Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Green Space

I received an email recently from the Natural Resources Defense Council announcing their program called Picturing Smart Growth. It's a series of smart growth visualizations in 70 different communities, showing the path from the not so bright present to a much smarter future.

One of their featured scenarios is in Memphis, and specifically, a street around the corner from Stax and Soulsville (College Street? The actual street isn't listed.)

The first transition, from the present


to the first phase,


is what really caught my eye.

The trees not only beautify the street but alter it spatially, becoming architectural.

This spatial effect was confirmed for me by the great Suburban Nation
These trees are not intended merely to be decorative; rather they are included to create spatial definition when the buildings fail to do so. The trees narrow the space and provide a natural vault that contributes to the pedestrian's sense of enclosure and comfort.
So Memphis, space and cash poor but tree and land rich, could move inexpensively toward a smart, built future by planting trees as the official "Phase I" of all our neighborhood rebuilding. Even if they're just regularly spaced seedlings, the young trees will be placeholders for the space that will emerge beneath their vault.

Plus an ordered, ritual planting could provide a very immediate, on-the-ground beginning to charrette implementation. A simple, tangible, visible groundbreaking.

Memphis Botanic Garden

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7 Comments:

Blogger Ganja Blue said...

The existing tree on the left has been removed in second picture. I hope this wasn't intentional. I hate it when people wood cut down a hardwood to plant an ornamental. Maybe if property taxes were used what they were intended for projects like this would be possible on a large scale.

8:54 AM  
Anonymous packrat said...

Would require burying utilty lines all over the city; that's not cheap. It's a huge hurdle, in fact.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Naomi Van Tol said...

The trees in the picture look like young hardwoods, not ornamentals.

Many of our older neighborhoods have backyard/alley utilities so new street trees would not pose any problem in those areas.

In new subdivisions, MLGW requires that all of the side power lines to individual homes must be installed underground. I wonder if this requirement also applies to major redevelopments like Uptown and College Park?

11:38 AM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

it seems that we rarely have utility lines on both sides of the streets. If just one side, plant the smaller natives like dogwoods across from larger hardwoods. If utilities are on both sides, plant smaller trees on both sides. Not the same feeling of enclosure but better than none.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

light pole in concrete sidewalk not ADA compliant is it?

Little timmy catches a handlebar on the thing and sues the city for $1M...

but, hey! it's free federal money.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the area off Walnut Grove near the Main Library. The area with trees is nice while the area without trees is ghetto. You may have posted on this at one time.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Kelvin Oliver said...

I would have to say that what I saw the transition from present to future neighborhood looks are amazing. It is time to fix up Memphis and not go from a beautiful area of the city and 5 minutes later end up drinking through city dump. Fix up the old, worn out buildings -- do something useful. Get Memphis on the ranked city lists.

2:32 PM  

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