Assessments of Inter-state Development Projects


Interstates urban, landscape and infrastructure projects face some challenges when it comes to administration, budget and long term sustainability. In no more than two pages, provide an assessment for the project looking at environmental and social components. If you are the mayor or governor, would you approve/implement this project (as it is) or not? Lastly, conclude with five guidelines that you will adopt to enhance the project and make it more sustainable. Make sure to add the name of your project, location and overall theme. Use the material in earlier classes to have a critical lens on the project development.


11 thoughts on “Assessments of Inter-state Development Projects

  1. LEVEL 02 Regional & Inter-State Landscape

    Name of your project: New York’s 2020 plan for the ‘Empire State Trail’

    Location: A 1,400-mile circuit that will span four states and the nation’s capital, linking Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, New York City, Trenton, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh.

    The new 750-mile ‘Empire State Trail’ project will, bridge the gaps in two major existing routes—the east-west Erie Canalway Trail and the north-south Hudson River Valley Greenway, bringing together hundreds of communities across 27 counties—in the fourth-most-populous state in the nation.

    2020 Vision: New York’s “Empire State Trail” Is Making Trails the Main Attraction

    The Empire State trail is an extension of the existing trail networks of greater New York, with the intent of locating, assessing and improving the gaps currently found when experiencing the trail from the user’s perspective. The tone of the proposal is empowering and brings to light the potential the current trail system unearthed and how to propel it into the limelight.

    To preface my assessment, I’ve taken from the introductory text of the proposal to reiterate its far-reaching and expansive impacts. The Empire State trail is a new initiative to place New York at the forefront of national efforts to enhance outdoor recreation, sense of community and opportunities for tourism development. The culmination of an eighteen-state budget enacted in April of 2017 source funded two hundred million dollars to be put towards the trail. This was with the lofty goal of completing the nearly seven hundred miles in additional trails by the end of 2020. Once completed the trail will run the length of New York from the ocean to Canada, creating the longest multi-use trail in the nation thus far.

    The proposal itself seems to have covered all its proverbial bases, connecting the city’s most influential and prominent historical and architectural features with a pedestrian and cyclist-oriented trail system. It takes on the challenges of combating obesity by promoting recreational activities along the trail and though critical neighborhood and communities, allows a great range of access to the waterfront, and it intentionally designed with the user’s experience in mind. The proposal is also done its due diligence in its assessment of the existing trails in the system, their impacts, and in acknowledging where it is lacking. Furthermore, it identifies which areas to separate from the trail to be better used from other purposes responsive to their context. Throughout the final proposal document, they have continually mentioned that the focus is not on the financial gain, although the current data trends show that the trail will not be lacking in this regard. Rather, it’s focus is on the bringing together of communities, the places in-between and the rich breadth of history in each of them.

    This trail system is the result of years of careful research and studies through the lens of multiple professions in hopes of creating something that conjures the emotive and intangible qualities of a place that is representative of the state and inclusive of all who call it home. I enjoyed reading through the articles and listening to the new stories in my research of the project and am excited about the future soon to come. A place that will have a lasting impact on the region and east coast.

    If I were in the Mayor’s shoes I would find it hard not to want to vote yes for this project. It is an exemplary representation of the landscape and natural environments New York has to offer coupled with the architecture and historical regalia the state is better known for. In a more passive way, it recognizes its intercedence with the surrounding states and the Canadian border. Simply put the Empire State trail systems stands up to its goal to place New York at the forefront of national efforts to enhance outdoor recreation, sense of community and opportunities for tourism development.

    In January 2017, Governor Cuomo announced the Empire State Trail, a 750-mile bicycle and walking trail, that will span New York State to better connect us all to New York’s extraordinary experiences, people, and places.

