sebastián Betancur, Andrés Zapata, Clara Arango and Adriana Tamayo
Project Collaborators: Farid Maya, Sebastián Monsalve, Luis Tobón, Iván Forgionni, Juan Sebastián Pérez, Andrés Zapata, Sebastián Serna, Juan Esteban Gómez, Érica Martínez and Aura Cuartas
Structural engineering: Jorge Aristizabal
Client: Medellín Mayor’s office, Inder, Coldeportes