Automotive Hall of Fame: This Dearborn, Michigan museum celebrates innovators throughout the history of the automobile with a replica of the first gas-powered automobile, an elaborate mural detailing auto history, and the opportunity to operate an Aeropede.
Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park: This Grand Rapids, Michigan botanical garden and sculpture park provides a number of lush themed gardens including a Japanese Garden, Victorian Garden, Arid Garden, and English Perennial Garden. In addition, the Sculpture Park features the work of 30 world-class sculptors including works by Rodin, Degas, and Lichtenstein.
Green connectors, when networked as a circulation system, enable access to local public spaces with active modes of ‘feet and pedal’ (walking and cycling), while still providing region-wide connectivity to recreational parklands, conserved wetlands, and ecological greenways.
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Abandoned railway rights of way and wasted urban assets like underutilized back lanes and utility corridors are, over time, retrofitted as green connected public places and eventually help to expand the soft mobility network beyond conventional sidewalks (Toccolini et al., 2006). Non-motorized travel becomes safer and more pleasant (San Francisco Planning Department, 2016). Developed as a network, these green connectors contribute to the rationalization of irrigation requirements and the maximization of drainage functions while enhancing amenity and reducing pollution. In fact, the integration of water-sensitive urban design techniques like vegetative control (overland flow and grassed channels), detention (wet basins and wetlands), retention (infiltration basins), xeriscaping,5 and windbreaks helps to make the green connectors respond to the local particularities. Thus, besides conserving water, they contribute to place identity for the neighborhood that they pass through (Vernon & Tiwari, 2009). Figure 3.9 Green Network of Shanghai proposed for 2020 Source: Based on Urban ecosystem services-Assessing green infrastructure in Shanghai, by J. Breuste, 2015. Environmental green corridors are under construction in Shanghai as a response to increased urbanization and resultant serious environmental pollution. Green corridors based on a ring-road system are at the outer and middle rings of Shanghai (He, 2007; Figure 3.9). Green belts 100 meters wide along expressways, 50 meters for major roads, and 25 meters for secondary roads are intended to reduce noise, eliminate the vibration effect to nearby residential dwellings, and control the suspended particulate matter (Breuste, 2015). While tree plantations on the outer parts of the city running along the outer circle highway provide a stable environment for ecological communities, the middle circle highway incorporates a combination of small green patches like street parks and community open spaces (Li et al., 2014). The north-south corridor along the Huangpu River has amalgamated cultural, recreational, and ecological aspects. By 2020, the target is to increase green area per capita to 6.5 square meters downtown and 10 square meters in urbanized areas (Breuste, 2015). The system focuses on the structure of natural habitats and builds an artificial, environmental community that lays a foundation for biodiversity and habitat conservation (Xiu, 2014). In the US, green rail trails have become popular in a number of cities. The aboveground High Line Park in New York has been built on a disused railroad track, originally designed for easy delivery of freight by cutting through blocks. Local activists rescued it from demolition and it was retrofitted as an aerial greenway, providing a natural habitat to a variety of birds and small animals (Levere, 2014). The High Line attracts about five million visitors annually (Wolcha et al., 2014). Home values within one-third of a mile of the park increased 10 percent immediately following its opening, generating additional property taxes that exceeded the cost of constructing the park. While new businesses have opened in the area (Levere, 2014; Wolcha et al., 2014), the ‘essence of the place’ as a vibrant urban arts and manufacturing cluster has been retained primarily by maintaining a manufacturing designation for the blocks associated with galleries. Allowed floor area ratio (FAR) was reduced for the High Line-encumbered properties, which could sell their ‘air rights’ – unbuilt transferable development rights – away from the High Line towards the business end in the north (Broder, 2012). What was once a wasted piece of transportation infrastructure has been transformed into one of the US’ most important pieces of civic infrastructure (Broder, 2012; Figure 3.10).
Recognizing the adaptive value of wasted infrastructure as a green connector system becomes critical in achieving social and environmental benefits for local communities.