Something from the ‘Good News Department’…
Last year, the Western New York Land Conservancy invited designers, architects, landscape architects, urban planners, and artists to submit visionary concepts to a juried competition laying the groundwork to transform the abandoned, 1.5-mile elevated DL&W rail corridor into the Riverline, connecting Buffalo’s downtown with its waterfront through three distinct and historic neighborhoods. Ninety-eight design idea proposals from individuals and teams across the region, the country, and around the world were submitted showing the potential of the corridor (renderings from the two winning entries are shown in this post).
The Conservancy is now seeking to merge those ideas into a concept plan. It has issued a Request for Proposals for design services for landscape architecture, as well as engineering and environmental services as necessary, to meet the project approach proposed by the responding design team. Grant funds have been secured from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation under the 1993 NYS Environmental Protection act for these services.
The Land Conservancy intends for this project to showcase and promote the natural and ecological heritage of Western New York including the protection, ecological restoration, and promotion of natural areas and wildlife habitat; the prioritization of plants and plant communities native to Western New York; a commitment to create landscapes that require limited long-term maintenance; the use of sustainable stormwater management; and the limited use of impervious surfaces.
The project will follow these guiding principles:
- Respect the character and history of local communities and increase quality of life for residents.
- Embrace and enhance nature that thrives along the corridor 3) Provide different kinds of recreational uses and programming year round.
- Create connections to existing assets while planning for future projects, needs and growth.
- Design with long-term use, maintenance and safety in mind.
- Serve as a catalyst for additional investment and opportunity.
Upon selection, the design team will work closely with the Land Conservancy to develop a detailed scope of work for site assessment, design, and community outreach, and engagement. They will negotiate a mutually acceptable fee and project schedule. The geographic project scope includes 40-acres of NFTA-owned parcels along the 1.5-mile corridor, as well as possible connections and extensions in the broader project area. As part of a regional trail network currently being considered, and in the context of on-street facilities and networks, connections, linkages and alternative configurations to address existing and potential barriers to project execution must be considered.
Project elements include:
The consultant will meet with the Land Conservancy as required to coordinate start of work and review all existing relevant project information to ensure the project approach and vision remains consistent with community and client priorities.
Community Understanding and Engagement
Community engagement will be coordinated and led by the Land Conservancy staff and an external consultant, however, the selected design team will play an active role in preparing materials, participating in and integrating feedback from public engagement.
The Consultant will prepare a minimum of three conceptual designs for The Riverline. Each concept shall:
- Reflect the design vision, goals, and principles; and the key concepts from the design ideas competition.
- Incorporate best management practices for sustainable design and construction. Showcase and promote the natural and ecological heritage of Western New York demonstrating competence and commitment to the following conservation design principles: the protection, ecological restoration, and promotion of natural areas and wildlife habitat; the prioritization of plants and plant communities native to Western New York that require limited long-term maintenance; and the use of sustainable stormwater management and the limited use of impervious surfaces.
- Ensure connections to adjacent parks, trails and the waterfront, the proposed network of on-street greenways and bicycle infrastructure as well as possible features and amenities within the context of the surrounding geography and land use.
- Consider connections and linkages beyond the project site, with particular attention to the DL&W terminal and Canalside, the Outer Harbor, Larkinville, the African American Heritage Corridor, and Buffalo Blueways.
- Consider locations of trail and park entrances and access implications on existing communities and amenities, including both primary and secondary entrances to the corridor.
- Explore the potential for additional recreational amenities adjacent to the corridor.
- Consider comfort stations and respite areas along the corridor that provide, for example, restrooms and nursing stations.
- Accommodate the potential for future consideration of light rail along the corridor, with particular attention to the western most section of the corridor between the DL&W terminal and Louisiana Street.
- Consider year-round uses and access, including winter uses in a cold-weather climate.
- Comply with all applicable requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Accessibility Guidelines.
- Consider Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design guidelines or similar practices.
The concepts must also respond to the context of the three identified sub-areas: the Del, the Junctures, and the Basswoods, as well as the context of surrounding neighborhoods, blocks and parcels.
- The Del, closest to downtown and running through the Perry and Old First Ward neighborhood, those the most urban of the sections, The Del evokes ideas of nature, bucolic surroundings and open spaces, and inspires quietude and wanderlust.
- The Junctures, alludes to the social and cultural connections that can be expected at gathering places and points of crossing and evokes the rail history throughout the corridor.
- The Basswoods is a section of the trail with relatively dense tree cover, that evokes nature, mystery, quietude, and wonder.
The consultant will present the three concepts at an additional set of public meetings organized and promoted by the Land Conservancy, one in each of the three neighborhoods, as well as one larger general public meeting and will provide necessary files and documentation for digital public feedback.
Based on this feedback and Land Conservancy guidance, the consultant will work with the Land Conservancy to advance a preferred concept design, inclusive of the elements required above and inclusive of construction schedule and estimated construction costs.
This preferred concept will once again be presented in a series of community meetings organized and promoted by the Land Conservancy in the Old First Ward, Perry and Valley neighborhoods as well as to the project committee and additional governmental and constituent agencies and to the general public for feedback and comment. The consultant will then refine the concept plan, develop preliminary design details, make preliminary material and product selections as applicable, and prepare a preliminary opinion of probable cost of construction, securing and coordinating engineering services including civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, and hydroengineering as necessary.
The design refinements will be documented appropriately in a set of 30 percent design documents to include a general site plan, grading plan, drainage plan, irrigation plan, lighting plan, planting plan, structural details and calculations. These design documents, upon approval by the Land Conservancy, its partners and the NFTA, will serve as the basis for preparing final design and construction documents.
Consultants will be evaluated on the basis of overall experience, approach to design, the composition of the design team, and cost. Proposals are due May 29.