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Chris Reed

Retooling Metropolis: Working Landscapes, Emergent Urbanism


Fall 2016

Studio Report


Chris Reed

Retooling Metropolis: Working Landscapes, Emergent Urbanism


Retooling Metropolis: Working Landscapes, Emergent Urbanism

Studio Instructor Chris Reed

What is the status of the 20th-century metropolis? How do we rethink it (and retool it) in an era of significant climate change, considerable social and economic inequities, and cultural dissonance? And what of this in a disciplinary age when conversations on urbanism are likely to be better informed by ideas of indeterminacy, dynamism, operational ecologies and landscape, and emergence over time? These questions are at the center of this research and studio work, both of which examine possibilities for cultivating new landscape occupations and new forms of nascent urbanism in an area of Houston along the eastern stretch of the Buffalo Bayou. This is an area marked by large-scale abandonment, some active heavy industry, remnant poor neighborhoods, industrial ruins, denuded ecologies, contaminated lands, and a radically transformed hydrologic system. How does one act here, when contemporary environmental and social circumstances call for a shift in thinking and a need for change, yet where there is no obvious economic or political driver to initiate or sponsor transformation on the ground?

Teaching Assistant Sonny Xu Students Adam Himes, Juan Diego Izquierdo, Sophie Juneau, Rebecca Liggins, Xun Liu, Andrew Madl, Yuxi Qin, Chris Reznich, Louise Roland, Jonah Susskind, Andrew Taylor, Ziwei Zhang Mid-term Review Critics Francesca Benedetto, Silvia Benedito, Danielle Choi, Steven Handel, Andrea Hansen, Daniel Ibañez, Teresa Lynch, Kate Kennan, Nick Nelson Final Review Critics Baye Adofo-Wilson, Bradley Cantrell, Christopher Hight, Zaneta Hong, Daniel Ibañez, Mariana Ibañez, Nina-Marie Lister, Pratap Talwar, Sergio Lopez-Pineiro, Anne Olson, Lola Shepard, Mason White


Title

6 Buffalo Bayou from the Watco barge dock.


Preface

Research

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24 34

Transient Hydrologies

Rethinking a Reformulated Metropolis Chris Reed

Essay

Stimming the Surface

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Working Landscapes, Emergent Urbanism Chris Reed

48 60 74

Dross Ecologies

88

Project: Dross Depot Adam Himes, Sophie Juneau

102

Productive Engagement

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A Note from the Buffalo Bayou Partnership Anne Olson

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Project: Endless Liquid Surfaces Xun Liu, Ziwei Zhang

Project: East Side Incubator Yuxi Qin, Chris Reznich

Contributors


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Rethinking a Reformulated Metropolis

“. . . the individual points and their various qualities and constellations are many: cool and warm, some red, some green, mostly yellow. . . . the moving lights easily match the intensity of the far more numerous immobile ones, suggesting the monstrous possibility that none are definitely fixed. All is labile, transient, as if it were only a question of time before all these lit particles would move. . . . The bio-vehicular, electro-commercial, socio-electronic, and optico-ocular metropolis knows no steady state.” —Lars Lerup, “Stim & Dross: Rethinking the Metropolis”1 “. . . to approximate these ecological forces and structures, to tap, approximate, borrow, and transform morphogenetic processes from all aspects of wild nature, to invent artificial means of creating living artificial environments.” —Sanford Kwinter, “Wildness (Prolegomena to a New Urbanism)”2

Chris Reed

In 1994, Lars Lerup took on the project of theorizing and repositioning the 20th-century metropolis in “Stim & Dross: Rethinking the Metropolis,” published in Assemblage. 3 Here, Lerup lays out the idea of a vast, dispersed urban plane of “emergent . . . megashapes,” of particles and people constantly in a state of motion, of momentary “stims” (stimulations) that activate the plane, and of the physical and spatial dross simply left behind as a result of this urbanism of movement and exchange. Traditional urban space of the 19th-century city here transforms to pure motion and experience (and void); the mundane becomes theoretical and imaginative as ground and the “Zoohemic” canopy give way to the astral above, and to the continuous oscillations of weather and storm, of sun and clouds and twinkling stars. As compelling and insightful as Lerup’s snapshot of the metropolis at the end of the 20th century is, over two decades of intensifying environmental, social, economic, and cultural changes continue to shift the foundations of the metropolitanism that he describes. Evolutions in global economics and markets


