Investing in Infrastructure
Inspiring Design: Creating Beautiful, Just, and Resilient Places in America

Presented in partnership with the Northeastern University School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy as a part of its 2021 Spring Myra Kraft Open Classroom, Inspiring Design: Creating Beautiful, Just, and Resilient Places in America explores the role of design in cities.

The series is presented in partnership with the Association of Architecture Organizations, Association of Collegiate Schools of ArchitectureBoston Society for Architecture, and the Boston Society of Landscape Architects.

Increasing demands to address climate change and equity have focused attention on much-needed government leadership and investment in infrastructure across America. Greenville, South Carolina Mayor Knox White shared how Falls Park on the Reedy (2015 RBA Silver Medalist), the transformation of a forgotten waterfall and river valley into a beloved urban oasis, catalyzed community conversations about equity and the vision for 60-acre Unity Park, now under construction. He and Mary Duckett, President of Southernside Neighborhood in Action, discussed how engaging the community in planning helped inform the park’s resilient design and role addressing racial inequity. Dan Adams, Director of Northeastern’s School of Architecture and Founding Principal of Landing Studio, discussed the value of adapting and designing new infrastructure for shared industrial and public use in Boston and other cities. President of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Karen Mauney-Brodek shares her work on the restoration and recent improvements to Boston’s Emerald Necklace linear park system for all.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand and describe how investment in public infrastructure can address community welfare and affect economic, environmental, and social change.
  • Discuss the value of engaging communities in collaborative partnerships in the planning, design, and development of inclusive public amenities.
  • Identify and describe examples of infrastructure that address climate change, public health, and socioeconomic and racial inequities.
  • Discuss how the design of infrastructure can connect neighborhoods, restore access to environmental resources, and increase civic engagement.

This session was recorded on Wednesday, March 1st, 2021 as part of Northeastern University’s Myra Kraft Open Classroom 2021 Spring series.

Panelists
Knox White, Mayor, Greenville South Carolina
Knox White has served as Mayor of Greenville, South Carolina since December 1995. As Mayor, he has the goal of making Greenville “the most beautiful and livable city in America” and has emphasized neighborhood revitalization and innovative public-private partnerships and projects for downtown. A key strategic project included the removal of a four-lane state highway bridge and the creation of iconic Falls Park including reclaiming the Reedy River as the centerpiece of the city. Falls Park on the Reedy (2015 RBA Silver Medalist) and Unity Park, a transformational plan to develop a 60-acre park in a partially abandoned and once segregated part of the city, have earned national acclaim. Neighborhood initiatives include beautification efforts, traffic calming, support for neighborhood associations, reinvestment in parks, master plans for commercial corridors, and the creation of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund. In 2018, Mayor White was profiled in Time Magazine as one of “31 People Who Are Changing the South.”

Mary Duckett, President of Southernside Neighborhood in Action
Mary Duckett is a lifelong activist and resident of Greenville’s Southernside community. As president of Southernside Neighborhoods in Action, she has joined community leaders and environmental justice advocates to call for the cleanup of toxic coal tar along the Reedy River, the left-behind results of a manufactured gas plant in the area that closed in 1952. Mary is a 2019 honoree of the Green Day award, she been instrumental in support of the ongoing development of Unity Park and bringing environmental justice issues to light and engaging the community.

Dan Adams, Director and Associate Professor of the School of Architecture at Northeastern University
Dan teaches design studios and seminars, in both the architecture and sustainable urban environments programs. These courses focus on negotiating architectural design with environmental context, with specific focus on integrating infrastructural systems in cities. Dan coordinates the fourth-year undergraduate urbanism studio for both architecture and landscape architecture students. This studio investigates the design of urban frameworks for integrating landscape and infrastructure systems into multiple scales of the built environment, from region scale networks to the architectural detail.

