Growing Full Steam Ahead

Chris Reed has a lot going on these days. A runner up in the 2004 Next Generation competition for Phyto-Harvesting: the new civic garden, his firm Stoss Landscape Urbanism was recently named a finalist in the 2008 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards. The firm was also honored by the Edra/Places Awards for a planning proposal for the Lower Don Lands in Toronto.

The Lower Don Lands project was originally developed for a competition sponsored by the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation. While that initial prize went to Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates, the plan that Stoss and their collaborators created stands out for its focus on the river itself as seen from the point of view of landscape urbanism. The underlying notion is that landscape’s ability to lead environmental and infrastructural systems to grow, thrive, and change over time offers a unique, large-scale model for dealing with urban design. Starting with the Don River as the backbone of the whole scheme, the Stoss plan burgeoned into a complete revitalization blueprint for the 300 acre site.

“The typical way a river is dealt within a city,” Reed explains, “is that the requirements of the city are laid out and the river is given the left-over space, which is part of the problem because then the river doesn’t function hydrologically. This leads to sedimentation and flooding issues.” He offers the example of the transportation system in his proposal, which considers integration with the other ecological and landscape systems at work.

Stoss’s recent awards are just a snapshot of success in the firm’s portfolio. Other projects include a collaboration with Renzo Piano’s office on the Gardner Museum in Boston as well as a large development project on a peninsula in Dubai. The firm’s name refers to the force of a glacial landform, and clearly Chris Reed and his firm are making an impact.

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