SITES 2013 Volume 7, Number 1

Page 1

2013: Volume 7, Number 1

Michigan Chapter of the American Societ y of Landscape


Table of contents 2013: Volume 7, number 1

Michigan Chapter of the American Societ y oF Landscape

Letter from the president

Early in my career I worked on a project to revitalize an aging urban market. The revitalization included upscale restaurants, artist studios and condos. The project spurred new investment around it and was considered highly successful. The one viable business in this market before its revitalization was a fresh fruit and vegetable market that served a low income, limited mobility neighborhood. This sole source of fresh food for this neighboring population was displaced by the revitalization. Were public health and welfare truly being served? Recently, twenty-eight years later, I learned that 1 in 4 children in our country do not know where their next meal will come from. Within my own community, 2 in 4 children qualify for federally-assisted meals at school. I learned about neighborhoods in Michigan cities whose populations have no or very limited access to fresh food. We know that undernourished children are at a great disadvantage when it comes to learning. These “food desert” neighborhoods are part of our collective social structure. These children are our future. Are public health, safety and welfare being adequately addressed?



by Robert Gibbs, ASLA

8 patterns to take root and thrive. Wendell Berry eloquently articulates the relationship between imagination and place as follows:

“For humans to have a responsible relationship to the world, they must imagine their places in it. To have a place, to live and belong in a place, to live from a place without destroying it, we must imagine it. By imagination we see it illuminated by its own unique character and by our love for it. By imagination we recognize with sympathy the fellow members, human and nonhuman, with whom we share our place. By that local experience we see the need to grant a sort of preemptive sympathy to all the fellow members, the neighbors, with whom we share the world. As imagination enables sympathy, sympathy enables affection.”

Our strength as a profession is our ability to imagine healthy, safe patterns of living and the physical dimensions and characteristics that enable such

We have, in the current state of economic uncertainty and ideological contentiousness, grown cautious. We understandably worry about meager project budgets, threatened deregulation of our profession, and our own sustained employment. Nonetheless, our future is centered in our affection for the places in which we live and work, our determination to speak out about what we believe, and the positive changes we can both imagine and enable. Mark Robinson, LLA, ASLA President, Michigan Chapter of ASLA

ON THE COVER: The boardwalk through Mill Creek Park provides experiences through the various habitats surrounding the Creek. Photo: SmithGroupJJR

SITES is published quarterly by Michigan ASLA. Cover printed on 50% recycled paper. Text printed on 100% recycled paper.

Michigan’s Pioneering Urbanist: John Nolen

Mill Creek Park: Turning a Liability into an Asset by Paul Evanoff, ASLA, SmithGroupJJR & Allison Bishop, Community Development Manager, Village of Dexter


A Tribute to Balthazar Korab: Legacy Landscape & Architectural Photographer Reprinted with permission from John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press Business Writer

Calendar of events Save the Date! 26th Annual MiASLA / Contractor’s Golf Classic June 26, 2013

EDITOR’S NOTES SITES will be going digital. Volume 7, Numbers 2 and 3 Please send us your updated email.

Pictures & Drawings: The City Plan of Flint, Michigan Cornell 2 University Archives

Civic plan for Flint, Michigan by John Nolen

Michigan’s Pioneering Urbanist: John Nolen Many of the principles of the New Urbanism movement are based on the work of a handful of accomplished landscape architects that practiced in the five decades prior to the 1929 Depression. These planners included Daniel Burnham, Werner Hegemann, John Nolen, the Olmsted Brothers, Elbert Peet’s, Eliel Saarinen, and Raymond Unwin. They developed the City Beautiful Movement for Chicago’s 1889 World’s Fair, promoted the protection of natural systems with greenbelts, and created the practice of town planning that carefully integrated the automobile into the city and suburbs. Most of the pioneering planners also completed commissions across Michigan from 1900 to 1930. This was during the state’s automotive boom, when one of its most pressing challenges was “the severe lack of housing for its highly paid industrial workers.” The Olmsted’s completed plans for part of Belle Isle in Detroit, while Saarinen designed the campus for Bloomfield Hills’ Cranbrook Educational Community and taught architecture at the University of Michigan. Most notable, however, is the work of John Nolen, which can be seen in some of Michigan’s major urban cities. John Nolen (1865-1937) planned worker neighborhoods in Flint and Pontiac for General Motors, and designed a master plan for the entire city of Flint in 1920. Nolen’s Flint plan included a detailed analysis of the city’s housing, economy, growth, population demographics, recreation, transportation, and natural systems. His plans

by Robert Gibbs, ASLA neighborhood, the homes were placed according to the worker’s job level. In Pontiac, assembly line workers lived in shingle and stucco homes that were located mid-block. Factory foremen were allowed to live on the block corners in larger brick homes. Executives lived in adjacent neighborhoods. All of the homes backed onto narrow gravel alleys and most had front porches.

