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the transit component, the choice remains between light rail, streetcar, or bus rapid transit, so design of the system's stops will come later. But Yalouris suggests that these should be small plazas with seating, information kiosks, and art, "gathering places,

A proposal for a linear arboretum would divide the BeltLine corridor into 14 "natural neighborhoods" distinguished by their geography, history, and urban contexts. The transitions between them would be demarked by groves, tree rings, or "green sculpture."

where people go to sit, to people watch— they're not necessarily waiting for a train. So here's a chance to take a utilitarian function and turn it into a more social opportunity." Gravel is concerned about the form of the transit line itself: "It has to be there,

Some of the more than ' parks that wi" be linked the BeltLine corridor, iPff^lready exist, s—totaling as much ,acres—will be y created.

but it can't be too imposing." He points to systems elsewhere that "have grass planted between the tracks so you don't end up with this concrete swath taking up a third of your right-of-way."

Landscape coherence and organization within the BeltLine corridor could be provided by a linear arboretum proposed by Trees Atlanta, a nonprofit dedicated to the city's urban forest. Using native piedmont and piedmont-adapted plants, it would also provide opportunities for interpretation and education. The concept plan, developed by the organization's program director, Greg Levine, with landscape architects Shannon Kettering, ASLA, and Greta DeMayo of Ecos Environmental Design and landscape architects Dennis Meyer, ASLA, and Jay Rood, ASLA, and landscape designer Audrey Stout, Associate ASLA, of the Portico Group, divides the BeltLine into 14 "natural neighborhoods" delineated by their geography, history, and adjacent urban contexts. Some planting design elements would be consistent throughout, but plants would be chosen to express each neighborhood's uniqueness. For example, a granite surface mine, the digging of which has created spectacular cliffs, will be the centerpiece of Westside Park, the largest of the new parks. There, to represent granitic outcrops common in this piedmont region, plants could include winged sumac, winged elm, sparkleberry, and Georgia oak. The quarry section's landscape design could also include representation of outcrop plant communities from elsewhere in North America and the world, and ornamental rock gardens using sedums and other fitting elements. The arboretum concept envisions the transitions between the 14 natural neighborhoods clearly demarked by groves or tree rings or some form of "green sculpture"— perhaps bent saplings, a traditional way-marking device among the Creek and Cherokee cultures indigenous to the region. The five "portals" where the BeltLine crosses interstate highways would be made conspicuous with edge plantings or arbors, and the transit stops would likewise receive some recognizable planting treatment.

Art could also give the BeltLine a unifying dimension, making it not just a place to play or a way to get around but an inspirational space within the city. Public art, however, has been a matter of contention in Atlanta. Many people feel it has been poorly supported in general and in the planning so far for this specific project. "It's hard to comprehend how to fold [art] into the process of a big undertaking like this. So it goc addressed [in an early plan] with a few cursory words and a line in a budget— and that was it," Drey comments. In response, the public art commission is pushing for a BeltLine arts masterplan. "It needs to be a physical framework that describes the continuity of the BeltLine...and all these various environmental or urban character zones. And then there needs to be some kind of overarching vision that says art can emerge in these areas in a number of different ways," says Drey. He adds that among the considerations should be how pieces would function in both daytime and nighttime, and how they might relate to the history or environment of Atlanta, "so that artists, when they're commissioned, they have a whole tool kit." Drey describes Atlanta as a "low-intensity environment." He says, "The scale of the city is very diffuse In this kind of context art has to be bigger, or visually noisier, or in motion." He draws a distinction between applied art that might serve the project perfectly well in the form of benches or light standards and fine-art installations that could be lasting parts of the city's "cultural infrastructure."

