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Archive for November, 2011

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From all of us at Laurel Park Management to all of you, Happy Thanksgiving! We hope you enjoy a bounty of good food, friends, family, and fortune…today and everyday.

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Okay, so—in a follow up to our last post—here are some critics’ choices for the US of A’s best public spaces. The article quoted is from Planetizen, a wonderful clearinghouse-style site of urban-themed articles. Do you agree with the critics? Disagree? Any nominees for notable snubs? Could any of their picks offer inspiration that might take root in Sarasota?

For the past few weeks, we’ve been asking you to help us crowdsource the Top 100 Public Spaces in the U.S. and Canada, in collaboration with Project for Public Spaces. For a different perspective, we asked some top architecture critics and practitioners to give us their favorites.

If you still haven’t voted, head on over to IdeaScale and give us your suggestions. Voting is getting competitive, with Seattle’s Cal Anderson Park currently topping the list.

It has been a fascinating experiment so far, attracting some of the expected responses (The High Line, Millennium Park, Bryant Park) and some less so (The Circle in Normal, Illinois). For me, it’s been a revelation to read about the many beloved plazas and parks I’ve yet to visit.

While crowdsourcing has its benefits, it is also useful to talk to people who’s business is to think about cities and architecture. I asked a handful of architecture critics, urban designers and architects to give us their bests.

James S. Russell, architecture critic for Bloomberg News and recently the author of The Agile City: Building Well-being and Wealth in an Era of Climate Change, was kind enough to send us his Top 10:

James S. Russell’s Top 10

  • High Line Park, NYC
  • Central Park, NYC
  • Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle
  • University of Washington campus, Seattle
  • Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
  • Millennium Park, Chicago
  • Stanley Park, Vancouver BC
  • Moore Sculpture Garden (Nelson Atkins Museum), Kansas City
  • Back Bay Fens, Boston
  • Times Square, NYC

John King is urban design critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, and he also has a new book out,Cityscapes: San Francisco and its Buildings. Rather than a top 10 list, John sent us this reflection on his favorite places:

For San Francisco, the one I thought of instantly is one that outsiders don’t known: Grand View Park. It’s on the west side of the city, a steep bare hillock surrounded by prim single-family homes, and it delivers exactly what it promises: a grand perspective on the remarkable setting that is essential to San Francisco’s sense of place.In Boston, where I lived seven years, what comes to mind is Boston Public Garden. You enter and you have stepped out of time, a sensation felt often in The Hub. And yet it’s centrally located, very much part of the daily ebb and flow, timeless yet integral to the city of today.

New York? What else but the High Line. Deride it as monied or mannered or a developers’ boon in hip veneer, it is mesmerizing and exhilarating at once — a reminder that the principles of urban design should never be considered set. Because new layers and the unexpected are part of the change that cities are all about.

Finally, in Portland, Tanner Springs Park. Again, people I respect consider the Atelier Dreiseitl design to be mannered. I love how it embodies the uniquely sustainable ethos that shapes this Northwest city more and more, year after after year.

Inga Saffron is the Philadelphia Inquirer’s architecture critic, and currently a Loeb Fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, provided us with this list of her picks:

Inga Saffron’s Top 10

  • Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia
  • Central Park, New York
  • High Line, New York
  • Emerald Necklace, Boston
  • Millennium Park, Chicago
  • Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle
  • Bryant Park, New York
  • Stanley Park, Vancouver
  • The Lachine Canal Bike Path, Montreal
  • National Mall, Washington D.C.

For pictures, more lists, and more discussion check out the original article at planetizen.

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The Circle in Uptown Normal, Illinois {pic by Hoerr Shaudt landscape architects}

…and Sarasota’s nowhere on the list! What about Island Park? No Arlington Park? Payne Park got snubbed? Well, it should probably be noted that this ranking was assembled by Planetizen and Project for Public Spaces largely through crowdsourcing, meaning that the results are as much a measure of how vocal a handful of passionate, supportive communities are. Not that there aren’t some great public spaces on the list, starting with the surprise top spot: a traffic circle in Normal, Illinois. Traffic circles, even if they successfully calm and smooth the flow of traffic, are usually dead space. But Normal took on the challenge of bringing dead space to life, and they are justifiably proud of the results.

The Circle is a multi-functional public space located in a roundabout that provides community green space, re-circulates storm water into a public fountain and improves traffic circulation. Designed by Hoerr Schaudt landscape architects, the circle creates an energy that draws people together. Located next to the Children’s Discovery Museum, bustling Amtrak station and planned multi-modal transportation center and within walking distance of Illinois State University, the circle creates a micro-community of travelers, patrons, students, professors, families and children as they gather and congregate on their daily journeys.

During the day, the circle is vibrant and alive with children playing in the grassy areas, visitors coming for a place to sit and enjoy an ice cream or friendly picnic back dropped by the charming tree lined streets home to local businesses and shops. It is also the location of many community events, including the annual Sugar Creek Arts and Sweet Corn Blues Festivals, and a farmers market.”

Sarasota has more than its fair share of public spaces, mostly in the form of parks. The three mentioned at the top of this post are standouts, but so are Pioneer Park, Whitaker Gateway, the little pocket park where Mietaw Drive joins Osprey at Hyde Park, and our very own beloved Laurel Park. Streets are also public spaces, and Sarasota has some gems here as well, among them Main Street, Lemon, Cherry Lane, and Hawkins Court. There are also the multi-use recreational paths, or MURPs: one at Island Park and another east of the Trail between Siesta Drive and Webber.

What is your favorite public space in Sarasota? Which local public space needs the most improvement? Which is most ripe for an innovative makeover?

http://www.planetizen.com/toppublicspaces

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