John Nolen (Source:

Nolen’s book; originally published 1927 reprinted: 5/26/2005 1

often used cartoon-like graphics to illustrate complex ideas, and his street sections included horse and carriages, motor vehicles, and electric street cars. The neighborhoods were co-developed by the emerging automobile giant to provide necessary housing within walking distance to the thriving factories. Unlike the conventional gridded blocks, Nolen’s plans, which were influenced by the Olmsted Brothers, protected streams, woodlots, and hills by including gracefully curving streets and Y-shaped parks. This was a radical planning practice, especially for “worker class” housing. Company-developed neighborhoods were built with a housing caste system. Although a broad section of incomes lived within a single

The author’s grandparents lived in Nolen’s Pontiac neighborhood and he has many memories of playing in its generous parks and celebrating holidays with large family picnics in the wooded preserves. Visiting the neighborhood library and fire station were special treats. Nolen is generally considered the most influential and prolific of the pre-war American planners. He earned a degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in 1891, studied at Oxford and Munich, and graduated from Harvard’s first Landscape Architecture program in 1905, which was headed by Fredrick L. Olmsted, Jr. Nolen frequently traveled to Europe for inspiration for many of his plans. Nolen completed over 450 projects, including 29 comprehensive city master plans and 27 new towns, most notably Mariemont, Ohio, which was considered his jewel. Nolen also completed city plans for Madison, Wisconsin and San Diego, California, along with several cities across Florida in the 1920s, an area he considered the “last frontier.” Nolen’s Florida city plans include continued on page 4 3

Michigan’s pioneering urbanist: john nolen

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Clearwater, Sarasota, Venice, and West Palm Beach. It is plausible that Nolen’s office also designed the bold 1920s Birmingham Civic Plan. In accordance to the plan, the city purchased and razed nine blocks of existing housing to build a new city hall, library, post office, community building, several churches, and the original Shain Park. Just imagine a city purchasing nine blocks of occupied homes today! Unfortunately, no record of the original civic plan has been found, but city records refer to the city planner having an office on Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which was true of Nolen. Much of these planners’ early work has been republished by Andres Duany and the Princeton Press including: Town Planning in Practice by Raymond Unwing (1909) and The American Vitruvius: An Architects’ Handbook of Civic Art by Werner Hegemann and Elbert Peets, edited by Alan J. Plattus (1922). Pre-World War II architectural, civil engineering, and planning books are gems filled with useful theory and technical details that can be applied to modern planning challenges. The New Urbanism movement has successfully adapted its predecessor’s techniques for modern family life and business life, including the wide use of centers dedicated to automobiles, shopping, and places of employment. Left: Typical street sections designed by John Nolen for the City of Flint, Michigan 4

Nolen lectured frequently and wrote New Ideals in the Planning of Cities and New Towns for Old. Recently reprinted, New Towns for Old offers an invaluable resource for the serious planner and policymaker, as do visits to Nolen’s Michigan neighborhoods. The Pontiac neighborhood is located north of the downtown, between Wide Track Drive and the former Pontiac Motors headquarters (west of Joslyn Road). The Flint community is located west of the downtown, north of the Flint River and I-69. The neighborhood respectfully includes a Nolen Drive. For more information contact Robert Gibbs, ASLA Gibbs Planning Group 248-642-4800 Pictures & Drawings: The City Plan of Flint, Michigan Cornell University Archives 1. ISBN-13: 9781558494800 Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press Publication date: 5/26/2005

Above: Nolen’s Flint, Michigan plans included gracefully curving streets Right: Civic plan for Flint, Michigan by John Nolen. 5

Mill Creek Park: Turning a Liability into an Asset by Paul Evanoff, ASLA & Allison Bishop, Community Development Manager, Village of Dexter

The Phase 1 Enhancements Plan illustrates proposed improvements such as a boardwalk, flood plain improvements, kayak launch sites, trails and pedestrian plaza spaces.

Water-related recreation access points and parking allow for visitors to experience the whitewater and upstream natural areas of the Creek.

