24 July 2017

The manholes of Prospect Park

In a wonderful bit of writing, Karrie Jacobs turns the mundane discovery of a manhole into an exploration of the greatness of Olmsted's Prospect Park. The story wraps around to talk to Christian Zimmerman who is helping keep the park faithful to the original Olmstedian vision. Finally, Jacobs revisits something Olmsted worked to explain to the city - is it an urban park or a rural landscape?

Olmsted’s answer, in short, is that it’s a “special type of rural landscape,” one made specifically to be used by an unusually large number of people—in 2017, about 10 million a year. As Olmsted argued, “to permanently secure a high degree of rural charm in the public ground of a large city, special preparations are required.” Indeed they are.

Take a quick visit to Curbed to read the story.

17 July 2017

innovative projects

The Architect's Newspaper recently published a list of "Six innovative American projects you should know about." The most subtle solution (by Joan Nassauer) seems to be the one that is most likely to accomplish its goals. A couple seem so grand as to improve their chances at eventual (or near future) failure. Time well tell.

14 July 2017

The bobcat economy

According to the Washington Post, one wild bobcat in Yellowstone has been estimated to generate more than $300,000 of economic activity. This does not mean that he could be sold for his pelt, which has a market value of $315. instead, as the article explains, he gets people to spend real money:

"By crunching costs, from filling up a gas tank and guide fees to gear purchases and revenue earned from photo sales, Elbroch and his colleagues found that the Madison River bobcat brings in well over a quarter of a million dollars each year."

What is your cat doing for you?

(BTW, NJ fans will note that they slip in a reference to Island Beach State Park)

12 July 2017

New parks tool

The Greenprint system now has a major hub supporting park efforts in a variety of settings. Next City reports on the Greenprint Resources Hub which has been developed through combined efforts of the Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Land and the Conservation Fund. The site is focused on the benefits of parks, and offers to help "Make the case for conservation with a greenprint".
The Greenprint Resource Hub allows interested parties to explore case studies (like the one in Hawaii), locate greenprints by geography, review best practices, and, perhaps most importantly, explore various funding strategies and policies that help enable greenprints.
While it seems like it is targeted towards park departments and NGOs, students will find it very helpful for projects, too.

10 July 2017

the dry fountains of DC

The Washington Post took a look at the problem with designers' heavy use of fountains in their designs.
Almost half of the Park Service water features in the District are in need of repair, including damaged grates at the cauldron-like spout on Theodore Roosevelt Island and the strainers and impeller motors at the U.S. Navy Memorial. The towering Dupont Circle fountain is tilting, its huge top basin inching off-kilter and slowly spoiling the flow from its three scuppers. 
As they point out, some have been off for a decade, like the Columbus fountain in front of Union Station. (BTW, be sure to follow the link inside the quote for more on the DuPont Circle Fountain)