    Click to access EST_Final_Plan_June_2018.pdf

    Representing the communities and places the trails runs along and inevitably will become a part of in their breakdown of the proposal. They broke the three-year project into three distinct parts each of their own critical importance. Phase one plus the scattered seventy-two miles of gaps in the existing trails and addressed the standards for maintenance and upkeep into the future. Phase two went into outdated and vandalized portions of the trails with an unassuming reputation and removed eighty-two miles of trail from the network to better strengthen the core. Lastly, phase three which is the Empire State trail itself a nearly two hundred mile stretch of newly laid trail connect the east-west Erie Canalway Trail and the north-south Hudson River Valley Greenway. This union of the three trail systems forming one interlocked social network is what makes the project special. The state did a great job of obtaining the properties needed to implement the project, involving the community, and take the fruition by the year 2020. They recognize the final herald being the areas of the private land trail is intended to cross through and well as logistical parameters that will be revealed as for volume of users increases.

    The communities embrace of the project and the benchmarks its hit thus far in the process leave little to the imagination and make it hard to say what will not be good about the project. Currently, there are two significant portions of the trail that crosses through large swaths of privately-owned land and have yet to be cleared for implementation. Negotiations have started for these plots of land and are seemingly civil but are largely out of the public eye. I can foresee the large increase of the users and volume of persons along the trail causing some initial discomfort in areas of less traffic and more solitary in nature. Also, there is a lot of talk of large sums of money the trail will bring to the economy of New York and underlying notes of mixed interests in that matter. They seem to always close with a summary that it is not about the money and it is about the people, to the point it seems that it may not be. Strictly speculation but the time frame and involvement from all aspects seem to fit with this idea of money first and foremost and the positive effects it has on the communities and business is a secondary product.

    Focus efforts on existing conditions through infiltration of current successes, revision areas in need of improvement, and incorporate addition design solution and service where applicable.
    Look to optimize site potential while minimizing non-renewable resource consumption and look to incorporate green technologies.
    Specify environmentally preferable products and optimize operational and maintenance practices to sustain their longevity on site.
    Prioritize efforts to protect and conserve water both existing onsite and potential for runoff from the implementation of the design.
    Better design indoor environments to enhance the quality of life outside, through inclusive of solar heating and wind cooling, adaptive lighting technologies, and other architectural systems.

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  2. Project: Bayou Greenways
    Location: Houston, Texas
    Landscape Architect: Multiple- depending on the trail
    Size: Over 3,000 acres along Houston’s bayous
    Management: Houston Parks Board in partnership with the City of Houston

    Bayou Greenways 2020 is creating a continuous park system along Houston’s major waterways, transforming more than 3,000 acres along the bayous into linear parks and adding more than 80 new miles of hike-and-bike trails. The project is being implemented across 150 miles of bayous and the first phases began in 2014. Aiming to transform the way that Houston’s residents get around the city by 2020, it will mean that 60% of the population will live within 1.5 miles of a bayou. The overall project is in various stages of development and some sections are already open to the public. The goals is to connect people to nature, to their neighborhoods, and to one another.

    The Greenway is broken up into 6 different trails which stretch between 9 major bayous. The $200 million project was able to happen because of a major bond referendum passed by voters in 2012 and a generous donation for the Kinder Foundation. It really goes to show how much the community and local organizations believe and want the trails.

    The good?
    When researching I found that there are hopes that this ‘green-space renaissance’ could redefine the way the rest of the world sees the city beyond the typical trappings of sprawl, pollution, and energy sector dominance. I like that the city is trying to redefine the city and move beyond just adding a small parks here and there. Although these improvements are great, the implementation of this trail is actively transforming people’s daily lives. I also see benefit in the high amount of interaction between the government at the state and city level interacting with the non-profit organizations and community members. There is a bond that is starting to happen between the commoner and the ‘rule-enforcer’ which needs to happen in every other city in the world. The intention and goals of the designers and organizations are being met throughout this trail.

    The bad?
    Honestly, there isn’t too much bad that I saw with this project. I would say one thing that isn’t happening with the implementation of the trail is full connection between each of the trails. This means that some parts are not being served by the trail and those communities are not benefiting. Secondly, as with any development, there will be some damage to the natural ecosystem. I haven’t read anywhere about how the designers intend to keep the bayous- which are marshy ecosystems- safe and protected from increased amount of use. They should be careful of pollution and deterioration of the ecosystems and have put in safety measures such as pulling the trail back away from the marshes, establishing enough trash receptacles, leaving room for wildlife habitat, ect. Lastly, the Bayou Conservation Association was not mentioned or did not seem to be involved in the process and implementation of the trails. Perhaps they are not in the articles and project information because it is assumed they are a part of the process or maybe they did not support the project? This is something that could be alarming for the construction of the trails.

