Urban Renewal

17

Urban-sprawl is a looming danger, both to the ecosystems and environments surrounding cities and to the people that make their living off of the open spaces away from all the hustle and bustle, like ranchers and farmers.  An April article in Land Online, the Landscape Architects News Digest, uses Atlanta as an example of negative extension.  Once, it used to be an ideal city where “all roads led downtown.”  Now, it is a “‘Sprawl City.’”  Surrounded by suburbs and newly risen cities on its borders, Atlanta has shifted from a central hub to a place where centrality has little meaning at all and the author himself, a native, is barely sure where downtown is anymore—because there are a few of them.  He, J. William Thompson, concludes that landscape architects must make every attempt to turn cities back “inward” and create livable spaces, however dense, with what must be truly innovative designs.

However, what would encourage people to move back into these dense spaces where breathing room is found less seldom than grass lawns?  In the May issue of the Magazine of the American Society of Landscape Architects, Peter Harnik, urges that new parks can really brighten a citizen’s perspective of a city.  He also notes that for this to happen, parks must be built in “unexpected places,” since untouched areas are so hard to come by.  New parks can be built as small as they need to be.  The only limitation is accessibility; if people can find it and get to it, there is a place for it.

Much of the reason the suburban lifestyle is so attractive is the window of freedom that comes with having a place to lounge around and enjoy the outdoors without pavement always underfoot.  If more parks can fill the spaces between, and even on top, of skyscrapers and apartment buildings, then maybe the dangers of never-ending urban-sprawl can be overcome.

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