River Talk

The Next Generation of Parks 2: Stoss Landscape Urbanism

The second team proposal that I'll describe comes from Stoss Landscape Urbanism, in Boston. Like all of the teams in the competition, this group consists of staff from a diverse array of firms and practitioners: landscape architects, public artists, ecological restoration specialists, urban economists. Rebuilding the core of a city is surely interdisciplinary work.

Titled "Streamlines," this proposal focuses on getting people to the river for direct encounters. Bringing the streams of the river into the streams of the city, this proposal employs highly dynamic metaphors and imagery.

I have to say that the recognition that the river is in fact many rivers, that the city is many cities, is welcome. Too often it seems that people plan and design for a monolithic hypothetical "city" that flattens out the rich, and growing, diversity of the biological and human systems that make up this place.

The team proposes a three part strategy: Claim the river by making it part of the civic space of the city; Seed the parks for their growth and emergence over time; Elaborate new ways to incorporate the river corridor into city life.

Light-sculpture, illuminated rowboats, glowing barges which can double as swimming platforms, all are envisioned as giving the river a distinctive identity.

The proposal brings together ecological and food systems, industry and recreation, an "energy forest" and stormwater corridors that extend back into existing neighborhoods and connect city to river corridor.

Bridges are no longer simply engineered structures to get across the river; they have themes, and anchor distinctive neighborhoods and destinations.

As is the case with all of the proposals, steps toward implementation, and preliminary cost estimates are included, giving an understanding that all of this doesn't just "happen."

Learn more about the Stoss proposal by going to Minneapolis Riverfront Design and clicking on the panel for their work. The full proposal and presentation movie are both contained there.

  The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and not necessarily
  of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.