    Yes, I think that the project is doing many great things for the city of Houston. Not only is the trail system providing a ‘green network’ for people to socialize and be connected to nature, but it is also changing the lifestyles of those within distance of the trail. It is increasing physical activity of all ages and many people choose to walk instead of drive now. It is also setting a good example to other big cities.

    1. Establish regular site check-up studies to make sure the marshes are not being polluted overtime and to pick up litter. This could be a good project to involve non-profits or local schools to teach them about sustainability and water ecosystems.
    2. Implement regular site survey or audit management schedules to monitor animal ecosystems and habitats. It is important that the construction of the trail does not destroy or alter existing animal shelters, food sources, and overall ecosystem
    3. I would also add more interesting trail activities or art installations to make the experience more unique than a typical paved trail. The trail could become a place of ‘sustainable tourism’ and educate users about the rich ecosystems, purpose, and significance of the marshes.
    4. Right now the trails are being implemented in a very ‘patchy’ way. I would recommend that the trails are constructed in a more formal and consistent way to prevent disturbing the ecosystems multiple times. Perhaps one trail at a should be created
    5. More lighting for night safety must be implemented. From current images it does not look like the trails would be very safe at night if families were to be walking home from the city or from a large event, ect. The lighting does not have to be wired but instead solar powered to save money, energy consumption, and construction costs.

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  3. Project: A Colorado Legacy: I-25 Conservation Corridor Master Plan
    Location: I-25 corridor between Colorado Springs, Colorado and Denver, Colorado
    Size: 17 mile long stretch along I-25

    Design Workshops, “A Colorado Legacy: I-25 Conservation Corridor Master Plan,” is taking a detailed look at the Front Range Corridor, between Colorado Springs and Denver. This area is highly trafficked and population rates are growing fast. This master plan creates a “strategy to engage residents and government officials in conserving open lands to forever protect scenic vistas, water quality, wildlife, clean air and recreational opportunities along the (I-25) corridor (ASLA, 2018).” This master plan was created with the help of environmental groups, land trusts, Douglas County, and feedback from local communities. “Critical attributes of the landscape were analyzed, including scenic view corridors, topography, land cover, natural hazards, land value, zoning, land ownership, view characteristics, wildlife habitat and migrations, ground water availability, recreational trends, heritages sites and the status of development commitments (ASLA, 2018).” After the landscape was analyzed, Design Workshop turned to the citizens of this area for additional feedback regarding the vision of the master plan. Colorado’s governor believed that this was also an important area to preserve, so because of his support, the planning team behind this design was able to implement the vision.

    What is good about this project?
    The I-25 Conservation Corridor master plan is able to address one of the many problems that colorado is facing, being that much of the beautiful landscapes are being built on and not protected. This master plan is able to efficiently protect over 1,300 acres of land from development and continued urban sprawl.

    What is bad about this plan?
    This plan does not address the heavy vehicular traffic that goes along I-25 every day. Something that may help with our overall climate is to think of other types of transportation for more people to use that may be travelling between Denver and Colorado Springs. Carbon emissions are a big issue, and I think that it is important to begin to think about public transportation in a bigger picture.

    Did it achieve its goals?
    I believe that this master plan has achieved its goals. Preserving significant landscapes that were in distress, and scenic resources along the Front Range have been proven effective. This plan was only accomplished through “rigorous analysis, a variety of innovative land conservation methods (including purchase of undeveloped lots, conservation easements, limited development strategies and zoning changes to clustered development) and the support and funding received from various state agencies (ASLA, 2018).”