Juan Diego Izquierdo and Rebecca Liggins, “Mapping Inequality.”

environment as always in a state of change, constantly adapting to evolving circumstances and inputs. Ecological health is now defined more in terms of an organism’s or ecosystem’s ability to change and adapt rather than to embody a particular idealized state or form. By extension, we might apply landscape and ecological thinking to Lerup’s metropolis-in-motion and discover new starting points for instigation and intervention that help to reimagine and reframe the 21st-century metropolis moving forward. Retooling, then, is as much conceptual as it is physical and operative. It invokes an imaginative rethinking of what constitutes the metropolis 20-some years after Lerup. It entails speculation about design intervention that can physically reshape territory at both the site and urban scale. And it embraces time and indeterminacy in creative and productive ways, allowing for catalytic actions that play off and redirect the dynamics of an extended metropolitan landscape and its formational systems-in-action.

1 Lars Lerup, “Stim & Dross: Rethinking the Metropolis,” Assemblage 25 (December 1994): 85–86. 2 Sanford Kwinter, “Wildness (Prolegomena to a New Urbanism),” in Far from Equilibrium: Essays on Technology and Design Culture, edited by Cynthia Davidson (Barcelona: Actar, 2008), 191. 3 Lerup, “Stim & Dross.”

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have continued to shift large-scale manufacturing and jobs away from the old center of the city, leaving industrial remnants and contaminated waste behind, and prompting population shifts that leave portions of city fabric empty. Climate change is wreaking havoc on urbanized hydrologic systems as the frequency and intensity of storms increase—and make more ominous the potential for environmental and social catastrophe if the exact right combination of weather patterns intersects with vulnerable energy industries and urban populations. Global migration patterns continue to diversify metropolitan populations—though they also tend to concentrate poor and minority demographic groups together and in areas most lacking in support resources and most exposed to environmental and economic risk. So, while the metropolis remains a compelling and productive site for investigation and projection, its shifting foundations and altered milieu offer a new and fecund starting point for rethinking it once again. This is where landscape as an idea, an operative agenda, and a set of material dynamics offers potent ways forward. Landscape has the capacity to mark time, initiate transformation, adapt to ongoing inputs (whether physical, environmental, political, or bureaucratic), and engage multiplicity and indeterminacy in productive ways. In so doing, landscape as a mode of thinking and operating shares characteristics with systems ecology, which describes the


Title

10 View along a defunct road toward the Velasco Street Incinerator.


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Firstname Lastname


Title

12 Abandoned water treatment plant.


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Firstname Lastname


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Working Landscapes, Emergent Urbanism

Chris Reed


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Firstname Lastname


“The move away from ‘master plans’ to more tactical, improvisational, and provisional projects marks a shift in attitude from that of architect as super-authority to architect as adaptive entrepreneur; a social manager of sets and stages that enable the city to perform in newly dynamic ways.” —James Corner, “Landscraping”2

Working/functional/operational: How might landscape take on productive social, economic, and environmental roles in the 21st-century metropolis? How can parks and multifunctional landscape infrastructures and urbanistic strategies be conceived to generate economies and productivity instead of solely relying on public or philanthropic investment to sustain them? (In other words, do we need to displace the work aspect of these currently and formerly working and industrial landscapes?) 2. Multiple publics: For whom are we designing? How might working landscapes in the short- and long-term engage a fuller range of people and demographics, and serve them in different and multiple ways? How do the working and recreating and living publics of the Second and Fifth Wards and all of Houston engage with and experience these landscapes in rich and productive ways? 3. Imaginative/speculative/experiential: How might 21st-century environmental, social, cultural, and economic challenges