Overview Mill Creek Park is a 56 acre linear park (27 acres owned by the Village of Dexter and 29 acres owned by the Dexter Community Schools) established by the Village of Dexter in 2008 as a result of the Mill Pond dam removal. The park consists of a large natural system including Mill Creek, its tributary and contiguous floodplain, wetlands, and forest vegetation. The Village of Dexter is located 8 miles west of the City of Ann Arbor in the northwestern portion of Washtenaw County. The Village sits at the intersection of four (4) townships, Scio Township, Dexter Township, Webster Township and Lima Township and is bordered by the Mill Creek and Huron River. Planning for the park began in 2000 as part of a feasibility study that was prepared to replace the aging Main Street bridge which serves as the major east/west artery through the village. The concrete dam that formed the Mill Pond impoundment was in similar condition to the bridge. Dams at the current site extend back to the 1820’s when Samuel Dexter built the first saw and grist mills at the site. Village officials came to the decision to not replace the dam. Instead, they recognized the benefit to the community through its removal and the restoration of the impoundment area in a manner that would embrace the creek as an ecological, recreational, and economic asset. The development of the park allows the Village to: • Restore and protect the Mill Creek and its

watershed consistent with today’s best practices of system stewardship. • Select, develop, and enhance site appropriate land and water based passive and low-impact active recreation opportunities. • Develop the park as a trail system hub and a link to adjacent recreation areas and community assets. • Build on “Dexter as a Destination” promotional efforts and stimulate additional economic activity. • Foster community development through collaborative planning amongst Village, township, county, regional, and state commissions,

authorities, agencies and stakeholders. In 2009, the Village of Dexter approved the Recreation Master Plan for the newly established Mill Creek Park (Master Plan). The Villages’ long term plans are to develop the entire park with a system of pathways, land and water based park amenities, gathering and entertainment spaces, habitat and ecological restoration areas, and interpretive opportunities not typical of most downtowns. Development of the Park is also a unique opportunity to turn a formerly inaccessible impoundment area into a local and regional destination and trailhead for the many regional trails planned for the area. The long range plan is continued on page 10 9

Mill Creek Park: Turning a Liabilit y into an Asset

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also to connect the trail with other trail networks planned by Scio Township to the south and Washtenaw County and Huron Clinton Metropolitan Area (HCMA) to the north and east. Within the Village’s trail network there will be almost 2 miles of trails that will connect with over 15 miles of contiguous trail, not including Washtenaw County’s Border to Border Trail (B2B), which when completed, will add another 25+ miles of trail. Master Plan Components

and filter out pollutants prior to discharge to the creek. The Plan also called for these areas to be used as interpretive opportunities to educate the public on best management practices. The Master Plan incorporates habitat enhancements within the storm water treatment areas, which are enhanced wetlands that provide habitat for many species of wildlife, particularly unique species of birds. Proposed fishing and observation decks will provide tremendous opportunities to view wildlife up and down stream, including viewing of a wetland south of the Phase 1 project area.

Creek Stabilization and Resource Restoration: Immediately following removal of the dam, the stream channel and riparian environment of Mill Creek underwent significant changes. The channel was actively seeking its natural channel geometry through the 10 foot deep legacy sediments trapped behind the dam. Habitat diversity was limited by the removal of open water, high sediment transport, and prevalent invasive species.

Water-Based Recreation: Water-based recreation opportunities include kayaking and canoeing, fishing, wildlife viewing and environmental education and will become an expanded form of recreation to the Village that is in great demand and does not currently exist. Water-related recreation access points and parking will also allow for non-residents to visit the Village and experience the whitewater and upstream natural areas of the Creek.

Restored features introduced into the Master Plan include: Natural stream channel restoration, riparian vegetation establishment, steep slope stabilization, excavations to restore open water and emergent wetlands areas lost following dam removal, in-stream habitat structures, invasive species eradication and native seeding to improve species diversity. Consideration was also given to the placement of storm water management features (including treatment wetlands) at existing storm outlets to remove suspended sediments

During construction of the new Main Street bridge and removal of the dam, a series of terraced rock structures were installed in the vicinity of the original dam to provide fish passage while minimizing the extent of upstream headcutting. The rapids associated with these structures restrict canoe passage while providing a unique whitewater experience in southeast Michigan for kayaking. The Village anticipates that this could be an attraction to kayaking enthusiasts and a regional destination.


The boardwalk through Mill Creek Park provides experiences through the various habitats surrounding the Creek. Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission implemented the boardwalk and railroad underpass connecting the Park to the residential subdivision and HCMA property to the north and west.