    If you were the mayor or the decision maker, would you vote for it or against it?
    If I were the mayor or the decision maker of this plan, I would vote for this plan, because it has protected precious landscape that would have been developed and changed. Also, this plan has begun to look at how urban sprawl should be addressed and mitigated. Although population continues to rise, it is our duty as Landscape Architects to build cities vertically, instead of horizontally, and continue to protect our natural landscapes.

    Five guidelines that will enhance the project and make it more sustainable:
    -Initiate other types of transportation along I-25, that creates less vehicular traffic.
    -Implement strategies to continue the protection of the natural systems closer to both Colorado Springs and Denver.
    -Create opportunities that allow people to learn about the natural systems within the Front Range; create an educational experience.
    -Focus on efforts to clean area of debris and pollutants along I-25.
    -Use of funding for the use of sustainable techniques to better manage water sources that may be coming off of Pikes Peak.

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  4. Project: The Grand Bayway
    Location: San Francisco, CA
    Team: Common Ground (TLS Landscape Architecture)
    Size: ~60 square miles

    This project encompasses “an area larger than San Francisco” and spans from “Highway 37 and Mare Island to the south, across vast wetlands in varying states of recovery or inundation”, in an area that has very limited access by either foot or vehicle (Resilient By Design). State Route 37 is affected by heavy traffic and is continuously flooded by sea level rise, as it sits atop a “precarious levee” that restricts tidal flows (Resilient By Design). The area has been manipulated over the last 150 years by dikes and levees, agricultural conversion, and sea level manipulation. After being cut off from “tidal exchange and watershed runoff”, the Baylands began to subside due to soil depletion from the agricultural uses and loss in natural sediment deposits, and some zones dropping between 7-8 feet below sea level (Resilient By Design). The land is not only the home of fertile soils, but also the location of disadvantaged neighborhoods in the Bay Area that often has little say of development are at most risk of sea level rise and seismic challenges (Resilient By Design). This project looks at reimagining this roadway as a multifunctional, “elevated scenic byway” that creates a gateway to the ecological open space. The Grand Bayway will be accessible to “runners, kayakers, campers, and fishermen”, while also promoting environmental sustainability. High 37 is raised on 20 foot high columns that allow “tidal flows and marsh migration to return”, while also promoting diverse forms of transportation with pedestrian, bike and train paths (using existing freight lines.)

    This proposal is a very needed and visionary look at transforming infrastructure to accommodate for our ever-changing environmental and social landscapes, especially along this Bay Area coast. Not only does this project focus on the trying to improve and preserve the unique marshland by elevating the roadway, but also focuses on the human relationship with this area. Revitalized train stops along ghost towns are to be revived for cultural education “using narratives of those who have lived with these lands in the past”. The project proposal balances human needs (transportation), with the necessary provisions and protections of the natural environment, such as ecological laboratory to “re-engage” sediment deposits and “cultivate biodiversity with floating wetlands and other natural/ bio-engineered means”. The Green Bayway offers access to the open space below that was previously hidden from the public, while still maintaining a naturalistic focus. This project was recognized by the Resilient by Design Jury for the “greatest ecological potential and sensitive perspective of the interactions among nature, infrastructure and people”, and works to look at how cities grow “along their shorelines by putting much more focus on people, habitat and healthy connections with the Bay” (Resilient By Design).

    The ideas promoted in this project are themes and concepts that that Bay Area, in addition to coastal cities across the world, need to start promoting. I think the idea of an elevated transit corridor is good from an environmental standpoint, but may compromise social interaction at a high economic risk. I think the transit corridor for the pedestrians, bikes and train lines could be successful, but the vehicle transit corridor worries me. From a safety standpoint, it would be difficult for emergency services to provide aid if something were to happen along these roadways, and I think the elevated aspect would detract/deject existing and potential businesses from existing along the transit corridor. Though it promotes ecological health and longevity, I do not think this project economically sustainable, and these two components should be evaluated equally for consideration of this project.