Initial investigations in the studio examined the forces in play—or potentially activated them—across the wider metropolitan territory, in order to establish a baseline of understanding and research. Topics of study included altered hydrologies and ecologies, movement patterns and infrastructures, micro- and macro-economies, etc. From there, individual project proposals focused on productive processes, and on landscape catalysts and activation initiatives for inaugurating environmental, social, cultural, urbanistic, and economic transformation. Incremental, tactical, and cumulative projects and processes were emphasized; a combination of the physical and the operative, of the pragmatic and the inventive, were at the heart of these investigations. The studio embraced the idea that projects can emerge over time as a result of catalytic and transformational processes that continue to work at multiple time-scales, ultimately resulting in a sequence of occupations and provisional projects that could each be complete and legitimate in its own right. Houston is foregrounded in this work as both singular and prototypical: the fourth-most populous city in the United States, an enormous horizontal expanse; a 20th-century metropolis organized by transportation and logistics infrastructure; a notorious absence of zoning regulations (anything can happen anywhere); lead character-machine-ecology-cyborg in Lerup’s observations on the city, and, recently, host to a dizzying array of landscape, urbanism, and infrastructure projects and proposals that are transforming the city—and will continue to transform it—in significant ways. The studio was sited along the eastern stretch of the Buffalo Bayou in Houston, from downtown to the start of the Houston Ship Channel. Over the past decade, the western stretch of the Buffalo Bayou has been remade from forgotten drainage ditch to heralded linear park with new biking and running trails, habitat areas, gardens and fields, and access to a slew of nearby attractions, amenities, and neighborhoods. The eastern stretch, though, is more challenging: a good portion of the land is con-

Previous page: Jensen Drive Bridge over the Buffalo Bayou.

Following page: Adam Himes and Sophie Juneau, “Mapping Dross Demographics.”

The studio begins with two key questions. How do we retool the 20th-century metropolis in light of pressing issues around climate change, transformations in social demographics, evolutions in national and global economic markets, and social and cultural debates about what constitutes a full, robust, just civic life in America? And how might we reconceive the 20th-century recreational park as a set of evolving and working landscapes that might catalyze change and take on these multivariate issues for a 21th-century citizenship? To address these questions, students were asked to open research investigations and ultimately propose speculative projects for one of a number of sites along the eastern stretch of Houston’s Buffalo Bayou. They were asked to consider their proposals in at least three ways: 1.

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translate into innovative, exciting, and never-before-seen ideas about the role and experience of landscape in the city? How do we reconceptualize Lars Lerup’s conceptualization of Houston specifically and the metropolis in general?

Working Landscapes, Emergent Urbanism

“Infrastructures are flexible and anticipatory.” —Stan Allen, “Infrastructural Urbanism”1


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Chris Reed


sites could serve as prototypes for strategies that could ultimately be realized on other sites and at other scales. Or they could simply exist as one of a collection of sites and projects that accumulate along the banks of the Bayou—a set of ongoing and intermittent prompts or stims that continue to retool the metropolis for time and populations and circumstances yet to fully emerge.

1 Stan Allen, “Infrastructural Urbanusm,” Points + Lines: Diagrams for the City (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 55. 2 James Corner, “Landscraping,” in Stalking Detroit, edited by Georgia Daskalakis, Charles Waldheim, and Jason Young (Barcelona: Actar, 2001), 124.

Working Landscapes, Emergent Urbanism

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taminated; noxious industrial uses sit alongside small-scale neighborhoods, most poor and nonwhite; active industries occupy some of the sites with the most ecological and social potential; and a number of super-large and empty sites simply block access to the bayou from any of the surrounding neighborhoods. A few sites include ruins of former industrial use, whether grain silos near to the bayou or an entire abandoned water treatment facility on two sites straddling a major north–south connector at the edge of the water. Some development is occurring in the area, but it is at a density and of a type that does not leverage the bayou as an asset and catalyst for a more imaginative approach to city-making (it is instead quite moribund, low-scale townhouse development). On top of all this, Houston experienced what was designated as 100-year storms in two consecutive years, which flooded large areas in and around the city; such events demonstrate that the bayou network, the region’s underlying drainage structure, has become overburdened by increased runoff from more intense and more frequent storms over time— and that any forward-looking proposal for the eastern bayou must account for these sometimes dramatic fluctuations and intensities of water. On difficult, highly altered, abandoned (or even actively industrial) sites like those along the eastern stretch of the Bayou, quick and highly funded transformations are often not possible: there is no clear economic driver; the costs associated with large and often contaminated sites are daunting; and there is a bigger question of what these places could and should become, given the wide range of constituencies in the city. We can no longer expect to create master-planned communities or open spaces that others will simply make happen—we need to expand our toolkits as designers to include initiation and financing, political stage-setting, integrated environmental and economic initiatives, and long-term cultivation and curatorial practices that will allow for gradual but effective transformation through time. The question is where to start. Initial investigations focused on the strategic design of a single catalytic and transformational process (water, soil, vegetation, waste) and its corresponding physical, hydrologic, ecological, social, infrastructural, and/or economic implications and potential. This work posited the question of what it means for landscape and civic infrastructure to be productive in the broadest sense—whether environmentally, socially, culturally, and/or economically. Subsequent proposals developed for individual


