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Posts Tagged "Urban Design"

One Last Good Deed – Life After Life Parks

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Over the last couple years, Tannenbaum Design Group has been working with Life After Life as they reinvent the cemetery industry for the benefit of people and nature.

What exactly does Life After Life Do?

We Build Parks.

Life After Life (LAL) empowers deathcare as a way of bringing new life to distressed communities. LAL is a new model of regenerative development for the future of people and the planet. LAL takes difficult-to-reuse, abandoned properties and transforms them into public park amenities. These parks are supported in perpetuity through conservation easements, public incentives, sustainable celebrations-of-life, and peripheral land development, in order to preserve the public amenities and historic legacy of communities for generations to come.

Support: LAL parks support underserved communities and remediate pollution, providing them significant physical and mental health benefits.

Protect: LAL parks protect biodiversity, create more resilient communities, and combat climate change.

Replace: LAL parks replace defunct property, bringing new life into distressed communities, while offering a sustainable alternative to the notoriously toxic and unaffordable options available for end-of-life care today.

How is Life After Life Different?

As a a nonprofit organization, Life After Life Foundation is working to to change the perspectives around end-of-life and the motivations for planning ahead on their head. The fact of the matter is, only 30% of Americans have any plans at all for how they would like their body to be treated in the end. This has perpetuated a very destructive and exorbitantly expensive funeral industry to continue.

Reflected in their Motto, ‘One Last Good Deed’. – Life After Life offers the customer the priceless value that a loved-one’s loss, can be a part of something bigger. They provide the opportunity for a person’s last choice to contribute to healing the planet – leaving things better than they came. Additionally, they hope to bring people together through placemaking and community building activities pre-time-of-need, something completely lacking in the traditional funeral and cemetery industry.

Through the acquisition and transition of abandoned property into a public good, LAL brings new life to distressed communities. Many of our lowest income urban communities suffer from a preponderance of polluted brownfields and a scarcity of greenspace. These brownfields often lie abandoned because the market incentives to remediate them are too low for conventional development. While the public sector may lack the finances to remediate them and build the public amenities that the community and environment needs, Life After Life is able to transition the dilapidated land into healthy and beautiful memorial parks.

Community Benefits

Crime Reduction: The greening of vacant urban land has been shown to reduce crime. Domestic violence in particular has been found to be 25% less prevalent in nature rich housing developments. Cleaning and greening vacant lots has led to a 9% reduction in gun assaults. In Baltimore, MD, 10% more tree canopy was found to reduce crime by 12%.

Education: Studies show that outdoor learning delivers many benefits — reducing stress, improving moods, boosting concentration, and increasing a child’s engagement at school. Simply having more tree cover in a neighborhood can account for as much as 13% of variance in student outcomes. Exposure to nature provides the opportunity to teach the natural sciences hands-on, building empathy for nature and an interest in STEM.

Physical Health: Hospitals with a view of nature recover more quickly and require less painkillers than those without. Tree leaves absorb 95% of all ultraviolet radiation and 75,000 tons of harmful air pollutants annually. Parks induce exercise in communities, particularly for lower income populations. Nearly 80% of Americans report using local recreation services such as parks.

Mental Health: People who have spent at least two recreational hours in nature during the previous week report significantly greater health and well-being. Low levels of green space exposure during childhood increase the risk of developing mental illness by 55% higher than for those who grow up with abundant green space. Women living in the highest percentile of green space around their home have a 12% lower mortality rate than women living in the lowest percentile. Short term memory is improved by 20% from walking in nature.

Microclimate: Neighborhoods in a highly-developed city can experience temperatures 20°F hotter than rural areas. Extreme urban heat is a public health threat. It amplifies air pollution, increases energy consumption, and can cause serious harm to those working outside or without air conditioning. Parks and trees can decrease temperatures up to 45°F, providing cool and safe spaces for residents.

Biodiversity: Extreme biodiversity loss looms in our near future. One million species are now in threat of extinction. The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, 33% of reef-forming corals, and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. Insect populations have declined by 75% over 3 decades. Three-quarters of all land environments and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions. The creation of urban parks allows for the protection of some of our most vulnerable species.