    Did It Achieve Its Goals/Would I vote it in?
    If I was to vote on this proposition, I would vote no. Though the idea may have some really applicable ideas at this point in time, the overall implementation raises too many questions for me to allow it to be implemented in its current stage. The project competition even states that in order for the project to move forward, greater communication needs to be made with the “environmental community and local transportation advocates” (Resilient By Design). The financial cost from a project of this magnitude would obviously be significant, but the ecological impacts of this proposal help to justify this to a small extent. The project does achieve its goals and revitalizing the existing and ignored naturalized corridor, but I also think that greater attention can be shown to the underserved minority population and how they have access to the area.

    Sustainable Guidelines:
    – Create a separate/accompanying master plan for communities surrounding the Bayway to ensure adequate transportation and connection to local/prominent industry to support sustainable economic growth
    – Invest in renewable energy sources to provide electricity for the greenway, either solar or tidal stream generators.
    – Encourage sustainable social growth and integration by creating connection between the wealthy and struggling neighborhood through public space (plazas, parks, etc.) and educational opportunities.
    – Avoid gentrification by dedicating 50% percent of future residential development as affordable housing.
    – Preserve the integrity of the marshland by restricting encroaching development, and designate the area as a protected state or federal land.

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  5. Mombasa to Nairobi railway (Madaraka Express)

    Locations connected: Mombasa and Nairobi, Kenya
    Contractors: China Road and Bridge Corporation

    Background: The standard gauge railway (SGR), completed in 2017, is a line for passengers and cargo in Kenya, which has a route length of 472 km for the first phase and a total length of 609 km. It runs through the counties of Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Taita-Taveta, Makueni, Kajiado, Machakos and Nairobi. It connects the largest city of Kenya to the large port-city of Mombasa, thus increasing feasibility in trade, travel, and the economy of the places it runs through. It runs parallel to the meter-gauge Uganda Railway, a century-old rail line, but the designers aligned it straighter for higher speeds. It was built according to Chinese railway standards and is planned to be connected to Sudan, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia to the Indian Ocean in the future. There is also an adjacent highway called Mombasa Highway.

    Good: The project is said to be one of the biggest infrastructure developments in Kenya. The railway not only connects the capital city and several other towns to a port, facilitating trade, the Chinese construction technology also decreases the travel time between the two locations, from 12 hours to 4.5. The economy tickets cost 900 Kenyan shillings ($9; £7), which is slightly cheaper than a bus ticket. The business class tickets are $30. It was also said to increase jobs in the vicinity; approximately 30,000 jobs were expected to be created during the construction. The rail line simplified transport operations across the borders of the different cities it passes through. By 2035, the railway is said to transfer 22 million tons a year of cargo (40% of the cargo amount at the port), thus reducing the use of the road and accidents. It is expected to attract investors into the region, and improve the trade, tourism, service and hospitality industries in Kenya.

    Bad: The railway has been called the ‘Lunatic Express 2’ by critics for being constructed at a heavy investment of $3.8 million (USD), 80% of which has been loaned by China. This cost is said to amount to 6% of the GDP of Kenya. It is anticipated that Kenya will be in debt for a long time to come. The ‘Lunatic Express’ was the Uganda Railway, which linked the Port of Mombasa to Lake Victoria, which was very costly and caused the death of thousands of workers from harsh working conditions, and from wild animal attacks. A 2013 World Bank study had concluded that building an entirely new corridor with wider standard gauge rails would be expensive and unnecessary as compared to simply refurbishing the existing one to carry more cargo. The railway also has various environmental implications, because it cuts through Nairobi National Park and Tsavo National Park, thus segregating the wildlife habitats in those regions. The railway track has been built on huge embankments that animals such as elephants cannot cross. It has several underpasses under viaducts, but more study is required on whether the animals are migrating to and through them. During the construction phase, the use of a tall wire fence broke up the habitat connectivity and caused elephants to be trapped inside the fence. Moreover, noise, vibration and artificial night light during and after construction, in addition to soil and water contamination hazards in sensitive wildlife habitats and migratory zones. At least 10 elephants were reported to be killed during the construction phase.

    Achievement of goals: I think the railway project achieved its goals of economic growth, creating connections between the port and the city, and faster travel times, but at the expense of an enormous debt to China, and the fragmentation of critical habitats in the national parks.