19

Chris Reed Chris Reznich and Andrew Taylor, “Mapping Stimonomics.”


20 Buffalo Bayou East Sector 1. Xun Liu and Ziwei Zhang, “Liquid Surfaces.” 2. Andrew Madl and Andrew Taylor, “Extracting Surface Duality.” 3. Becca Liggins and Juan Diego Izquierdo, “Thickened Ground, Thickened Edge.”

4. Adam Himes and Sophie Juneau, “Dross Depot.” 5. Louise Roland and Jonah Susskind, “The Ocean of Active Surfaces.” 6. Chris Reznich and Yuxi Qin, “East Side Incubator.”


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22 Water level markers under the Louisiana Street Bridge.


24 Andrew Madl and Andrew Taylor, digital topography analysis.


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Firstname Lastname

Transient Hydrologies


Transient Hydrologies

26 Louise Roland and Jonah Susskind, fluvial morphology analysis.


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Research

Lars Lerup characterizes the metropolis as always in a state of motion; ecologists characterize the ecosystems of the earth as in a state of perpetual change and adaptation. The Bayou channel itself moved in space, as erosion and deposition reshaped it for millennia until it was straightened and stabilized by multiple forms of infrastructure in the 20th century. These experiments explore the dynamic, temporal, and indeterminate aspects of water in its multiple manifestations— torrential rain, smothering humidity, a surface trickle, a still pond, a powerful and consuming flood. Three- and four-dimensional modeling techniques explore the implications of dynamic environments and multiple states of being. Renewed waters-inmotion inaugurate new forms of ecological and social and civic life. A wetland park is imagined in and among the foundations of past and future freeways, appropriating these infrastructures as hydrologic and ecological scaffolds, and as living and lifegiving ruins.


Transient Hydrologies

28 Xun Liu and Ziwei Zhang, sediment accumulation modeling.


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Research j

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Louise Roland and Jonah Susskind, operational diagram.

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30 Jonah Susskind and Ziwei Zhang, “Connections Through the Ground.”


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Firstname Lastname


Transient Hydrologies

32 Above and following page: Rebecca Liggins, hydrological program analysis.


PARTICLE SIZE

INFILTRATION

HUMAN INTERACTION

STORMWATER POOL SYSTEM

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Research

SPEED OF WATER


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Project: Endless Liquid Surfaces

The project rethinks the productive potential of the relationship between bayou and highway—two dominant machines that have abandoned Lars Lerup’s provocative commingling of nature and machine “in a Houston that is fully neither city nor tree.”1 It also rethinks the Lerup drawing where he depicts two oceanic layers, the Zoohemic Canopy at the ground, and the skyscraper layer that pokes through to the sky. This proposal creates a more compressed, multilayered version, where modified natural flows and forests of trees and highway infrastructure are merged and circulate freely, perpetually remaking themselves from sediment and water. The images depict one possible future stage of the design. Here we can see the placing of discrete interventions to funnel but not control flow, the resultant sedimented landforms, the emergent ecologies they spawn, and the loops and connections for people and bicycles, all within a new central, wild, and evolving park for Houston. It’s a proposal about the performance of water across the site and across time, and our changing experiences

Xun Liu Ziwei Zhang

thereof. A new identity of Houston is evoked from the forest of the infrastructure and trees, and from the endless liquid surfaces.