Economic Opportunity: City parks strengthen local economies and create job opportunities. Parks attract residents and businesses, increase revenue for cities, spur private investment, and increase job opportunities. In Denver, $1.2 million in federal park grants resulted in over $2.5 billion in local public and private investments. Riverwalk Park in San Antonio, created for $425,000, is now lined with outdoor cafes, shops, bars, art galleries, and hotels, and has overtaken the Alamo as the most popular attraction for the city’s $3.5-billion tourism industry. Retail revenues generally are found to be 30 percent higher in districts with trees.

Why Now?

Biodiversity Crisis: Rising temperatures and rampant habitat destruction threaten species today at unprecedented levels. 18 million acres of forest are lost every year. More than 600 species are estimated to start going extinct every century.

Soil Crisis: According to the FAO, one third of all the world’s soil is now degraded from unsustainable agriculture practices. Soil is a finite resource, meaning its loss and degradation is not recoverable within a human lifespan.

Pollution Mitigation: There are likely over half a million ‘brownfields’ in the U.S. alone. Conventional brownfield remediation, or the act of removing debris from a site and moving it to a landfill, is ineffective and inefficient. The nature based solutions of phytoremediation and bioremediation remove these harmful pollutants from the soil and water with permanence.

Mental and Physical Health: Nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness today. 7.74% of adults in America reported having a substance use disorder in the past year. In the last 20 years, the prevalence of obesity increased by approximately 40% and severe obesity almost doubled. A growing body of epidemiological evidence indicates that greater exposure to natural environments is associated with better health and well-being in urbanized societies. Living in greener urban areas is associated with lower probabilities of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, asthma hospitalization, mental distress, and ultimately mortality, among adults; and lower risks of obesity and myopia in children. Greater quantities of neighborhood nature are associated with better self-reported health, and subjective well-being in adults, and improved birth outcomes, and cognitive development, in children.

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Your membership with Life After Life Foundation means no less than 30 new square feet of habitat gets built and maintained for generations to enjoy.

Don’t wait to make a good plan. Join an event filled community, immortalize your history, and rest easy knowing you have a beautiful final resting place waiting for you, whenever your time is up.

Let’s make the world a little bit greener!

Life After life. Life After Life. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from https://lifeafter.life/


Date: Nov 17, 2022
AUTHOR: tbaumdesign

Why is biodiversity so important, anyway?

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see how your redesigning you outdoor space as a native pollinator garden can play a critical role in the fight for biodiversity in out most endangered urban habitats.READ MORE


Date: Nov 9, 2022
AUTHOR: tbaumdesign

Houston Strong, a New Detroit, and the Future of Bayou City’s Urban Planning.

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In late 1950’s, with the decline of the American automobile giants, began the economic and population decline of Detroit. Between 2000 and 2010 alone, forty-eight percent of the manufacturing jobs in the state of Michigan were lost. For reference, in 1950, there were about 296,000 manufacturing jobs in Detroit. Today, there are less than 27,000 manufacturing jobs. In 1950, the city of Detroit was counted as a population of 1.8 million making it the 5th largest city in America. Today, almost 70 years later, there are 700,000 residents.

Detroit was the first modern major American city to experience such a massive exodus out of the city. As people left, property values fell apart and the city became broke. All over the inner city, properties were abandoned and fell into neglected decay; the dense urban areas became a wasteland of dangerous crumbling infrastructure. In its wake, as these structures were demolished, a city with vast plots of uninhabited space was left.

All this may sound tragic, but on the other side of the coin was an opportunity – an opportunity for a large major American metropolis to reinvent itself from the industrial era urban design of American cities into a new post modern evolution. An opportunity for a city to learn from all of the mistakes of the last centuries and implement all the environmental, technological, and sociological understandings we have today on a redesigned American city.

As we are beginning to see with the resurgence of the Detroit economy, the city is using the opportunity to embrace sustainability and environmentalism in its movement towards a better future. From cars to bicycles and public transportation, from imported agriculture to vast communal urban farms, from infinite planes of impermeable concrete to a network of green spaces – the infrastructure revolution continues.

I mention all this today, because in the wake of the most catastrophic flooding in American history, Houston now has an opportunity. Anyone can see that a city that floods every single year from non tropical storms was not going to make it through a category 4 hurricane unscathed. For decades in the field, we have known and discussed the recklessness of building in the flood plains, in any city, and the macro effects of covering a virtually pancake flat city, that covers a whopping 627 square miles, in 40%  impervious surface. Houston was once prairie lands with large plots of open space which slowed and absorbed storm water runoffs. That is the profile of the city for which the city’s archaic bayou drainage infrastructure was actually prepared for. Not what it has become.