    Would I vote for it? No, I would not vote for this railway despite the economic benefits. I think the railway could have been planned in a much different way to avoid such elevated costs, and not cause so much environmental damage. The railway could have been built on stilts instead of embankments, for minimizing impacts on habitat connectivity. Merely refurbishing the old railway with numerous overpasses designed as vegetated hills would cut down on costs. I would have adopted a route that avoided the national parks entirely. This option was missing from the seven route assessment options that the Chinese contractors studied prior to construction. Now that the railway is built, I would suggest the following guidelines:
    1. Implement wildlife monitoring and an impact study to assess the implications of the railway on the wildlife, and design fences to funnel wildlife to underpasses.
    2. Build speed bumps and wildlife overpasses along the Mombasa Highway.
    3. Attract more freight to increase the value for money invested. Critically monitor costs incurred and income produced from the railway for repaying the debt to China.
    4. Make the railway ambience respond more to Kenyan culture, since there has been criticism that the railway atmosphere seemed like it does not belong to Kenya.
    5. Electrify the railway to lessen the use of diesel and make it environmentally friendly.

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  6. Project: Friendship Park/Tianjin Eco City
    Location: Sino-Singapore
    Landscape Architect: Grant Associates
    Size: 41 hectare

    The park is called Friendship Park to celebrate the two countries Singapore and China. The park also embodies the principles of sustainability and therefore, is also known Tianjin Eco-City. The park is adjacent to Gu Dao Canal and is currently under construction.
    Grant Associates masterplan goals is to translate the sustainability principles onto site by using contrasting landscapes and characters such as, water and land, nature and city, but still having unity in the design.
    The design has a central element that is a conservatory consisting of five glass biomes. The biomes host tropical plant collections and water gardens. The rest of Friendship park includes a wetland centre, urban dock, play areas, event lawn, and amphitheatre. The park is intended to be an all-season, international tourist destination.
    The park has an even balance contrasting elements and a great infusion of architecture, infrastructure and landscape. The park will have an iconic look with the five conservatory biomes in the center of the park. Creating a centre that can be year round creates a destination that everyone can gather at. This park provides many types of spaces for all kinds of people that will foster social interaction. This park will be a place that major events will be held and become a special park to the surrounding community.
    This park will cause gentrification to the communities around it and with the size of the park, that is many people to displace. The increase of tourism will also increase the amount of people who will visit the park. The increase of the population can lead to the pollution of the site with litter. Since the park is not completed, the construction has the potential to pollute the river if the right precautions are not taken.
    As mayor, I would vote for this project. Major cities lack the proper amount of green space for the public. The 41 hectare park would supply a major amount of park to the surround city, while teaching the public about multiple ecosystems.
    Guidelines for sustainability:
    1. For social sustainability I would require a certain percentage of the surrounding communities to be dedicated to affordable housing.
    2. Retain as many of the existing trees that do not interfere with the future architecture and infrastructure.
    3. The water gardens throughout the park will be drawn from the Gu Dao Canal and recycled and reused.
    4. Any hardscape used will be permeable.
    5. Consideration of plants to reduce pest and disease problems. The clumping of plant communities to thrive in similar conditions.
    6. Non-toxic pest and disease control for plants.
    7. A group that is dedicated to the health and cleanliness of the designed wetlands.

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  7. Toronto has plans for a large addition to their rail system called the GO Transit Regional Express Rail Project. This project aims to connect Toronto to the suburbs and the rest of the region around the city. By adding 150 kilometers of rail and adding a second rail to many sections of the system, the project attempts to create a more efficient system for pedestrians as part of their daily routine. The project also plans to redesign multiple of the existing railway stations and adding twelve new stations on top of the company’s current 65. In addition, the transports will all become electric lines, reducing the amount of pollution in the urban area. The current rail system services millions of people each year and would be service many more if it were implemented into the suburban areas. Finally The two biggest concerns of this project are the environmental issues with expanding rail lines and the time in which they plan on creating these large-scale improvements.

