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A Walk Along the Bayou: An Award-Winning Proposal Aims to Reinvent Houston’s River

02 Mile Aerial Perspective - Downtown. Image Courtesy of UH College of Architecture
02 Mile Aerial Perspective - Downtown. Image Courtesy of UH College of Architecture

Nearly 9,000 kilometers separate Venice, Italy from Houston, Texas, and yet, both cities are bound by a simple connection: the coexistence of the urban fabric with the waterfront. This connection was brought to life this summer through The University of Houston’s exhibition at the Venice Architectural Biennale's Time Space Existence Event: RISKY HABIT[AT]: DYNAMIC LIVING ON THE BUFFALO BAYOU. Awarded  the Global Art Affairs Foundation (GAAF) Award for Best Exhibition, the exhibition showcased the complexities and potential of the city's relationship with its waterfront. To better understand Houston’s waterfront and the changing relationship between the city and its river we visited the site ourselves. Read after the break to see what it’s like to talk a walk along the Bayou, and to find out what the Houston river project can learn from similar undertakings in Chicago, Des Moines, and Newark.

Filter. Image Courtesy of UH College of Architecture Houston Figure Ground. Image Courtesy of UH College of Architecture Courtesy of UH College of Architecture Courtesy of UH College of Architecture

It's "Time For Strategic Architecture"

In an article for the New York Times, Alexandra Lange discusses a number of US projects which are "transforming, but not disrupting," their respective communities. In this vein, she cites Mecanoo and Sasaki Associates' new Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Roxbury, Boston, as a prime example of a new kind of architecture which "comes from understanding of past civic hopes, redesigning them to meet the future." Examining some of the key concepts that make for successfully integrated community buildings, such as the creation of spaces that actively forge personal connections, Lange concludes that perhaps it is now "time for strategic architecture."

Case Studies in Coastal Vulnerability: Boston, Seoul, Hamburg, Bangladesh & New York

This article originally appeared in the latest issue of ArchitectureBoston as “Troubled Waters.

The challenges of sea-level rise cross boundaries of all sorts: geographic, political, social, economic. Proposed mitigation strategies will also necessarily shift and overlap. Here, we present five case studies from across the globe that offer intriguing ways—some operational, some philosophical—to address the threats associated with climate change. Drawing on a research initiative focused on vulnerabilities in Boston, a team at Sasaki Associates developed these additional design-strategy icons to illustrate the layered approaches. They are adaptable, the better to meet the unique demands of each coastal community.

Hamburg. Photo by Fotofrizz – http://www.fotofrizz.de Seoul River. Photo by – http://www.flickr.com/photos/benjamin73fr/ Boston Harbor. Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/rodzvilla/ New York after Hurricane Sandy. Photo by André-Pierre du Plessis – http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrepierre/

Chicago Riverwalk Proposal / Sasaki Associates + Ross Barney Architects

Sasaki Associates, along with Ross Barney Architects, Alfred Benesch Engineers, and a broader technical consultant team, were tasked this year with creating a vision for the six blocks between State Street and Lake Street in Chicago. Building off previous studies, the team’s Chicago Riverwalk Concept Plan, which is currently in progress to be completed, provides the last, critical link between the lake, the city’s circulation, and the river’s urban branches. Once a meandering marshy stream, the river became an engineered channel to support the industrial transformation of the city, making this riverwalk an instrumental design in the city. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Masterplan for National Creative Cluster / Sasaki Associates

Courtesy of Sasaki Associates
Courtesy of Sasaki Associates

The masterplan for the National Creative Cluster by Sasaki Associates integrates the urban form with the surrounding landscape by creating a series of green wedges, interspersed within the urban clusters and forming a series of community parks. Located near Songzhuang, a quiet village on the outskirts of Beijing, the success of the district is tied to its openness, where people can interact in both structured and spontaneous ways to exchange ideas and have constructive dialogue. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Universidad del Istmo Master Plan and Implementation / Sasaki Associates

Courtesy of Sasaki Associates
Courtesy of Sasaki Associates

The new campus of Universidad del Isthmo is located on a beautiful hillside in the rapidly growing community of Santa Isabel near Guatemala City, Guatemala. Sasaki Associates designed the 49-hectare site, and the first phase of the plan, which consists of the heart of campus, is currently undergoing implementation. The university aims to enroll approximately 6,200 students in successive stages of implementation over 20 years. The educational objectives and mission of the university include a strong focus on the individual and the community within the learning environment. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Water Works Park / Sasaki Associates

Sasaki Associates, with RDG Planning & Design and Applied Ecological Services (AES), were recently announced as the winning team of the Water Works Parkitecture Competition. The international design competition entailed the creation of a conceptual plan for Water Works Park to form dynamic relationships between the river, the watershed, and the community. Education and the connection between the river and the community were highly stressed in Sasaki’s winning proposal. More images and architects’ description after the break.

A Vision Plan for the Dead Sea / Sasaki Associates

The detailed master plan for the Jordan Development Zones Company (JDZ) by Sasaki Associates encompasses 40 square kilometers of land along the north and east coast of the historic Dead Sea. Over the past 15 years, the Kingdom of Jordan has focused on a balanced approach towards development and preservation in order to capitalize on increased tourism and to provide improvements to local existing communities. In 2008, a development authority was created to establish a detailed master plan as a sustainable framework for existing committed lands, future development parcels, infrastructure provisions, and natural resources protection. The resulting master plan establishes a comprehensive and site specific approach to the social, economic and environmental sustainability issues facing this stunning setting. More images and project description after the break.