Landscape architect, James Corner, has a way of not only designing captivating landscapes, but making places where people want to be. While thousands have experienced his transformation of New York’s industrial rail line, Corner’s impact is also evident in major metropolises on an international level as his competition entries and built work inspire a sense of urban renewal and restore confidence in their settings. In fact, Fast Company has recently named James Corner Field Operations as one of 50 most innovative companies of the world for “creating intimate green spaces out of industrial urban blight.”
More about JCFO after the break.
On a larger scale, we are inspired by Corner’s ability to take the “left over” unused spaces of a city’s urban fabric, and create an intimate sanctuary that becomes a catalyst for future development and a gathering destination for urban life. There is a strong environmental sensibility running throughout his work as the firm seeks to improve the existing and exploit the site’s potential rather than erasing the site’s history by overriding it with a completely new identity. Corner told Fast Company, There’s an edginess and urban appeal that comes with these sites. It would be a shame to erase any sign of their histories.
Even when creating what will essential become a new city, such as JCFO’s Water City design for Qianhai, the projects are rooted in creating a sense of place specific to that city. For instance, for the massive urban plan of Qianhai, Corner’s “Water City” creates a sophisticated network of five “Water Fingers” that center around the city’s most vital resource. The Fingers will function as both innovative hydrological infrastructures and new public parkland, no doubt spurring future development in Qianhai similarly to how the High Line provided a strong foundation for the Meat Packing District’s urban makeover.
“I’m trying to push is both a concern for the intimate and larger-scale issues of sustainability and lifestyle in cities… You can build more buildings, but it’s hard to think about how to have a high-quality public realm. My interest is in these two extremes: the poetics of tactility, the beauty of intimacy; and a larger sense of how cities work and how they’re designed at that scale,” explained Corner.
Congratulations to JCFO for placing on Fast Company’s list – we are looking forward to seeing more great work from the firm.