PHYLLIS ODESSEY

Little Bits & Pieces: Sustainable Urban Yards

Overlooked Assets:
SUSTAINABLE URBAN YARDS
The Horticultural Society of New York
May 14, 2010
Ken Smith, Ken Smith Landscape Architects
Marielle Anzelone, DROSERA
Jennifer Bolstad, Local Office Landscape Architecture
Rebecca Cole, Rebecca Cole GROWs
Tricia Martin, WE Design
Evan Mason, Sustainable Yards
Tatiana Morin, NYC Soil and Water Conservation  District
Steven Tupu, Terrain NYC
 Copyright Rebecca Cole
Green Wall Inspired by Mondrain Painting  by Rebecca Cole

Copyright We Design

Proposal for using urban space by WE Design

LEFTOVER PIECESLittle Bits & Pieces
Small SpacesINTERSTITIAL SPACE
Odd Spaces...CRACKS
= 
Overlook Assets
53,000 acres of  residential yard space is available for the potential greening of NYC.
8 landscape architects give us their take on how to use this space.

Failed expansion joints and subway vents are two “spaces” Ken Smith thinks about.  His landscape architecture focuses on underused places, re-purposed materials and seriously inventive thinking.  His use of shredded tires and folding curtain walls, puts Ken at the top of “have you considered this” list.  

It’s not that his work is always successful.  It’s not that he is a great plantsman.  In fact, he relies on the expertise of others, when it comes to plants for his landscapes.  It’s the way he thinks about landscape that turns conventional notions on their head. 

His current project, a rooftop terrace in NYC for a collector of Chinese scholar rocks requires a visionary.  The terrace is used four times a year as a staging area  for window washing equipment, therefore, the landscape has to be removable.  Ken’s solution:  A riff on the scholar rock made out of acrylic, holding one plant each and on wheels.  Unexpected solutions are what you get from Ken Smith.

Green thinking dominated the presentations of Trish Martin, Steven Tupu and Rebecca Cole. Permeable surfaces, native plants and green roofs were tools employed by these landscape designers. I wondered if this is all we mean when we talk about sustainability?
Jennifer Bolstad of Local Office Landscape Architecture answered my question.  After designing large public projects, her office began work on small residential properties:  backyards in Arverne, a beach community on the Rockaway Peninsula.
“A home depot moment”  is how Jennifer describe her work with the owners of the Arverne complex.  The owners wanted their help, but they also wanted to build and plant their own backyards.  It was DIY.  For landscape architects this is an unusual request.  Jennifer and her partner decided to give it a try and something amazing happened.

The developer had a plot of land, which he offered to the owners to make a communal space.  One of the owners, who had worked with Local Office, felt confident that he had learned enough working with Local Office that he drew up a plan and executed the design. 
 

That is what I call sustainable design.


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