Beyond landscape questions for the Beit-Line as a whole are issues within the individual parks alongside it. These range from 185-acre Piedmont Park, an Olmsted Brothers-designed and lately reinvigorat-ed jewel, to spaces now little more than neighborhood playgrounds or even empty brownfields. Typical of the latter are two small existing parks in Peoplestown, an underdeveloped neighborhood that expects considerable BeltLine-driven infill. One touches the corridor but has almost no street frontage; the other occupies a full city block a short distance away. An adjacent parcel, if acquired by the city, could seamlessly unify them into a 20-acre green space. But even without it, Ryan Jenkins's concept would stitch the two parks together. It would reconceive the residential street running between them for five short blocks as a boulevard with extensive new planting, a multilist* trail along one side, traffic-talming measures like bulb-outs and highly visible trosswalks, and, as focal points, gazebos inside the park at either end. This concept reflects the pervasive concern for integrating the BeltLine's green spates into the surrounding urban fabric

Another tonsistent aspett of these emerging new park designs is that the parks should have dual roles. The quarry in West-side Park will be both a visual amenity and a reservoir. In Peoplestown, Jenkins would turn a dry treek trate into a linear swale for "first-flush treatment" of stormwater. For much larger Old Fourth Ward Park—a low, flood-prone former industrial tract where acreek once flowed— edaw's Bishop designed a water feature centerpiece. Technically its function is stormwater containment, but it was also an opportunity for a sunken garden, a bridge, an overlook, and a climbing and bouldering area. The parks "need to help craft a more sustainable future for the city," says Bishop, often by "restoring a similar functionality to the way that land originally worked." Considering the pressure of anticipated development, he says, "these parks are going to serve multiple functions. They are going to improve the environment more than just providing open space and respite from the daily grind."

A short prototype section of trail and earth moving for Old Fourth Ward Park have been the first tangible fragments of the BeltLine. An rfp for designing the corridor will be released soon. The years ahead will reveal whether what results is just a serviceable loop of greenway and transit or a transformative gesture of urban revital-ization for a major Ameritan city.

Jonathan Lerner writes about art, architecture, and planning from his home up the street from one of the BeltLine's many trestles.

Play structures, left and right, are the main existing features of two small parks in a neighborhood that expects considerable BeltLine-driven infill. A proposal would turn the street between them into a greenway boulevard, below, and greatly enhance the parks' amenities.

THE UNIQUE AND BEAUTIFUL nature of water in the desert is too often lost in Arizona's urban "oases," where manipulated rivers and aquifers make it possible to import a foreign lushness. In the Phoenix suburb of Scotts-dale, artist Lorna Jordan's charge was to uncover and interpret the community's true relationship to water and to provide a responsible example of the beauty of xeric landscapes. Another charge was to be a voice for a damaged "wash"—the dry bed of a seasonal storm channel upon which Chaparral Park is built—and to interpret the riparian systems it represents and the water that rains upon it.

That's a tall order for a small kernel of a park.

Terraced Cascade, designed by Jordan, attempts to interpret the relationship between people and water in the desert landscape. It is an artistic manipulation and interpretation of the wash, blended into

What does this xeriscape garden teach us about conserving water in the desert? By Rachel Hill, Student asla a larger xeriscape garden designed by Ten Eyck Landscape Architects of Phoenix as part of a complex that includes Chaparral Park and Chaparral Water Treatment Plant. Within itself, Terraced Cascade is rich in texture and movement, peaceful in the desert sun while swirling and active in the summer monsoon rains. Yet the nested context of the design—a verdant greenway and golf courses—provokes questions about the role of water in a desert city and our responsibility to the natural desert systems upon which our cities are placed.

When the city of Scottsdale was looking for a site on which to build a water treatment plant and park, it found 29 acres of land that included a mini golf course, one of the last pieces of open space in the city. Twenty of the 29 acres sat in the floodplain, which left only a small area for the plant (which could not be situated in the floodplain). Using a microfiltration plant instead

Flagstone terraces step up the topography, creating platforms upon which saguaro, mesquite, and desert grasses stand, here. The main path brings visitors onto a flagstone paved terrace, below, a platform made of sinewy low walls that are meant to evoke human ribs. Stormwater is harvested in the cupped shapes of the terraces,

Flagstone terraces step up the topography, creating platforms upon which saguaro, mesquite, and desert grasses stand, here. The main path brings visitors onto a flagstone paved terrace, below, a platform made of sinewy low walls that are meant to evoke human ribs. Stormwater is harvested in the cupped shapes of the terraces,


Drainage outfall structure

Terraced garden

Pump station

Outdoor classroom with cistern water feature and tensile fabric shade structure

East McDonald Drive

Terraced Cascade is bounded by the Chaparral Water Treatment Plant to the north, a residential neighborhood to the east (not depicted), and ball fields to the west. This context makes it a rich site for interpreting the presence of and the use of water in the desert.

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