Right: The rapids restrict canoe passage but provide a unique whitewater experience in southeast Michigan for kayaking. The Village anticipates that this could be an attraction to kayaking enthusiasts and a regional destination., paddle sports, hiking, biking, nature observation, and environmental interpretation all in the immediate vicinity of the downtown. The dam removal also allows for improved boating access to the Huron River which is a significant canoeing and kayaking resource in the region. Conversely, Huron River paddlers will access the Creek and the Village downtown for enjoyment of the Village ambiance and explore the upstream areas of the Creek. The Master Plan identified recreational opportunities for fishing, paddle sports, hiking, biking, nature observation, and environmental interpretation all in the immediate vicinity of the downtown. Land-Based Recreation: The proximity of the park to the downtown and adjacent DDA district provided a unique opportunity to integrate passive land-based recreation that will promote economic

development in the Village. The DDA Master Plan recognized the park as a key amenity to their plans for mixed use development that will occupy the vacant land and industrial uses that once occupied this area to the east. The village also envisions the park to draw visitors to the downtown shops and restaurants and provide for entertainment venues throughout the year.

Balancing resource restoration with urban related, land-based recreation created unique opportunities and challenges since much of the area set aside for these types of opportunities occur along the 20 foot bluffs that separate the floodplain from the downtown.

The Master Plan responded to these challenges by embracing the steep slopes in a way that allowed them to become park amenities. A meandering accessible path was developed to connect the floodplain to the downtown, a natural stone amphitheater was sited within the slopes for programmed special events, plaza’s developed along the adjacent Jeffords Street for gathering places to view the valley and floodplain and stage groups touring the site, 4-season plantings and boulder outcroppings and native planting were identified as appropriate treatments on the excessively steep slopes. The portion of the park adjacent to the DDA planned, mixed use development also allows for townhouses and business to front directly onto the park. continued on page 12 11

Mill Creek Park: Turning a Liabilit y into an Asset Regional Trail Context: Mill Creek Park provides a centrally located access point to miles of regional trail and provides a destination for starting and ending this recreation experience. The Park and trail development are at the center of multiple regional trail initiatives along the Mill Creek and Huron River. Currently HCMA maintains approximately 6 miles of trail north of the Village at the Hudson Mills Metropark and plans to construct approximately 3 miles south to connect their existing trail network through the Village and to the 25 mile long Washtenaw County B2B trail. Public Input The overall planning process occurred over an 18-month duration. During this period, the Village coordinated multiple consultants, engaged a steering committee, conducted two public forums, worked closely with the Village Parks and Recreation Department, Village Council, DDA, Dexter School District, HCMA, Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission and others. Public support for the development of the Mill Creek Park has been very positive. The Master Plan was presented at a public meeting and has received overwhelming support and approval. Phasing Phase 1: Between 2010 and today, a considerable amount of capital improvements have been implemented. 412

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During the summer of 2011, three separate projects were underway that focused on the urban core areas of the Master Plan’s identified as priority 1 improvements. Specifically, Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission implemented the boardwalk and railroad underpass connecting the Park to the residential subdivision and HCMA property to the north and west. This nonmotorized system will be extended approximately 3 miles northward to Hudson Mills in 2013. Work under the both a Trust Fund Grant and a Waterways Grant focused on the downtown improvements immediately south of the Main Street Bridge in the former impoundment area between the Mill Creek and Jeffords Street. Improvements included: •Land-Based Recreation: The Downtown riverwalk situated at the top of the bluff including pedestrian plaza areas, connecting sidewalks, historic lighting, an amphitheater and performance plaza, stone walls, an accessible concrete ramp connecting the downtown to the lower floodplain and landscape. •Habitat Restoration: Floodplain work including stable stream channel geometry, creek habitat and grade control structures, establishment of riparian buffers, stormwater treatment wetlands, floodplain modifications, interpretive signage, native seeding and species control.

