Archive for julio, 2009

A River Runs Under It

julio 16, 2009

Yonkers Historical Society
Yonkers, N.Y., diverted the Saw Mill River through a giant underground flume in the 1920s. Now, inspired by other cities’ efforts to “daylight” such waterways, Yonkers is trying to unbury the river and create a greenway along its banks.

Many big cities and towns owe their existence to rivers, either because some waterway provided a transit route, water source, or hydro power for mills in the early days of industrialization. But many such communities proceeded to bury their rivers in the 20th century, both because the waters were sullied with pollution or sewage and to make room for housing, commercial buildings and — most of all — roads.

Over the last several decades, from Europe to North America and now Asia, there’s been a growing movement aimed at peeling back pavement and  “daylighting” buried waters.

I have a story running in The Times and International Herald Tribune on one of the most remarkable such transformations — the restoration of the  Cheonggyecheon in Seoul, South Korea. Through more than six centuries of settlement, the stream went from being a revered feature of the landscape to an open sewer to a buried, forgotten storm drain and now to a three-mile corridor of burbling waters, milling carp, strolling picnickers and relative quiet in one of the powerhouse metropolises of Asia. You can see a video report on that effort at the bottom of this post. The Seoul stream project was integrated with a parallel effort to take away highways and improve public transportation.

The story also discusses an ambitious effort to expose 1,900 feet of the  Saw Mill River, which runs under a stretch of shops and parking lots in downtown Yonkers, a city of 200,000 abutting the Bronx. The photograph above shows the giant flume built in the early the 1920’s to contain the river. From  San Antonio to Singapore, there are other examples.

A community’s relationship with its waterways is a reflection of its stage of development. Among other cities pursuing the restoration of buried or concrete-lined waterways are Vancouver, which once  had dozens of salmon spawning runs in streams within the city limits, and  Los Angeles.

A River Runs Under It – Dot Earth Blog –


Bell Labs Back in Limbo

julio 11, 2009

Saarinen’s famed corporate villa in need of rescue plan.

The Architect’s Newspaper

Brad Pitt’s “Make It Right” Unveils New Designs

julio 3, 2009
By David Sokol
Today actor Brad Pitt’s organization Make It Right (MIR) released 14 new designs that will be among the 150 houses reconstructed in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. With this second round of schematics, MIR is offering residents the opportunity to rebuild affordable duplexes in addition to the single-family schemes introduced in 2007.

Elemental (A. Aravena)

“We always wanted to expand the design catalog, and doubles is a typology that’s used throughout New Orleans and the Lower Ninth Ward,” says MIR executive director Tom Darden. “It’s a demand we were eager to meet.” The duplexes are expected to house extended families as well as renters.

The duplexes were designed by 14 architecture firms, including eight that are new to the MIR program. The studios include: Atelier Hitoshi Abe, Bild Design, Billes, buildingstudio, BNIM, Constructs, Elemental, Gehry Partners, GRAFT, Kappe Architects, MVRDV, Pugh + Scarpa, Waggonner & Ball Architects, and William McDonough + Partners (a longtime consultant to MIR and responsible for its Cradle-to-Cradle criteria).

Most of the new designs feature pared-down geometries that harmonize with traditional regional expression. Exceptions, such as the schematics created by buildingstudio and Graft, another longtime friend of MIR, take on a sleeker appearance, while MVRDV’s splayed houses and the angular asymmetry of Pugh + Scarpa’s design are more exuberant. For the most part, the designs sport flexible floor plans, forge a close relationship with street life, and integrate outdoor and landscaped spaces with architecture.

Two examples from the group should break ground in mid-August.

Brad Pitt’s “Make It Right” Unveils New Designs| News | Architectural Record