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New York City Mayor Threatens to Remove Times Square

Frustrated with the congestion of panhandlers, Mayor Bill de Blasio has shocked New York City dwellers by threatening to remove their beloved Times Square. As New York Times' architecture critic Michael Kimmelman reports, this comes at a time when dwellers fear that quality of life is declining in the city: "Entertaining the demolition of the plazas, the mayor sends a message that New York can’t support the sort of great pedestrian hubs that thrive in competing cities around the globe." Blasio said he will look into the "pros and cons" of returning Times Square to traffic. Read Kimmelman's full report on Blasio's threats, here

Foster Teams with Nissan to Envision Fuel Station of the Future

By 2020, almost one million electric vehicles are expected on the road. "It seems to be clear," says David Nelson, head of design at Foster + Partners, "that electric vehicles will be a major feature of the urban landscape." Thus, Foster + Partners has teamed up with Nissan to develop the Fuel Station of the Future.

Imagining how zero emissions technology will influence our cities, the innovative brands are centering their design on the understanding that "connected communities, autonomous drive and the Internet of things" are drastically changing our infrastructure models. Their concept is expected to showcase the benefits of a "smart electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem," harnessing the potential of battery storage and vehicle-to-grid systems.

Why Ancient Cities Can Still Teach Us About Urban Planning

In the 20th century, urban planning went through some big changes, creating much of our current urban environment in a mold that is now widely seen as anti-human. Fortunately, in recent decades urban planning has changed again - partly revising and partly reverting the theories espoused by the 20th century. In this article, originally published on Line//Shape//Space as "What the Future of Cities Can Learn From Ancient Cities," James A Moore looks at why old models for creating cities have proved so timeless, and the role that they will play in creating 21st century cities.

As legend has it, upon leaving Carnegie Hall after a dissatisfying rehearsal, violinist Mischa Elman ran into two tourists looking for the hall’s entrance. They asked, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”

Without missing a beat, Elman said, “Practice.”

It’s an old and simple joke, but it points to an important reason why people are drawn to cities. Why do people move to Hollywood? They want to be in movies. Why do they move to Wall Street? They want to be in finance. In the best cases, cities enable citizens to pursue their aspirations.

Google (Alphabet) "Sidewalk Labs" Seeks to Improve City Life

Google has announced a major overhaul - the launch of their new parent company, Alphabet Inc. The new structure makes Google Inc. a holding company in an effort to provide more transparency to its investors and flexibility for its research endeavors. Thus, "G" will now stand for Google. The rest of the Alphabet will be a collection of companies that has yet to be entirely unveiled. 

Calico, Fiber, Nest Labs, Wings, and Google X will all be part of the Alphabet, as well as a new urban innovation company known as Sidewalk Labs.

Japan's Abandoned Golf Courses Get Second Life As Solar Farms

With a goal to double the amount of its renewable energy power sources by 2030, Japan has begun to transform abandoned golf courses into massive solar energy plants. As Quartz reports, Kyocera, a company known for its floating solar plants, has started construction on a 23-megawatt solar plant on an old golf course in the Kyoto prefecture (scheduled to open in 2017). The company also plans to break ground on a similar, 92-megawatt plant in the Kagoshima prefecture next year. Pacifico Energy is also jumping on the trend; with the help of GE Energy Financial Services, the company is overseeing two solar plant golf course projects in the Okayama prefecture. The idea is spreading too; plans to transform gold courses into solar fields are underway in New York, Minnesota and other US states as well.

ARCHIDIRECTOR: A Fantastical City Inspired by Famous Directors by Federico Babina

"Directors are like the architects of cinema," says Federico Babina, an Italian architect known for his imaginative architecture-inspired illustrations. In his latest, Babina envisions a fictional city of 27 houses inspired by film's most celebrated directors, including George Lucas, Charles Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Wim Wenders and many others.

