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

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.

It’s “Time For Strategic Architecture”

Bolling Municipal Center – Roxbury, Boston (MA). Image Courtesy of Mecanoo /

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.”

The idea that urban planning could build upon citizen action, rather than consisting of imposed boulevards or housing blocks (as with the urban renewal that originally gutted Roxbury) is gaining traction.

Read the article in full here.

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VIDEO: In Boston, Reclaiming the Craft of Brick

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

Water floods the Plaza Shops in Manhattan after Superstorm Sandy, 2012. Photo: Allison Joyce/Getty Images.

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 .

TechTown District Plan / Sasaki Associates

Courtesy of

The TechTown District Plan by Sasaki Associates articulates an inspiring vision for the revitalization of the district. An emerging knowledge district in Midtown , this town is currently characterized by surface parking, vacant properties, and inward-facing, siloed hubs of activity. The architects’ concept, however, aims to accelerate innovation, promote entrepreneurship, and build community around the generation of ideas in a vibrant, mixed-use setting. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Plan Envisages Reusing Pittsburgh’s Industrial Past to Bring The City Closer Together

43rd St District View Back Towards Pittsburgh Courtesy of Sasaki Associates

With the advent of the High Line and the recent announcement about ’s Bloomingdale Trail, it’s becoming clear that the ‘parkway’ is a powerful new force in , which has the potential to change the way cities around the world function. A new project in Pittsburgh seeks to harness these possibilities, as the city’s history of industry has left its stamp upon the city in the form of a rusting industrial riverfront. A plan by Saski Associates envisages re-using this space to create a green belt, tying the city closer together. By adding pedestrian, cycling and light-rail transport routes, and creating plenty of green spaces, they hope to tap Pittsburgh’s unrealized potential to be a river-front city, while encouraging geographical and social closeness amongst its communities.

More images and the architect’s description after the break…

Chicago Riverwalk Proposal / Sasaki Associates + Ross Barney Architects

Courtesy of

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 . Building off previous studies, the team’s 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.

Lorain County Community College iLOFT / Sasaki Associates

© Scott Pease

Architects: Sasaki Associates
Location: Elyria, ,
Team: Bryan Irwin, Katia Lucic, Jen Imbaro, Tala Klinck
Area: 109,000 sq ft
Year: 2012
Photographs: Scott Pease

The Drexel University Daskalakis Athletic Center / Sasaki Associates

© Halkin Photography

Architects: Sasaki Associates
Location: Philadelphia, PA,
Design Team: David Dymecki, Pablo Savid-Buteler, Nancy Freedman, Gerry Gutierrez, Sal Canciello, Dan Dwyer, Mette Aamodt, Elke Berger, Mark Delaney
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Halkin Photography, Robert Benson

Masterplan for National Creative Cluster / Sasaki Associates

Courtesy of

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 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.

Wilmington Waterfront Park / Sasaki Associates

© Craig Kuhner

Architects: Sasaki Associates
Location: , California, USA
Principal-in-Charge: Steve Hamwey
Participating Principals: Nancy Fleming, Owen Lang, Tim Stevens
Lead Project Designers: Melissa McCann, Landscape Architect; Tim Stevens, Architect
Landscape: Caleb Bruner, Mark Eischeid, Raphael Justewicz, Joon Yon Kim, Chang Keun Lee, Shannon Lee, Conard Lindgren, Meghen Quinn, Simon Raine, Nitza Thien
Architecture Team: Grace Leung, Tomer Maymon, Scott Odom, Vitas Viskanta, Angel Cantu
Civil: Zach Chrisco, Chuck Coronis, Michelle Gauvin, Oswaldo Palencia, Jose Miranda
Client: Port of Los Angeles
Completion: 2011
Size: 30 acres
Photographs: Craig Kuhner

  

Universidad del Istmo Master Plan and Implementation / Sasaki Associates

Courtesy of Sasaki Associates

The new campus of Universidad del Isthmo is located on a beautiful hillside in the rapidly growing of Santa Isabel near City, . 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

Courtesy of 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 . Education and the connection between the river and the 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

View towards Dead Sea

The detailed master plan for the 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.