1 Lars Lerup, “Stim & Dross: the Metropolis,” Assemblage 25 (December 1994): 88.


35 Rendering of site showing proposed urban wetland.


Project: Endless Liquid Surface

36 Serial sections with Scour analysis.


37

Xun Liu, Ziwei Zhang Phasing plan (phase one).


Landform study model.

Project: Endless Liquid Surface

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Xun Liu, Ziwei Zhang Scour analysis timeline.


Project: Endless Liquid Surface

40 Sedementation analysis 01.

Sedementation analysis 02.


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Xun Liu, Ziwei Zhang Sedementation analysis 03 (detail).


Urban wetland.

Project: Endless Liquid Surface

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Xun Liu, Ziwei Zhang Urban wetland phasing strategy.


Project: Endless Liquid Surface

44 Urban wetland phasing strategy. Top: Phase one; Bottom left: Phase two; Bottom right: Phase three.


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Xun Liu, Ziwei Zhang


Title

46 Emergent urban prairie east of downtown Houston.


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Firstname Lastname


48 Andrew Madl and Andrew Taylor, digital topography analysis.


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Stimming the Surface


Stimming The Surface

50 Louise Roland and Jonah Susskind, “Soil Farm / Public Pools.”


Research

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Lars Lerup characterizes Houston—and the metropolis at large—as a form of city in a constant state of motion, full of momentary stimulations that energize the metropolis, with lights and activities that continuously pulse and dim. Industries that once inhabited the sites along the Bayou have moved further east, their energies relocated; other forces in the East End neighborhoods begin to flicker. These experiments explore the potentials of activating, provoking, instigating, and catalyzing—whether hydrologically, ecologically, socially, or programmatically. An extension of James Corner’s idea of “Landscraping,”1 research studies introduce new water behaviors, mechanical scars, manipulated surfaces, seeding and growing strategies to remediate while holding time, momentary programmatic insertions, and installations to seed and draw new life. A vegetal and social incubator proposes light seeding strategies to spark renewal on all contaminated and vacant lots, in combination with key access points, programmatic interventions, water-borne transport, and mobile operations that both scale to the bayou and invoke the local forces and people in place.

1 James Corner, “Landscraping,” in Stalking Detroit, edited by Georgia Daskalakis, Charles Waldheim, and Jason Young (Barcelona: Actar, 2001).


Title

52 Louise Roland and Andrew Madl, “Mapping the Zoohemic.”


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Firstname Lastname


Stimming The Surface

54 Louise Roland and Jonah Susskind, operational landform study models.


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Research Louise Roland and Jonah Susskind, operational landforms and emergent vegetation.


+

Silos

Incinerator Chimneys

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Juan Diego Izquierdo, Stormwater Park phasing diagram. Top to bottom: tree nursuries, real estate game, edge park and green infrastructure.

Stimming The Surface

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$

$


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Research Louise Roland and Jonah Susskind, “Water Treatment / Public Fountain.”


Stimming The Surface

58 Louise Roland and Jonah Susskind, program and process studies.


59

Research


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Project: East Side Incubator

Rather than a typical landscaped park, this proposal looks to seed new ecological and social life into many of the large, vacant, disconnected, and often contaminated properties throughout Houston’s East Side. Phase one establishes primary links between downstream sites and the recently upgraded upstream section through low-cost maintenance shifts. Ongoing operations are moved onto the river as a spectacle—the daily rhythms of riverboats pulling rafts of flowers, grasses, and trees to restoration sites makes a display of necessary phytoremediation work and newly vibrant public spaces. Partnered with a small fleet of water taxis, the river itself becomes both a connective infrastructure and a site of cultural exchange. Phase two capitalizes on the river’s new connectivity, not only closing transit gaps for underserved communities, but providing access to new sites and experiences along the bayou. To spark new uses and civic engagement, a series of cultural programs—a plant nursery, markets, events, festivals, concerts, temporary installations, and pop-up eateries—is choreographed and implemented

Yuxi Qin Chris Reznich

on a yearly basis to take advantage of the latent opportunities offered by the wide array of sites and structures along the Bayou. In this experimental space of temporary engagements, previously unknown and underutilized sites become destinations. Economic strategies can be tested cheaply with low risk, serving as an incubator for sparking and spreading the impacts of new economies beyond the Bayou.


