Landscape in Motion is a design project to revitalize public green spaces, establish cohesive transportation networks, and optimize urban functions. A civic center offers the city a much needed gathering space for conferences and exhibitions and a bus terminal acts as a transportation hub for the region while offering free bus services. This allows people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and lifestyles to access the downtown and their various workplaces in the region. The redesigned city block extends a designed green space from the city park’s waterfall through the center of the site, terminating it at the site’s northwest corner. This creates an opportunity to educate the public on the landscape of the area and how to bring sustainability into their lives. The project also inspires activity, offering a myriad of pedestrian paths, biking routes, and a connection to the trails of the park. Landscape in Motion is about finding inspiration in the natural movement of our surroundings from nature to city. Ultimately, the goal is to encourage people to live healthier, more sustainable lives helping both themselves and the community.
Measure 1: Design & Innovation
The United States of America has a great dependence upon automobiles for personal transportation, even within dense cities where public transport and walking should be the primary modes of transportation. The goal of our design is to establish a bus system to lessen the city’s need for cars and integrate it with a city park, showcasing that large transportation and public green space adjacencies need not be mutually exclusive. The concept of increasing the spatial efficiency of city blocks is explored by innovatively layering solar panels for power generation, public gathering space, and underground bus parking to illustrate ways in which a city can accommodate multiple functions in one limited space. This layering of functions can also be found in the landscaping of the site and in the program of the building, which provides a bus terminal, headquarters of the bus system, and a café.
Measure 2: Regional/Community Design
The design responds to its region and its connectivity by expanding the existing free bus transportation network of a local university, providing free public transportation to a city dominated by the use of cars for personal transport. The new bus system will better connect the city itself, as well as outlying towns where lack of transportation to blue-collar jobs is a serious economic issue. The sustainable aspects of the bus terminal’s construction, power generation, and wastewater filtration are in full view of all visitors to the site, with continuously updating information on display showing how much energy is being produced and consumed and how much water is being consumed and treated by the landscaping. With people congregating in the terminal concourse, the café, and the accompanying large public green space, the bus terminal is a hub in the heart of downtown for a new kind of urban life that is currently absent from the city. The introduction of passengers from out of town into the daily urban social fabric engenders a greater sense of a regional community beyond the limits of the city.
Measure 3: Land Use & Site Ecology
The landscape of the site performs multiple functions, including filtering wastewater, providing food and habitats for local wildlife, and filtering air. All of the plants onsite are native or naturalized plants that meet at least 4 of 19 sustainability criteria established by the designers. The majority of the criteria address a plant’s ability to adapt to a harsh urban environment as well as their proactive effects, such as being a pollinator plant. Constructed wetlands filter all of the wastewater of onsite buildings, allowing them to be removed from the city sewer system and providing an educational opportunity showing natural waste filtration methods. Adjacent to an existing urban park surrounding a river, the site provides an extension of an already rich plant environment and wildlife habitat while encouraging the integration of landscape with the urban density of a city’s downtown.
Measure 4: Bioclimatic Design
The massing of the building is shaped to take advantage of and collect the prevailing breezes out of the southwest that occur on the site during the warm months of the year. Louvers on the exterior of the building are a passive cooling strategy and are angled according to the sun path to provide either partial or total blockage of the sun dependent on the program. Deciduous plantings in the landscaping also provide sun shading to south-facing facades during warm months and allow sunlight to naturally heat the facades in cold months when the plants have lost their leaves.
Measure 5: Light & Air
The majority of the exterior façade of the bus terminal is glazing, which, along with the few number of interior walls, almost eliminates the need for electric lighting during the day and allows the buildings occupants to have expansive views to the outside. In particular, the southern facades have views to the urban park which encourage visitors to go outdoors and interact with the nature on site. The exhaust fumes from the bus parking below the landscaping are ventilated through a chimney system integrated with the structural columns. These chimneys are sculptural decorative elements in the landscape that provide illumination in the evening to extend the hours the park can be enjoyed. Contained within the chimneys are tillandsia plants that require no maintenance and have one of the highest air particulate removal rates of any plant, helping to naturally clean the exhaust. The tillandsia would normally perish in the cold winter of the local climate, but the heat from the bus exhaust creates a microclimate to keep the plants alive.
Measure 6: Water Cycle
The design takes great advantage of natural precipitation through its use of extensive greenery throughout the site for a variety of uses. Every building on the site has a green roof, which takes advantage of and collects precipitation to grow a roof that naturally insulates, filters air, and allows less solar gain. The green roof of the café employs rainwater through its function as a roof garden, sourcing much of the café’s produce from the roof right above its diners, as well as educating diners about where their food comes from and how it is grown. Water that has drained through the green roof is collected in a cistern, where it can be used to irrigate the urban park in conditions of low rainfall. The urban park manages storm water through its system of constructed wetlands, which contain water while allowing controlled spillover and drainage in the event of heavy rain. To contain and treat urban runoff before it drains into the adjacent river, another constructed wetland was placed at the southern edge of the site.
Measure 7: Energy Flows & Energy Future
The building seeks to reduce its carbon footprint by employing a solar photovoltaic array to generate power for heating, lighting, and other needs, which also allows the building to remain functional during power outages. The exterior louvers greatly reduce solar gain to the interior of the building, lessening the cooling load. The green roofs provide strong insulation, reducing the heating and cooling load in the corresponding seasons. The design contributes to a reduction in fossil fuel emission by establishing a free bus transportation network that would take approximately 600 cars off the road. The buses themselves also reduce pollution by using natural gas for fuel, which produces 30% less CO2 and 85% less CO than gasoline.
Measure 8: Materials & Construction
The structure and solar shading of the bus terminal consists entirely of wood, which expends much less carbon dioxide and requires less energy to produce than a comparable structure of steel or concrete. The carbon sequestration properties of the wood before it is cut also increase its favorability over another material. The wood is sourced from a local university’s experimental forest that has practiced sustainable forestry methods for 100 years and is located only 44 miles from the site. This proximity allows for a much more sustainable product because it requires a short shipping distance, minimizing fossil fuel emission. The wooden exterior louvers are simple rectangular profiles that are easily replaced during the building’s life cycle.
Measure 9: Long Life, Loose Fit
The building is designed with the expectation of a long service life. It celebrates weathering over time through the use of wood louvers, showcasing the beauty of the fading of a natural building material with age. Any newly replaced louvers will stand out on the façade, both creating visual variety and educating visitors on the importance of the maintenance of buildings by visually representing its material life cycle. The interior of the building promotes long-term adaptability by its nature of being mostly open floor area, which allows for adaptation of the program with minimum demolition or renovation. By situating the design on a street corner just off the main pedestrian byway and establishing the bus terminal as a new urban hub, the building can easily transition into another civic function and retain its importance in the city fabric. Designing a large urban park in the center of the site ensures that as the building is adapted to new uses, the park will remain a steady attraction that increases the profile and use of whatever new function the building undertakes.
Measure 10: Collective Wisdom & Feedback Loops
The design educates the surrounding city and its visitors about the different sustainability efforts it employs. The public learns through information screens how much energy a civic building consumes and can produce, and how water can be naturally treated through landscaping. The expansion of a free transportation system of natural gas-powered buses illustrates to the entire community a way in which to live a much more sustainable urban life, which has the potential to result in a ripple effect of more sustainability efforts by the city populace. This can only be done through cooperation, which is the most important thing we learned through this project. More minds put to an idea or a problem almost always results in commensurately better solutions, which is what is needed to solve the sustainability issues of today’s society.