•Water-Based Recreation: Along the shoreline of the Creek, amenities included 2 canoe/kayak launch sites, boardwalks, fishing platforms, trails, an observation platform, parking improvements and interpretive signage. Phase 2: Phase two of the park development will include construction of the remaining non-motorized / shared use pathway for a distance of approximately 1.7 miles south Grand Street to Shield Road where it will connect to the Dexter Community School pathway. Riparian buffer improvements, stream bank stabilization, habitat restoration, stormwater management improvements, an observation tower, and interpretive signage will also be constructed to highlight the unique habitats and ecosystems. The creation of Mill Creek Park and the implementation of phase one improvements have turned what was originally perceived as a liability into an asset for the Village and residents of western Washtenaw County. Village officials are committed to keeping the project moving forward and are actively planning programming opportunities for the park and seeking funding to advance phase two. For more information contact: Paul Evanoff, ASLA, SmithGroupJJR 734-669-2706 Allison Bishop, Community Development Manager, Village of Dexter 734-426-8303 Images: SmithGroupJJR

A Tribute to Balthazar Korab: Legacy Landscape & Architectural Photographer Journalists meet a lot of people. Many are at least interesting, and some are even admirable. But few call to mind Winston Churchill’s remark about his friend Franklin D. Roosevelt: that meeting him was like opening your first bottle of champagne, and knowing him was like drinking it. That was Balthazar Korab for me. He died this week in his 87th year, beset recently by age and illness, but never having lost his love of life. I knew him over the years because Korab provided the photographs for two of the books I’ve written, “Great Architecture of Michigan” and, co-written with Eric Hill, “AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture.” But I first met Dizsi (pronounced “DG”), as he was known to friends and family alike, perhaps 25 years ago, when I started to cover architectural and development news for the Free Press. He was already long famous then for his architectural photography, and he and his wife, Monica, had lived in their converted 1840s-era farm house in Troy for many years. Their studio, reshaped out of an old barn, was one of metropolitan Detroit’s most unique spaces.

Balthazar Korab Reprinted with permission Original Print Date: January 18, 2013 by John Gallagher

Balthazar Korab, image courtesy of John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press

Korab was unfailingly generous, a genius with a camera, ebullient in his love of life. Born in Hungary in 1926, he was charming in an Old World way, gracious to women, quick to offer an espresso to visitors, delighted to discuss his photographs and the famous artists and architects he had known.

He was best known for photographing and popularizing the works of mid-century modernists like Eero Saarinen and Minoru Yamasaki. But he had been everywhere, seemed to know everyone, and he had redefined our notions not only of photography, but of architecture itself. If Beethoven could capture the perfect note called in by God, Korab knew the perfect angle, time of day and camera setting to capture the essence of each building that he photographed. One photo in particular comes to mind – an image of the famed fountains at Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, shot in predawn light, with the sculptures by Carl Milles in the foreground and the Museum & Library designed by Eliel Saarinen in the background. I’ve stood at that same spot a hundred times, but if I took a thousand snapshots of it, I could never capture the essence of the place the way Korab did. Initially, he trained as an architect in Europe, working with the famed Le Corbusier and later, coming to the U.S. in 1955, working with the great modernist Eero Saarinen, who suggested that photography was his true métier. Before he turned to photography full-time, he placed fourth in the international competition to design the Sydney Opera House in Australia, an accomplishment he later described ruefully as his brush with glory. In fact, he surpassed that moment many, many times in his photography. Late in his life, the U.S. Library of Congress acquired his entire archive, a trove estimated to contain perhaps a quarter million images. It

MacGregor Conference Center and landscape at Wayne State University as photographed by Balthazar Korab. means that one day all Americans will be able to see and download his work. In that way, they may get to know, if not in person as I and his many friends did, at least the genius of this remarkable man.

Reprinted with permission from John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press Business Writer. Balthazar Korab, image courtesy of John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press. 15


President Mark Robinson, ASLA President Elect SuLin Kotowicz, ASLA Immediate Past President Christy Summers, ASLA Trustee Vanessa Warren, ASLA VP of Marketing, Craig Hondorp, ASLA

Government Affairs Committee Chair Bill Sanders, ASLA Executive Director Derek Dalling U of M Student Representatives Katie Dennis, Student ASLA Chris Strasser, Student ASLA MSU Student Representatives Jessica Pilon, Student ASLA Jonathan Doherty, Student ASLA

VP of Education Scot Lautzenheiser, ASLA Treasurer Monica Schwanitz, ASLA Secretary John McCann, ASLA Member at Large Robert Gibbs, ASLA Associate at Large Joane Slusky, Associate ASLA

SITES: Editors and Layout Andrew McDowell, ASLA Clare Jagenow, ASLA Advertising Sales Joane Slusky, Associate ASLA

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PRSRT STD U.S. Postage PAID Lansing, MI PERMIT #5155 2013: Volume 7, number 1

Michigan Chapter of the American Societ y oF Landscape


1000 W. St. Joseph Hwy., Suite 200 Lansing, MI 48915

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