    The first issue is of the rail lines cutting through large areas of ecosystems to reach these outlying neighborhoods. While there are multiple environmental estimates and studies in progress for the project, damaging the ecosystem is almost inevitable. Without a map of the expansion plan, it is difficult to see where these damages will take place and how significant they will be. My assumption is that the area they are expanding to is already well developed but will still have significant affects on the ecosystem by cutting the region into sections and dividing habitats. The second issue is that this large-scale project is rapidly being developed and plans to be fully integrated by the year 2025. This seems to be a very short timeline for a project this expansive and could lead to some missteps and mismanagement of the project.

    While I think this project has clear goals and is planned to complete these goals very well, the project does not account for the environment and seems to be too large scale for what they plan to do. After more thorough analysis I would not approve of the plan because there is little information to go off of how they plan to implement the project. There needs to be more analysis on the affects it will have on the region. While the switch to electric and the reduction of private cars in exchange for public transportation is a great improvement, expanding the system from one rail to two rails and adding 150 kilometers of new rails will cause too much harm to the natural environment they cut across.

    Five sustainable guidelines to enhance this project:
    – Create a map of the eco-region and examine where the rail line should cross to preserve as much of the natural habitat as possible.
    – Ensure that the rail lines can still serve the region even when sections are under construction.
    – When redesigning and adding stations, implement green infrastructure and ease of access to accommodate both social and environmental needs of the area.
    – Ensure that the electric lines do not block or hinder any previous uses and preserve high canopy vegetation when implementing the electric systems.
    – Analyze where the new rail system will be penetrating the outlying towns and region and plan convenient yet non-encroaching locations for the new stations.

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  8. Advanced Landscape Seminar Project Assessment Level 2
    Project: Atlanta Beltline
    Firm: SEDG
    Location: Atlanta, GA

    The Atlanta Beltline is one of the largest urban redevelopment efforts currently underway in the united states. The project features:
    • 22 miles of pedestrian friendly rail transit
    • 33 miles of multi-use trails
    • 1,300 acres of parks
    • 5,600 units of affordable housing units
    • 1,100 acres of brownfields remediated
    • $10-20 billion in economic development
    • 30,000 permanent jobs
    • 48,000 one-year construction jobs
    • Public art
    • Historic Preservation
    • Sustainability
    The project was first convened by Ryan Gravel during his master’s thesis at Georgia Tech in 1999. He had the idea to reinvasion the historic rail corridor that ran around the perimeter of the city. The idea evolved into a grassroots campaign, that involved “robust new vision of an Atlanta dedicated to an integrated approach to transportation, land use, greenspace, and sustainable growth.”
    I visited part of the trail early this summer and it was a very nice place to walk, bike and run. It was also very well used. The park that I visited was very well maintained and had a lot of people using it. There was also a lot of new development popping up around the trial, I visited the Pike Place Market, which was a very successful development.
    What is good about this project:
    The project is a great way to reuse a space that was currently under used. It also provides a great series of public spaces, and trials that gives people a chance to recreate and exercise. It also provides a good alternative form of transportation in the form of walking and biking.
    The project is still in the development stage and in the future the plan is to incorporate a rail network that runs along side the trail. The rail will also help connect people from the perimeter of the city to the city center.
    What is bad about the project:
    The project is taking a very long time to impalement.
    The new trail and development around the trail is very nice and features a lot of high class development. Which may lead to gentrification, because the trial primarily runs through some of the lower income areas of Atlanta.
    Since the whole trial is not completed the parts of the trial that are completed are very crowded and sometimes dangerous, because of the bikers, runners, walkers and joggers all on the same path.
    If the new transit system connects the perimeter of the city to down town, this could lead to people moving out of downtown and taking the transit into town for work, which could be bad if they are moving for a more dense city environment into a more suburban environment.
    Did it achieve its goals:
    I believe that the project has done a good job of achieving its goals, the parts of the project that are completed are heavily used and there are many different areas that are still under construction.
    There are also a lot of parks and new mixed-use developments that are popping up around the trail creating jobs and revitalizing Atlanta’s economy.
    If you were the mayor or the decision maker would you vote for it or against it?
    I would vote for this project because it improves the cities economy, it adds green space, a trail system and a public transit network. All of which will be more sustainable and function as a great amenity for the city.