The choices of the past are what they are. Now is the time to reevaluate what needs to be done or this will happen again.  We have vast plots of urban land that have been simultaneously destroyed and will likely be rebuilt, but the truth is that majorities of them should not be. That is not to say Harvey, a one in 500 years storm should be the indicator, but rather use the last 10+ years of regular flooding to indicate the unsustainable developments. Areas that have been flooding every other year should not be rebuilt and should become public green space – an environmentally healing, psychologically beneficial, and economically stimulating public good. There needs to be an understanding that this will get worse before it gets better because it will take years to update the drainage infrastructure needed to get Houston through the next storms.

Houston, throughout the storm, brought pride to people across the world as they watched acts of heroism and humanity. Today, Houston can make the choice to be the pride of the nation with a city that uses a disaster to reinvent itself into a new sustainable city. The opportunity to learn from our fellow Michiganders is there, it’s our choice to take it.


Date: Sep 4, 2017
AUTHOR: tbaumdesign
Comments: 2

Central Europe Study – Sustainable Communities, Recycling, & Reclamation

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Post World Wars Central Europe might not have a lot a lot of positives you can say were taken away from the devastation of war. However, when everything is bombed to rubble you certainly have a clean slate to start over from when it comes to design. Many cities like Frankfurt, Bonn, and Berlin that suffered the highest amount of city destruction took the opportunity to rise from the literal ashes with a new era of urban design and architecture.

In Frankfurt, for instance, over 50% of the infrastructure was destroyed by 1945. Today, 52 percent of the city area is green space, consisting of parks, woodland, farmland, orchard meadows, grassland, allotments and hobby gardens, cemeteries, roadside grass verges and bodies of water. And as of 2019, Frankfurt has been ranked the most sustainable in the world.

Sustainable communities can arise naturally over time as well, through the reclamation and re-purposing of infrastructure. When a large industrial site or landfill, that used to be on the outskirts of town, finds itself decommissioned and eventually absorbed into the growing city, it can present a multitude of challenges (i.e. contaminated soils, eye sores, wasted space, etc). Europe’s ancient cities can serve as great examples of how to cope and even benefit from these challenges.

For industrial sites, Landschaftspark in Duisburg, Germany is a patent example of how a derelict site can be reclaimed without disturbing the polluted soils through deconstruction and wasting materials and energy in mass deconstruction. Through this they achieve the addition benefit of preserving a bit of history. Landschaftspark was transformed from a disused old industrial ironworks into facilities with multiple uses into a one of a kind park space. The huge buildings of the former ironworks have been modified to provide patrons with a multitude of new functions such as alpine climbing gardens created in ore storage bunkers and a viewing tower made from a decommissioned blast furnace.  Landschaftspark represents how an area can celebrate its industrial past by integrating vegetation and industry, promoting sustainable development and maintaining the spirit of the site without morning it as an eyesore.

Metabolon in Bickenbach, Germany serves as an interesting example of landfill reuse. Metabolon is a multi-purpose site built upon a decommissioned landfill. The site today takes advantage of the artificial topography to serve as serves as a lookout point, bike track, public park, playground, and research center and more. Converting waste to energy is the most significant goal in the research center. What was a disaster for the town has become an attraction and public benefit.

The benefits of recycling and reclaiming are shared among citizens, tourists, developers, customers, and the environment alike. Firstly, an industrial reclamation project produces ecological benefits to the environment and its inhabitants through the growth of plant materials that harbor ecology that break down pollutants in the soils and filter water runoff. Secondly, by transforming dilapidated space into functional and aesthetic pieces, a city brings economic revitalization to the surrounding area. And thirdly, when site is transformed into a useful and attractive space the area becomes more attractive to potential businesses and tourists.

This mindset of design applies to projects large and small. When we think about renovating our residential spaces we have two options. Tear everything out and start anew, or integrate and recycle. Many people in the industry will take the easy road- remove it all and put in new. I urge more of you to consider the value in preserving and recycling the old. Keep more structures out of the landfill. Integrate those priceless 30 year old shrubs into the plans if you can with a nice pruning. Reuse materials where you can. New is not always better, it’s just cleaner for a few years.


Date: Mar 28, 2016
AUTHOR: tbaumdesign
Comments: 1