Posts

A Language of Movement

The environment exists for the purpose of movement. —Lawrence Halprin, in Progressive Architecture 46 (July 1965) On a bluff overlooking the Trinity River, just on the north edge of downtown Fort Worth, Lawrence Halprin’s Heritage Park Plaza sits vacant. Closed to the public since 2007 due to structural and safety concerns, Halprin’s urban park and water garden — the only one of the public spaces he designed for Texas that remains intact — is gradually sliding into ruin after years of neglect. (Aside: Halprin also designed the original landscaping of NorthPark Center in Dallas; however, after several expansions of the…

Invisible Aquatics

The Cascading Creek House sits at the end of a cul-de-sac with its eponymous waterway beyond. Standing at the top of the sloped site, Thomas Bercy of Bercy Chen Studio explained that because of its steep topography, the triangular property receives a great deal of runoff. This water is channeled through large drains in the curvy driveway and along a rocky passage on the north side of the house. Even in its site strategy, the project uses water management to explore the relationship between tech-nology and architecture.  The house, opening to the south, consists of two bars set at an angle to each other…

After the Rain

As one travels south on Business 83, the old Texas highway bends toward the east and parallels the Rio Grande River. In the 1930s, this section of 83 ran through the downtown areas of the major cities from Laredo to Brownsville and was known as “America’s longest Main Street.” During the postwar period, however, commerce in the Lower Rio Grande Valley shifted away from its agrarian roots, and Expressway 83 was built to the north, circumventing the towns. Highway 83 became Business 83, leaving the downtowns and their connecting corridor to fend for themselves as economic activity slowed, with traffic…

Michael Van Valkenburgh on Austin’s Waller Creek

The New York City landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh is playing a prominent role in redefining urban spaces throughout the country with active and engaging parks. He spoke about the winning proposal for Waller Creek that his firm developed in conjunction with Thomas Phifer and Partners. Austin is a city of many parks; the revitalization of Waller Creek will be a welcome contribution to a community that cherishes green space and water. What attracted your team to the Waller Creek competition? Several things, including the creative vibrancy of Austin as a city, the uniqueness of the assignment (especially the implications…