"The architecture is like a scene from a movie where the story is the life, the script is dictated by the use of the building and where the actors are the residents. A labyrinth where all - characters, director, audience –are lost and found in the intensity of their emotions," Babina adds. 

Tour through the entire city, after the break. 

© Federico Babina © Federico Babina © Federico Babina © Federico Babina

A.L. Crego Transforms 20 Murals into Animated GIFS

Spanish designer and photographer A.L. Crego has brought street art to life in his latest project, adding movement to murals from the around the world. In order to maintain the original artwork, Crego first photographed the sites and then digitally intervened to convert them into animations.

All the murals selected by the designer convey messages about dependence on technology and its effects on personal interactions.

View his urban GIFs after the break.

Vincent Laforet Photographs Los Angeles from 10,000 Feet

The latest in his high-altitude "AIR" series, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Vincent Laforet has captured the sprawling city of Los Angeles at night from a dizzying 10,000 feet. First starting this "dream project" in his hometown of New York then Las Vegas and San Francisco, AIR is taking Laforet worldwide with upcoming visits planned for London, Paris, Tokyo and more. 

Preview a stunning selection of Laforet's Los Angeles series, after the break. 

© Vincent Laforet © Vincent Laforet © Vincent Laforet © Vincent Laforet

Monocle's Inaugural Conference In Lisbon Asks: What Is Quality Of Life?

Monoclea briefing on global affairs, business, culture and design, was founded by in 2007 by Tyler Brûlé, the former Editor-in-Chief of Wallpaper*. With over thirty correspondents working around the world, the magazine also has local bureaux in Tokyo, New York City, Hong Kong, Zürich, Toronto, Istanbul and Singapore. This month saw the publication host their inaugural international conference, centering on the enduring theme that has preoccupied the magazine since launch: Quality of Life.

Set against the backdrop of Portugal's capital, Lisbon, the event was hosted by Brûlé alongside editors Andrew Tuck, Robert Bound, Sophie Grove and Steve Bloomfield. The opinions of twenty-three internationally renowned speakers―including Martin Roth (Director of London's Victoria & Albert Museum), Taco Dibbits (of Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum) and Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld, alongside the Mayors of Oslo and Porto―were keenly listened to by 160 delegates who had traveled from across the world. The points for discussion allowed for a breadth of discourse that spanned housing and urbanism, to explorations of the 'high street' and the significance of the museum in the contemporary city. The thematic scope of these conversations made them accessible, inspirational and, more importantly, both relevant and widely applicable.

Isay Weinfeld discussing 'How to build the perfect house'. Image © Rodrigo Cardoso Delegates in the conference hall of the Four Seasons Ritz Hotel, Lisbon. Image © Rodrigo Cardoso Coffee on the terrace of the Four Seasons Ritz Hotel, Lisbon. Image © Rodrigo Cardoso Lunch on the terrace of the Four Seasons Ritz Hotel, Lisbon. Image © Rodrigo Cardoso

New London Architecture Unveils Updated 1:2000 Scale Model Of The UK Capital

New London Architecture (NLA), an independent resource and forum for debate about the city's built environment, have unveiled a new, large-scale interactive model of the UK capital. Designed to provide a visual history of the city, NLA also intend for it to spark questions about its future. This model replaces an earlier one, which was revealed on the day that it was announced that London's bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games has been successful. Now, a decade later, the present projection of the city's built future has been mapped across the model, highlighting the locations of the 263 tall buildings planned or under construction. Visitors are also able to track the route and impact of new transport links, such as HS2 and Crossrail.

Archiculture Interviews: Jess Zimbabwe

"We as a species assign value to people based on the environments we ask them to live in. And I think most people are worth more than a lot of the environments that we ask them to live, work, attend school and shop in."

These Maps Reveal Just How Disjointed Many US Bike Lanes Are

As cities worldwide are plagued with increasingly congested streets, more people are turning to bicycles to ease their commute. To accommodate the trend, bike lanes have been popping up around cities, yet often in a disjointed manner. A series of maps compiled by the Washington Post illustrates this surprisingly sporadic cycle infrastructure in several US cities. 

