Historically, urban designers are visionary: they have always asked big questions facing cities in every era: issues of declining downtowns; inadequate sanitation; shortage of decent, healthy places to live such as the shortage of affordable housing, adequate supply of walkable streets, healthy neighborhoods, and polluted nature including rivers and creeks. As an architect, planner, and landscape architect, an urban designer should act as a citizen-advocate to envision a plan and its alternatives to help solve these issues: big or small.
Christian Demelo, Nicholas Gatos, Thaina Vieira Guizani, Soham Mehta
ARC 630/566, URP 566
Learning from a series of precedents, students conducted a series of case studies to connect theories relevant in urban planning and urban design with the reality of the city. Students considered a local case study to see potentials and limitations of how urban design may assist in providing a conceptual framework with a group of stakeholders in redeveloping a large swath of the Scajaquada Creek that has been neglected for decades. The course took the perspective of the creek as a natural asset; and if it were reclaimed and resurrected from the neglect, it could have huge potential to boost public health in the city.
The seminar was interested in the spatial relationships “between buildings,” rather than the buildings themselves. Students explored questions and meanings of the “voids” or the “interstitial spaces” whether they are public or semi-public or privately-owned public spaces.
Students took a theoretical orientation and a more “speculative” position – to broaden the horizon to accommodate more than one single thought or theory and speculate upon diverse urban scenarios in the United States and abroad.
The proposal featured here included several suggestions. Students recommended the green space surrounding Scajaquada Creek be extended by removing the expressway and replacing it with a low-speed, two-lane road. This creates room for a natural green space open to the public which doubles as a buffer for the roadway. This natural green space is parallel to the open multi-use greenspace on the opposite side of the creek. This space adjacent to the newly zoned area is meant to be used as a multi-purpose open green space. This space will double as the location for a kayak and canoe launch with the potential addition of a children’s play area further away from the shore line.
Introduction of plant and tree species recommended by Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper’s Western New York Guide to Native Plants. Examples include: eastern redbud, red maple and river birch trees along the creek and through the park are all suitable for either moist soil or stream banks and all attract either birds or butterflies. Blue flag iris and cardinal flowers along the creek bank attract butterflies and hummingbirds and bring color to the area elderberry shrubs throughout the park to attract butterflies and other pollinators to the area and grow well on moist hillsides and open woodlands.