61 Phytoresponsive vegetation diagram (detail).


Rhizomatic

Wind-dispersed

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Watco Nursery + Cultural Incubator

Seed-Drop

Seed dispersal diagram.


Rhizomatic

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Yuxi Firstname Qin, Chris Lastname Reznich Seed-drop Wind-Dispersed


Bayou study model.

Watco Nursery + Cultural Incubator

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Yuxi Firstname Qin, Chris Lastname Reznich


Watco site proposal.

Watco Nursery + Cultural Incubator

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Project: East Side Incubator

68 Top: Allen’s Landing proposal.

Bottom: Silo site proposal.


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Yuxi Qin, Chris Reznich Miscellaneous proposal (details).


Promenade.

Project: East Side Incubator

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Public theater.

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Yuxi Qin, Chris Reznich


Title

72 Scrap metal yard along the Houston Shipping Channel.


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Firstname Lastname


74 Andrew Madl and Andrew Taylor, digital topography analysis.


Firstname Lastname

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Dross Ecologies


Dross Ecologies

76 Andrew Madl and Andrew Taylor, landform study models.


Research

Lars Lerup’s metropolis is full of holes—the dross or leftovers and wastes of the production and consumption processes in play. The contemporary city contains its own waste, sometimes on sites (contamination, ruins, leftover spaces), sometimes redistributed in the forms of landfills, depots, interchanges, etc. The following experiments look at creative strategies for reuse and re-sourcing of the matter and waste already in play: soil topographies that respond to remediation and ecological regimes; sediment redistribution machines that reignite ecological performance; repurposing sites that recycle and reuse the waste of industrial processes toward new ends. A materials recycling depot on a former junkyard rethinks the relationships between organisms and industry, between living and non-living matter—using the wastes and byproducts of civilization to reignite new ecological and social dynamics.


Title

78 Adam Himes and Sophie Juneau, “Taxonomy of Waste Processes.”


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Firstname Lastname


Dross Ecologies

80 Aerial of Houston, 1944.


Research

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2010

Aerial of Houston, 2002.

2002


Dross Ecologies

82 Andrew Madl and Andrew Taylor, site analysis studies.


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Research


84 Andrew Madl and Andrew Taylor, operational overlay.


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86 Andrew Madl and Andrew Taylor, operational overlay.


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Project: Dross Depot

This proposal rejects the received interpretation of its riverfront scrapyard site as both residual space and a site of waste—dross twice over—and instead choreographs temporary topographies of on-site waste matter to instigate new economic, ecological, and social processes. This proposal acknowledges that the scale of the site (over 2.5 million square feet) and its location at the nexus of highway, rail, and water infrastructures are too valuable to completely remove industry. Instead, it balances aspirations for the reclamation of the Buffalo Bayou for recreation with the economic realities of the site. Two processes repurpose dross to initiate ecological transformations. The strategic reshaping of scrap metal piles, called “scrap seeding,” accounts for stormwater runoff and occasional flooding to induce the formation of plumes of sediment that can be planted to anchor and remediate soil as the scrapyard phases out. Selective demolition of hardscape, or “depavement,” further permits phytoremedial planting, anchors the riverbank, and permits public access to the Buffalo Bayou while remediation takes place. In time, this access is developed into a recreational

Adam Himes Sophie Juneau

greenway for residents of the Fifth Ward that links to a coastal bikeway. Importantly, just as on-site waste is reused to initiate remediation, so too is the recycling program redefined—as a materials exchange depot—to maintain local labor jobs for residents of the Fifth Ward.


89 Depavement study model.


Scrap clusters

2-mile radius

1-mile radius

Proler site

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Waterway

Freeway

Freight rail lines

M&M Scrap Metal

Sims

A&A Metal Trading Gulf Coast International

Firstname Lastname

Fifth Ward

Lopez Scrap Metal

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Other metal yard

Sims (relocation / consolidation)


v-1

v-3

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v-5

v-2 v-1

distance

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Title

DOWNSTREAM

velocity (v) Depavement diagram.


v-9

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UPSTREAM

edge condition: soft riparian morphology: double bend


Project: Dross Depot

94 Scrap seeding diagram.


Stimulated Dross

“Stimulated Dross” serial sections.