Karen Mauney-Brodek, President of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy
Karen is working to restore and improve Boston’s Emerald Necklace linear park system for all. She led the successful celebration of the Conservancy’s 20th Anniversary in 2018 with the presentation of Fog x FLO: Fujiko Nakaya on the Emerald Necklace, a world-class exhibition of site-responsive art throughout the Necklace, and is currently undertaking a major revitalization of Charlesgate Park with neighborhood group Charlesgate Alliance. Prior to the Conservancy, Karen served as Deputy Director for Park Planning in the San Francisco Parks Department, where she led outreach, communications, planning, design and construction of numerous projects and initiatives; prior to that she was Chief of the Design Build Program in the Design & Construction Division of the New York Department of Parks & Recreation, managing a $15M annual program to select, design, and build or rebuild all or portions of 100 parks and playgrounds annually.

Anne-Marie Lubenau (moderator), FAIA, is the director of the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence at the Bruner Foundation in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An architect, educator and writer, she is an advocate for engaging people in the design of the built environment and increasing awareness of its impact on our lives. She contributes regularly to national and international publications and forums on design and urban development and is a member of the Boston Civic Design Commission, Harvard GSD Alumni Council, and the Association of Architecture Organization’s board of directors. She holds a BArch from Carnegie Mellon and was a 2012 Harvard Loeb Fellow.

Ted Landsmark (facilitator) is a Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs; Director, Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University. Ted is an architect, attorney, academic, and civil rights activist who serves as one of five members of the Boston Planning and Development Agency.

 

 


RESOURCES

Falls Park on the Reedy Case Study (2015 RBA Silver Medalist)

Falls Park on the Reedy in Greenville. Courtesy City of Greenville.
  • Falls Park on the Reedy reclaimed a polluted river valley and obscured waterfall to create a 26-acre multi-use park and the new heart of Greenville, South Carolina. The project involved the removal of a highway bridge to liberate the falls and replaced it with a landmark pedestrian suspension bridge offering stunning views of the city’s “most distinctive feature.” For more information about Falls Park on the Reedy check out the Rudy Bruner Award case study to learn about the project’s urban context and history, leadership and vision, collaborative partnerships, design and development, financing, operations and programming, and impact.

Greenville’s Unity Park

Unity Park pedestrian bridge. Rendering by MKSK Studios.
  • Unity Park is a 60-acre park west of downtown Greenville, an area central to Greenville’s rich history. The transformative public-private project involves the construction of the park and the creation of affordable housing in the Southernsideneighborhood, which land will be donated by the city to the Greenville Housing Fund (GHF). With guidance from the residents of Southernside, GHF and the city have mapped out a plan for the surrounding streets – one that envisions a vibrant, sustainable and complementary mixed-income neighborhood protected from inappropriate infill and redevelopment.

The Emerald Necklace

National Historic Landmark Arnold Arboretum. Courtesy of The Emerald Necklace Conservancy.
  • The Emerald Necklace is a park system stretching 1,100 acres throughout Boston and Brookline, designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Today, it is one of the area’s most beloved green spaces, stewarded by the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. The Conservancy’s Mobile Tour Guide is a wayfinding app that allows visitors to explore the parks with a series of self-guided tours including walks through each park, stroller-friendly paths and tours to less well-known spots in the Necklace.

Charlesgate Park

Charlesgate Park improvements. Courtesy of Landing Studio.
  • Charlesgate Park is a project to restore ecological infrastructure performance, urban connections and public access recreation to the terminus of the Emerald Necklace. Charlesgate was first designed to connect the three major historic park systems of Boston- The Charles River Esplanade, the Commonwealth Avenue Mall and Commons, and the Emerald Necklace. In the 1960’s the Bowker roadway overpass was built over Charlesgate, which ultimately eliminated the public access park landscape from this portion of the Emerald Necklace. Through public-private partnerships, Dan Adams of Landing Studio and Karen Mauney-Brodek of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy are working to reconnect the park systems of Boston to introduce plant-based stormwater infrastructure and restructure the Muddy River shoreline to improve habitat, and water quality.