Cropping up as afterthoughts in the existing urban fabric, many US bicycle networks consist of fragmented stretches of bike lanes and “sharrows” (shared car and bike lanes) loosely bound together by their proximity. In the case of Washington D.C., most of these are under a mile in length. A lack of cohesion and continuity leads to commuter chaos, forcing cyclists onto unprotected shoulders or into traffic when their designated lanes pull a disappearing act. Take a look at the maps after the break.

32 Winners of Inaugural Knight Cities Challenge Announced

Thirty-two projects have been announced as the winners of the Inaugural Knight Cities Challenge, sharing in a prize pool of $USD5 million. An initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the challenge received an overwhelming number of entries, with winners selected from a pool of over 7000 submissions. Each of the projects proposed strategies for the civic and economic development of one of the 26 cities in which the Knight Foundation invests, including Detroit, Akron Ohio, San Jose California, Lexington Kentucky, and Biloxi Mississippi.

The winning proposals each addressed one or more of the Knight Foundation’s “three drivers of city success”: (1) Talent: Ideas that help cities attract and keep the best and brightest, (2) Opportunity: Ideas that create economic prospects and break down divides, (3) Engagement: Ideas that spur connection and civic involvement.

Video: Rob Whitworth, Stunning Cities in Hyperlapse

Witness the urban life of five stunning metropolises through the lens of Rob Whitworth with these "Vimeo Staff Pick" hyperlapse videos. From the unexplored urban life of the North Korean capital Pyongyang to the towering skyline of Dubai, each video explores an incredible sequence of daily living in cities across the planet. See more, including video from Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai, after the break.

Help Fund Ittyblox's 3-D Printed Miniature Cities

Ever wanted your very own Flatiron Building to sit on your mantelpiece? What about a Guggenheim for your desk, or a block of London apartments for your side table? Ittyblox, a Dutch company based in Den Bosch, is determined to make this dream a reality, 3D printing 1:1000 models of iconic buildings and city blocks. The models are printed in full color and designed to slot into modular baseplates, which can be arranged into complete cityscape dioramas. Buildings currently in production hail from London, MiamiNew York, and Chicago, with a new building added each week. 

SOM Masterplans Egypt's New Capital City

Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) has released a conceptual masterplan for Egypt's new capital city following its unveiling at the Egyptian Economic Development Conference. The 700-square-kilometer "Capital Cairo" hopes stimulate Egypt's ailing economy and alleviate Cairo's rising population density, while adhering to the cultural and climatic conditions of its site.

All the details, after the break.

Train Station. Image © SOM Night View. Image © SOM Government District. Image © SOM Innovation District. Image © SOM

Jan Gehl: “Architects Know Very Little About People”

Danish urban planner and committed pedometer user Jan Gehl is an expert in creating “cities for people.” Following a recent talk he gave on sustainable cities in Basel, Gehl sat down with Tages Wocke to discuss what makes a city desirable and livable. “We found people’s behavior depends on what you invite them to do,” says Gehl. “The more streets you have, the more traffic you get. A more attractive public realm will be used by more people.” Read the full interview and see why Gehl thinks social and psychological sciences should be taught in architecture school, here

Vincent Laforet Captures San Francisco From Above

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Vincent Laforet has made his way to San Francisco as part three of his dizzying series of city aerials. Capturing the tightly packed metropolis from 7,200-feet, Laforet became mesmerized by the city’s “clashing grids,” stunning bridges and overwhelming feeling of “peace and order.”

“There’s just something about this city’s vibe - a perfect balance between the hectic go-getter pace of New York and the more relaxed, laissez-faire rhythm of Los Angeles,” says Laforet. “It feels like every little piece of the puzzle has somehow found its place in what is an absolutely chaotic topography.”

See a selection of Laforet’s San Francisco series, after the break. 

© Vincent Laforet © Vincent Laforet © Vincent Laforet © Vincent Laforet