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four months curing

CYCLE RENEWS

5 year seeding process

setup

weekly collection

Adam Himes, Sophie Juneau

CYCLE R E N E WS

monthly shipments/ turn over

∞ ∞

CYCLE RENEW S


Dross Depot

96 Transitory dross topographies.


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Adam Himes, Sophie Juneau


Swatch plan.

Project: Dross Depot

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Adam Himes, Sophie Juneau Top: Community Exchange.

Bottom: Fifth Ward Greenway.


Title

100 Abandoned grain silos.


101

Firstname Lastname


102 Andrew Madl and Andrew Taylor, digital topography analysis.


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Firstname Lastname

Productive Engagement


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A Note from the Buffalo Bayou Partnership

Buffalo Bayou Partnership was extremely fortunate and honored to have Chris Reed’s Harvard GSD students focus on Buffalo Bayou’s eastern sector in their Fall 2016 studio. Immediately upon their arrival in Houston I knew this was an outstanding group of young people. They were inquisitive, sensitive, caring, and, of course, very bright. Like most designers, especially artists, the students were immediately drawn to the vast post-industrial landscape that encompasses the eastern bayou stretch. As we visited one site after another, their enthusiasm and excitement grew, and I began to see their minds churning as they looked at four massive gravel silos, an abandoned city sewage treatment plant, and an expansive wooden wharf with looming cranes. They could even see possibilities as they toured a noxious steel recycling facility. The students also immediately understood how any bayou enhancement had to respond to not only the industrial legacy of this area but also to the rich cultural life of the nearby Fifth Ward and East End, two economically Previous spread, Fall 2016 Final review.

Anne Olson

depressed neighborhoods. They understood that they needed to look at the bayou beyond a landscape lens and consider it through an economic and social lens, and think about jobs, housing, and basic city services. At Reed’s kind invitation, I traveled to Boston in mid-December to attend the students’ final review. At first I declined—I was busy at work, the holidays were quickly approaching, and it would be cold in Boston. But once I decided to go, I found myself looking forward to seeing what the students produced. The work didn’t disappoint. I walked into the room and was immediately blown away by the beautiful visuals and models. It was clear that the students had put hours upon hours into their projects. As each student team presented their proposals, my excitement grew and I started to think about all the visionary work before me. The work exhibited a thorough understanding of Buffalo Bayou’s ecological and environmental challenges. Several projects addressed Houston’s severe flooding problems. Others addressed climate change. As project after project was explained, I realized how much


east sector holds. On behalf of Buffalo Bayou Partnership, I extend my sincere thanks to Chris Reed, Harvard GSD, and most importantly, the amazing students.

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Buffalo Bayou Partnership would benefit from the students’ work and research. When I left the review, I expressed my thanks to the students. One student came up to me and expressed her thanks, saying how much she not only appreciated my organization sponsoring the trip to Houston but also my traveling to Harvard to participate in the design review. “So many times,” she said, “we never see the sponsoring host again and they never see our final work.” It definitely was worth the trip. In January, Reed and student Jonah Susskind traveled to Houston to present the studio work to more than 30 Buffalo Bayou stakeholders—a diverse group of board members, Fifth Ward and East End residents, and governmental representatives. Both the presentation and the exhibition mounted in our office were enthusiastically received. From a tree nursery that would travel along the bayou on barges, to a massive wetland under a removed freeway, to a specially developed computer program simulating a major flooding event, the students’ work was inspiring, compelling, and demonstrated the incredible potential that Buffalo Bayou’s