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  9. Interstates urban, landscape and infrastructure projects face some challenges when it comes to administration, budget and long term sustainability. In no more than two pages, provide an assessment for the project looking at environmental and social components. If you are the mayor or governor, would you approve/implement this project (as it is) or not? Lastly, conclude with five guidelines that you will adopt to enhance the project and make it more sustainable. Make sure to add the name of your project, location and overall theme. Use the material in earlier classes to have a critical lens on the project development.

    Project: Cornwall Park 100 Year Master Plan
    Location: Auckland, New Zealand
    Theme: Create balance between cultural, agricultural and ecological landscapes.

    New Zealand’s environmental history has been a case study in human impacts on natural systems. The island used to be 80% covered with forest (1). Human interference, such as logging, agriculture and forest fires, caused the island to lose over 30% of its original forest. Furthermore, there are many tense relations between the original tribes and people who settled later. Nelson Byrd Woltz and Associates took on the challenge of designing Cornwall Park. The master-planned park was first designed in 1903 by Austin Strong. Once surrounded by forests, the park is now bordered by agricultural and residential areas.

    “Visitor surveys have shown an appreciation for the activities and opportunities at Cornwall Park for the connection provided with nature and farming, family celebrations, and quiet contemplation, as well as a frustration with limited accessibility, inadequate facilities and vehicular traffic congesting the park’s core spaces.” (2)

    NBW aimed to continue Strong’s vision for the next 100 years by creating a balance between the cultural landscape of the Maori (early settlers of Auckland), current agricultural focus and the site’s ecological assets (2).




    As mayor of Auckland, I would definitely approve this project. It takes into account the current state of the park as well as the history. It is also culturally sensitive to the original inhabitants. It makes everyone happy and should be sustainable for the next 100 years.

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  10. Project: The National Creative Cluster
    Location: Beijing, China
    Designer: Sasaki
    Year Completed: 2012
    Size: 357 Hectares

    The National Creative Cluster is intended to revitalize a part of Beijing to create a “knowledge hub” to inspire creativity and attract creative people. This was completed by incorporating various activities, dense, interactive communities, and capitalizing on new transit to allow connections to the surrounding regions. The design framework was formed around 5 different principles. These principles were to connect the landscape to the building, include green spaces, create connections to the surrounding context, and implement stormwater management.

    This design was successful in considering the surrounding landscape and integrating the building forms in a sustainable way. The diagram online indicated Sasaki paid close attention to sun patterns to orient the buildings to maximize sunlight to reduce energy consumption and incorporate solar panels. They also incorporated dense vegetation and green roofs to reduce heat and provide insulation for the buildings. The design captured stormwater and harvested it for future use, had green infrastructure to reduce runoff while improving quality, and recycled water.

    There weren’t very many downfalls I noticed while analyzing this project. Sasaki did a great job at considering the environment and implementing sustainable practices to help reduce energy and conserving resources. They also did a good job at creating a new identity for the area, but I feel like they focused on creating so man y new ideas that they might be losing some historical and cultural value. The design is also intended to attract new creative people to the area and it may cause gentrification and push people who were originally there out of the area.

    Yes, I would vote for this design. It creates a successful reference for other cities wanting to incorporate sustainable practices in the urban environment. Its green network also provides accessible outdoor spaces and social equity. It also provides many diverse activities to promote socializing.

    Guidelines I would adopt include:
    1.) Make sure there is affordable housing to reduce the possibility of gentrification within the area and ensure that people previously living in that environment aren’t forced to move.
    2.) I would incorporate some historical and cultural features to make sure this area doesn’t completely lose its identity with the new design.
    3.) I am unsure about the types of resources they are using to construct this, but I would propose they use regional sources to reduce transportation cost and fit their sustainability concept.
    4.) Many elements incorporated within this design seemed to be relatively high maintenance. Maybe reduce some of these features and implement more naturalized areas.
    5.) Larger naturalized areas would create space for ecosystems and habitats for organisms. This goal could be reached by incorporating more verticality and making the buildings more dense.

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