AIAA/AAAE/ACC Jay Hollingsworth Speas Airport Award

The AIAA/AAAE/ACC Jay Hollingsworth Speas Airport Award was established in 1983 by R. Dixon Speas and Ms. Speas in honor of their son, Jay. Jay was vitally interested in improving environmental relationships between the airports, both civil and military, and the communities they served. He accomplished a substantial number of professional assignments that contributed to these improvements.

The award is co-sponsored by AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics), AAAE (American Association of Airport Executives), and the Airport Consultants Council (ACC). It is presented annually during the ACC/AAAE Airport Planning, Design & Construction Symposium to the person or persons judged to have contributed most significantly in recent years to the enhancement of relationships between airports and/or heliports and other surrounding environments via exemplary innovation that might be replicated elsewhere.

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2017 Recipients: 
Lodewijk van Nieuwenhuijze
H+N+S Landscape Architects
Amersfoort, The Netherlands

Frans Schenk
Project Leader
Schiphol Group Projects Management
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Award Citation:
“For the vision, strategy, and development of the Buitenschot Land Art Park near Amsterdam’s busy Schiphol Airport.  The park features a labyrinth of noise-deflecting landscape architecture, land art, and innovative technology which protects the surrounding communities from noise pollution as well as providing breathtaking views and recreational green space.”

Project: Buitenschot Land Art Park
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is Europe’s fourth busiest airport. The outlying site of runway 18R36L, or the Polderbaan as it’s more commonly known, was originally intended to reduce the overall noise disturbance by redirecting air traffic over areas with a lower population density.

Instead, it created another problem: ground level noise. This led to years of com-plaints from residents in surrounding urban areas such as Hoofddorp, unable to block out this low level din produced every time an aircraft left the runway.

In the year of 2007 the Airport Schiphol launched an architectural competition, to generate ideas on how to reduce this ground-level noise. The winning proposal was developed further, but did not result in an effective sound barrier. The design was too complex, costly and unsafe to be realized. In the same period an alternative design was developed, that promised to be extremely effective. The landscape design proposed a construction of long parallel ridges and deep furrows that is based on the ridges and furrows created by ploughing the agricultural land. This promising design provided the impetus for the Schiphol Group to investigate this idea further.

The noise reducing effect of reshaping the ground’s surface was the inspiration for a landscape strategy and design for an area of approximately 330 hectares. It is expected that the construction of this landscape design will reduce the noise with 8 to 10 decibels. 

With a working landscape strategy in place, an initial area of 36 hectares was agreed for the project – enough to deliver a reduction of two to three decibels out of the overall target. This area, Buitenschot, was already allocated as a new park area. To create a symbiosis between the purely functional horizontal ridges and a pleasant environment this part has become Buitenschot Land Art Park. According to recent measurements the park exceeds the expectations. As it has a noise reducing effect of around four decibels, which is more than the technical models predicted.

The design of Park Buitenschot consists out of ridges with a height of 1.9 meters above ground level and furrows with a depth of 1.1 meters. The one meter wide maintenance paths are also the recreational routes through the area. The design results in a fascinating interaction between the ridges that are placed right-angled towards the soundwaves and the strict grid of reclaimed land in the rest of the Haarlemmermeerpolder.  The ridges of grass create a maze-like landscape, a park landscape that is one of its kind, with sheltered glades and smaller and larger ‘rooms’ within the landscape structure.

While park Buitenschot is just a small part of the total landscape strategy, the neighborhood for which the strategy is developed already experiences a significant noise reduction. The concept is proven to be effective and can be translated to other areas and airports that have similar noise problems.

Due to this unique quality and innovative solution for a worldwide problem the plan for Park Buitenschot got world-wide attention. This resulted in several publications in local, national and international media including Smithsonian, Travel & Leisure, Chicago Tribune, MM Milieumagazine, WIRED, and others.

It should be mentioned that the design was possible because of the close collaboration of H+N+S with artist Paul de Kort, TNO and Witteveen en Bos.