green streets
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green streets
thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
Curated by Lauren Moss
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Softening Modernism's Hard Edge: contemporary landscape interventions

Softening Modernism's Hard Edge: contemporary landscape interventions | green streets |

Contemporary landscape interventions are transforming midcentury buildings and plazas to address their urbanistic failings.

Inserting a work of contemporary landscape architecture into the context of a mid-century modernist complex is a challenging proposition. Many of the most prominent plazas, pocket parks, and courtyards from the modernist era feature stark, austere designs, intended to complement the buildings they served.

Some renowned modernist spaces such as the plaza in front of Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building were not designed with the intention that people would linger. “When Mies van der Rohe saw people sitting on the ledges, he was surprised,” Phillip Johnson is said to have commented. “He never dreamed they would.”

Certainly the sensibility of the typical mid-century modernist urban landscape is at odds with contemporary tastes and activities. Now, urban open spaces are designed for populated plazas, with a variety of seating options, shade trees and open space...

Indeed, many public plazas from the modernist era have been redesigned to conform to the contemporary program.

Read the full article for more in-depth case studies, preservation inititives, and issues related to preserving modernist architecture- in balance with the needs of today's urban spaces.

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The Evolution of Urban Planning in 10 Diagrams

The Evolution of Urban Planning in 10 Diagrams | green streets |
A new exhibit from the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association showcases the simple visualizations of complex ideas that have changed how we live.

The exhibition’s title – Grand Reductions – suggests a simple illustration’s power to encapsulate complex ideas. And for that reason the medium has always been suited to the city, an intricate organism that has been re-imagined (with satellite towns! in rural grids! in megaregions!) by generations of architects, planners and idealists.

In the urban context, diagrams can be powerful precisely because they make weighty questions of land use and design digestible in a single sweep of the eye. But as well-known plans, such as Le Corbusier’s, illustrates, they can also seductively oversimplify the problems of cities. These 10 diagrams have been tremendously influential – not always for the good...

View all the diagrams as well as their descriptions at the article link...

Jay C. Estes's curator insight, April 16, 2013 3:41 PM

Fascinating article.  I love planning history.