Title

108 Stockpiled timber near the Velasco Street Incinerator.


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Firstname Lastname


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Contributors

Chris Reed Chris Reed is founder and director of Stoss. His innovative, hybridized approach to public space has been recognized internationally, and he has been invited to participate in competitions and installations in the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel, the Middle East, Taiwan, and China. Reed’s research interests include the impact of ecological sciences on design thinking, and city-making strategies informed by landscape systems and dynamics; he is co-editor of a recently published volume of research and drawing titled Projective Ecologies. Reed received a Master in Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and an AB in Urban Studies from Harvard College. He is currently professor in practice of landscape architecture and codirector of the Master of Landscape Architecture in Urban Design Program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Anne Olson Anne Olson is president of Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP), an organization that oversees beautification and revitalization activities along Houston’s historic Buffalo Bayou. Over the past 20 years, Olson and the BBP board have raised and leveraged over $200 million in private and public funds for the waterway’s redevelopment. During her tenure, she has overseen the award-winning $1.3 million “Buffalo Bayou and Beyond” master plan, and developed a comprehensive bayou enhancement program that includes land acquisition, trail and park development, robust programming, and permanent and temporary public art. The organization recently completed a $58 million enhancement project that was made been made possible by a $30 million catalyst gift from Houston’s Kinder Foundation, one of the largest private gifts in the history of Houston’s park system. Under Olson’s leadership, BBP has received more than 20 national, state, and local planning and urban design awards, including Preservation Houston’s Community Pillar Award (2015),


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the American Society of Landscape Architects Award of Excellence (2009), Urban Land Institute Award of Excellence: The Americas Finalist (2008), International Waterfront Center Honor Award (2006 and 2002), Central Houston’s Allen Award for Civic Enhancement (2006), and Houston Business Journal’s Quality of Life Award (2006). Olson was the recipient of Houston’s Park People Leadership Award (2002), Citizen Environmental Coalition’s Founder’s Award (2009), and Houston’s first Alchemy “Catalyst” Award (2008). With master’s degrees in journalism and library science, Olson served as director of public relations for Houston Public Library, where she managed marketing, programming, and exhibitions. Immediately prior to joining Buffalo Bayou Partnership, she was executive director of Houston’s East End Area Chamber of Commerce. Olson is a senior fellow of Houston’s American Leadership Forum and a former board member of the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/ Harris County (now Houston Art Alliance).


Colophon

Retooling Metropolis: Working Landscapes, Emergent Urbanism Instructor Chris Reed Report Editors Chris Reed Jonah Susskind Report Design Jonah Susskind A Harvard University Graduate School of Design Publication

Acknowledgments Big thanks to the Buffalo Bayou Partnership and, Anne Olson, its president, for their support of the studio; Guy Hagstette of the Kinder Foundation, who first introduced me to Anne and helped brainstorm the idea of a studio; Jonah Susskind, for his diligent work in pulling together the Houston presentation, exhibition, and this book; Sonny Xu, for his work throughout the semester as teaching assistant; and to Dean Mohsen Mostafavi, Executive Dean Patricia Roberts, and the GSD Publications Office for their generous support of this publication.

Assistant Dean and Director of Communications and Public Programs Ken Stewart

Image Credits Cover and pages 10–11, 12–13, 15, 19–22, 72–73, 108–109, Jonah Susskind. Inside cover and pages 22–23, 46–47, Adam Himes. Pages 6, 100–101, Chris Reed. Pages 80–81: Google Earth. Pages 104-105: Justin Knight

Editor in Chief Jennifer Sigler

Inside cover: Spontaneous vegetation east of Downtown Houston.

Associate Editor Marielle Suba

The editors have attempted to acknowledge all sources of images used and apologize for any errors or omissions.

Dean and Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design Mohsen Mostafavi

Publications Coordinator Meghan Sandberg Series design by Laura Grey and Zak Jensen

Harvard University Graduate School of Design 48 Quincy Street Cambridge, MA 02138

ISBN 978-1-934510-68-1 © 2017 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Text and images © 2017 by their authors.

publications@gsd.harvard.edu gsd.harvard.edu


Studio Report Fall 2016

Harvard GSD Department of Landscape Architecture

Students Adam Himes, Juan Diego Izquierdo, Sophie Juneau, Rebecca Liggins, Xin Liu, Andrew Madl, Yuxi Qin, Chris Reznich, Louise Roland, Jonah Susskind, Andrew Taylor, Ziwei Zhang

ISBN 978-1-934510-68-1

9 781934 510681

Retooling Metropolis: Working Landscapes, Emergent Urbanism  

Retooling Metropolis: Working Landscapes, Emergent Urbanism, studio report, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Fall 2016. Instruc...

Retooling Metropolis: Working Landscapes, Emergent Urbanism  

Retooling Metropolis: Working Landscapes, Emergent Urbanism, studio report, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Fall 2016. Instruc...