March 21, 2014 at 3:17 pm #152935March 21, 2014 at 7:48 pm #152955
I think this is beautiful and her best work that I’ve seen. The details and materials are so rich. She’s been working with that teardrop mound shape for a while – the Federal Courthouse in Minneapolis has some “drumlins” that were planted in grasses, but there have been a number of problems with maintenance and viability of the plants over the years. Looks like some of that has been solved here with the faceted planted planes that make up the mounds. It will be interesting to see how the design matures. Thanks for sharing Rob.March 21, 2014 at 8:35 pm #152954
I can’t help but the that a lot of her Abu Dhabi work looks boring, in the sense that it’s very standard one-size fits all urbanity that the powers that be in the gulf states want, but with Schwartz’s trademark pop art aesthetics thrown on top. I get the impression that Abu Dhabi already had a standard idea of what they wanted but wanted the fashionability of the name on top. Generally like dictators do, nothing exciting unless it’s BIG BIG the BIGGEST, and a fashionable name on top.
That said, I do like that project acknowledges sea level change. I hear that she had to fight tooth and nail to get that into the project.March 21, 2014 at 9:54 pm #152953
The Minneapolis mounds were bound to have issues. Horticulturally challenging to say the least.Although I don’t see why they couldn’t be made to work. The use in Abu Dhabi of the green wall tech in this way is brilliant. Allows her to do something newMarch 21, 2014 at 10:40 pm #152952
On the flip side, ‘big names’ have a greater chance of introducing new design ideas and principles that in a lot of cases are beyond the layman’s (VIP or not) understanding of what these spaces could be here.
Also, these projects typically are reviewed by landscape architects, with the role of design managers for the developer and the local government. Generally, projects done by whoever are reviewed and assessed to match local conditions, standards, and best practice every step of the way, and VIPs typically see the designs only during certain milestones. Designs align with the very broad development goals set by the VIPs.
Abu Dhabi does know what it wants, and it is reflected in the various design guidelines it published in the last few years, spearheaded by the UPC and the AD Municipality.March 21, 2014 at 10:53 pm #152951
Great futuristic look overall. Wonderful use of materials, lighting and water. However, I find that the mounds feel too artificial, maybe more like some vertical project that you find inside a building. Not really sure how to feel about the pavement shades and textures, feels like too many materials at one place, dough they go along very well with one another.March 21, 2014 at 10:54 pm #152950
This is a wonderful translation of local culture into landscape ideas, and IMO, the best strategy to educate and create a sense of ownership within the local population. When we are able to tap this connection with the users, we help them realize there is more to landscape design than just aesthetics, repeating patterns, and cover for engineering blunders.
Suspect, though, are some of the ground covers used which will require considerable maintenance during the summer. Setcreaseas and Rhoeos will burn under full sun during these months, sometimes even under partial shade. I’d also be curious to find out later how the plants will perform given the slopes they are planted. Then again, parts of Al Maryah is a private development (this one by MSP seems to be) which will be maintained by the developer and thus, might have an above-average maintenance program past the warranties.March 22, 2014 at 12:04 pm #152949
Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
I need a paper towel because my coffee went all over my keyboard by way of my nostrils … “LEED Gold” certified.
Is it just me or does planting in a desert seem like something that would not meet the highest standards of sustainability? …. bubbling streams of water on the benches to offer relief from the heat? …. hey, but “The steep angulated mounds contribute 1.45 times more green space than level planters and water consumption is reduced due to the vertical planting maximising 100% irrigation moisture.” Really, 100%?
Why are there no people?March 22, 2014 at 6:37 pm #152948
Actually, it does look surprisingly like the giant plaza in my grandmother’s yard.March 23, 2014 at 10:50 am #152947
Doing work in the MENA region now by almost 15 years I’m surprised how many experts are out there to comment. Roland is right, I’ve seen this in my Grandmother’s, actually in my uncle,s garden, 50 years back. Why do you spill coffee, you should spill tears. Abu Dhabi and LEED? They have meanwhile developed their own rating system, Estidama – Pearl rating, bend to fit the local needs. And yes, they collect names as others collect stamps. And is it still the original design? My experiance here is that the international consulting conglomaration is f..ing up every design. The vision and thoughts don’t go further than the imagination of Autocad. 3-D visualisation? What is that? Esthetics? It has to be structurally sound. Utility ROWs are dictating the way to go. Design developer get stuck by the insiration they get when they look out of their home town window. I got to give her that. And the rest is given to the project by the contractors. Push, push, push. Bigger, higher, wider, “don’t teach me how to live here. Why do you want to tell me that I have to live in a dessert. I want the grass. I have the dough.March 23, 2014 at 9:32 pm #152946
Interesting and unexpected reactions raised about L.A.s in the Middle East. Can’t say I understand what the reactions are about. Perhaps Robert, Ernst or others would start a new thread on that topic?March 24, 2014 at 3:04 am #152945
The reaction was two-fold. Number one was about the remake and glorifications of something some people of us had seen in our past. Number two about the way the MENA-locals make themself struggle to implement a “Western” design into their environment and vision of development.March 24, 2014 at 3:28 pm #152944
Why didn’t she just use plastic? Seems like plant torture to an extreme, on the one hand, on the other, I do like it visually. But where do you sit? on those vast granite doctor’s tables?
Benches and trees, said Ed Bye, that is all you need in a park, benches and trees. But he also said “Two is better than three” a cryptic comment that will mystify me to the end of my days…
Rob, thank you for posting, very interesting.
As someone who grew up in Beirut, I am reminded with this design, of how Zaha Hadid RUINED the Beirut souks, with her modern hideousity. At least in this design there is nothing pre-existing to ruin..
ps I DO NOT get the ‘grandmothers yard’ reference? Where did you live, under the World Trade Centers in Manhattan. I do not get that, Mr. Beinert..and others…March 25, 2014 at 7:02 am #152943
Fully agree with Andrew (coffee aside, but my cola almost went the same way when reading him !). One needs to be bold to call this plaza a green retreat !
This plaza was clearly designed to be seen from above : who in their right minds would sit on black granite under the desert sun ? Do businessmen still walk in the ME ?
I take this project as a major sales lesson : how to sell an elegant but rather simple plaza design for a good price. I bet the introductory speech in the meeting room was a tad bit like : “This plaza looks from above like a map of the desert with green islands, laid down under your feet, and shows how *you* have the power to make the impossible come true : make water flow from nowhere, make plants grow in the desert.” Then : “local references” “French touch” “green-washing” “Hi-tech washing”.
Show renderings with nice patterns & details to fill the empty spaces. Show a couple of *local* stones samples, presentation done, project won.March 25, 2014 at 8:52 am #152942
A friend of mine commented on it as follows: “Your email just reminded me about a project we designed and built back home in Colombia. Take a look at the attached file. The project was executed on 2008/2009.”
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